The City of Hamilton and the Downtown BIA are bringing Barton Village back to its former glory through local art installations. 

Hamilton is well known as a steel town. Back in the industrial days, most steel factories were located around Barton St. and as such it was quite a popular district. However, once factories started closing, many stores also followed and people began moving out of the neighbourhood and it became a street people avoided

Barton St. is currently going through a transition period where various projects and initiatives are changing tides and bringing the street back to what it once was. Among these projects, the City of Hamilton and the Downtown Hamilton BIA team launched an art project between Ferguson Ave. and Sherman Ave. in Barton Village. 

The art project features installations from 15 local artists in vacant storefronts along the street. Artists were selected based on how well they represent the artistic side of Hamilton using the people, places and history of Barton St.  

Currently the project features works from a variety of artists. Kayla Whitney, an artist and muralist who created a piece titled “Alive and Well” to highlight the legacy of Barton St. amidst its rough history. Allison + Cam, an illustration duo who aimed to portray their vision of Barton Street’s bright future through their art installation titled “Ring Out, Barton!”.  

David Trautimas, a multimedia artist who drew a large-scale Aloe Vera plant titled “Occupational Salve” to mirror Barton Street’s history and future as the plant is dependent on periods of rest and successive active growth. Edgardo Moreno, a composer and sound designer who filmed a video about the attempted revitalizations of Barton St. titled “A Fragile Balance.”  

Kyle Stewart, a visual artist highlights the theme of “Anything is possible on Barton” through his work titled “Sunnyside of the Street” which emphasizes the strong community in Barton Village. Gram + Laura, who are independent artists that collaborated to produce an art installation titled “Barton Bright/Barton Night” which aims to convey its quirky and vibrant night life as opposed to a street that should be avoided at night.  

Sunny Singh, an illustrator and cartoonist depicted a hazy memory (the past) or a dream (the future) in his piece “A Place to Play” to provide a sense of community and playfulness. Quinn Rockliff, an interdisciplinary artist who portrayed the unexpected everyday moments of tenderness and care that he encountered in Barton Village through his piece titled “Round Corners.” Chris Perez, an artist who created abstracted images using mundane objects in his mural titled “Everywhere you Enjoy.”  

Jordan Gorle, an artist and blacksmith who honoured Hamilton’s industrial heritage through his piece “steel IS art”, which brings steel back to Barton Village. Julianna Biernacki and Dayna Gedney (Hamilton Craft Studios), an artist duo who created a collaborative tufted rug installation representing Barton Village’s communal spaces changing over time.  

Sonny Bean, an illustrator who took pictures that highlight the past, present and future of Barton Village through his work titled “Intersect” which features a tiger, gardens, ladders that read for the stars and transformation. Andrew O'Connor, a multidisciplinary artist and designed who compiled Barton Street’s evolution from its celebrated industrial past to its hopeful future through his work titled “Our will to build and rebuild.”  

Par Nair, an interdisciplinary artist who wrote letters on silk sarees using hand embroidery to the “mother” in her piece titled “Letters of haunting” to represent the mute history of Barton Village. Anthony Haley, a visual artist who combined the revival and what is yet to come for Barton Street in his art installation titled “None of them knew they were Robots”. 

The team behind the Barton St. revitalization project hopes these pop-up window installations will help share the story of this community and foster a sense that it is a place that values art and culture.  

“We have a nice collection of small, independent businesses and we hope to grow that. We hope that your experience on Barton is much different than any of the other main strips in Hamilton,” said Jessica Myers, the Executive Director of the Barton Village Business Improvement Area

During the revitalization of Barton St., the team also wants to make sure they maintain the neighbourhood’s essence it had back in the day in Hamilton. 

“[Barton Village] has a grittiness that people do enjoy, kind of [like it] hasn't been scrubbed clean just yet . . . people like that original Hamilton vibe that's a bit lost in other neighbourhoods right now . . . and it’s what we want to maintain,” said Myers. 

“[Barton Village] has a grittiness that people do enjoy, kind of [like it] hasn't been scrubbed clean just yet . . . people like that original Hamilton vibe that's a bit lost in other neighbourhoods right now . . . and it’s what we want to maintain."

Jessica Myers, Executive Director of Barton Village Business Improvement Area

Moving forward, the City of Hamilton and Downtown BIA teams hope to attract more investors to continue funding projects aimed at creating a visually appealing streetscape for Barton’s businesses and residents. 

