Are you thinking about visiting Hamilton, Ontario? Are you or will you be in its vicinity sometime in the future and like to go exploring little gems like ours? In case you are but haven’t really thought out what you would like to visit or where you would like to stay and eat, we have decided to showcase our city to you and invite you over.
The City of Hamilton is located at the west end of Lake Ontario – in Burlington Bay – 68km southwest of Toronto and 66km west of Niagara Falls and the border with the USA. It has the population of about 550.000 people in the city area (750.000 on its entire territory) and is Canada’s largest steel producer and a major port on the Great Lakes.
The city’s history
Hamilton was conceived by George Hamilton, the son of businessman and politician Robert Hamilton, who was also a well-connected veteran of the War of 1812 – after he purchased a house and approximately 105 hectares of land (the Durand farm) in the small village then known as Head of the Lake in 1815. The founder started developing the city by delineating roadways and selling parcels of his estate to newcomers. Soon thereafter, in March the following year, the settlement was chosen as the administrative seat of the newly created Gore District and given the name Hamilton – in honor of its patron.
The economy of this small town was boosted in 1832 when a canal was cut through the outer sandbar providing access into Burlington Bay to schooners and steamers. With Hamilton becoming a major port, and a large number people migrating from the UK in the 1830’s, the town grew steadily and developed quickly. Its location in the bay area made it the perfect choice for mercantile houses, granaries and manufacturing establishments that were to meant to support the region. Not only that, but plans were formed to build a steamboat company, a bank and a railway to the near town on London.
However, the impending economic fluctuations and the Rebellions of 1837, delayed the railway construction until the 1850’s at which point the town bought in the Great Western Railway and other lines. As the railway boom ended in 1857, the town was forced to focus on the stove and farm-implement foundries.
In the decades to come, Hamilton established other industrial businesses – ready-made clothing and sewing-machine manufacture developed during the American Civil War with the Hamilton Blast Furnace producing pig iron from the 1890’s onwards. The residential construction boom started in the early 1900’s and lasted until 1913.
The Hamilton industries concentrated on the production of war material during both world wars, redirecting their focus to houses, home appliances, and automobiles after 1945. However, with textile mills and knitwear plants being shut down in the 1950’s and 60’s, the town became increasingly dependable upon the steel and related industries until the decline of said industry in the 1980’s. Today Hamilton’s steel industry employs half the amount of workers it did at its peak, but the good news is that the town managed not to become a decaying or depopulated “rust belt” city as most of them do. The reason for that is the fact that traditional manufacturing has played an important role in both town history and economy to this very day. The service sector has continued to grow, as have some new recycling and waste disposal industries, keeping the town alive, modern and interesting to visit.
What to visit in Hamilton, ON
If you are a history buff, Dundurn Castle should be at the top of your list of things to see in Hamilton – a proper historic neoclassical mansion on York Boulevard. Built on the former site of a fortified military encampment established by the British in 1813, the house was completed in 1835 and has forty rooms featuring the latest conveniences of gas lighting and running water of the period. It is currently owned by the City of Hamilton, which purchased it in 1900 for $50,000, an is now designated as a National Historic Site of Canada. The City has spent nearly $3 million renovating the site to make it open to the public. The rooms have been restored to the year 1855 when its owner Sir Allan Napier MacNab, 1st Baronet, – railway magnate, lawyer and Premier of the United Canadas (1854-1856) – was at the height of his career. Costumed interpreters guide visitors through the home, illustrating daily life from the 1850’s. The Duchess of Cornwall, a descendant of Sir Allan MacNab, is the Royal Patron of Dundurn Castle.
The park includes the Hamilton Military Museum, which is housed in an outbuilding relocated when York Street was widened as York Boulevard in the 1970’s. Displays include the War of 1812, the Rebellions of 1837, the Boer War, World War I, World War II and the role of women in the military. Artifacts include uniforms, medals, weapons, photographs and other military memorabilia. The museum also features a library with materials about Canadian military history, which is open by appointment.
A large garden – the Kitchen Garden – is cultivated near the eastern edge of the park. The produce is used in the castle’s kitchen, and the excess is donated to a local food bank. Tours of the castle end in the kitchen, where samples of the cuisine of the era are offered to tourists.
The museum has 47 military jets, propeller-driven aircraft and helicopters on display – a collection of Canadian military aircraft many of which in flying condition. The museum is also restoring several Second World War and Cold War aircraft, including a TBM Avenge, a De Havilland Canada built S-2 Tracker and a Bristol Bolingbroke. The flying collection performs at air shows and is made available for local flights by museum visitors. Special events take place throughout the year and facilities including the main aircraft exhibit area can be rented for private events.
