Hamilton is a city of stark inequalities. As the city’s economy booms, many Hamiltonians are swept to the sidelines as a result of a housing crisis and employment insecurity. Compared to other cities in Ontario, Hamilton also has a high proportion of working class people, disabled people and refugees, who are often the first to feel the brunt of these changes.
Health outcomes over the past decade have been bleak, and according to many disability justice and healthcare advocates, show no signs of changing unless bold steps are taken to support Hamilton’s marginalized populations.
In 2010, the Hamilton Spectator released Code Red, a project that mapped the connections between income and health across Hamilton to explore the social determinants of health. Using census and hospital data from 2006 and 2007, the report showed strong disparities in health outcomes between the Hamilton’s wealthiest and poorest neighbourhoods.
The Code Red project shows that social and economic inequalities lead to health inequalities. The lower city, which experiences disproportionately higher rates of poverty, also has significantly poorer health outcomes.
In February 2019, an updated Code Red project was released using data from 2016 and 2017. The updated Code Red project found that in general, health outcomes in Hamilton have declined and inequalities have grown.
Since the first Code Red project in 2010, the average lifespan in parts of the lower city has declined by 1.5 years. Furthermore, the gap in lifespan between Hamilton neighbourhoods has grown from 21 to 23 years.
These results come as no surprise to Sarah Jama, an organizer with the disability justice network of Ontario. According to Jama, given the lack of political change coupled with changes in the city of Hamilton, it was inevitable that poverty would worsen and inequalities would deepen.
Jama notes that health care and social services tend to be compacted into the downtown core, which has tended to have a higher concentration of people who rely on these services.
However, rising costs of living within the downtown core has meant that the people who access these services are being priced out. According to a report by the Hamilton Social Planning and Research Council, eviction rates have skyrocketed in the past decade. As a result, the people who rely on these services have to make compromises about whether to live in a place with supports available close by, or a place that is affordable.
“The more compromises you have to meet with regard to your ability to live freely and safely in the city the harder it is to survive,” said Jama.
Denise Brooks, the executive director for Hamilton Urban Core, works directly with people at the margins of Hamilton’s healthcare system. Brooks noted that the 2010 Code Red project was a wake up call for many.
“For me one of the biggest takeaways [from the first Code Red project] was even greater resolve that this really is a political issue and that it hasn't been looked at and is not being looked at as a crisis,” stated Brooks.
The 2010 Code Red project sparked projects including the Hamilton neighbourhood action strategy and pathways to education program. According to Brooks, while these initiatives were beneficial, more robust policy is needed to substantially address poverty.
“... [C]an we see any change in policy orientation? Did we see a reallocation of resources? Did we see a redistribution of priorities in any way? I would have to say no,” said Brooks.
The updated Code Red project calls for a restructuring of the traditional health care system to include social and economic programs that contribute to people’s overall health.
However, recent political changes have led many health advocates to worry that the coming years will see change for the worse. Matthew Ing, a member of the DJNO research committee, notes that provincial cuts to a slew social assistance programs threaten to further exacerbate the existing inequalities in Hamilton.
In November 2018, the provincial government announced reforms to Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program that aimed to streamline social assistance and incentivize people to return to work. Among many changes, this includes aligning the definition of disability to align with the more narrow definition used the federal government.
According to Jama, narrowing the eligibility requirements for disability support makes it likely that people will slip through the cracks. They will put the responsibility on the municipality to provide services, meaning that care is likely to differ between providers.
“The onus is going to be on individual service providers on all these people to really decide who really fits this idea of being disabled enough to be on the service versus it being like sort of supervised by the province,” stated Jama.
Additionally, in February 2019 the provincial government announced plans to streamline and centralize the health care process. Under the proposed model, Ontario Health teams led by a central provincial agency will replace the existing 14 local health integration networks across the province.
