Hamilton Book of Everything: Everything You Wanted to Know About Hamilton and Were Going to Ask AnywayHamilton Book of Everything

Hamilton Book of Everything: Everything You Wanted to Know About Hamilton and Were Going to Ask AnywayHamilton Book of Everything


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From the War of 1812 and George Hamilton to Steel City, the Ti-Cats, the Botanical Gardens and the Mountain to profiles of Daniel Lanois, Thomas McQuesten, Martin Short and Lincoln Alexander, no book is more comprehensive than the Hamilton Book of Everything. No book is more fun! Well-known Hamiltonians weigh in on their favourite things about Hamilton. Former mayor Larry Di Ianni’s gives us his five memories of arriving in Canada; landscape painter Catherine Gibbon tells us her five favourite landscapes; Hamilton Public Library archivist Margaret Houghton gives us her five turning points in Hamilton history; Hamilton Spectator food writer Katrina Simmons gives us her five personal favourite dining spots; and singer-songwriter Shawn Brush tells us five great places to listen to live music. From politics to weather to the one-way streets, Hamilton slang, greatest crimes and immigrant city . . . it’s all here! Whether you are a lifelong resident or visiting for the first time, there's no more complete book about Hamilton. If you love Hamilton, you'll love the Hamilton Book of Everything!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780978478469
Publisher: MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc.
Publication date: 08/01/2019
Series: Book of Everything Series
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 4.90(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Kim Arnott is a freelance writer. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario.

Read an Excerpt

Hamilton Book of Everything

Everything You Wanted to Know about Hamilton and Were Going to Ask Anyway

By Kim Arnott, Marvin Ross, Cheryl MacDonald

MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc.

Copyright © 2008 MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-926916-54-5


The Woman in Black

The ghosts – long ago – used to dress in pure white,
Now they're got on a different track,
For the Hamilton Ghost seems to take a delight
To stroll 'round the city in black.

Pat Duffy, who saw her in Corktown last night,
Has been heard to-day telling his friend
That she stood seven feet and nine inches in height,
And wore a large Grecian Bend.

A "Peeler," who met her, turned blue with affright,
And in terror he clung to a post;
His hair (once a carroty red) has turned white,
Since the moment he looked on the ghost.

Her appearance was frightful to gaze on, he said,
It filled him with horror complete;
For she looked unlike anything, living or dead,
That ever he'd seen on his beat.

Her breath seemed as hot as a furnace; besides,
It smelt strongly of sulphur and gin,
Two horns (a yard long) stuck straight out of her head,
And her hoofs made great clatter and din.

Her air was majestic, and terribly grand,
As she passed, muffled up in her veil;
A bottle of "ruin" she held in each hand,
And she uttered a low, plaintive wail;

"'There is rest for the weary,' but no rest for me;
I cannot find rest if I try,-
Three months and three days I have been on the spree;
(Mr. Mueller, 'How's that for high?')

"I have mixed in the world, both with 'spirits' and men,-
Once more with the spirits I'll go."
She stopped, took a sniff of the "ruin," and then
She popped into a cellar below.

He could hear her again, crying out from her den –
"To-night you will see me no more;
But I'll meet with you Saturday evening at ten,
By the fountain that stands in the Gore."

Some people that passed there this morning at two,
Found the "Peeler" still glued to his post;
He told them this yarn I have been telling you –
And that's the last news from the Ghost!



A Timeline

12,000 years ago: The last glaciers retreat from the area now known as Hamilton. Lake Iroquois retreats and leaves what is now Lake Ontario.

6,000 years ago: Humans now inhabit the area, and the mastodon becomes extinct.

Around 1600: Attiwandaronk, or Neutral Indians, are living in the Hamilton area.

1616: French coureur de bois Etienne Brolé is the first white man to visit the Hamilton area.

1669: Hoping to find a route to the Pacific, La Salle and a group of companions land in Hamilton Harbour, approximately where La Salle Park now is.

1784: Land at the head of Lake Ontario is purchased from Mississaugas (a subtribe of the Anishinaabe First Nations people) by British.

1785: Loyalists begin settling Head-of-the-Lake.

