paris

Oh, Paris… Paris, Ontario that is. A few weeks back Steve and I stopped by the small town of Paris, Ontario. The town is 160 years old and is at the cross section of two major southern Ontario rivers; the Grand River, and the Ninth River.

The Grand River, Paris, Ontario

Although Paris is beautiful, it is not, as one might think, named after la belle ville de Paris because of its notable elegance and beauty.  In fact, the town of Paris, Ontario actually bares no resemblance or connection to Paris, France whatsoever.  Its name actually came to be as a result of the large amounts of gypsum found in the area, which is used in the making of plaster of Paris.  It is also the location of where the first long distance telephone call was received by Alexander Graham Bell.

Oh, Paris you do not cease to amaze me!

Spring TIme in Paris, Ontario

Spring time in Paris as the sign connotes would be beautiful.  But I would chance a guess that fall in Paris, Ontario would be just as picturesque.  The river is lined with trees, and is banked with a row of old buildings that overlook the Grand.  I remember when I took the train in to visit Steve at his artist residency in Windsor going by Paris and thinking to myself that I definitely wanted to stop through this charming town.

If you do ever find your way to Paris, Ontario in fall, spring or summer, you can rent a canoe or kayak and do some river cruising, while enjoying the scenery.  There are also the rail trails that extend from Hamilton to Brantford and then Brantford to Paris.  I saw a lot of bikers on the Paris rail trail as we made our way out of town.

Grand Experience Canoe & Kayaking, Paris, Ontario, boat rentals, Grand River

One of the best parts of our trip to Paris were the treats!  I had a black cherry ice-cream from the ice-cream shop across from the Canadian Tire that had been retrofitted into a historic old building (why can’t more cities do this!).  We picked up some sweet and delicious treats form the Paris Bakery for the road.

The Paris Bakery, Paris, Ontario, baked goods, treats, Grand River

Then we went for a coffee at the Brown Dog Coffee and Frittery.

Brown Dog Coffee Shop & Frittery

Brown Dog Coffee & Frittery, Grand River, Paris, Ontario, deepfried cheese cake, deep fried banana split

Yes, yes you can! You can get apple fritters, cheese cake fritters, and a banana split fritter!

hand crank apple peeler, Brown Dog Coffee & Frittery, Paris, Ontario

Brown Dog Coffee & Frittery, Paris, Ontario, Waterdown, apple fritters

Fresh apple fritters!  What a fantastic fall treat.  Coincidentally the city of Waterdown as of September 23rd will be home to the 2nd 3rd Brown Dog Coffee & Frittery.  So this means that I’m just that much closer to having fresh apple fritters paired with super amazing coffee on a more regular basis.  Mmmmm.

*Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe & Frittery, 63 Grand River St., Paris, ON, 519.302.0722

*Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe & Frittery, 312 Dundas St., Waterdown, ON.

hamilton sketchbook

A few years back when we were still living in Toronto I went to Pages book store, when it still existed at Queen & John, and asked if they had any books about Hamilton. We’d already been crushing on Hamilton big time, and I wanted to indulge in our fantasy of moving to Hamilton by giving Steve a book about the city for his 31st birthday.  The store clerk looked up at me in a bit of shock, and then clarified again whether I really meant a book about the city of Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario, really?

The only book in the entire store about Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario, was a graphic novel titled Hamilton Sketchbook by David Collier.

I could not have asked for a better gift for Steve and introduction to life in Hamilton.  I was so happy to have had the luck of stumbling upon such a gem of book.

Hamilton Sketchbook Cover, David Collier, graphic novel, Hamilton, Ontario

Hamilton Sketchbook, David Collier, graphic novel, Hamilton, Ontario

After having moved to Hamilton, at an art crawl about 2 years back, I met David Collier at Mixed Media.  He was selling and signing Part 2 of the Hamilton Sketchbook.  I ended up buying this copy for another present for Steve.

