Yoohyun Park/Production Coordinator

Get into the winter spirit with these events during your break from school

With orange and red leaves falling off trees and midterms coming to an end just before exams, the winter season is quickly approaching. As the seasons change, winter seasonal and holiday events are coming back to the Hamilton area. For students currently living in and around campus, here are eight events to get you into the spirit of the season in December.

Winter Wonders at the Royal Botanical Gardens

From Nov. 24 to Jan. 9, Hendrie Park will be transforming into a wonderland at the Hamilton Royal Botanical Gardens — complete with festive lights and nature at every turn. 

As you stroll through the gardens, there will be festive music as you go along the 1 ½ kilometre walk, which should take around an hour to complete. Student and youth admission is currently on sale at a discounted rate.

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The Nutcracker

Ballet Jӧrgen will be carrying on the time-honoured winter tradition with this year’s production of The Nutcracker, held at the FirstOntario Concert Hall. Located at George Brown College, Ballet Jӧrgen is a Canada-wide touring company founded and directed by acclaimed choreographer Bengt Jӧrgen

The show will feature costumes designed in collaboration with Kleinburg’s McMichael Canadian Art Collection and backdrops inspired by 20th century Canadian landscapes. Tickets are now on sale for the show on Dec. 4.

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Centre[3]’s Small is Good Show and Sale

Centre[3]’s annual holiday show and sale will return this year after being postponed last year. The exhibition will run from Dec. 10 to 31 and it will feature a range of works from the artist-run centre’s members. 

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Ancaster Craft Show

Local vendors and small businesses will be gathering at the Ancaster Fairgrounds on Dec. 11 for the annual Ancaster Christmas Craft Show. Admission costs five dollars and provides community members with access to the mistletoe and tinsel lining the hall and all of the local vendors this year.

Holiday Night 2SQTBIPOC Market

The third and final event in Black Owned Hamilton’s Holiday Pop-Up series, their Holiday Night 2SQTBIPOC Market will be held on Dec. 4 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Side Door Bar. The market will feature Black, Indigenous and people of colour and queer vendors and is being held in collaboration with community organization Fruit Salad, which aims to expand space dedicated for 2SLGBTQIA+ women and gender nonconforming folks. 

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Cranky Celtic Christmas

The Westdale’s Hamilton Originals series is continuing with a holiday concert featuring Celtic Christmas tunes. The Westdale is a historical Hamilton theatre and registered not-for-profit charity located in the heart of Westdale Village

Musicians Wendell Ferguson and Scantily Plaid will be performing, with the event hosted by Mike McCurlie. Though the concert will be happening in-person at The Westdale’s theatre, the entire event will be live-streamed over Youtube and Facebook. Tickets are on sale for the concert on Dec. 20.

Holiday Historic Cooking Workshop: Victorian Delights

The Dundurn National Historic Site is also offering a Holiday Historic Cooking workshop on Dec. 3 and Dec. 12. In Dundurn Castle’s 19th century kitchen, participants will learn how to prepare seasonal desserts from two Dundurn cooks. 

Tickets are on sale now. Participants will be socially distant, masked and asked to show proof of vaccination before entering.

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Christmas Tree of Hope Lighting

The City of Hamilton and the Downtown Hamilton BIA will light the city’s Christmas of Hope, in Gore Park, on Dec. 3 at 6:15 p.m. This year there will be both in person and virtual viewing options, with in-person attendees being asked to mask and maintain social distance. 

Live on the stage in the park, Little Peter and the Elegants will kick off the event at 5:30 p.m., with a live stream being available from 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. through Cable14’s website and 9000 CHML’s social media channels. There will also be ferris wheel rides in the park, starting on Dec. 3 and lasting until Dec. 23.

Proceeds from the event will go to the Children’s Fund to support families who may be struggling during the holiday season.

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Students looking for opportunities to get into the winter spirit have many events in Hamilton to choose from this upcoming December. Take advantage of these opportunities as the semester comes to a close.

