handmade hamilton

Hamilton has recently stepped up its maker market game these past few years. It seems every weekend (once the end of November rolls around) is filled with markets, fairs, and bazaars (I love me a good ol’ church bazaar!).

These events are perfect for shopping local and supporting local artists and businesses. But with so many of them going full-throttle from now until Christmas it can be hard to figure out which ones to go to. Makeology last weekend, and Stuffed this Saturday. Make sure that you put Handmade Hamilton on your list of places to check out!

Handmade Hamilton is this weekend Saturday and Sunday from 11am-5pm at the Staircase theatre. Lisa Pijuan-Nomura artist and event organizer has curated a super fine selection of 32 amazing local Hamilton artists.

Here’s a round-up of some of my favs.


Hand & Shadow, screen printed shirts & scarves



 Claygirl Ceramics cups, mini-bowls


Heidi van Veen Designs, screen printed totes, pouches, pillows & tea towels


Jelly Brothers, neighbourhood maps and Hamilton graphics


HITOKOO, seriously some of the most beautifully handcrafted clothes & accessories

We will be there too (on Sunday only) selling our limited edition Hamilton Gems prints at a special reduced priced for this weekend only!

hamilton-gems-map-jacqui-oakleyHamilton Gems map by Jacqui Oakley (made in collaboration with This Must be the Place & The Academy of All Things Awesome)

Stop by and say “Hi” and if you’re one of the first 50 shoppers (on either Saturday or Sunday) you will get a Swag Bag!

*Handmade Hamilton, S&S Nov 26-27, 11-5, 27 Dundurn Street North, TwitterFacebookInstagram

hamilton gems

The Academy of All Things Awesome and This Must Be The Place are very proud to finally present to you Hamilton Gems map illustrated by Jacqui Oakley!






The map features a selection of Hamilton Gems focused in the downtown area with a few destinations outside the core for you to explore. Take note of a little nod to Hamilton legend Jed the Dancing Guy; usually spotted dancing in the streets of downtown Hamilton (in the map he’s dancing just to the left of the letter “H”).

Aren’t they gorgeous! You know you want one hanging on your wall.

This Saturday, November 26th we will be selling them at Stuffed Hamilton from 11am-6pm at Collective Arts Brewery. Parking is free and admission is $5 (free for kids under 12). There’ll be 70+ local vendors, coffee by Vintage Coffee Roasters, and awesome tunes by DJ Donna Love Joy to keep you grooving while you shop.

Then on Sunday, November 27th we will be selling them at Handmade Hamilton from 11am-5pm at the Staircase Theatre. Admission is only $2, which will get you access to 32+ amazing vendors like ceramic artist Krystal Speck, Hitokoo (clothing line), and more Hamilton maps by the Jelly Brothers.

For the Stuffed and Handmade Hamilton show we’re selling the maps at a special reduced price listed below. Maps are available in two sizes and formats.

20×28″ screen prints $75 black & white, $85 colour (printed by hand at Centre 3 for Print and Media Arts)

12×16″ archival giclée prints $45 colour or black & white (printed by Smokestack Studios)

If you can’t make it out to the Stuffed show or Handmade Hamilton, then you can still pick up maps from the lovely folks at Mixed Media (James North), White Elephant (Westdale), Girl on the Wing (King East), Canoe (Locke) and on-line via The Academy of All Things Awesome.

Don’t wait long to buy one, especially if it’s for a gift for Christmas. We’re doing a limited edition print for the holidays and they are already selling fast!

 *Stuffed, Saturday November 26, 11-6, 207 Burlington Street East

*Handmade Hamilton, Sunday November 27, 11-5, 27 Dundurn Street North, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram


getting it done at centre 3

Erika McMeekin of The Academy of All Things Awesome, Jacqui Oakley illustrator of talented magnitude, and myself have combined forces to bring to you a piece of artwork that you will most definitely want to have up on your wall.

After scoping out and compiling a long list of Hamilton gems throughout the spring and summer, Erika and I met with Jacqui to see if she could make an illustrated map of all the gems. We love Jacqui’s style and her body of work, so were confident that whatever she would create would be amazing –and it is!