There are few things more satisfying than an ice cold glass of beer after a long day of work. Beer drinkers can range from those who like a casual glass of beer to commence the weekend to beer aficionados who can name the type of beer from a single sip. No matter what side of the spectrum you land on, all journeys towards loving beer start with a single sip. The Because Beer festival that is coming to Hamilton’s Pier 4 Park on Friday, July 11 and Saturday, 12 aims to provide a means for people to discover some of the good craft beer from over twenty-five breweries that Ontario has to offer.

Because of the volume of beer that will be available at the festival, I sampled a few beers from some of the breweries that will be in attendance in hopes of providing you with a cheat sheet of what I thought were the best beers from each of the breweries sampled.

                           

Collective Arts Brewing

Best beer: Rhyme & Reason : 4.75/5

Collective Arts Brewing merges art with beer as each label uses art from local artists. Each bottle is uniquely designed and artists are able to submit their work to the brewery in hopes that it will end up in a beautiful six pack. The fusion of art and beer gives this beer the advantage but does not overshadow the crisp flavour of the beer. Rhyme and Reason is full of hops and has a citrus and pine flavour to it and is on the lighter side. The aftertaste is complimentary and not overwhelming, making this beer the perfect evening beer.

                           

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company

Best beer: Lug Tread Lagered Ale : 3/5

Beau’s bottles are slightly smaller than a two-six, coming in at 600ml and have very attractive labels. I was very close to picking The Tom Green Beer simple for the fact that it exists, but one sip of the Lug Tread had me convinced instantly. Lug Tread is flavourful, crisp, and medium bodied, starting with a sweet taste and ending with a pleasantly bitter aftertaste. This beer reminds me of summer, but overall, it’s lacking that bit of specialty that would bring it to the top of micro-brews in the province.

                           

Great Lakes Brewery

Best beer: Thrust! An IPA : 4/5

With an attractive label that features a rocket ship, Thrust! An IPA quickly caught my attention. Often times the packaging doesn’t live up to the content but unlike that guy from the bar, Thrust! An IPA was as smooth as it was attractive. The India Pale Ale is honey-like in colour with a citrus flavour that compliments the slight grapefruit bitterness to it. Filled with citrus hops, but not in a way that’s overwhelming.

                           

Amsterdam Brewery 

Best beer: Amsterdam Natural Blonde Lager : 4.5/5

This common beer is often in local watering holes, but is still one of my favourites. It is crisp, and unique in flavour. This beer is great for all-year drinking but especially lovely in the summer. Amsterdam Blonde is pleasantly fragrant and has a light fruit flavour. This beer is simple yet satisfying and keeps me coming back for more.

                           

Wellington Brewery 

Best beer: Special Pale Ale : 2.5/5

At first sip, the beer tasted like nothing special but overall drinkable. The more I drank, the more bored I got. The amount of hops make the Special Pale Ale overwhelming and not in the good way. It tastes of malt caramel and is slightly creamy, which sounds like it would make a fantastic beer, however, Wellington’s Special Pale Ale left something to be desired. I would drink this beer if looking for something outside of PBR or Bud Light but for anyone who likes smooth, crisp, beer, this wouldn’t be my first, or even fourth choice. I didn’t even finish it, which says a lot.

                           

Grand River Brewing 

Best beer: Curmudgeon IPA : 3/5

This copper coloured beer is flavourful, however, it’s maltiness is a little too much for me. There is a bitter aftertaste that I can see as being pleasant, but is just slightly overwhelming for me. The slight caramel taste and hint of fruit flavours are redeeming factors and kept me sipping for longer than I thought I would. Overall, I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to buy this, but I can see the appeal.

                           

Double Trouble Brewing Co.

Best beer: Prison Break Breakout Pilsner : 3/5

Double Trouble Brewing Co. has cleverly titled beer including, Hops and Robbers and Fire in the Rye but the standout beer for me was the Prison Break Breakout Pilsner. The blue can had entertaining illustrations and the deep but subtle hops give the dark gold beer extra body. Unfortunately, the illustrations on the can is the best part of the beer as it is quite filling making the last half of the beer hard to drink.