C/O Peter Ivey-Hansen

Four climate change and sustainability-related events happening around the Hamilton area in the month of November

McMaster students have perpetually been expressing their concerns about implementation of sustainable practices and telling the Mac learning institution to do better. In the month of October, McMaster launched a new Sustainable Development Goals hub on campus, where students can interact more profoundly with the United Nations’ sustainable development goals for 2030 and help promote sustainability at the local and global levels. Now, the McMaster Centre for Climate Change will also be planting a new carbon sink forest in Hamilton to help mitigate climate change. 

The beginning of November designates an important time in worldwide action against climate change, with Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 marking COP26: the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference. Held in Glasgow, the COP26 summit is a call to action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement on an international scale. Here are a few opportunities in the month of November to get your feet wet in climate change and sustainability.

Jumblies Artist-in-Residence: Exploring In-Between Places

Jumblies is a theatre organization located in Toronto aiming to increase inclusion in the arts through collaboration between diverse people and communities. Megan Spencer, an artist-in-residence with Jumblies, will be holding community activities and workshops surrounding the theme of ecotones, liminal spaces where biodiversity thrives in the room in-between. 

One of Spencer’s events will be stop motion creation sessions, where participants will learn animation skills through two dimensional stop motion. Activities will be held from Nov. 8-20 both outdoors and indoors at The Ground Floor, with an option to Zoom-in for those unable to attend in person.

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Lunch & Learn at the Royal Botanical Gardens

Every Wednesday until Dec. 1, Hamilton’s Royal Botanical Gardens will be hosting half-hour Lunch & Learn events with horticulture experts virtually. As a registered charitable organization, the Botanical Gardens are a community centre for plant science, conservation and education. Each Lunch & Learn event features a different member of the Royal Botanical Gardens staff, exploring topics from water conservation to mediterranean plants based on questions submitted by participants upon registration

GREEN BUSINESS: What does sustainability mean to you?

For those with an interest in the intersection between sustainability and business, the Hamilton Business Centre is hosting discussions on implementing sustainable practices for small businesses and entrepreneurs. To be held on Nov. 18, the discussion is intended as an opportunity for people with entrepreneurial spirit to connect and share their thoughts on ways businesses can become climate advocates at the local level. 

What kind of tree is that? Tree identification

On Nov. 20, embrace the reds and oranges of the fall by learning how to identify trees in Cambridge’s Victoria Park. Reep Green Solutions is an environmental charity active in the Waterloo region. In their mission to provide community members with tools and resources to implement sustainable living, they will be holding a tree identification workshop where participants will learn to identify tree species in the fall and winter. 

The workshop will be led by Nick Assad, a landscape architect and ISA-certified arborist, and will examine various aspects of tree identification including bud configuration and bark patterns.

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Forget about your school stress and live your fairytale at Royal Botanical Gardens

By: Belinda Tam, Contributor

Wonderful aromas, flowers, trees and shows. Doesn’t that sound amazing? With the stress of tests, midterms and assignments, sometimes it’s hard to get away from it all. The Royal Botanical Gardens (680 Plains Rd. West) is one of those places that will make you feel like you’ve walked into a fairy tale. With midterms in full swing, the RBG can be a great way to take time for yourself and relax without having to leave the city.

As the largest botanical gardens in Canada, a national historic site and a registered charitable organization for over 80 years, the RBG is an ecological gem. It was built and founded by Thomas Baker McQuesten, a Liberal member of provincial parliament for the area, who created what would become a regional botanical tourism site and environmental agency.

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In 1941, McQuesten was granted a provincial mandate for four areas of development: conservation, education, horticulture and science. Nearly 80 years later, the RBG has established an international reputation as a living laboratory for science, a leader in sustainable gardening and a key player in connecting Hamiltonians to nature. Within its 60 documented collections and 40,000 plants displayed in four major areas, it is a shining attraction just outside the city.

The RBG is comprised of four parks: Hendrie Park, Rock Garden, Laking Garden and the Arboretum.

Hendrie Park

Hendrie Park is the largest garden, known for its various plants and trees arranged in a unique design. It holds 20 different areas including the Rose Garden, Medicinal Garden and a Scented Garden. Each area boasts has a peak season that ranges depending on the time of year, allowing areas such as Hendrie Park to always give visitors a new experience.

