C/O @ark_collectivehamilton

The Ark Collective draws the community’s attention to local BIPOC businesses.

The Ark Collective strives to promote and support local Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour owned businesses from their storefront on James St. N. The collective aims to help expose the community to the variety of these small businesses and their products.   

Ayodele Adefala, the founder of Ark Collective, worked in retail for over 10 years before launching her online clothing boutique, Liza and Grace, focused on selling women’s clothing and accessories. However, Adefala realized customers were more willing to trust and purchase from a brick-and-mortar store because they could physically see and try the product.

“Small business owners struggle with having to pay for Facebook ads, which cost a lot of money for people to even realize your store exists. And . . . sometimes customers are a bit apprehensive and conscious about online shopping with new businesses, like “Will I get my product or not?”, that sort of thing,” explainedAdefala. 

Adefala decided to sell some of her products in a collective store in Toronto. Being a part of a collective can be a incredibly valuable opportunity to a business and it provides every brand with the same amount of exposure and recognition. 

Seeing a lack of similar collective store in Hamilton, Adefala decided to open her own in the steel city this past April. Recognizing the difficulties local BIPOC businesses can face, she chose to focus her work on supporting them. 

“The sad reality of this life is we don’t have as many opportunities as some of our counterparts. In the GTA, there are about six or seven Black-owned businesses with a similar business model. But the prerequisite is you have to be Black, but I was like, ‘What about the Spanish girl? What about the Ecuador girl? What about the Asian girl?’. . . We all suffer with similar issues,” said Adefala. 

“The sad reality of this life is we don’t have as many opportunities as some of our counterparts. In the GTA, there are about six or seven Black-owned businesses with a similar business model. But the prerequisite is you have to be Black, but I was like, ‘What about the Spanish girl? What about the Ecuador girl? What about the Asian girl?’. . . We all suffer with similar issues.”

Ayodele Adefala, founder of ark collective

Her business approach has broadened her search for brands to collaborate with while also keepingt the products in the collective diverse. 

Right now, Ark Collective has over 20 brands with various products such as clothing, jewellery, accessories, skincare, health and wellness and home decor.  

“You get to see the vendors in person who can tell you more about the product. I feel like [a storefront has] a more genuine approach to it and that’s what makes us unique,” explained Adefala. 

She plans to add food items to the collective soon and hopes to make the Ark Collective a one-stop shop where customers can purchase anything they might need. 

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Adefala also rotates through vendors every three months and she hopes this system will help keep the store seeming fresh and different every time a customer steps in. 

Moving forward, the Ark Collective aims to expand the variety of products they carry and continue to participate in more pop-up markets to bring more exposure to the brands in their store. 

“I want them to walk away with that ‘do good, feel good’ mindset and feeling when they are coming in,” said Adefala. 


Gold Bars Dessert is a travelling dessert shop that opened in March 2020. From butter tart bars to brownies, the shop specializes in dessert bars. Gold Bars Dessert offers holiday-themed bars and uses seasonal ingredients.

They offered Easter egg brownies around Easter, peach cobbler bars during Ontario’s peach season in August, pumpkin spice bars in October and are currently selling holiday cranberry bars and candy crunch brownies for the holiday season.

Gold Bars Dessert has also partnered with the Hamilton-based specialty coffee company Detour Coffee to offer their whole beans. Gold Bars sells espresso and medium roast, which were handpicked to pair with their dessert bars.

The dessert business combines owner Germaine Collins’ love of adventure with her love of sweets. The adventure lover has created a business that allows her to travel and connect to people through food.


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While the shop doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar location, they frequent farmers’ markets and host pop-up shops. In the summer and early fall of 2020, Gold Bars Desserts was a weekly vendor at Connon Nurseries Fall Farmers’ Market in Waterdown. They also did a Christmas pop-up at Connon Nurseries on Nov. 28. Check their website and social media to find out where they’ll be next.

When they are not at a market, Gold Bars dessert does local doorstep drop-offs. If you’re located in the Greater Hamilton area, Burlington, Oakville, Mississauga or Toronto, you can order online for next-weekend delivery. The delivery days are announced on their website and on their social media.


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At markets, you can buy individual bars for $3. For doorstep drop-offs, Gold Bars Desserts sells the boxes of bars on their website. A box of nine bars is $20 to $25 depending on the type. Each bar is about the size of a coaster. The delivery is an additional $5.


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You really can’t go wrong with any of these dessert bars. They’re all decadent, filling and beautifully decorated. I would definitely recommend the OG brownie if you’re a chocolate fan because even after a couple of days, the brownie is still moist and rich inside. If you’re not a chocolate fan, I’d recommend the blondies or lemon bars.

If there is a seasonal dessert bar when you’re looking to purchase, definitely try that. I tried the cranberry holiday bars and it gave Starbucks’ cranberry bliss bars a run for its money.