                           

I suggest you make your way down to Pier 4 Park on July 11 to make your own conclusions about the best craft beers. For those who are new to the sport of beer drinking, there will also be informative sessions including how to master a perfect pour, how to pair food and beer, and how to tell good beer from bad beer. Additionally, music and food are the perfect compliments to a weekend of great beer, so there will be musical entertainment and over ten Hamilton food trucks at the festival. Entry to the Because Beer festival is forty dollars for the entire weekend or twenty-five dollars per day, which includes a tasting mug and four craft beer samples for one day or ten craft beer samples for the weekend. Drinking beer is an art form, one that I will hope to perfect during Because Beer.

Nightbox is a Toronto band fresh off the release of their excellent second EP, The Pain Sequence. They are playing a show at The Casbah on Monday, June 9. They took a few moments to speak with ANDY while on tour.

How old are each of you now?

We’re all a little older than last year.

You were slated to release new music last year, but that fell through. What happened?

We considered releasing a full-length last year but decided to hold off. We simply weren’t fully satisfied with the tracks. We only ever want to release something we’re completely happy with. So, we started fresh, and that’s when The Panic Sequence happened.

The Panic Sequence is your second EP and also your second time around working with Sebastien from DFA 1979 and Al-P from MSTRKRFT. How has that experience been?

Apart from ‘Burning’, we produced The Panic Sequence ourselves in our Toronto home. It was a great experience working with Al-P and Sebon our debut EP. We learned a lot from those guys and they brought out a new energy and creativity in us. We felt it would be cool to take what we learned and have a go producing an EP ourselves this time around.

Did you learn anything about the way you guys work with regards to songwriting or just your own inter-band chemistry that helped make the recording process with TPS a little easier?

Producing The Panic Sequence ourselves, we had more flexibility to experiment with various sound textures and ideas. We tried a lot of different ideas until something stuck. Once it did, we tried to not over-produce it, giving the tracks a more energetic, raw vibe.

You guys have built up quite a fan base for yourselves through touring and your first EP making the rounds on music blogs, are there any plans of satisfying them with a full-length LP in the near future?

There are no set plans to release a full length just yet but we’ve been constantly writing new songs. We’re going to start recording those tracks as soon as we’re finished this tour. There will definitely be more music coming from us real soon.

You played a few dates with Albert Hammond Jr. in the UK earlier this month. He’s coming off his own successful EP but he’s more famous for the work he’s done with The Strokes. Did he have any wisdom to impart to you guys about attaining longevity with a band or anything else for that matter?

He’s now a health buff. Eats right, works out, and all that jazz. We’ve all realized that you’ve got to find a balanced lifestyle on the road; otherwise you’ll wear yourself out. We try and make time for exercise when we can. It helps balance out the late nights.

When they arrived at McMaster more than a year ago, Layla Mashkoor and Nicole Rallis didn't know much about Hamilton. Since then, they’ve found their place in the city and have documented its shifting urban identity in a film called This is Hamilton...After the Steel Rush.

On Saturday, Nov. 24, a mix of community members and students poured into Homegrown Hamilton on King William Street to attend the premiere of the film. The large crowd filled the room to the brim to watch the 45-minute documentary.

Mashkoor and Rallis launched the initiative as part of their major research project for the Masters Program in Globalization.

Along with Mark Hoyne, who filmed the project, they have been consumed with the documentary process over the past year and say they are thrilled with its reception.

‘This is Hamilton’ centres on political and cultural changes in the community after the shutdown of Stelco plants that had propelled Hamilton’s reputation as the ‘Steel City.’

The film tackles issues of poverty, income inequality, local governance, attitudes toward downtown, and the emergence of a booming arts scene.

“We were learning about issues across the globe, and then we’d take a walk through the city and see the same things happening in our own backyard,” said Mashkoor. “Ironically, studying globalization made us really understand the importance of the local.”

The film features perspectives from several community members. Each interviewee was asked to describe Hamilton in one word at some point in their discussion.

President Patrick Deane, political science professor Peter Graefe, and alumna Jeanette Eby are among those from McMaster who make an appearance in the film.

Rallis and Mashkoor didn’t immediately get involved in the community, as is often the case for students who come to Hamilton to study at Mac. An MSU poll last year found that only 36 per cent of students ventured ‘outside the bubble’ once or twice a week.

“It was the people [in the community] who got us engaged and thinking about this project,” Mashkoor said.

“A large part of our time was spent doing our coursework. I think that’s a big challenge to getting students engaged with the city - they’re so busy that it’s hard to get them to into the downtown core,” she said.

“McMaster has a responsibility to the citizens of Hamilton, and the citizens also need to reach out to undergrads,” said Rallis. “This year, Mac has launched some initiatives to get undergrads into the city, which I think is a positive step to getting students to look past Westdale.”