Brooks noted that this has not been the first time that the province sought out to reform healthcare. Having worked in community health for years, Brooks remarks that the changes that are made to healthcare frequently exclude people on the margins.
“It's always the people who are the most marginalized, the most vulnerable, the socially isolated and historically excluded that remain on those margins all the time regardless of the change that go through,” said Brooks.
Currently, patient and family advisory committees work to inform the work of LHINs. The government has not announced whether PFACs will be retained under the new model, but Ing worries that a centralized model would leave patients and families out of the decision making process.
However, Ing recognizes that the current system is far from perfect, noting that disabled communities were not adequately represented on PFACs. According to Ing, this speaks to the much larger problem of political erasure of people with disabilities.
“Disability justice means that we must organize across movements, and we must be led by the people who are most impacted,” writes Ing.
The DJNO was created in order to mobilize disabled communities and demand a holistic approach to healthcare reform. According to Jama, this includes seeing race, income, and disability as fundamentally interconnected.
However as social assistance measures are cut at the provincial level, the future for disability justice is murky. The results of the updated Code Red project paint a sobering picture of the state of health inequality in Hamilton. Given the direction that healthcare reform is taking on the provincial level, health and poverty advocates worry about the future of healthcare equality in Hamilton.
In recent years, Hamilton’s downtown core has changed rapidly, with many businesses closing down and new ones popping up, just as fast. While some may welcome these changes, many others point to a loss for the LGBTQA2S+ community, with many popular gay bars closing down as the city evolved.
In the early 2000s, there were five major gay bars people could go to: The Werx, the Rainbow Lounge, The Embassy, M Bar and The Windsor, all of which were located in Hamilton’s downtown core. Since then, all of these bars have shut their doors.
For James Dee, a McMaster alum and Hamilton resident since 2004, bars such as the Embassy were an important aspect of their experience with Hamilton’s queer community as a place where they could go without threat of violence.
“We maybe have a little bit of drama and be kind of mean to each other….But when the lights came on at the end of the night you know everyone was checking in with each other like 'text when you get home and so I know you're safe,'” Dee said.
While Hamilton’s queer scene thrived in 2004, it was not without violence. In that same year, Hamilton Police Services, among other municipal agencies, raided the Warehouse Spa and Bath and arrested two men for indecent acts. That raid was followed by protests from Hamilton’s LGBTQA2S+ community.
“It felt a lot more dangerous to be visibly queer in 2004,” Dee said. “I think it's easy to kind of romanticize the time when we had brick and mortar spaces but it's also easy to forget why we needed those spaces so much.”
Dee believes that, to some degree, places closed down due to a decline in need, but also points to the gentrification of Hamilton as another key reason these spaces disappeared.
“It's not just the story of queer Hamilton, it's the story of Hamilton in general… a lot of the places I used to enjoy hanging out [at] are now bougie coffee shops,” Dee said.
For example, following the shuttering of the Werx’s door, the building was converted into the Spice Factory, a popular wedding venue.
“All across the board, [the gay bars] catered to people with less money,” Dee said. “They don't survive downtown anymore.”
For Sophie Geffros, another long-time Hamilton resident and McMaster graduate student, the loss of brick-and-mortar spaces has meant a segregation within the community.
Geffros, who spent their teen years in Hamilton, had many of their formative experiences at bars such as the Embassy, where they met older members of the LGBTA2S+ community in addition to those their own age.
“There is still an isolation that I think that can only be combated by in-person interaction,” Geffros said.
“We're a little more fragmented. Like if I'm going out… I'm going to be going out with people I already know who are members of the community,” they added.
For Geffros, the loss of Hamilton’s queer spaces is especially harmful, as these spaces were often the most accessible hangouts for queer people living in rural communities that lack direct bus service to Toronto.
“Those are people who are particularly isolated, who are often closeted throughout the week and would come to Hamilton on the weekend to blow off steam and be amongst themselves. That's a real loss,” Geffros said.
