Hamilton is considered Canada’s version of Pittsburgh, known for its steel and heavy manufacturing. The city of over 500,000 is situated on Lake Ontario’s western corner where a sandbar is cut through to welcome ships into a landlocked harbor where the port is located. The Burlington Skyway, which is part of the Queen Elizabeth Way, runs across the sandbar connecting Toronto with Niagara Falls. Hamilton is easily the steel capital of Canada. Unfortunately, heavy industry is to blame for the satanic mills that color the landscape and the significant pollution that fills the air. Many old buildings in recent years have been renovated rather impressively thanks to urban renewal projects and new development schemes. One project, Hamilton Place, has put the city on the cultural map. This large arts center hosts various performance arts shows.
Hess Village is similar in many ways to Toronto’s Yorkville. This area around George and Hess Streets is a pleasant neighborhood where clapboard buildings are occupied by restaurants, cafes, and shops. On nearby York Boulevard, there is usually a lot of activity going on. This is where you’ll find the busy indoor Farmer’s Market stocked full of local produce. Next door is the Lloyd D. Jackson Square, which houses a handful of decent stores. The Art Gallery at 123 King Street is an impressively modern building that houses a vast collection of 20th century American and Canadian art. Across from the gallery is the arts center known as Hamilton Place. It sits at the corner of MacNab and Main Streets. It boasts two theatres and plays home to Opera Hamilton, Theatre Aquarius, and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. A number of famous international performers pay their visit every year.
Dundern Castle at Dundern Park sits atop a hill outside of Hamilton along York Boulevard. This castle or 36-room stone mansion boasts a fine columned portico that gazes longingly at the bay. It was commissioned by Sir Allan Napier MacNab in the 1830s. He served as the Prime Minister of the United Provinces of Canada during the mid-1850s. The interior has been restored with period furnishings from the 1850s, appearing as it did in its splendor years. The castle hosts special exhibitions throughout the year and also houses a military museum in the castle grounds.
Royal Botanical Gardens
The Royal Botanical Gardens encompasses 20,243 hectares (50,000 acres) of land by the lakeside. The gardens are further out of town than the Dundern Castle and can be reached by taking Routes 2 and 6. Most of the gardens are used as natural parkland intertwined with trails. The most impressive sights are the Rose Garden, the Rock Garden, and the Arboretum’s stunning Lilac Garden. The gardens are open everyday from dawn until dusk.
Museum of Steam and Technology
The Museum of Steam and Technology is located at 900 Woodward Avenue, south of the Queen Elizabeth Way. Appropriately, it is housed in an old water pumping station that was built in 1859. It is quite the impressive piece of architecture, boasting mahogany steam pumps and original brass. The station has been restored and is open on Sundays. On display, you’ll find scale models, steam machinery, and depictions of Hamilton’s industrial history.
African Lion Safari
The African Lion Safari is located northwest of Hamilton just off Route 8. It is about 32 kilometers (20 miles) outside of town. The safari features different reserves where animals roam wild. You can view these animals by taking the tram that treks through the park. Alternatively, you can drive your car. Be careful though, as the baboons in the Monkey Jungle are known to climb all over the cars. Convertibles are thus not recommended. Side attractions at the safari include a cruise, a scenic railway, and a children’s playground.
Carroll, Donald. Insider’s Guide Canada. Edison: Hunter Publishing, Inc, 1996. ISBN: 1556507100.
“Culture of Hamilton, Ontario.” < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_Hamilton,_Ontario>
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