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The Rose Garden has been newly renovated and is an extraordinary display of roses across two acres of land. Many of the roses are joined by companion plants that help to protect the roses within their vicinity.

The Medicinal Garden is unique because each bed in this garden is focused on a particular part of the human body. The beds are organized by the diseases they treat, but also features plants from various cultures, allowing one to compare ancient traditional herbs to modern medicine.

The Scented Garden features the traditional conception of a garden: stone walkways, a beautiful central fountain and the fragrance of flowers pollinating the air. You are encouraged to walk through the garden, smell the annuals and consider why we have an emotional attachment to plants. Why do we place them in vases to adorn our tables? Why do we plant them outside of our houses?

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When you go into different areas of Hendrie Park, it feels like you’re walking from one section of a storybook to the next, making it a magical experience.

Rock Garden

Then there’s the Rock Garden. It is RBG’s newest garden, built to celebrate the start of a new era with a modern twist. The founder of Royal Botanical Gardens, Thomas Baker McQuesten, took abandoned gravel and used it to form what is now known as the Rock Garden. Within the garden, there are ponds, a waterfall and a year-round perennial display. The new garden also showcases a multi-use visitor center that houses a restaurant, conference centre and a look-out deck with a view of the garden’s lower-bowl.

Laking Garden

The next area of the grounds is the Laking Garden. This is the second-oldest garden at the RBG and is home to perennial collections. Features of the garden include its iris, peony, and clematis collections, typically in full bloom during the summer months.


The last section of the garden is the Arboretum. It looks like something that came out of a landscape painting, with a vast arrangement of trees and plants. This area is especially beautiful in the spring when branches start to bud, but also in the fall when the foliage starts to assume beautiful reds, yellows and oranges. There are plants from all over the world here.

As large as the RBG is, they hold many events during the year.

The RBG has two ticketed events in the pipeline. “RBG After Dark: Boos, Brews & BBQ” is a Halloween costume party that will be held with creatures from the past. Enjoy the activities, music, locally crafted brews and delicious BBQ on Oct. 17 from 7-10 p.m. in the Rock Garden. Come out in your Halloween costume and take in the amazing autumn nightscape of the Boo-tanical Gardens!

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“The Great Pumpkin Trail” is taking over Hendrie Park’s South Bridle Trail lining each side of the path with hundreds of jack-o-lanterns. Enjoy the live entertainment, face painting and pumpkin-themed activities and games while taking in the autumn weather before All Hallow’s Eve. The event will take place on Oct. 24 and 25 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Both of these events are a fabulous way to meet up with friends, grab a bite, enjoy the scenery and get in the mood for Halloween!

As students, we have a lot of stress on our shoulders. We need to be able to take care of ourselves throughout our journey. The RBG can offer an escape from the stresses of campus, while still keeping you within the city’s limits. Stepping into one of its many acres will transport you to your favourite fairy tale and hopefully allow you to feel rejuvenated as we enter the second half of the semester.

By: Nature at McMaster

In 1941, McMaster Chancellor Howard P. Whidden said that the Westdale property’s “beautiful surrounding and natural setting” was one of the most important reasons that McMaster University relocated from Toronto to Hamilton.

The vision for this move, as summarized in a quote published in the Hamilton Spectator in 1929, was that academic pursuits would be supported by Cootes Paradise.

It is this co-dependent relationship that intended that McMaster students would be able to enjoy cool ravines and marsh meadows in their backyard to meditate and muse.

At the time, Hamilton proved itself a generous host of higher learning in having McMaster be located where it is now.

I believe that both McMaster and Hamilton are still very much the “generous hosts of higher learning” that these early writers hoped for, however, it seems that higher learning did not traverse outside the classroom walls, despite the increasing amount of stewardship and conservation work pursued by these two parties.

The nature surrounding McMaster has become a dumping ground for student trash instead of academic contemplation.

For instance, in a September letter, the Royal Botanical Gardens expressed their alarm regarding the amount of litter accumulating on Chegwin Trail just behind Brandon Hall.

At the time of this discovery, RBG was monitoring and collecting data about at-risk species, and unfortunately filled a full clear bag of single-use recyclable drink bottles and half a bag of non-recyclable garbage, including broken glass and four reusable drink bottles from the trail.