While there are no longer any physical LGBTQA2S+ spaces, there are opportunities for Hamilton’s queer community to converge. Dee is one of the founders of Queer Outta Hamilton, a collective that runs monthly queer pub nights, typically at Gallagher’s Pub.
There are also many LGBTQA2S+-friendly bars and clubs, such as Sous Bas, which offers queer events, typically in partnership with Queer Outta Hamilton.
While Hamilton may have lost its major physical queer spaces, the community continues to support each other the best they can.
On Feb 1, the Hamilton Student Mobilization Network, a local activist group, hosted a rally at Gore Park in downtown Hamilton to protest the government’s proposed changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program.
The event featured various speakers including Angie Perez, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees 3096, and Sandy Hudson, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto.
“Students have gone to strike for less,” HSMN organizers said at the event.
— The Silhouette (@theSilhouette) February 1, 2019
Beyond the issue of OSAP, various speakers advocated for completely free tuition. All stressed the need to support grassroots student activism.
The protest downtown followed a protest in the McMaster University Student Centre on Jan. 31, where the HSMN called out the McMaster Students Union for failing to advocate for the student body effectively.
Multiple musicians and poets were also featured at the two-hour long rally, performing pieces on the issues of capitalism and gentrification.
Hudson stresses the power of students, pointing to the success of Quebec student organizers.
— The Silhouette (@theSilhouette) February 1, 2019
“It is a strong sense of solidarity, a strong sense of agitation, and a strong sense of annoyance,” one protester said when asked why he attended the rally.
After an hour of speakers and performers, the protest took to marching on the streets, stopping traffic around the downtown area.
The HSMN was launched in the first few weeks following the government’s announcement on Jan 17.
The organization strives to equip activists to mobilize against shared struggles and is mostly run by students and workers from McMaster University and Mohawk College who had already been organizing separately.
“We started having conversations about what it would look like if we came together on campus across campuses across the city and really bolstered a more cohesive body of resistance,” a HSMN organizer and McMaster student said.
Though the rally was centred on the changes to OSAP, the HSMN is also focused on the adverse effects that cutting tuition and student fees will have.
The student organizer pointed out that McMaster is set to lose $22 million in funding next year, with no additional funding from the government to offset the loss.
“We are looking at suffering quality of education given that there will probably be increases of class sizes. We are looking at part-time staff, faculty associate professors being made vulnerable, anyone that really does not have security or stability of tenure or status in the organization,” they said.
“There are a lot of communities being affected by this, not just students on OSAP,” they added.
Nonetheless, changes to OSAP will not make it easier to afford tuition anyway, according to the student organizer.
“The tuition cuts are very misleading,” they said. “If you cannot afford the tuition even with it reduced, you are still taking out higher loans, which means higher debts, higher interest rates, and in the long run, it is going to cost more.”
The HSMN is also very concerned that the option for students to opt-out of certain student fees will jeopardize some student services.
“We need to really come together as a community and realize that services we do not use today we might need tomorrow. We need to support services for each other and recognize that student fees help build a stronger, healthier community,” the student organizer said.
For the HSMN, the rally represents only the first step in what they hope will be sustained student mobilization and advocacy.
“It represents an entry point for a lot of students to mobilize around these changes and we are going to be having a sustained campaign,” they said.
The HSMN has not released any other planned actions to the public at this point.
As the semester quickly comes to an end during the busiest time of the year, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the piles of coffee stained study notes and to do lists. Between exams, holiday shopping and all the other things on your plate, it’s important to carve out some time to enjoy yourself. As Hamilton transforms into a winter wonderland, now is the perfect time to check out all the fun events happening across the city.
The Phoenix Bar and Grill will be hosting the first ever Holiday Market on campus. The patio will be decked out in twinkling lights and local vendors. Complete your holiday shopping while sipping on hot drinks and snacking on festive treats, or get creative at the crafts stations to make your own festive arts. No holiday market is complete without a photo with McMaster’s very own Santa. Entry to the market is free but make sure to bring cash for shopping at the vendors!