Hamilton Sketchbook #2, David Collier, Hamilton, Ontario, graphic novel

Hamilton Sketchbook #2, David Collier, Hamilton, Ontario, graphic novel

There’s something really cool about reading about places you’ve been to and places you’ve lived in.  I love the down to earth feel, and day to day life depiction of David’s work.

Today as I rode by Mixed Media on my way to work I noticed a poster by David in the window.  Prints for $10 Hamilton Light Rail Transit.

Hamilton Light Rail Transit, David Collier, Hamilton, graphic artist, illustrator, Mixed Media

I heard that David recently designed the album artwork for relatively new Hamiltonian Luke Doucet and The White Falcons latest album Steel City Trawler, which is a tribute entirely to the city of Hamilton.

Luke Doucet and the White Falcon, graphic novelist, artist, David Collier, Hamilton, Ontario

For a great read about Luke Doucet’s recent move to Hamilton, and more details about his album (produced by Sloan’s Andrew Scott) and about David Collier read the National Post’s article here.
 

 

Luke Doucet and life partner, fellow musician and singer-songwriter Melissa McClelland will be playing a show with their new band White Horse at The Hamilton Place Studio on September 30th with Frazey Ford.

festival food

The summers around here are filled with festivals and small town fairs.  Along with festivals and fairs comes festival food.

One of the early summer festivals we hit up was the Turkish Festival at Gage Park. My favourite was this savoury Turkish pancake, called a Gozleme.  It’s a thin buttery bread stuffed with parsley and feta cheese and then pan fried right in front of you on special hot plate that looked like an inverted hot steel bowl.

Turkish pancake, gozleme, Turkish Festival, Gage Park, Hamilton, Ontario

 

I went to the Winona Peach Festival for the 2nd time in the past 3 years.  I do have to be honest in saying that I will probably not go back. This year I went strictly for some food tasting, but I did not find much that would warrant another visit.

We sampled the ribbon chips, which were probably the best purchase of the evening.  The chips are thinly peeled into a giant long ribbon from one whole potato, then deep fried into golden crisp goodness.

The peach sundae was good, but like much fair food, was overpriced, and nothing that I wouldn’t be able to whip up at home with some fresh and local peaches, vanilla bean ice-cream and some whipped cream.

These deep fried panzerotti balls were the biggest disappointment.  What one would think would be awesome cheesy deep fried goodness, was just pretty much over processed crapiness.  I was looking for something a little more homemade.

 

We also stopped by the Cactus Festival in Dundas, which was your typical mid town fair.  There was a huge variety of food vendors, including fair classics like elephant ears, funnel cake, deep fried butter, mars bars, plus items from poutine, sweet potatoe fries, to Indian Currries and gourmet burgers.

In my many visits to Dundas I had never noticed the little Ukranian grocers until this day.  I was so excited to see the shop that I couldn’t resist indulging in some pierogies and kielbasa.  I can only dream that one day somewhere nearby there might be a pierogi festival.

My only warning to you if you do ever decide to head to the Cactus Festival, be aware that the festival population is composed of about 99.9% 12-15 year olds.  Just to give you a better picture, there was a bouncer at the McDonalds to assist with teen crowd control.

weddings galore

The month of September has been a wedding extravaganza.

Our first wedding of the month was Steve’s sister’s wedding, and I loved that my duties for this wedding included flower arranging and making boutonnieres!  Such a fun responsibility to be given.  The bride’s mother and multiple friends of hers planned ahead and grew an assortment of flowers, greenery, and wild grasses that would still be in bloom for early fall.

homegrown flowers, centre pieces, boutonniere, wedding

Making boutonnieres wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be.  It requires the following materials: flowers, greenery, scissors, floral tape, ribbon, pins, a glue gun, a water spritzer and some ziplock plastic bags.  First pick a small grouping of flowers for your boutonniere.  Wrap the stems with the floral tape (you can wrap all the way down the stems or leave some stems with a straight cut hanging out to be seen), then wrap ribbon, and add a dab of hot glue to make the ribbon stay, secure it with a pin, spritz the flowers with water, place it in the ziplock bag, blow in some air, seal the bag, and keep in a cooler or fridge until ready to use.  Voila!