Once Jacqui had drawn and inked her work she embarked on the process of getting the piece ready for a large scale colour silk screen print. Jacqui had to rework her illustration into four separate colour layers in a complex mind bending process that would’ve broke my head in two (makes my head hurt just thinking about it). From there we made four silk screens that Erika and I would use to make a poster sized silk screened print of Jacqui’s illustrated map.

Enter Centre 3. Guys you have no idea how lucky we are as a city to have this place around. They have a digital lab, classes and workshops (from t-shirt printing to drypoint), gallery space, art education programs, and the print studio (which is what we used for silk screening).

We got a fifty dollar one year membership (which gives all sorts of perks & discounts) and booked some one-on-one studio time with Matt McInnes print maker, artist, and Centre 3 studio tech extraordinaire. Matt was awesome and showed us the ropes, making sure we were confident and well on our way on our silk screening mission.

hamilton-gems-print-studio-acetates hamilton-gems-print-studio-emulsion hamilton-gems-print-studio-washing-screen

With some dedicated studio time we will be working our bods, blood, sweat and tears into printing these bad boys up for you.


Early next week I’ll give you a look at the whole finished piece with details on where you can snag one for yourself or for a gift for someone else (after all, the holiday and Christmas season is upon us). Until then, if you wanna find us we’ll be a the Print Studio printing away.


*Centre 3, 173 James Street North, 905.524.5084, Twitter, Insta, Facebook



teaming up with AWESOME

One evening in late spring Erika McMeekin (aka The Academy of All Things Awesome) and I took an evening bike ride around the lower city. We were floating out a whim of an idea to uncover some real Hamilton gems. Now there’s is nothing that I love more than exploring this city but roaming it together with someone who’s brimming with optimistic enthusiasm was really pretty energizing. We found ourselves perched on various rooftops admiring different vantage points of the city. hamilton-gems-jackson-square-roofEventually we made our way through the grounds of Dundurn castle, and across McQuesten bridge peeking out from lookouts and gaps where the trees parted in search of a rumoured secret garden. hamilton-gems-mcqueston-bridge A few times we took wrong turns down different trails that lead to nowhere (all part of the adventure). It was an eerily breathtaking sight to finally find ourselves standing in an overgrown and lush green modern day ruin. I’ve got to give thanks to my Hamilton writing hero Paul Wilson who wrote about the Sunken Garden, which is what led us to check out the forgotten space ourselves. Hamilton Sunken Garden/Memorial Garden   hamilton-gems-memorial-gardenAs the evening was starting to stretch its way across the bay we biked through Hamilton’s oldest cemetery looking in awe at the old epitaphs, and admiring the ornate and beautiful mausoleums.hamilton-gems-cemetery hamilton-gems-princess-point From downtown rooftops, secret gardens, to Bayfront Park, roller skating and sunset views throughout the city; the minute we started peddling around town Erika and I were scheming plans for future adventures. Our first ride out was a super awesome way to kick off the start to summer. This one evening of exploring turned into a series of summer time bike rides. hamilton-gems-barton hamilton-gems-barton2 hamilton-gems-temple hamilton-gems-pink-house We wove our way from east to west, up the escarpment and down, on foot and by bike, with a road trip to Dundas and the mountain to confirm urban legends of secret lakes, the best peanut butter cookies, and an abandoned obstacle course. Not everything was as glamourous as we’d imagined in our minds but some places were breathtaking and made us fall in love with this city a million times over. hamilton-gems-sam-lawrence-parkThe best part about hanging with Erika on these adventures is that she actually puts these lofty city daydreams into action in the form of super cool events through The Academy of All Things Awesome (check them out!).  But most importantly all this Hamilton exploring actually culminated into an amazing collaborative project between myself, Erika, and fab friend and illustrator Jacqui Oakley. Stay tuned for more posts later this week and for a sneak peak of the project. Can’t wait to show you what we’ve been up to! You’re going to loooooove it. Trust me –you’ll want first dibs.


These past few weeks and months we’ve seen the Hamilton food scene pick up the pace with a rapid fire succession of new restaurant openings. Places like Born & Raised, Berkley North, Fsh & Chp, Hooly Crab, and Nique all opened their doors (not to mention The French –opening soon!).