The Avro Lancaster flown by the museum is one of only two airworthy Lancasters in the world. Known as the Mynarski Memorial Lancaster in honor of Pilot Officer Andrew Charles Mynarski, it is painted in the markings of his aircraft. An Ontario Historical Plaque near the entrance commemorates Eileen Vollick‘s role in Ontario’s heritage as Canada’s first licensed female pilot.
For those of you who like to check out the art scene wherever you go, the Art Gallery of Hamilton is something you cannot miss.
Founded in 1914 the Art Gallery of Hamilton, located in the heart of downtown Hamilton, on King Street, West – is the oldest and largest art museum in southwestern Ontario with a permanent collection that is recognized as one of the finest in Canada. Embracing Canadian historical, international and contemporary art, the gallery houses a collection of more than 10,000 works. It consists of superb pieces by Alex Colville, Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven, Emily Carr, James Tissot, Jean-Léon Gérôme, Gustave Doré, Norval Morrisseau, Keith Haring, Ed Burtynsky, Kim Adams or Tyler Tekatch, to name a few.
The AGH is renowned for presenting outstanding exhibitions and complementary programming for visitors of all ages. In addition to AGH Tours and AGH Talks, the Gallery offers studios for adults and kids, family activities, school programs, film programming, performances, etc.
Also, one of the free things to do in Hamilton could be visiting the iconic Hamilton Farmers’ Market. Founded in 1837, it is located within a large multifaceted complex in downtown Hamilton, Ontario – Lloyd D. Jackson Square on the corner of James Street & York Boulevard. It is an indoor market known well by locals for its variety of foods and products, produced both locally and from around the world.
In 2011, the market was completely renovated and now has:
- A wide mix of quality, affordable local produce, and culturally diverse products from nearly 70 vendors
- Selection of fresh foods prepared onsite
- A community kitchen for cooking demonstrations and events
- Improved energy efficiency and accessibility
- Fully restored Birks clock hanging proudly in the center of the market.
Although, we are not sure how “free” of a sightseeing opportunity this will be after you spend half your paycheck on odds and ends that can be found here.
For those sports freaks out there, Hamilton offers you the Canadian Football Hall of Fame! This is a non-profit corporation that celebrates great achievements in Canadian football which was officially opened on November 28, 1972, and is located in downtown Hamilton, besides the former Hamilton City Hall and Family Courts Building. The Hall is maintained by the Canadian Football League. It includes displays about the Canadian Football League, Canadian university football and Canadian junior football history.
The old Canadian Hall of Fame building is easily identified by the slightly-larger-than-life metal sculpture Touchdown, featuring a successful receiver being tackled. As of the 2016 class, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame has honored 283 players and builders. Charter membership to the Hall began on June 19, 1963. The Hall of Fame also has a Football Reporters of Canada wing dedicated to reporters.
Another thing to do in Hamilton at night, which is also free is the Festival of Friends. This is an annual three-day free summer music, art, and crafts festival held the first weekend after the Civic Holiday in August. It is located at Gage Park in Hamilton and is the largest annual event of its kind in Canada as well as a major tourism draw for the region.
Festival of Friends was started in 1976 by artist Bill Powell Jr. as an independent folk festival in Hamilton’s Gage Park. Performers for the first event included Willie P. Bennett, Ray Materick, Brent Titcomb, Noel Harrison, Stan Rogers and Jesse Winchester.
Over 100 crafters, artisans, and other vendors are available for shopping throughout the weekend, as well as a large varied “Foods of the World” area, a beer garden and a midway.
For those of you who consider yourselves adventurous, you have a unique chance to go on a proper African Lion Safari in the middle of Canada!
This family-owned safari park situated within Hamilton city limits, about 100 kilometers west of Toronto was founded by Gordon Debenham “Don” Dailley, a retired Canadian Army colonel, and opened its doors on August 22, 1969. In 1971, the park began working with Asian elephants, and in 1985 they started to make a concentrated effort to breed Asian elephants. Over the years, successful breeding of 30 endangered species and 20 threatened species has occurred in the park.
The park now includes more than 1.000 animals, representing over 100 species of mammals and birds from across the globe. Guests may tour 7 game reserves (with a total area of about 300 hectares) traversed via tour buses or the visitors’ own vehicles where animals roam freely in large contained areas:
- Nairobi Sanctuary
- Simba Lion Country
- Timbavati Lion Country
- Duma Cheetah Preserve
- Wankie Bushland Trail
- Rocky Ridge Veldt
- North America
Aside from the game reserves, there is a large walking section where hundreds of exotic birds and primates are on display along with the park’s herd of Asian elephants.
It is an accredited member of the CAZA, and is also a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), the International Elephant Foundation (IEF) as well as the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators (IAATE).
It is open from the first weekend in May to the weekend of Canadian Thanksgiving in October and has an on-site bus in which to tour the park, but public transportation to the park itself is limited.