homegrown flowers, arranging, centre pieces, boutonniere
homegrown flowers, DIY boutonniere, flower arranging
homegrown flowers, DIY boutonniere, wedding, flower arrangements
homegrown flowers, flower arranging, DIY bridal bouquet

This was the bridal bouquet. I love the lavender and the fact that all the flowers were local and homegrown (a request specifically made by the bride -nice one).

homegrown flowers, wedding, table centre pieces, mason jars

Table centre pieces housed in a collection of family and friend's mason jars.

homegrown flowers, DIY table centre pieces, early September fall wedding

A super cute touch to the table setting. The bride's collections of vintage postcards were used to indicate table numbers.

vintage postcards, table centre piece, table number, wedding

vintage postcards, DIY table numbers, wedding

vintage postcards, table numbers, wedding,

vintage themed wedding, card & gift table, card box, wedding

gin cocktails, wedding cocktail hour drinks

croquet, wedding lawn games

 

The second wedding was in upstate New York in the Catskill mountains.  The trip started off wonderfully with a scenic drive through the most dairy farms I’ve ever seen on one winding stretch of road, gorgeous old manner homes with wrap-around verandas, antiques galore, and delicious stops for ice-cream.  We were so stoked for the rest of the drive, until we hit the end of a stretch of highway, that was closed due to extreme flooding.  We ended up having to reroute nearly 3/4′s of the rest of the way to avoid washed out bridges and overflowing rivers.  Three days of torrential downpour had devastated many of the small towns in the area.  Luckily we made it to the wedding ceremony (just barely on time) unscathed, dry and ready to soak in the beautiful Catskill mountain views.

antique, vintage toys, upstate New York, Warsaw, NY,

Catskill mountain range, upsate NY,

old barns, upstate NY

old Victorian home, upsate New York, Catskills

wedding pre-drink, men's shoes, & socks

flower & mason jars, wedding, flower arrangements, DIY

cross stitch, sunflowers, wedding

I really want to head back to this area to enjoy more small town road stops, antiquing and local food sampling.  If I have the time one fall, I may just make another trip down when the dangers of flooding will not be an issue.

We’ve still got 1 more wedding to go before the end of September!

supercrawl

Supercrawl 2011 is going to be so damn good.  I’m crying inside that I’m going to miss it.  Instead of artcrawling, I’ll be heading to beautiful upstate NY for the 4th out of 5 weddings of the season.  It will be fun but it might be hard pressed to top the 3 major free festivals that will all be running simultaneously in Hamilton’s downtown core on Saturday, September 10th.  We’ve got the Locke Street Festival, Country Music Week (at Copps Coliseum & on top of Jackson Square) and the SUPERCRAWL on James St. north.

The line up for the Supercrawl is just so outstandingly AWESOME! If I could go, these would be some of my top picks to check out…
 

J Mascis of Dinosaur Junior -9:15pm Stage 1 at York & James N.


 

Basia Bulat will be playing with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra -7pm Stage 1 at York & James N.

.

 

Black Francis aka Frank Black of The Pixies and Reid Paley -9pm Stage 2 Colborne & James N.  (Paley & Francis will be releasing their new album with Hamilton local record label Sonic Unyon).

Reid Paley, Francis Black, Black Francis, Frank Black, The Pixies, Hamilton, Supercrawl, Supercrawl 2011, Sonic Unyon


 

Junior Boys back from their world tour, and home to Hamilton for the Supercrawl! -9pm Stage 2 Colborne & James N.


 

Hamilton’s own, Young Rival -4:15pm Stage 1 at York & James N.

 

DMC Canadian Final DJ Competition at Academia Banquet Hall (upper floor), 242 James St. north.

DMC DJ scratch Championsips, Canada, Supercrawl, September 10 2011, James st. north,

I would also love to see the hand knitted art installation that will replicate the entire brick facade of The Brain, done by the Beehive Craft Collective.  This is going to be so cool!