Looking for a lovely homemade gift that you don’t have to make yourself? Check out the Craftadian Christmas Market on Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at McMaster Innovation Park. Over 80 local makers will be there selling unique and beautiful gift ideas, from a toy for your baby cousin to a scarf for your Secret Santa pick.
Head down to Westdale on Dec. 7 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. for some wintry fun. There will be live music and entertainment, a vendor market at the Westdale Public Library, horse and carriage rides and late night shopping.
Record store Into the Abyss is putting on two of its intimate in-shop shows during December. Head down to the store on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. to see Toronto singer-songwriter Adrian Underhill, Montreal pop duo, Best Fern and Hamilton singer-songwriter, Gareth Inkster. On Dec. 13 at 7 p.m., the set list includes Toronto songwriter and poet Steven Lambke and duo Construction and Destruction will perform in celebration of their joint EP. Hamilton’s own Wish Coin will also be performing.
Looking for some feminist fun that supports a good cause? On Dec. 3 at 7 p.m., take a night off studying and attend Broad Conversations’ Feminist Trivia Night hosted at Toast Wine Bar. Admission is PWYC with 100 per cent of the proceeds being donated to Sexual Assault Centre (Hamilton Area). Open to everyone, this is a great chance to unwind with your friends and win some cool team prizes!
The Christmas Ferris wheel in Gore Park will be up through the entirety of exam season, from Dec. 7 to Dec. 23. Taking a free ride on the Ferris wheel makes the perfect downtown study break, providing both a layback outing and a spectacular view of downtown Hamilton. Stop by Redchurch Café and Gallery for a warm drink and stroll through their latest exhibit.
Head down to Gore Park between Dec. 7 and Dec. 9 for the annual Christmas market. On the opening Friday, the market will kick off with the Christmas tree lighting at 5 p.m. and there will also be free live music from the Troy Harmer band. Throughout the rest of the weekend, check out local vendors such as Red Church Café, Toast Wine Bar, Collective Arts, Hamont Doodles and Hamilton Hobos. In addition, there will be a fully licensed mulled wine and hot cider bar, DJs playing throughout the weekend, a mistletoe kissing station and much more. The best part is that entrance to the market is free.
On Dec. 8 at 2 p.m., check out this workshop for a chance to create your own semi-precious stone or crystal bracelet to aide in mindfulness and personal growth. The history of this process, how to care for your bracelet and the stone options will be explained in a booklet given at the workshop. In addition to making the bracelets, the workshop will begin with a guided mediation. The workshop cost $15 for the bracelet and a hand sewn bag to store it in. If you want to make more than one bracelet, additional bracelets cost $8. If you’re thinking this would make a perfect gift for someone, you can get your bracelet gift wrapped for $4.
On Dec. 15 from 9 p.m to 2:30 a.m. Polyester will be hosting a drag show and dance party at This Ain’t Hollywood as part of their monthly events in Hamilton. The show will feature drag performances by Beautiful Baby Bel Bel. A mix of pop, house, remixes and beloved Christmas jams will be included in DJ sets by Rosé and Mia. Polyester hosts positive and safe party environments that are open to everyone. Cover is $10.
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By: Sam Marchetti
When you think of downtown Hamilton, I wouldn’t be surprised if the first thought that comes to mind is “sketchy.” Downtown, specifically along King Street and anywhere east of Queen Street North, has often been considered as a run-down ghost of what was once a thriving, central hub.
Centered around the Jackson Square complex, my mother — a born-and-raised Hamiltonian — has told me many stories of how she and her friends used to hang around the area. The mall was initially built as an attraction for residents across the city, and for a short time, it was just that.
