Hamilton is home to a stunning collection of structures, ranging from antique gems to modern wonders. The Golden Horseshoe, a densely populated region near the west end of Lake Ontario, is centered around Hamilton.

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Hamilton_©Casavue

The place was named after George Hamilton, the man who founded the town in 1815, and is affectionately known as “The Hammer”. The city became a significant port and railway center once the Burlington Canal opened in 1830. The region has grown to become one of Canada’s most important industrial sectors. The local economy of the city has been long driven majorly by the steel and heavy manufacturing industries. Hamilton accounts for around 60% of the total steel produced in Canada, hence, earning it the name “Steel town”. With more than 100 waterfalls and cascades in the region, Hamilton is also popular by the name of “City of Waterfalls” among Canadians. The waterfalls are celebrated enthusiastically among the community of Hamiltonians.

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Hamilton-Sign_©Global news Canada

Image 3_Webster’s falls, Hamilton’s most popular waterfalls_©Paul bica

Hamilton: An Industrial hub

Manufacturing is Ontario’s most major economic activity, with the Toronto–Hamilton region being the most industrialized in the country. “Dofasco”, a stand-alone subsidiary of ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel producer, and “Stelco” account for all the steel produced in Hamilton. Employing over 8,000 Hamiltonians, the steel industry is the economic backbone of Hamilton.

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ArcelorMittal Dofasco steel plant_©John Rennison
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Aerial view of The Steel Company of Canada Limited (Stelco) mills in Hamilton, 1952_ ©thediscoverblog

The Culture

Because of its proximity to Toronto and relatively low prices, Hamilton has recently begun to attract a growing number of young people and creative workers to its downtown core. As the neighborhood grows, so does the range of restaurants, boutiques, and creative endeavors available. With themed pubs, unique restaurants, niche artisan businesses, and collectives, Hamilton is emerging into an amazing creative center in southern Ontario.

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Aerial view of Hamilton at dusk_©Dan Molon

Ethnic Composition

Official reports suggest that 26,330 immigrants in Hamilton arrived between 2001 and 2010, and 13,150 immigrants entered between 2011 and 2016. Hamilton’s city council agreed in February 2014 to proclaim the city a sanctuary city, providing municipal services to unauthorized immigrants facing deportation. Hamiltonians trace their origins to Italy, England, Scotland, Germany, and Ireland. There is a sizable French community in Hamilton, and provincial services are available in French.

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City life in Hamiton_©Investinhamilton

Architecture of Hamilton

The Lister Building

Bernard Prack designed the brown brick and white terracotta Lister building, which was finished in 1924. Because of its luxurious appearance, it has been referred to as a piece of cake. The Lister closed in 1995 due to the economic slump but reopened in 2012 following a high-profile renovation. It is presently Hamilton’s oldest existing retail/office complex with a retail arcade, which includes a coffee shop, restaurant, offices, and Tourism Hamilton’s Visitor Centre.

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The Lister Building in the James Street community_©Don Wall

Liuna Station

The former CN Rail train station, built by John Schofield and completed in 1931, is a large building with Palladian symmetry, Doric columns, and bas-reliefs. The station, which is now a National Historic Site, was decommissioned in 1993 and reopened in 2000 after being purchased and transformed into one of Hamilton’s finest event venues. With its elaborate ceilings, expensive materials, and Versace curtains hanging over the windows, the interior is equally as ravishing as the façade.

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Central hall of Liuna Station_©homecoutureinteriors

The Pigott Building

The Pigott building is Hamilton’s first skyscraper, standing at 18 stories. The structure, which was designed by Prack & Prack Architects and finished in 1929, is a blend of Neo-gothic and Art Deco styles. It has a steel skeleton structure and is coated in limestone with pointed windows and ornamental moldings on the outside. The lobby features stained-glass windows depicting scenes from the construction industry. They were once Pigott Construction’s offices, but have subsequently been turned into condos.

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Built in 1920 at the cost of $1 million, the iconic Pigott Building was Hamilton’s first skyscraper_©doorsopenontario

FirstOntario Concert Hall

The FirstOntario Concert Hall, located in downtown Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, is a music and performing arts venue. Originally known as Hamilton Place, the Ronald V. Joyce Centre for the Performing Arts at Hamilton Place was renamed Ronald V. Joyce Centre for the Performing Arts at Hamilton Place in 1998. Designed by architect Trevor Garwood-Jones, the Concert Hall was completed in 1973.

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FirstOntario Concert Hall_©Draconichiaro

City Hall

The Oscar-winning film The Shape of Water, directed by Hamilton superfan Guillermo del Toro, had a cameo appearance by Hamilton City Hall, which was designed by Stanley Roscoe (then the City architect). The building, which was completed in 1960, has become a landmark in the city. With its emphasis on volume, glass, and space, Hamilton’s city hall aided in the modernization of the city. The building’s municipal address is 71 Main Street West. The street number was carefully chosen. Several buildings had been torn down to make way for the new City Hall, so city politicians of the day could choose any odd number between 55 and 105 as the address for the new building. The number 71 was chosen to honor the number of years the original City Hall on James Street North had been in use.

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Hamilton City Hall in Hamilton, Ontario, from Commonwealth Square_©Saforrest

Since 2001, when neighboring communities Stoney Creek, Ancaster, Flamborough, Dundas, and Glanbrook were merged into the City of Hamilton, the city has changed dramatically. These towns are popular with commuters because they have a lot to offer in their own right. Many of these communities have sprouted local restaurants, stores, and utilities, and on avenues like James Street North and Locke Street, hip eateries and cafes are snuggled amid family homes, creating a bustling community feel. Many Hamiltonians have lived in the area their entire lives and recall a period of significant economic collapse and employment loss in the city. The city’s recent revitalization is due in large part to grassroots reforms made by local communities, and you’ll note that residents are enthusiastic about their city in a way that isn’t as prevalent in larger, more crowded towns.

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Hamilton skyline_©McMaster University

References:

  1. https://www.cityofwaterfalls.ca/
  2. https://tourismhamilton.com/hamilton-architecture-crawl
  3. https://moving2canada.com/living-in-hamilton/
  4. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/making-stelco-great-again-a-hamilton-steel-company-changes-its-name-back-1.3878467
  5. http://theinletonline.com/
Author

“Imtiaz is an architect based in New Delhi, inclined towards art and history. He sees architecture as millions of untold stories frozen in time. He has an immense love for literature and everything that has anything to do with the past. He specifically enjoys museum tours and reading books.”

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