The Brain, James St. north, Hamilton

 

Oh, and how could I  forget to mention a super exhibit called Women’s Work that will be on display at Project Space 126/128 James St. north, opening reception on the Supercrawl night from 7-10pm.  It will be an exhibit of fantastic crafty, textileness, which will include a beehive paper dress by artist Hitoko Okata.

Project Space Presents: This Woman's Work, Artists: Simone Aziga, Erika DeFreitas, Insoon Ha, Colina Maxwell, Ingrid Mayrhofer, Shelley Niro, Hitoko Okada, Curated by: Sally Frater, Supercrawl 2011

Erika DeFreitas, Detail from A Teleplasmic Study with Doillies (A Selection). 2010 - 2011. Digital print

The day before the Supercrawl; Friday September 9th will be Terra Lighfoot‘s CD release party at This Ain’t Hollywood, and James St. north will still be kickin’ with it’s regular monthly art crawl from 7-11pm.

The Supercrawl will take place on Saturday, September 10th from 10am-12 midnight, from York/Wilson and James St. north all the way down to This Ain’t Hollywood.

After parties a plenty at The Brain -199 James St. north (dance party to soul, house, disco boogie) free, 1pm-2am, and after party thrown by Beauty Industries at The Red Mill Theatre -80 James St. north (at Wilson) $10 to get in, 9pm-2am.

On top of a phenomenal line up of class act musical artists both local and otherwise there will be some amazing visual artists and art installations, plus galleries and the ever increasing number of independent and cool shops, will all be open and pumping at full throttle.

Here is a list of the 2011 Supercrawl contingent.  For specific times and locations of performances look here.

Music-BROKEN SOCIAL SCENE
J MASCIS
PALEY & FRANCIS
JUNIOR BOYS
SAID THE WHALE
RIDLEY BENT
BASIA BULAT and the HAMILTON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
PLANTS AND ANIMALS
RAH RAH
DINNER BELLES
SEAN ROWE
JACQUES GREENE (dj set)
THE HEARTBROKEN
DINOSAUR BONES
YOUNG RIVAL
TURKEY RHUBARB
REBEKAH HIGGS
MAYOR McCA
ELECTROLUMINESCENT
LIVE HOW YOU LIVE
COWLICK
OLENKA AND THE AUTUMN LOVERS
MONSTER TRUCK
THE REST
BA JOHNSTON
SARAH LOWES
FRY TRUCK
HAMILTON HIP HOP ALL-STARS
MOTEM & CO.
McMASTER LAPTOP ORCHESTRA
DJ OLLIE
DJ BASCO
EARTH, WIND & CHOIR
plus
DMC 2011 WORLD DJ CHAMPIONSHIPS: CANADIAN FINALS
and
WAR CHILD Busking For CHANGE

FYI Free shuttle buses available from the Locke St. festival to the Supercrawl.

 

ribfest

A few summers back Steve and I biked to Burlington for their annual Ribfest (Canada’s largest!).  I remember how the bike ride was a bit tricky once we hit the industrial heartland of the steel mills and entered into the highway of what is Burlington St. east (now with the bike bridge over the QEW this should be no sweat).  Not to mention the lift bridge got stuck and there was about an hour delay to cross the water to get to Burlington.

Mmmmm ribs.  Ribfest was awesome and well worth the bike ride and wait.  It was packed, smoky, and delicious.

A good sampling of ribs, pulled pork, and beer by the lake, in the sun, is a fantastic way to end off the summer.  Oh, sigh..

 

and another one’s down

Federal Building, demolition, Hamilton, 150 Main St.

Photo by Jeff Tessier from Civic Pride Made Real, H Mag.

 

150 Main St. is where the 57 year old Federal Building stands… well is kind of standing.  It is partially being dismembered.  The whole ordeal has been a contentious and difficult process.  There have been petitions to save Elizabeth Holbrook’s 1954 stone works that adorn the front facade of the building, as well as, petitions to designate the building as a historical landmark.  Owner and developer Darko Vranich purchased the building in 2004 with the intention to develop the property into condos.  However, 7 years later no action or movement to initiate this development was taken.  After much drama between the city, Vranich and the Government of Canada, it was decided that only a partial demolition would be able to occur, as when Vranich purchased the building one condition was to keep intact the original facade and features of the building and that the building could not be razed to the ground.  Phewf!