If you are looking for a nice date idea while in Hamilton, the Hamilton Waterfront Trolley is the perfect choice for you. (Don’t worry, we won’t tell your better half!)
The first Hamilton Waterfront Trolley was unveiled in 2006 by the Hamilton Waterfront Trust while a second one was added in 2007. The two 37-passenger rubber tired trackless trolleys allow both young and old the opportunity to travel along the Hamilton Waterfront Trail.
The 12km trail follows the shoreline of the western portion of the harbor which features many natural and built attractions, including active marine and rail operations, marinas and sailing/rowing clubs, children’s play facilities, historic bridges, and shoreline and views so natural that you will think you are in Muskoka. Moreover, the conductor provides a narrated commentary as you travel in this one of a kind vehicle.
In case you haven’t heard of Waterfalls of Hamilton, and you haven’t planned our visit to our city specifically with them in mind, you could have left and not seen the beautiful nature we have to dazzle you with! It would have been such a shame…
Hamilton is called the “City of Waterfalls” and even “Waterfall Capital of the World”. With over one hundred waterfalls just minutes from the downtown core, Hamilton is believed to have the highest number of waterfalls of any urban area of its size.
The types of waterfalls located in and around Hamilton vary by location. From cascade to plunge, staircase to ledge, it is impossible not to find the kind of waterfall you wanted to see in person. The most famous are:
- Albion Falls, Mountain Brow Blvd. A scenic 19-meter cascade waterfall. Located in King’s Forest Park.
- Borer’s Falls, Rock Chapel Rd., Dundas. A relatively small but picturesque waterfall. Located in Borer’s Falls Conservation Area, the escarpment in this area is quite scenic as well.
- Devil’s Punch Bowl, Ridge Rd., Cambridge, ON. One of the taller waterfalls in the area. Located in Devil’s Punch Bowl Conservation Area.
- Tew’s Falls, Harvest Rd., Greensville. The tallest waterfall in the city, at 41 meters only slightly shorter than Niagara Falls (although the volume of water going over Tew’s Falls is much smaller and shrinks to a trickle in the summer; spring is a better viewing time). Located in Spencer Gorge/Webster’s Falls Conservation Area along with Webster’s Falls.
- Tiffany Falls, Wilson St. E., Ancaster. Tiffany Falls is a 21-meter ribbon waterfall. The location is easy to reach, being located just off of the former Highway 2.
- Webster’s Falls, Fallsview Rd., Greensville. Arguably the most beautiful waterfall in Hamilton, 30 meters wide it is the widest in the city. The surrounding area in Spencer Gorge/Webster’s Falls Conservation Area is a popular picnic spot in the summer. The staircase down to the base of the falls is treacherous but the view from down there is beautiful. While you’re there, check out the cobblestone arch bridge near the falls.
Most of the waterfalls in Hamilton are situated on the Niagara Escarpment (a UNESCO world biosphere site) in and along the Bruce Trail and can require anywhere from minimal walking to a long distance hike to access. Since the waterfalls are situated beside steep drops and difficult to access locations it is important to stick to marked paths and viewing areas.
We bet you didn’t know this, but Hamilton is a big golf center, too! Aside from privately owned courses the City of Hamilton owns and manages three 18-hole public golf courses:
- Chedoke Golf Club – The Beddoe Course
The Beddoe Course is a wonderful mature parkland course that’s defined by its rolling terrain, beautiful tree-lined fairways, hazardous Chedoke Creek, which comes into play on six holes and of course the lingering Niagara Escarpment.
Short off the tee by today’s standards, the Beddoe Course has three sets of tees ranging from 5,464 to 6,084 yards. The distance is a little deceiving because the course plays to a challenging par-70, with five par-3s, including three on the front (Nos. 3, 6 & 8) and two on the back (Nos. 13 & 17) and just three par-5s. The course features tight landing areas, rolling fairways that follow the escarpment’s undulating contours and small, sloping greens.
- Chedoke – Martin Golf Course
More than a century of comfortable but challenging golf has attracted many players to the Martin Course for a game of golf. The Martin Course has always been that “small town” public course that people love to play time and again with family and friends. It remains the oldest course in the city.
The holes are straightforward for the most part, but demand accuracy to avoid trouble. The Martin Course has two sets of tees – playing 5,505 and 5,745 yards, par-70. There are five par 3s and three par-5’s (all on the front nine) and back to back par-3s on Nos. 3-4 and Nos. 16-17 and another thrown in on No. 10 for good measure. There are lots of big trees to be avoided on the fairways, while the putting surfaces are small by most standards and challenging to read with the escarpment in the background.