1788: Townships at the Head-of-the-Lake are first surveyed.

1790: Richard Beasley, entrepreneur, land speculator, fur trader, politician and militia officer, settles at Burlington Heights, the present day site of Dundurn Castle.

1791: 31 families are recorded as living at the Head-of-the-Lake.

1792: Lake Geneva is renamed Burlington Bay.

1801: Mary Osborne of Saltfleet Township, east of Hamilton, hangs with her lover for the murder of her husband, Bartholomew London. This is the first documented murder in Hamilton and the first execution of a woman in Upper Canada.

1813: American schooners Hamilton and Scourge are sunk in a sudden storm on Lake Ontario.

1813: Following intense overnight fighting, British-Canadian forces win the Battle of Stoney Creek.

1814: "The Bloody Assize," a show trial held in Ancaster, convicts 15 men of high treason. Eight are subsequently executed.

1815: George Hamilton lays out streets for a town site in Barton Township, beginning the development of the city named in his honour.

1823: Approval is granted for reconstruction of a canal through the sand strip between Burlington Bay and Lake Ontario.

1826: Upper Canada's first paper mill is established at James Crooks on Spencer Creek, just west of Greensville.

1832: The Burlington Canal opens.

1835: Allan Napier MacNab completes Dundurn Castle, a stately Italianate villa, on land purchased from Richard Beasley.

1835: Gore Bank of Hamilton, Hamilton's first bank, is chartered. One of the town's earliest newspapers, The Hamilton Gazette and General Advertiser, begins publishing.

1837: Desjardins Canal opens, linking Dundas to shipping routes on Lake Ontario.

The Land Legend

Robert Land was one of the first white settlers in the Hamilton area. Fighting for the British against the Americans, he barely escaped execution in Pennsylvania. What he believed was that his wife and nine kids were not so lucky.

Truth of the matter was that his wife Phebe had escaped to Nova Scotia with the children, believing he had been killed. From Nova Scotia she moved to the Niagara area to collect on a land grant offered to those who stayed loyal to the British Crown. On her way to Niagara, she heard rumours of a man named Land living in what is now Hamilton.

She decided to check it out and hired a boat to take her there. It was not a rumour. The couple happily reunited, and took advantage of a land grant of 1,000 acres in what is now Hamilton. They helped build up the community and upon their deaths were buried in the Land Vault in historic Hamilton Cemetery.

1837: Allan MacNab leads troops to put down the Rebellion of 1837, for which he is knighted the following year.

1846: Hamilton receives its city charter; the first telegraph wire in Canada connects Hamilton and Toronto; and the Hamilton Spectator begins publishing.

1847: Thomas C. Watkins opens a store on James Street which evolves into the Right House, the first large department store in Hamilton.

1847: The Canada Life Assurance Company, Canada's first life insurance company, is opened by Hugh Cossart Baker, Jr.

1854: Great Western Railway opens in Hamilton, linking the city to lucrative U.S. markets via the Niagara Suspension Bridge.

1856: The first Canadian-built locomotives are constructed at a shop owned by Daniel C. Gunn, located on Wellington Street North.

1857: Desjardins Canal disaster; nearly sixty people are killed when a Great Western Railway train from Toronto to Hamilton crashes through a swing bridge over the canal.

1858:Hamilton Times begins publication.

1860: Edward, Prince of Wales, (the future King Edward VII) visits Hamilton.

1860: The Royal Hamilton Yacht Club is founded.

1872: Hamilton trade unionists emerge as the leaders of the Nine-Hour Movement, lobbying for a nine-hour workday and better working conditions.

The Desjardins Canal Disaster

Around 4:10 in the afternoon of March 12, 1857, the steam locomotive Oxford pulled out of Toronto on a routine trip to Hamilton. Canada had entered the railway age, with miles of tracks being laid down across the country almost as quickly as the locomotives that sped across them. But many of those who financed the projects were greedy, cutting corners and ignoring safety in the interest of profit.

As the train approached Hamilton and the junction with the main line of the Great Western Railway, the front axle of the locomotive broke. The train hurtled on towards the wooden swing bridge over the Desjardins Canal, near Dundas, just west of Hamilton.