The grads are now looking to distribute the film more widely, hoping to increase its reach through CHCH, the University’s website, and a few more screenings in the near future. The next screening is set to take place at the Casbah on Dec. 15 at 5 pm.

“We’re just three people making a movie. We’re taking it one step at a time,” they said.

By Ariel Garlow

Scanning through an early November edition of The Silhouette, at least two articles brought to mind what I’d been musing on ever since I first arrived at Mac.

Tutorials would start up for the year, everyone would introduce themselves, talk about their hobbies, their family, the city they were from. Ancaster, Burlington, Toronto or somewhere much further out of the area. What I realized is that very few of my classmates actually came from the city I was born in, and the city in which we all come to learn and grow here at McMaster. For a university in Hamilton, I wasn’t meeting very many Hamilton-born students. In many ways I think that speaks well of our campus, that students are willing to travel out of their way to get an education here.

At the same time, there’s a particular vibe I get from many of my peers about their feelings towards our Steel city. First, they often know little or nothing about Hamilton, its history, monuments and key features. This is something most people will readily admit as they ask me directions or ask about a certain bus route. Second, that they have no desire to learn about Hamilton and would rather continue to view it through their disdain as this “dirty city”.

“Ew, Hamilton is so grimy! I can’t wait until I’m done at Mac!”, “Haha, yeah, Hamilton locals are such creepy bums!”, “My mom expects me to take the Barton bus to school! Yeah right mom, what are we, beggars in the Great Depression or something?”

These are all real things I’ve overheard at my couple fascinating and educational years at this school. Which tells me one of the biggest reasons for the hatred or disgust of my home city – we’re just “too poor” for the elite students from neighbouring, wealthier cities. I’m pretty sure everyone knows that neighbouring cities view Hamilton as the slums, the grimiest part of Ontario. I’m not sure if students coming from Ancaster or Burlington know what sort of reputation their hometowns have earned (Key Words: “Daddy’s Trust Fund”).

I thought about these things as I scanned the two articles, one on Committing to community and another entitled Who are our 1%? Income inequality seminar educates Mac about poverty, both by Aissa Boodhoo-Leegsma.

And I know why my home has this reputation. Don’t think I’m ignorant to our grime, our stench, and our trash-filled alleyways. Don’t think I argue against all of the criticisms. Just because a few wealthy business-starters have swooped in to steel city with their theatre groups, organic smoothie bar slash vintage dress boutique, and their fair-trade artisan cheese stores with free Wi-Fi (a great deal of gentrification in the recent years) that doesn’t mean we’ve begun to garner respect from the elite. We’re still the city of dusty bumpkins to many.

But I ask those students, who despise and chuckle at the “gross Hamiltonians”, am I one of them? Am I a grimy little inchworm? “Oh no” they’ll say, “Not you, you’re different! You’re clean and intelligent and you’re going places!” Ah, I see, I’m exempt. How about my mother? How about my late grandfather or grandmother, surely they were this “Hamilton scum” you talk about? My best friend from fourth grade? My sister? How about my cat, is he “Hamilton scum” too?

What’s the dividing line between who’s “Hamilton scum” and who isn’t? If I came home every day in elementary school to my mom watching Jerry Springer and a plate of Kraft dinner, if I was raised by a single parent on welfare, now Ontario Works, and went to a soup kitchen at Christmas, if I wouldn’t be able to even dream about post secondary without OSAP, if my can of beans comes from the food bank, am I the so-called poor dirty Hamiltonian you despise? Or, if you know me personally, am I another human being with ambitions, emotions - a heart, a mind?

I don’t want to be pessimistic about it, even if I’ve seen many failed attempts of students trying to be more humble, ranging from 5 Days Homeless For The Homeless rallies on campus which had a coffee machine and a DJ (note to students: if you’re trying to represent homelessness, you should know the homeless can’t afford dub step and dark roast) or even Occupy McMaster where the upper-middle class white male honours student chants “I am the 99%!”.  I want to know that our students can connect with the community they live in without holding such pretensions. I want to know that even though many will never experience poverty, they will try their hardest to understand what poverty is like, and how widespread it is, in Hamilton.

To have some of my classmates see both the good and bad, to see real equality advocated, to embrace all this little smudge on the map has to offer. If there’s one simple thing I want you the reader to take out of all of this, it’s be aware of this community and become proud of your part in it.

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