I had the great pleasure in early spring to attend a sampling of Nique’s menu. It was delicious, refreshing and definitely unique. Menu items ranged from cauliflower and poblano hummus with fry-bread, fried plantain tostones with spicy guac, crispy Cambodian calamari, beet fritters topped with greens. For dessert beignets with fresh Devonshire cream and preserves.

It goes without saying that someone who is as passionate about food as Chef Harrison Hennick could only ever make good things. The quality, creativity and flavour of his dishes were all on point despite having limited access to a fully stocked kitchen (he worked on only one cooking range and a deep frier for this particular pop-up menu sampling event). I can only dream of what Chef Hennick might cook up in his new restaurant with fully stocked kitchen and staff –really exciting stuff!


My ultimate favourite sushi nachos; sushi grade tuna on a bed of crisp fried wontons, topped with the perfect combo of tangy spicy flavours and textures to please my palette.


I’ve heard their two dollar fried chicken on Tuesday is mouthwatering, crispy, and juicy. Not to mention they’ve got menu items ranging from charcuterie, beef ribs, to burgers, bitter greens and crispy snapper. I will definitely need to try Chef Hennick’s spin on the classic Deep and Delicious chocolate cake.

They’re open for lunch and dinner but they’re also open late. Bring on the cocktails, beers and snacks!

Nique has its official grand opening this Friday (tonight!) on James North. If you haven’t been by yet for their sneak peeks and menu samplings from last week’s soft opening, then you should most certainly add it to the top of your list of places to check out ASAP.

*Nique Restaurant, 123 James Street North, 905.529.8000, Facebook, Twitter, Insta

hamilton flea volume 3

Hamilton Flea is back for its third incarnation. Two amazing women that I love; sisters Whitney McMeekin (of Girl on the Wing) and Erika McMeekin (of The Academy of all Things Awesome & Sous Bas) have put together their best flea yet!

50+ vendors from Hamilton and surrounding area; from vintage clothing, records, accessories, and housewares, to art & design, flora and of course FOOD!

Hamilton Flea Vol 3 Vendors


Hamilton Flea Vol 3 Food

New to this flea is the Kid Zone (put on by Little Makers Hamilton). Every hour on the hour they will be offering supervised 45 minute creative maker activities for kids 5-11 years old to keep those little hands and minds creating. Each workshop is $12.50/child with a new toy to take home for each session.

Workshops include Build Your Own Character (robot/Minecraft character/monster/ballerina), Lumberjack Jewellery, Build Your Own Town, or Paint a Wooden Pumpkin. Drop-ins are welcome but you call also pre-register here.

Little Makers Hamilton Little Makers Hamilton


One of the things I love most about these fleas is that they are always in secret and forgotten historic Hamilton spaces.

The first flea was in one of my favourite Hamilton buldings –Treble Hall (see more from that flea here), and the second at Brown’s Tire (an old tire shop from the 40′s). This flea is being held at Lawson Lumber; an old lumber yard tucked in by the railway line close to Gage Park.

Hamilton Flea Vol 3 Lawson Lumber Hamilton Flea Vol 3 Lawson Lumber

To get some more insight and history into the venue check out Hamilton Flea’s latest blog post. It’s always so neat to unearth some Hamilton history and then actually visit the space (especially ones that are not usually open to the public).


The flea is this Saturday only from 11am-5pm. Young Lions Music Club will be providing the tunes all day while you shop and peruse all the fab selection of curated vendors.

*Hamilton Flea, Lawson Lumber 260 Dunsmure Rd, @HamiltonFlea, Facebook


bikes + beer

Bike rides and beers. Two of my favourite summer time things.

At the start of July I headed down to Because Beer (at Pier 4) with a bike gang of awesome women. We were a brigade of five with our rides.

SoBi & Because Beer

I love the lay of the land of downtown Hamilton; few to no hills, and anywhere across town in no more than 20 minutes max. It’s seriously such a bikeable city (if you don’t count the one-way thoroughfares). We biked through the North End and those we passed on fellow SoBi‘s gave friendly nods or bell rings as we went by or as we convened at the mouth of Bayfront Park to the corral of bikes just outside the venue.


We did a buffet sampler of all the food trucks. My fav is Meat Ventures (droooool…). Food featured below: taco from Taco Queso, Meat Ventures Bacon Fatty, Bomberos Nachos (I’m pretty sure these had mac’n cheese in it), Meat Ventures Parm Fries, and The Salted Pig Poutine.