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Gold Bars Desserts is perfect for the sweet tooth who adores a large, classic brownie or dessert bar. The variety of flavours and the seasonal creations make it an exciting business to visit month after month.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is the perfect way to support a small business and satisfy your sweet tooth without having to leave your house. Having Collins visit my house on a Sunday afternoon to deliver me handmade sweets was the highlight of my weekend. With the pretty packaging and Collins’ handwritten notes, Gold Bars Dessert bars make the perfect gift for your loved ones.


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Photos by Kyle West

By: Andrew Mrozowski

Tucked away on Barton Street East are a ton of local Hamilton shops with a lot to offer. On Barton Street East and Emerald Street North, a coffee shop is quickly approaching its one-year anniversary. Aptly named Emerald Coffee Co, the space creates a larger than life quality that has been ten years in the making.

Owner Phil Green grew up in Montreal. For the past ten years, Green worked in the automotive industry and lived in the United States, but he yearned for change. Leaving his job with thoughts of opening a coffee shop at the back of his head, Green made the choice to move back to Canada and live in Hamilton.

“I was walking my dog and saw that this place had a lot of potential. The neighbourhood was filled with young families, but they had to walk 15 minutes to get a coffee…A coffees hop is the hub of a neighbourhood and I wanted to create that hub here,” said Green.

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In the summer of 2017, Green embarked out into Hamilton to try and find a place. Setting up home base on Barton Street East, the owner knew that he was taking a chance with this spot.

“I took a risk and opened in a location where most people wouldn’t have but once the idea was in my head, I wanted Barton Street. We wouldn’t have been the same if we opened somewhere else,” said Green.

The doors to Emerald Coffee Co. were officially set to open in February 2018 but had to be delayed as the building was not up to code. Green eventually opened a month later on March 31, 2018 and received an unanticipated warm welcome.

“It’s been great! The neighbourhood has been amazing, I’ve met amazing people, and the coffee scene in Hamilton is friendly. It doesn’t feel like competition here, it feels like we are all friends. There is a real sense of community,” said Green.

Emerald Coffee Co. is a unique coffee shop as everything they use is natural. Green makes his own vanilla syrup using vanilla beans, a rose syrup from dried rose petals, and goes to the United States to get hazelnut milk.

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With a wide range of espresso-based beverages such as lattes, and americanos, Green also has kombucha and cold-brew on tap all year around. Emerald Coffee Co. also gets in a different roasts of coffee every two weeks to keep things fresh. A fan-favourite of Emerald is their hazelnut latte made with real hazelnut milk instead of using traditional hazelnut syrup.

“We try to make everything as genuine as possible,” said Green.

About once a month, Green also develops a special seasonal drink. Bringing back a fan-favourite, the rose latte will be featured for the shop’s one-year anniversary along with one-dollar coffee throughout the last weekend of March.

Aside from coffee drinks, the shop also has sandwiches and salads for customers to enjoy as well as sweets from local Hamilton bakeries such as Donut Monster.

Currently, Green is trying to develop a way to bring a nightlife crowd to Barton Street East.

“It’s a really gay-friendly neighbourhood with a lot of the owners being queer, and we are welcoming to everyone. Hopefully in the near future, I’ll have some coffee cocktails to serve in the evening because we really need a nighttime crowd in the neighbourhood,” explained Green.

Isolated from the hustle and bustle of the downtown core, Emerald Coffee Co. is a great place to study or enjoy a great beverage with friends in a warm and inviting atmosphere amongst a community that is working together to show more of what Barton Street East has to offer.


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Photo from Silhouette Photo Archives

By: Lauren Olsen

Last January, McMaster University’s president Patrick Deane took a stand and banned all forms of smoking on school grounds, making McMaster Ontario's first 100 per cent tobacco and smoke free campus. This included banning the on-campus use of cigarettes, cigars, hookah, pot and most importantly, the ever-popular vape pens.

The ban on campus was a welcome sight for those opposed to tobacco, however, the ineffectiveness of enforcing this policy rendered the ban as a bland suggestion rather than a legitimate rule.

You can witness this phenomenon simply by walking around campus. You won’t make it far before encountering students vaping in direct violation of the McMaster ‘ban’, with their discretion being non-existent. Students can be found vaping in classrooms, lecture halls, residences and around campus.

Recently, there was an opening of the 180 Smoke Vape Shop in Westdale which will only further support and make accessible the habits of smokers. The store offers everything including e-cigarettes, vape juice, pens and portable vaporizers, and is located just a short walk from McMaster University.  

They are attracting not only smokers who may be trying to quit, but others who lack the proper information about the hazards associated with vaping, and may only be concerned with becoming part of the current trend. They are promoting this product as a commercialized, socially-acceptable activity rather than a helpful addiction quitting strategy for tobacco smokers.