Unfortunately, the more litter there is, the more people feel it is acceptable to add to the pile.

The nature surrounding McMaster has become a dumping ground for student trash instead of academic contemplation. 

At this rate, the RBG does not foresee themselves being able to keep up with the current garbage deposition rate before “McMaster’s less respectful students turn Chegwin Trail into a landfill”.

Ecological restoration work on this sensitive and world-renowned wetland is unattainable unless the McMaster community adopts a co-dependent attitude between our community and nature.

Unless this happens, it seems that the “Chegwin Trail landfill’’ will inevitably become a reality on this campus and students will no longer be able to enjoy this beautiful trail.

The solution I personally foresee i the theory of “placelessness”, a philosophy that re-imagines how people should view their relationship to the land that Dr.Coleman suggests in his book, Yardwork.

As placelessness suggests, our relationship to nature depends upon good manners: courtesy, respect and gratitude.

As students, we belong to McMaster, Hamilton and Cootes Paradise, which is a large part of our community and our location.

By doing this we will better ourselves and the environment we interact with.

As our ancestors believed, learning and nature come hand in hand.

As an institution that prides itself for innovation and respecting our land, students at McMaster should learn to live up to McMaster’s reputation by showing greater effort in respecting their environment and appreciating the ground that McMaster was built on, because at this rate, McMaster’s beautiful backyard may not be there for our future generations.

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It was looking like we were about to lose out on another ribbiting story opportunity. Our staff’s resident wildlife photographer was heartbroken, and we couldn’t find any of the chocolate-covered crickets that were promised at the door.

The Royal Botanical Garden members and press opening evening for their Frogs! winter exhibition was bustling with antsy children and photographers. There were no frogs yet. They were set to arrive that evening all the way from their home at Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland zoo in Allenwood, Pennsylvania. Despite the Royal Botanical Garden’s efforts to contact them ahead of time, border security held up the frogs for several hours. We were told that they wouldn’t be ready to open the exhibit until the next morning.

Just as we we’re about to leave, they began ushering the guests away form the empty exhibits. The frogs were ready to make their entrance.

We should have known that such colourful company would be fashionably late. The frogs arrived in lavish Tupperware, with their exhibit displays ready and warmed so that they could get cozy and comfortable for their three-month stay in Hamilton.

They don’t have personalities quite like people, or like we like to give or pets like dogs and cats, but they definitely have attitude. Whether that’s good or bad depends on the frog.”

Tiffany Faull, Exhibit Caregiver

While this isn’t their first time at the Royal Botanical Gardens, the exhibit hopes to introduce the public to some spectacular amphibians, but also raise awareness about global and local environmental issues that are threatening the homes of these animals.

Here are some of the biggest amphibious celebs to grace to the exhibit, introduced to us by Tiffany Faull, a recent biology graduate who travels with Clyde Peeling’s exhibitions to care for their animals.

“They don’t have personalities quite like people, or like we like to give or pets like dogs and cats, but they definitely have attitude. Whether that’s good or bad depends on the frog.”

American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)

The American bullfrog may be one of the more familiar species to a North American audience, and perhaps her comfort in this environment is what produces her free spirit. While we were lucky enough to see her up close and personal before she entered her exhibit, it may not be long before she ventures off to try and explore the RBG.

“She’s an escape artist… She likes to sit and wait and bide her time, and then while you leave enough room to jump out of her exhibit and run down hallways. There are many stories from security guards of watching keepers chase after her.”

African bullfrog (Pyxicephalus adspersus)

Jaba here has a bad boy reputation. African bullfrogs are famous for their size and appetite.… They can hold large creatures into their big mouths with two front odontoid processes (that are not actually teeth contrary popular belief). They are known to eat large bugs, small lizards, birds and even other African bullfrogs, so he travels alone. But this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have a soft side.

“He is actually an amazing dad. If he were to have tadpoles he’s the one takes care of them” explained Faull. “They breed after rainy season in these pools. He will actually dig out channels from pool to pool to save the tadpoles if it starts to get dry.”