Because Beer2

Our go-to beer for the day was from Longslice Brewery. We just kept going back for more of their Loose Lips Lager. Other favourites were Garden Brewer’s Piperales Black Pepper (unfiltered smoked amber ale brewed with crushed pepper corns), and secret orders of Viva Puff (hibiscus/raspberry lager mixed with a raspberry stout) which is not on their beer menu but you can request it with a wink wink from Flying Monkeys Brewery.
Because Beer3 Because Beer Because Beer1The sun hit this magic spot and everything went golden. When the last light dipped behind the horizon we sipped our last beers to the sounds of Yukon Blonde before hopping back on our rides to cruise back uptown.

Seriously just the most perfect summer day.

*SoBi Hamilton’s Bike Share, $4/hour or $85/year


all the festivals

In the next week there are so many great festivals happening in and around the city. I want to go to all of them.

Here are a few of the must see and do’s if you’re sticking around Hamilton.


Hamilton World Music Festival

In its third year and back by popular demand the Hamilton World Music Festival is here this weekend!




Boasting past musical guests like Polaris Prize and Juno Award winner Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, this year’s line-up features an excellent roster of International artists like Sérgio Pererê (from Brazil), and Zal Sissokho (from Senegal). Hamilton favourites like Mother Tareka (9-piece hip-hop funk band), Neeraj Prem (sitar), the Riddim Riders (reggae band), Bonnie Hamilton, and The Snow Beach Players (featuring #HamOnt mashup of local live hip-hop bands Canadian Winter, Haolin Munk & Kojo ‘Easy’ Damptey Band).

A song by Alysha Brilla, who’s song 2 Shots, I first heard on CBC Radio a while back. The chorus would get stuck in my head for days. She’s performing Saturday 8:30-9:30pm.

*Hamilton World Music Festival, July 15-17, Admission is Free, Gage Park, @matapaorg, Facebook


Strangewaves Music Festival

Strangewaves is a three-day festival in its second year for music, art, and film lovers alike.

The festival this year is at the Paris Fairgrounds, where you can camp all weekend and check out another amazing line-up of Hamilton musical musical outfits like: Simply Saucer (Proto Punk ), Thoughts on Air (soulscape), Goatfooted (dank ambience back from the grave), Zac Shaw (sax king), plus all sorts of indie acts hailing from LA to NYC, PLUS one of my ultimate faves Julie Doiron (OMG!), and DJ Rasta Princess (Montreal -reggae, reggae, reggae) -eeeep! Sounds like it’s going to be a fun little festival. AND, surprise guest yet to be announced for Saturday night -who could it be!?

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Tickets are available here, or at The Brain (199 James Street North, Hamilton).

*Strangewaves Music Festival, July 15-17, Paris Fairgrounds, @strangewavesfes, Facebook


Fringe Festival

The Hamilton Fringe Festival is celebrating its 13th year (#turning13)!

This year there are more than 48 theatre companies bringing to Hamilton a variety of comedy, drama, magic, dance, and family friendly entertainment in more than 300 performances over 11 days.

The amount of theatre that will be at our finger-tips during the next week is daunting (yet also awesome!).

If I had to pick just a handful of plays to see, these would be them:


El Diablo of the Cards (comedy): Be SURPRISED in the most HILARIOUS way! “El Diablo of the Cards” comes all the way from Brazil to bring you an UNFORGETTABLE night! Take your seat and get ready to laugh! Ewerton Martins will astound with his unbelievable improvised card magic. Really unreal, provocatively absurd, this delightful idiot will introduce you to the madness of card’s magic.



All KIDding Aside (comedy): Time is running out, a life altering decision teeters before you…and you’re on the fence! Sometimes the biggest fears can be the “little ones”




Key-Promo-Image-KairosThe Bathtub Girls (drama, physical theatre): The Bathtub Girls is an original play based on the first known case of sibling matricide in Canada, occurring in 2003, Mississauga, ON. The work has strong roots in contact improvisation and examines the desire for a sense of community and identity, and the actions taken for their acquisition.




Awoken (drama, sci fi): Meet Todd. Todd can’t sleep. But Todd is dreaming. Neither awake nor asleep, Todd must journey through his own corrupted subconscious – idle fantasies and suppressed memories – and discover his purpose, before choosing to wake up…or sleep forever. Inspired by a true story. All lighting controlled by the sole actor on stage.