Then the locomotive jumped the tracks, plunging sixty feet into the icy waters of the canal.

A woman living nearby happened to be looking out her window as the train crossed the bridge, shuddered, then disappeared. She hurried to the scene, slipping down the icy embankment to the water, where she found an 8-year-old girl, floating precariously on a cake of ice.

"Oh, don't mind me, save my brother," the girl said as the woman reached her. Nearby, a nine-year-old boy struggled to keep his head above water. Both children survived, as did their uncle, Owen Doyle, but their parents and other relatives died in the disaster. Rescuers worked by torchlight to rescue survivors and retrieve the dead, who were laid out in a shed close to the railway station, pending identification by relatives. In all, 59 perished. Twenty survived, many of them badly injured.

The inquest into the tragedy concluded that the bridge over the canal was "unsound, impaired and dangerous," and recommended that the Great Western Railway build an iron bridge.

1872: The Bank of Hamilton is established. In 1924, it merges with the forerunner of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

1873: Hamilton Football Club plays its first game against the Toronto Argonauts and loses. Because of their yellow and black uniform, the Hamilton players are dubbed the Tigers in newspaper reports of the game.

1877: Hugh Cossart Baker, Jr. establishes the first commercial telephone service in Canada, in Hamilton.

1877: The Southam newspaper chain begins with the sale of the Hamilton Spectator by founder Robert Smiley to William Southam.

1878: First telephone exchange in the British Empire happens in Hamilton.

1882: E.D. Smith founds a company to market his fruit, eventually developing a famous line of preserves and jams.

1888: Because of its foundries and heavy industry, Hamilton is christened the "Birmingham of Canada" by visiting English businessmen.

1890: Hamilton's first public bowling alley and first public library open.

1892: The first electric streetcar begins operating in Hamilton, with two routes, one along King Street East and the other along James Street North.

1892: Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo Railway begins running. 1893: Right House, the city's first large department store, officially opens.



Robin McKee is a researcher, writer and photographer. Through his business, Historical Perceptions, he offers historical walking and cemetery tours.

1. Gore Park: The original town square (even though it's triangular) is the location of the Gore Park fountain, a statue of Queen Victoria and a statue of Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. Every year on Macdonald's birthday, a wreath is laid at the base of the monument.

2. James Street South: Between Gore Park and the Mountain are traces of the historical financial district, early churches, train stations and stately homes. Stairs lead to the top of the escarpment where Mountain Park offers a spectacular view of the city, including Burlington Heights, the Hamilton Beach Lighthouse and the Pumphouse and Waterworks.

3. Burlington Heights: Clustered around another spectacular high spot are Dundurn Castle, the Italianate villa built by Sir Allan Napier MacNab in 1832 and Hamilton cemetery, final resting place of many early settlers and prominent Hamiltonians.

4. Beach Strip: A historic mid-19 century lighthouse and lighthouse keeper's cottage guard the entrance to Hamilton Harbour. Nearby is the lift bridge, which was the main thoroughfare across the Burlington ship canal until the Skyway Bridge was completed in 1958. Picturesque older houses line the Beach Strip recalling the times when the area was a favourite destination for people trying to escape the summer heat.

5. Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology: Cholera epidemics in the 1850s inspired Hamilton's city fathers to install the most modern waterworks available and bring clean water to city residents. Completed in 1859, the steam-operated waterworks are now a National Historic Site and the last functioning mid-Victorian era steam waterworks in North America.

1894: Billy Carroll, owner of the Hamilton Herald, starts the Around the Bay Road Race, now considered the oldest long-distance foot race in North America.

1897: Educator and reformer Adelaide Hoodless inspires Janet and Erland Lee to establish the first Women's Institute, a society aimed at improving homemaking and childcare.

1897: The Westinghouse Electric Company opens its Hamilton operation, the first branch outside the U.S.

1903: The first automobile club in Canada opens in Hamilton, aptly named the Hamilton Automobile Club.

1906: Hamilton-born marathon runner William Sherring wins an Olympic gold medal at the 1906 Athens games.