For McMaster students, it’s just a short stroll to a readily-available addiction which is now a booming industry. According to BBC News, the number of vapers has increased rapidly from about seven million in 2011 to 35 million in 2016. The global vaping products market is now estimated to be worth up to $22.6 billion USD.

The rapid growth of the industry is not a victimless development. New products need new users and stores like 180 Smoke Vape Shop will likely be getting their customer base from McMaster.  

Other than perpetuating the ‘look’ and fueling the industry, students are playing with fire and risking addiction. Although e-cigarettes do not contain any tar, carbon monoxide or other chemicals found in tobacco smoke, they still mimic the familiar action of a smoker and can be addictive. What used to be a method to quit is now becoming a method to start, and making smoking acceptable again.

The smoking population who are slowly cutting back their nicotine addiction to quit smoking have made way for the young adults who are peer-pressured by the new “cool” thing to do and, in turn, are becoming dependent on the addictive drug.

Harvard Health Publishing describes the side effects of vaping to include the potential of diabetes, loss of impulse control, impairment of brain development and elevated heart rate and blood pressure. Thus, the antidote is quickly becoming the poison.

I am not advocating that McMaster shutdown 180 Smoke Vape Shop, or campaign to influence public policy. Rather, the university should enforce the very rule they promised in early 2018, in order to make McMaster a safer environment and community.

Creating a ban was a novel idea, but not following is more than just lazy enforcement — it is potentially dangerous to student health.

More and more youth will be exposed and persuaded to try vaping, which easily perpetuates an addiction whose lasting health implications are still being determined. Moreover, the campus itself is not an inviting space with smoke billowing from its hallways and paths. It’s time to inhale the future and start enforcing the smoking ban on campus.


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Photo C/O @hamiltonwinterfest

By: Natalie Clark

Hamilton has been getting its fair share of the winter weather this season, so in what better way to embrace it than to explore all that Winterfest 2019 has to offer?

Winterfest is a two-week long affair that features winter events in and around the city. Beginning Feb. 1, there will be free and paid events held throughout Hamilton such as open skate, live music and various themed events. Take a break from studying and enjoy the winter weather while taking part in this timely Hamilton tradition.


Live Music by Matt Mays

Juno Award winner and Hamilton born indie rock singer/songwriter Matt Mays will be performing at Hamilton Central Public Library on Feb. 10. Mays is currently on his Dark Promises Tour and will be making a pit stop in his hometown for an intimate show. Head on down to Hamilton Central Public Library for some of the best music Hamilton has to offer. This is a paid event and tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite.



Frost Bites Performance Festival

Frost Bites is a four-day event in partnership with Hamilton Fringe featuring some of Hamilton’s best theatre performers. Each night, artists will perform “bites” of theatre shows that are meant to last no longer than 20 minutes each. The festival will also be taking place on Feb. 14 to Feb. 17 at two community locations, the New Vision United Church and St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church.



Celebrate Black History Month in Hamilton

On Feb. 13, Winterfest will be holding a lecture featuring guest speaker Kojo “Easy” Damptey, an afro-soul musician and scholar-practitioner. Born and raised in Ghana, he attempts to address societal issues and enact change in the world with his lyrics. He will be speaking on behalf of stories of existence, resilience and resistance. The event is free and will be held at the Historic Ancaster Old Town Hall. All are welcome to join the celebration and commemoration of Black History Month.



Learn to Knit

Stressed? Bored? Dying to pick up a new hobby? If any of those resonate with you then this beginners knitting course may be up your alley. For $90 you’ll learn the basics of knitting over the course of three classes, running on Wednesdays from Feb. 13 to Feb. 27. Grab a group of friends and head down to the Art Aggregate in East Hamilton for all the tips and tricks you need to know about knitting.




Tai Chi Open House

In honour of the beginning of the Chinese New Year on Feb. 5, Barton Stone Church will be hosting a Fung Loy Kok Taoist Tai Chi Open House on Feb. 9. This event is free and includes a demonstration and class, as well as various hot drinks including tea and apple cider! There will be volunteer staff available to chat with you about their class schedule, as well as information about the benefits of Taoist Tai Chi. The event is sure to be a warm evening full of new learning experiences.


The Canteen

The Canteen is one of Hamilton Winterfest’s signature events. Featuring live music from a variety of artists, including Hamilton-based singer/songwriter Ellis, a cozy fire, winter marketplace and various other events, this event is worth the trip to the Battlefield House Museum & Park National Historic Site on 77 King Street West. The location is also known as one of Canada’s most significant monuments of the War of 1812. Aside from participating in the event’s attractions, you are also welcome to explore the museum and historic grounds on site. This is an all-day event taking place on Feb. 16 starting at 10 a.m.



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