 

“Please be reminded that the Government of Canada sold the property with a covenant that runs with the land in perpetuity which, in addition to protecting certain designated features and facades, requires that you and subsequent purchasers not ‘raze to the ground or otherwise demolish the entire building.’”

Federal Building, Hamilton, 150 Main St., demolition

It is still very sad and frustrating to see half the building being ripped down, not to mention that the owner was able to leave the building untouched for such a long time only letting it fall into further decay.  I feel like this is a trend in Hamilton; buy an old building that has the potential to rejuvenate and transform the city when properly cared for, make hollow promises that you will develop it but then do nothing, let the building sit vacant for many years, ultimately resulting in its demolition.  This has been a similar case for many historical downtown Hamilton buildings like The Century Theatre, which was demolished in 2010, and The Royal Connaught, which has been sitting vacant since 2004.  It is truly such a horrible shame or even a disgrace as Sean Burak writes in Raise the Hammer.

150 Main St., Hamilton, Federal Building, demolition

150 Main St. front door

Elizabeth Holbrook stone work, art, Federal Building, 150 Main St., Hamilton

150 Main St., front doors, Hamilton,

Elizabeth Holbrook, art, stone work, Hamilton, Federal Building, 150 Main St.

For further reading pleasure about the state of many of Hamilton’s buildings, read the recently published article in The Globe and Mail titled Vacant Buildings Overwhelm Hamilton’s Streets.

summer sandwich

When some wonderful and lovely friends came over for lunch on the weekend, I thought a feast of grilled veggie sandwiches, with meats and cheeses on ciabatta bread would be a nice, refreshing, summery treat that would suit everyone’s lunch time pallet.

grilled zucchini, roasted peppers, spinach, raspberry cheddar cheese

spicy salami, grilled zucchini, roasted peppers, raspberry cheddar, & baby spinach

For some garden fresh sides I threw together some lightly steamed green beans tossed with fresh chopped mint from the garden, reduced balsamic, olive oil and crumbled feta cheese.

grilled veggies & smoked gruyere

homegrown tomaotes, mini bocconcini, basil, balsamic & olive oil

The other side dish consisted of  tomatoes from the garden with basil, and mini bocconcini cheese, olive oil and balsamic.  Simple food but super delicious!

 grilled veggie & meat sandwich on ciabatta bread

edible garden

I love that Hamilton’s City Hall has an edible garden.  Purple cabbage, kale, parsley, and Swiss chard fill the garden beds out front of the shiny new refurbished City Hall.

Hamilton, city hall, exterior, edible garden

Hamilton, city hall, garden, cabbage heads, cabbage patch

After passing the cabbage patch out front of Hamilton’s City Hall, I biked past a small splatter of chalk messages to the late Jack Layton on the sidewalk.  It was a very sweet tribute to Jack from local Hamiltonians.  Still, nothing can compare to the overwhelming and touching response to the recent passing of NDP leader Jack Layton in front of City Hall in Toronto.

Remembering Jack Layton at Nathan Phillips Square

Crowds gather in front of Toronto City Hall, Nathan Philips Square, to read chalk drawn messages dedicated to Jack Layton.

 

keep it in the family

A while ago Steve picked up this yellow chair at a garage sale in his home town for $5.  His grandma upon seeing the chair stated that the chair was in fact once hers, and that she had sold it many years back at a garage sale.  We thought “No, there’s no way!” and so we carried on our lives enjoying the sitting pleasures of this fine vinyl yellow chair.  Until one day a few years later, Steve noticed a little piece of paper peeking out from in between the seat. He dug it out, only to discover that it was a Christmas present label to one of his cousin’s from “grandma” in his grandmother’s handwriting!  Lesson learned listen to what your grandma says ‘cos grandmas don’t lie.

vintage yellow vinyl chair, interior design

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