1906: The Hamilton Street Railway strike becomes violent, resulting in one of the few times the riot act is read in Hamilton.

1910: Steel Company of Canada (Stelco) is formed.

1912: Dominion Steel Casting Company, later known as Dofasco, opens in Hamilton.

1912: The Hamilton Alerts become the first Hamilton team to play in the Grey Cup. They beat the Toronto Argonauts 11 to 4.

1913: Battlefield Monument, commemorating the Battle of Stoney Creek during the War of 1812, is unveiled.

1914: The first concrete highway in Canada links Toronto and Hamilton.

George Hamilton and the Gore

Hamilton was named for George Hamilton, born in either 1787 or 1788, whose family belonged to a network of prosperous merchants in the Niagara area and in other parts of southern Ontario. When his Queenston property was burned during the War of 1812, he relocated to Head-of-the-Lake, an important military centre during the war.

Aware that there was talk of creating a new administrative district in the area, Hamilton purchased 257 lots in Barton Township, close to the proposed location of the district town.

His gamble paid off, to some extent, and he laid out the streets of the new community in the grid pattern that was typical of Upper Canada. Trouble was, the natural growth of the town was north of Hamilton's lands, towards the shores of Lake Ontario. So Hamilton tried various schemes to bring development southward. One strategy was the creation of a town square by combining an odd, triangular-shaped plot or gore, with another triangular piece owned by Nathaniel Hughson.

Seemed like a good idea until Hughson backed out. The Gore became an unsightly, muddy garbage dump. Then, in 1833, the town council tried to expropriate it. Hamilton sued, and won.

Three years later, George Hamilton died. For nearly a quarter century, nothing was done with the Gore. Hamilton council tried to make a deal with later owners and sell building lots there at least twice in the 1840s and 1850s, but these plans raised such a public outcry that they backed off.

Finally, in 1860, in an effort to beautify the town in time for the royal visit of the Prince of Wales, public money and private donations funded the creation of a park, complete with a three-tiered water fountain and trees.

Soon afterwards, vandals destroyed the trees and city fathers opted to lock the park up. It was not until June 1883 that Gore Park was formally opened to the public.

1914: Art Gallery of Hamilton opens in the old public library building located at 22 Main Street.



Margaret Houghton is the archivist in the Local History and Archives section of the Hamilton Public Library. She has written or edited several books, including Hamilton Street Names: An Illustrated History and The Hamiltonians: 100 Fascinating Lives.

1. 1785: First white settlers arrive at the Head-of-the-Lake. Most were United Empire Loyalists who had fled the United States around the time of the American Revolution. Townships in the area were not surveyed until a few years later, between 1788 and 1793, but that didn't stop men like John Depew and Richard Beasley from taking up land.

2. 1846: Hamilton is incorporated as a city, thirteen years after incorporation as a town. During that period, the population jumped from about 1,000 to 6,832.

3. 1910: Steel Company of Canada is formed. Stelco, as it was later known, was for many years the major employer in Hamilton and contributed to Steeltown's lunch-bucket, blue-collar image.

4. 1942: Royal Hamilton Light Infantry lands at Dieppe, France on August 19. The invasion was a disaster — nearly 20 percent of the 4,963 Canadians involved were killed. The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry was particularly hard hit. Of 582 soldiers who landed on the beach, 197 were killed and another 174 taken prisoner. Just over 100 men — fewer than one in five — escaped without any physical injury.

5. 2001: The new City of Hamilton is formed with the amalgamation of Ancaster, Dundas, Flamborough, Glanbrook, Hamilton and Stoney Creek.

1915: Procter & Gamble Manufacturing Company officially opens its Hamilton facility, the first branch outside the U.S.

1921: With a population of 114,000, Hamilton is Canada's fifth-largest city. It also boasts the largest theatre in Canada, Pantages on King Street, with a capacity of 3,500.


Excerpted from Hamilton Book of Everything by Kim Arnott, Marvin Ross, Cheryl MacDonald. Copyright © 2008 MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc.. Excerpted by permission of MacIntyre Purcell Publishing Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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