Designed by former City of Hamilton Parks Foreman Matt Broman, with input from Chedoke Head Professional Rod Goodes, the course opened for play in the fall of 1973. Broman also did the redesign of the Beddoe course in 1961. King’s Forest measures 7,150 yards, par-72 from the tips with a rolling layout that features some terrific elevated tee shots, lots of challenging doglegs and six holes cross the Red Hill Creek. The addition of irrigation ponds and significant improvements to the Red Hill Creek, which winds its way through the property, in 2009 have only added to the challenge.
Located in the heart of the picturesque Red Hill Valley and at the foot of the Niagara Escarpment, King’s Forest Golf Club is, without doubt, one of the premier public golf facilities in the country. It’s also one of the busiest, averaging 42,000 rounds annually over the last 5 years.
Where to eat in Hamilton, ON
If you are traveling and eating on a budget, but want to try something different, Hamilton can give you that.
Vida La Pita is a shawarma restaurant established in May 2003 voted by thousands of satisfied customers as the best shawarma restaurant in Hamilton where you can choose between eating in or take out. Their staff is very well trained to serve clients fast with quality in mind with their goal being customer satisfaction.
For a completely new eating experience, visit Tea Hut while in Hamilton.
Tea Hut is a Taiwanese restaurant known for its bubble tea located in the Landmark Place building (tallest building in the city). It is a popular hangout for the local Chinese community and has very friendly staff and owners who will welcome you. Excellent food at affordable prices, and a huge selection of bubble tea. Enjoy a game of XiangQi (Chinese chess) or Jenga, or relax on your laptop with their free wi-fi.
Those of you looking for fine dining opportunities in Hamilton, Brux House Craft Beer & Kitchen is the right place for you.
Inspired by the European beer belt, Brux House located in Hamilton couples fine fare and top-shelf service with the best of craft beer and ciders, spirited cocktails and exciting wines.
Executive Chef Fraser Macfarlane gives classic cuisine his creative culinary slant using quality and local ingredients. Food is paired with traditional and innovative beer styles from an extensive bottle and tap list of local and imported brews.
The restaurant’s bar area is home to a changing chalkboard menu listing daily features. An elegant dining room offers à la carte menu that caters to guests looking for refined, but approachable, dishes.
Brux House offers private rooms to host events, and a patio to enjoy brews and bites outdoors. Its sister location, Quatrefoil Restaurant, is located in nearby Dundas and specializes in contemporary fine dining.
Where to stay in Hamilton, ON
If you like to be comfortable when traveling, the Sheraton Hamilton hotel will meet your every need.
Sheraton Hamilton is located across the street from events at Hamilton Place and next to the FirstOntario Centre – as well as 1.9km from Dundurn Castle.
The traditional rooms have free WiFi, plus coffee makers, flat-screen TVs, and desks. Upgraded rooms add skyline views. Club rooms provide access to a lounge with free breakfast, snacks and afternoon appetizers. Luxe suites add living and dining areas, plus fireplaces.
Amenities include a casual restaurant featuring local artwork, plus a lobby lounge, a 24/7 fitness center and an indoor pool with a hot tub. There are 19 meeting rooms and a business center, plus parking for a fee.
For those of you looking not to splurge on every single aspect of your travels, the Comfort Inn hotel is a good choice.
Off Queen Elizabeth Way, Comfort Inn is a 2km drive from Confederation Park on the shores of Lake Ontario and a 12.8km drive from FirstOntario Center in downtown Hamilton.
Modern rooms feature free WiFi and flat-screen TVs, plus coffee makers, mini fridges and microwaves. Some rooms offer pull-out sofas and desks.
There are a free hot breakfast buffet and a business center, plus a currency exchange service and free parking.
Where to repair your car in Hamilton, ON
It’s not so uncommon for your car to die on you when you are visiting a town for the first time in your life and have absolutely no idea where to go and with whom to leave your baby. Well, have no fear, CRS Automotive will be YOUR trusted mechanic, too!
CRS Automotive is a family owned and operated business serving the Hamilton area for over 18 years. The CRS Automotive service team has extensive automotive shop management experience and specialized vehicle service training that allows us to better communicate and understand your needs. For 15 years our motto has been Quality, Value, and Service and we continue to strive for excellence in each of those areas.
Here is what we can help you with:
- 24 months / 40K Warranty
- Towing service available
- Friendly staff
- Complete auto repair service
- Computerized records & preferences history
- Priority service & scheduling
- Factory scheduled maintenance schedules
- Advanced up to date diagnostic equipment
- Customer rewards and discounts
- Emissions testing
- ALL-YEAR ROUND SPECIALS on car maintenance
Phone: +1 905-544-8335
- Monday – Friday: 8:00AM – 7:00PM
- Saturday: 8:00AM – 6:00PM
- Sunday: Closed
In case you have a mishap with your vehicle while in Hamilton, we would be more than happy to take care of your car! Come to our repair shop.
Have a lovely stay in Hamilton!