Poison dart frog (Dendrobates species)

There are five different species of poison dart frogs, and the RBG is lucky enough to feature four of them, only excluding the famed golden poison frog, which is currently relaxing back in Reptiland. While these seem like a dangerous creature to handle, the colourful stars of the exhibition aren’t actually poisonous when bred in captivity.

“We don’t actually entirely understand how it works. Or what they are actually eating. They eat a certain bug that eats a certain plant. The plant will create a toxin that will prevent itself from getting eaten. The bug will eat that plant and the frog will eat that bug, and then it will take that toxin and secrete from its skin,” said Faull.

Their exhibit includes several bromeliad flowers, which in the wild, will fill with just enough water after rainfall for the poison dart frog to lay their eggs inside. After four to eight tadpoles hatch in these small pools of water, the frogs will return to these flowers and carry their tadpoles to a larger pool of water.

Ornate horn frog (Pyxicephalus adspersus)

Like the African bullfrog, the ornate horn frogs have big mouths and even bigger appetites.

They will try to eat anything that moves in front of them, including things that are too big for their bodies, causing them to suffocate.

They may not be too smart, but at least they got the looks to make up for it. Their colourful patterns are used to camouflage when they burrow underground and wait for their food to wander over.

j-14 frog quiz

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Mary Anderson, who earned her PhD at McMaster, was given an award for her extensive community work.

He built a bridge in Hamilton, and three connecting Canada to the United States. He opened the Royal Botanical Gardens. And most significantly to students, he spearheaded McMaster’s move from Toronto to Hamilton. And yet now, 84 years after his death, Thomas Baker McQuesten is largely forgotten by the city he helped to shape.

Mary Anderson is hoping to change that.

“It’s wonderful to be able to tell the world what [Thomas McQuesten] did,” she said in an interview last week.

Anderson, who holds a PhD from McMaster in English, has dedicated her work to bringing the story of the McQuesten family back into the spotlight. She has written two books and three plays on the subject, and was presented a McMaster Alumni Hamilton Community Impact Award on Sept. 25 for her efforts.

The inspiration for this work came from a visit to Whitehern, the former McQuesten estate that has since been converted into a museum. Upon reading a sample of the letters the family had written, Anderson changed her focus of study from Irish poetry to the McQuesten family’s writings.

“[I was] entranced by them for their literary quality, for their depth of knowledge of history and science and city, Ontario politics, everything.”

With the help of a dozen students, she worked to digitize the 4000 letters the family had written. The content of the letters is now available online, along with a some photos from Whitehern’s collection.

Her most recent book, Tragedy & Triumph: Ruby & Thomas B. McQuesten, released in 2011, takes the content of those letters and tells the tale of the McQuestens’ lives, from the family bankruptcy, to Ruby’s premature death, to Tom’s political career.

She said the book wrote itself and described it as a “labour of love.”

While dramatic, Anderson feels the story of the McQuestens is also significant to the city. In recognizing Thomas as the “forgotten builder,” she feels Hamilton can solidify its sense of identity.

“Hamilton is so resistant to promoting Hamilton…[it] doesn’t know it’s important,” she said. But Anderson and McQuesten agree that the city is important, and that McMaster is a major part of that.

“Our whole development has been along mechanics lines,” McQuesten wrote in a letter, as found in Anderson’s book. “Hamilton has become too much a factory town. [McMaster] is the first break toward a broader culture and higher educational development.”

As a proponent of the “city beautiful” philosophy, Thomas McQuesten also aimed to improve the appearance of Hamilton through the establishment of parks, believing that if people were surrounded by natural beauty, it would inspire morality, making them better citizens.

Anderson is happy to be receiving an award for her work, but explains she would be involved in the community no matter what.

“It’s what I do,” she said of her community outreach. She is a member of the Hamilton Historical Board, Hamilton Arts Council, and the Tower Poetry Society.

Her Alumni Hamilton Community Impact Award is one of three awarded this year, presented at the Art Gallery of Hamilton on Sept. 25.

The other recipients were Dr. Jean Clinton, for her work in public and non-profit health intiatives, and Laurie Kennedy and Dr. Dyanne Semogas from the School of Nursing, for their leadership in the McMaster Student Outreach Collaborative.

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