Devil-in-the-DetailsDevil in the Details (comedy): Laura, after a freak photocopier accident, finds herself dead and the executive assistant to Satan himself. As she navigates her new boss and the inner workings of the seven circles, she finds that not everything is as it seems. Hell is losing souls, influence and power but no one knows why… Welcome to Hell.



*Hamilton Fringe Festival, July 14-24, @HamOntFringe, Facebook, #HamFringe


I will be updating my Facebook page regularly with various events going on in the city. Take a look at my event page for some great things coming up like Dusk Dances (Bayfront Park), Life of a Craphead: Bugs/ Zak Tatham: Doorcuts (summer film screening series at Hamilton Artist’s Inc.), and A Night in White (at Whitehern hosted by the Other Bird Chef Matt Kershaw) just to name a few. 

franco fest

Festival season is quickly approaching. If you are looking to get a little sample of some summer festival happenings in Hamilton this weekend, then you should check out FrancoFest.

FrancoFest is a free three day open-air festival at Gage Park. It is a family-friendly festival that celebrates the diversity of francophone culture through live music, dance, and visual art.

For the kids there’s: circus workshops, art exhibitions, painting, drumming, reptile demonstrations, maquillage, and roaming artists.

Franco Fest

Some of the performances this year include: Karim Ouellet and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hamilton Aerial Group, Lua Shayenne & Co and many more.

FrancoFest has been around in Hamilton for 35 years but it is still pretty low-key (in a good way). You won’t be pushing a stroller through throngs of dusty festival crowds or staking out seats with your lawn chairs to catch the performances. It’s a festival that you can enjoy at a leisurely pace; pack a blanket and some shade, sample some eats from the food trucks and take a wander through the vendors (all beautifully curated).

Mental Floss Sideshow Franco Fest Franco Fest Hamilton Aerial Group Franco Fest2

There’s something about arts, and culture that the French just do better.

This was a festival that I attended last year that I really enjoyed. The vibe was just right. With little to no expectations of what the festival entailed; we grabbed some food from the food trucks, listened to some gorgeous music, wandered around the kid’s art painting station, and got a feel for just how cool francophone culture really is. 

FrancoFest is free and takes places June 24, 25 and 26. Parking on-site is $10.

*FrancoFest, Facebook, Twitter, #FrancoFest


spring time in durand

It’s around this time in spring, where lawns are greening in fluffy tufts of yet-to-be cut grass, starlings start their chirping at ungodly early morning hours and blossoms –oh the blossoms start to appear!

One of my favourite neighbourhoods to have a wander about is the Durand neighbourhood. Especially when I’m into daydreaming about how my life might be like if I was rich and lived in one of those insanely gorgeous old manors.

I consider Durand to be a downtown neighbourhood. It’s tucked behind city hall and pushed up back against the escarpment. The houses are not all castle-like mansions like on Ravenscliffe. Durand has an amazing mix of turn of the century apartments: 1960′s highrises, manors, and stone terrace row houses like Sandyford place on Duke (Hamilton’s limsestone version of Brooklyn Brownstones).

In spring I like to take an intentional trip to walk these streets and soak up all that is spring. The magnolia trees are especially breathtaking. Some of these trees are so old; their branches reaching wide and weighted heavily with blossoming magnolia pinks, white, yellow and purple.


Hamilton Durand Magnolias 2 Hamilton Durand House

I also love the ornate details on so many of the houses (especially on Bay) conical roofs, rounded windows, and slate or cedar shingles. Fine features that you just don’t see in every neighbourhood. I wonder about the houses that were levelled to build the highrises and city hall. And I think about Whitehern and how it’s just an island of historic refuge in the midst of redevelopment that must’ve hit the Durand neighbourhood all in one fatal swoop in the 60′s. If you’ve never checked out Whitehern’s secret little garden, then you should. It’s got beautiful ferns, and magnolias that would do for the perfect urban spring picnic. Hamilton Durand House 4 Hamilton Durand house 3 Hamilton Durand House 1 Hamilton Durand house 5 Hamilton Durand Magnolias 1 Hamilton Durand House 6

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