Now, however, it feels like that same downtown area is only a hub for the homeless and the number of clubs that exist nearby. If anyone heads to downtown Hamilton, it’s usually to visit Locke Street South or James Street North, where one can typically find highly-recommended restaurants and quaint little spots, and avoid the much less recommended walk along King Street. But is King Street really so bad? Is that downtown stretch so vastly different from how it used to and was intended to be?
I would argue it’s not. Hidden behind the stigma of being run-down, there are some great, welcoming spots in downtown. In the east end, if you walk west down King, you’ll soon find 1UP Games. This retro video game store may look in-need of a facelift, but upon entry you are greeted instantly by one of the many employees that can recommend a game or tell you about one of the many events the store runs.
To highlight how welcoming this store is, my brother, a 23-year-old-man with special needs visited the shop this past Sunday. Due to his learning curve, my brother has never really excelled at or even enjoyed many video games. However, not only was he welcomed, he was given valuable assistance and taught how to play by the community, and he now plans to return as often as possible.
For a fancier vibe, you can continue down to James Street North and head north for one block to King William Street. Although this isn’t exactly on King, you can find a stretch of nice restaurants and just across from Club Absinthe, you find Mezza, a great little Italian cafe with some high-quality pastries and drinks.
Even going inside Jackson Square, you can find two of my favourite spots. First, Landmark Cinemas, which has perhaps the nicest luxury seating I’ve ever experienced in a movie theatre. Picture full-motorized reclining seats in pairs of two, absolutely amazing for a date.
Then there’s Nations, a grocery store which contains some of the most unique items I’ve ever seen. Going into Nations is akin to being transported around the world in about 30 minutes. You can buy fresh fish and produce from around the world, as well as pre-packaged products only found on other continents and my personal favourite, Chinese-style roasted peanuts.
None of these places are particularly “sketchy” or run-down; in fact, all of them are fairly well-kept and are run by friendly, enthusiastic staff who you could not feel more comfortable around. For students it’s definitely worth a look! Perhaps you’ll end up changing your definition of downtown Hamilton.
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We talked with a few of the participants to get their perspectives on one of the largest free festivals in Ontario.
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On Thursday, Sept. 17, hundreds of women-identified individuals walked away from sexual violence and towards safety in the annual Take Back the Night march. The march began as a protest against sexual violence against women. The annual tradition encourages women to reclaim their right to safety in their communities, day and night.
For this reason, the Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton and Area (SACHA), the event’s organizing group, requested that the march remain limited to women-identified individuals. Male allies were encouraged to voice their support from the sidelines, commending those that came out for knowing when to engage in active support and when to let others take the lead.
The march began in front of the Hamilton City Hall, looped around to King Street and back. Despite being a march in resistance of power imbalance and abuse, it was far from a negative space. Instead, the night was filled with buzzing noise and a vibrant crowd—both in colour and demeanour.
As the dusk settled around City Hall, the crowd covered the square, and with it grew the noise: the fanfare, the drumbeats, the anticipatory chatter and triumphant yelling. White balloons danced above the crowd and sparkles from poster embellishments floated in the air.
Signs reading “Yes I am angry” and “We believe survivors” waved amidst chants of “A dress is not a yes.” Women of all ages took pictures together, belted out Beyoncé’s “Survivor” and reveled in the sound of their voices echoing around every street corner.
The spread of the march, the signs, the volunteers and the staff made it clear that organizing this event was not a walk in the park. Sponsor lists covered an entire page of SACHA’s pamphlet, the City Hall square was scattered with booths of organizations backing SACHA, and volunteers new and old ensured the night ran smoothly.
Erin Crickett, the Public Education Coordinator for SACHA, was one of the planners for Take Back the Night and took a break from running around to explain how monumental the night was for female empowerment.
“Working against rape culture can be really isolating and lonely… When you’re speaking out against dominant culture, you get so many messages saying you’re wrong. Every year is super reaffirming to be surrounded by joyous, vibrant, loving people who are [recognizing] that this is an issue in Hamilton.”
