Free pass to the past

Lauren O'Donnell
October 27, 2019
This article was published more than 2 years ago.
Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Get free museum admission with your hamilton public library card

With a Hamilton Public Library card, you can access any of the Hamilton Civic museums for free. If you live, work or study within the city, you can drop by any library location to get yourself a card — there’s even one in Westdale (955 King St. West).

There are nine museums included in this offer, with a full list available on the city website. The city website features a 360° virtual tour for each site, so you can still experience them even if you can’t make it in person. Below you’ll find a brief taste of two of the museums that are included in the offer.

Dundurn Castle National Historic Site (610 York Blvd.)

At its height, Dundurn was a monument of money and power, owned by Sir Allan Napier Macnab. The piano resting in the parlour would have cost more than a house at its time. The house was so impressive that it became generally known as a castle. The tour charts the building from top to bottom, covering the lives of both the Macnab family and their servants. For an hour, you’ll find yourself transported to the 1850s. There is information about the norms of this time period and most importantly, free food tastings. The shortbread is absolutely delicious.

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The building was restored in the late 1960s as part of the 100 years of Canadian Confederation celebration.

Dundurn and Hamilton’s Urban Indigenous Strategy currently have an exhibit open to the public that seeks to highlight violence that resulted from the Confederation. The exhibit was created by local Indigenous youth to call attention to Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Money raised by the Indigenous exhibition will be donated to the Drag the Red campaign, a volunteer-led organization searching the Red River in Winnipeg for evidence in unsolved cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women. The exhibit runs each week from Tuesday to Saturday until Nov. 5. Indigenous Elder and activist Wilamina McGrimmond is there on Wednesdays and Fridays to answer any questions about the exhibit and the issues it raises.

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Battlefield House Museum and National Park Historic Site (77 King St. West)

Battlefield commemorates the Battle of Stoney Creek during the War of 1812, a significant battle in Canadian history. The tour includes an inside look at Battlefield House, owned by the Gage family at the time — the namesake for Gage Park. There is also an optional opportunity to go inside the war memorial that sits at the top of the hill. It’s truly an impressive sight, visible even at a distance, and offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding area.

Similar to Dundurn, Battlefield gives insight into the social climate of the 1800s, with a particular emphasis placed on familial bonds and expectations. If you’re interested in Canadian history, this is the place for you. It also includes information about how Battlefield became a museum, largely due to the contributions of Sara Calder and the Women’s Wentworth Historical Society.

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The grounds of Battlefield are currently dappled with autumn leaves. Beyond the historic significance, it’s a beautiful place to visit and explore.

The grounds of Battlefield are currently dappled with autumn leaves. Beyond the historic significance, it’s a beautiful place to visit and explore.

These are just a taste of the museums that you may visit with a library card. Since it’s spooky season, you could also go visit Whitehern HIstoric House and Garden. Remotely, you may access an online tour of two different underwater shipwrecks.

Make sure to take a trip to your local library to pick up a library card. The cards themselves are absolutely free and guarantee you admission to any civic museum, in addition to free books. Get out there and take a trip into Hamilton’s past.


  • Lauren O'Donnell

    Lauren is in her fourth and final year of English and Cultural Studies. She is a big fan of sustainable fashion, body positivity, and 80s pop music. In her spare time, Lauren can be found hanging out with her cat, Lyric.

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