Take Back the Night drew out many faces from McMaster including both women joining in the march and volunteers giving their time to the cause.
“There has been a renewed surge in campus based activism since the “No Means No” campaign in 1990… It is really nice to see all three postsecondary institutions taking this issue very seriously… and the provincial government giving them a nudge with the Sexual Violence Action Plan that was released in March.”
While the recent conversation surrounding sexual violence in programs like Welcome Week Rep training is a step in the right direction, the dialogue should continue year-round and needs to reach past those in leadership positions and onto the general student body.
Estimates of crowd turnout ranged between five hundred to one thousand supporters, with a noted surge in the number of younger women dedicated to the cause. Yet Crickett has a different measure for success.
“I don’t judge the success of an event by the number of people that show up, I judge it by something that is immeasurable, which is how much did we change the culture of Hamilton and did participants have a good experience.”
Participants can post their reasons for marching on blog.sacha.ca under the series “Why I Come to Take Back the Night.” While responses are equally moving as they are chilling, there is a general consensus that the annual march is an incredibly empowering space for women from all walks of life.
A new resource was added to Hamilton’s tool belt with the opening of the Hamilton Tool Library on Jan. 2. Founder Halden Sproule hopes the not-for-profit initiative will benefit the community, and explained how his inspiration for the project grew from seeing old homes in the city that have fallen into disrepair.
“I really wanted to do something that would benefit the community and make Hamilton a more vibrant and prosperous place,” he said.
The library offers a variety of memberships depending on the types of tools used, including table saws, gardening supplies, and even specialized kitchen appliances. Most memberships cost around $50 per year, with a 20 percent discount and special rates for McMaster students.
Sproule explained that the cost is not meant to turn a profit, but rather to cover the costs associated with running the library. For every membership purchased, the library donates one to partner organizations, including the YWCA, to give to those who cannot afford the fee.
Despite having only been in operation for a week, the library already boasts over 130 members.
“We have doctors and lawyers and police officers and students. Our local MP David Christopherson is a member,” said Sproule. He also cited Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger as a supporter of the initiative.
Safety is a key factor that concerns Sproule. He stressed that people must be honest about their experience with tools.
“If they don’t know how to use something they need to ask because we don’t want to hound people. They just need to be up-front with us,” he said. “We’ve got a whole bunch of volunteers; a ton of retired cabinet-makers and pipe-fitters and electricians who are going to hang out and pass on knowledge and answer questions.”
As a non-profit organization, the library relies on donations to add to its already impressive collection of tools. Sproule spoke of a man with terminal cancer who donated much of his collection of professional-grade equipment when he could no longer use it. Despite having over 8,000 tools and appliances, Sproule was adamant that expanding the selection of tools is one of his major plans for the coming year.
Expanding their collection is not the only goal Sproule has set for the library’s first year in operation.
“We really want to help support young entrepreneurs, not just in the sense of new start-ups, but people who want to go into skilled trades jobs,” he explained. One such method of support is lending equipment to newly employed trades workers until they can afford their own supplies.
The library is not shying away from its first Winterfest either. In conjunction with StopGap, a Toronto organization that works to increase accessibility by building and selling inexpensive ramps to local businesses, volunteers at the Hamilton Tool Library will build and paint 250 ramps that will be sold to schools, homes, and businesses to improve accessibility in Hamilton. The project runs from Feb. 14-16.
Sproule said that people have spoken with him about their excitement that there is a venue for them to work on their projects and learn how to use complicated tools affordably.
“It’s really amazing what you can do when you have the right tools in your hands.”
By: Aesfeoluwa Adobunrin
The sweets smell of fall, accentuated with pumpkin spice everything, where should you be this fall in Hamilton?
BAYFRONT PARK - 200 Harbour Front drive by Bay Street
If you are super stressed about midterms, just take a walk down the Waterfront Trail and de-stress. If you take a picnic, just be sure to leave the park as beautiful as you met it. If you would like to take a boat ride down the lake, or love bird watching, then Bayfront Park is perfect. Go with friends to watch the beauty of fall as the trees shed their leaves.
ESCARPMENT STAIRS - Scenic Drive to Chedoke Golf Course
With a mind-blowing 289 stairs, this is a beautiful place for the adventurous, extreme cardio lovers, and people who love going down staircases, but not coming up. You can also watch the waterfall at the top of the stairs. Take a bottle of water with you, and make sure to wear jogging or running clothes.
THEATRE AQUARIUS DOFASCO Centre for Arts - 190 King William Street
Time to switch from big cinema screens to live plays. The intensity of background music and heartfelt plays makes this place a must see this fall. From Mary Poppins musical to Agatha Christie’s mysteries, this theatre boasts a vast range of plays.
ROYAL BOTANICAL GARDENS - 680 Plains Road West, Burlington, ON Canada
There are four distinct beautiful gardens: arboretum, Hendrie Park, Laking Park, and Rock Garden. This fall they have a “Great Pumpkin Trail” event running from Oct. 23 to 24 between 6-7 p.m. The colors of fall in this large botanical garden and its mix of woodland path and rocky grounds makes for a gorgeous outing. Student prices are also available.
SASSAFRAS POINT TRAIL – Hike from Westdale by the aviary
By hiking through Cootes Paradise starting from Westdale, you can get to Sassafras point, which has a breathtaking view. You can access the trail from Oak Knoll Drive. The trail is great to walk with friends, family, or pets, and offers gorgeous trees and boardwalks to spend a fall day.
By: Anthony Manrique
I was sitting in my Urban Planning class when our teacher asked us what we thought about Hamilton and its reputation as the Steel City. A classmate responded sarcastically with a rhetorical question, “Hamilton sucks?” At first, I shrugged, feeling indifferent to his statement, but I began to realize that he might have been too harsh on Hamilton.
I’ve visited different parts of the city and my experiences within it have been both saddening and uplifting. I remember walking from Confederation Park to Barton Street on the East End, passing by countless warehouses and factories and seeing rugged semi-trailers along the run-down road ongoing constant renovation. There I felt the rough, blue-collar, industrial feel of the Hammer.
This is how most people think of Hamilton, but that is just a small part of its identity. The year before, I decided to volunteer for the Hamilton Fringe Festival that was hosted in various theatres in downtown Hamilton, with most of the performances at night. Getting involved in the event gave me exposure to the arts and culture that this city has to offer, through the playful performances and poetic sense of humour of the local artists.
There’s also the recent Supercrawl, the first one I’ve ever been to, and it was even bigger and louder. Seeing Charles Bradley sing to a lively audience, local artists showcasing their art pieces in tents, and the massive crowds lining up along the food trucks was like a glimpse of what the colorful nightlife in this city looks like.
The juxtaposition of the cheerful, festive atmosphere of events such as the Fringe and Supercrawl against the derelict, run-down ambience of the Hammer almost feels like a surrealist painting. Through it all, the city manages to give a bit of wonder to the life and times of the people living in it. Most people would probably never notice it, but there it is, the real beauty of the city.
It’s strange that somehow, most of the people I know who don’t like the city are also the ones who always find ways to enjoy it. Often, I’m invited by my friends to come to Bayfront for some relaxation, or go skating at Hamilton Waterfront Trust, see a movie in Jackson Square, or just go for a walk at Lime Ridge. By the end of the day, we go home and talk about the experiences we had, and we’ll laugh about it in the days to come, and all of that happened here in this very city. Somehow, we managed to have a bit of fun despite how “boring” they say Hamilton is.
So, no, Hamilton does not “suck”. Hamilton is a beautiful city to live in and the number of people who are paying attention to all it has to offer is always growing. People are finally finding ways to enjoy Hamilton and are seeing the real beauty of living in the Steel City.