The sunny days of fall call for making the most of wide open public spaces on roof tops. I’ve been doing just that on some of these beautiful warm days. On top of Jackson Square in the very heart of downtown is one of the largest probably most underused public spaces in the city. In some ways I kinda like it that way because it feels like a little secret place right downtown.
Before and After‘s are my favourite!
I’m happy that I was able to dig up some old photos from 2 years ago, from when we had just moved into our house.
In July we tore down the walls, and then stripped the floors. There’s still some finishing touches with trim and baseboards that need to be completed. But for the most part we’re done! Well almost done with respect to those 2 rooms (there’s still the kitchen, bathroom, and attic).
I can’t believe how far things have come in such a short time. There’s still a lot to tackle, but for now I can just sit back and enjoy the bright open space that we’ve created on the main floor. Sighhhh.
Albert Hammond Junior is DJ’ing in Hamilton on Saturday night! Yeah, I know. Isn’t that crazy? Well it’s true. Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes is doing a DJ set this Saturday night at Club Absinthe for the kick off to the return of their I SAY DISCO AND YOU SAY PUNK nights. Tickets are $10 in advance, and there’s $2 PBR and mixed drinks until midnight. I have a feeling I’ll be like a decade older than everyone there, but since the venue is only 3 blocks from my house, I’ll check it out anyway. If you want to go, there’s less than 100 tickets left, so get your tickets quick, you can pick them up at Cheapies.
*Club Absinthe, 233 King St. East, Hamilton, Ontario
The past few weeks has seen lots of action on Ottawa Street. Just 2 weeks back on September 16th Ottawa Street hosted Sew Hungry: Food Truck and Restaurant Rally 2011. I heard about the event the day of, when I saw this poster at Downtown Bike Hounds. I was already on my way out for a lunch date so I was sad that I didn’t get to sample all of the latest gourmet trucks that have been popping up around the city and around southern Ontario.
Apparently the first Sew Hungry Food Truck event saw 8000 people attend! The rally featured local trucks; Gorilla Cheese‘s gourmet grilled cheeses, Sweetness Bakery and Cupcake Diner‘s gourmet cupcakes plus a whole slew more of out of town speciality food trucks. If you’re into the latest food truck craze that’s been hitting the hammer, you’ll also be happy to know that there is also the super amazing Sweet Ice snow cone stand/trailer, which made their appearance at this year’s Supercrawl. Sweet Ice is hosting a dance party event this Saturday, October 1st at Vasco Da Gama; 175 James St. North, featuring DJ Donna Lovejoy on the 1′s and 2′s, plus there’s promise of a giant lite brite AND mixed drink snow cones!
There’s been big changes happening on Ottawa Street the past few years. I remember when I was a kid, when Ottawa Street was primarily known as a garment district. I’d come down with my mom to get fabric and supplies for extravagant dance recital outfits.
Things have been changing over the years and it appears as though Ottawa Street tells a similar story to that of how Locke street looked a few years back (when the street consisted mainly of antique shops, many of who have moved on down to Ottawa Street where the rent is more affordable). There are still some fabric stores complemented by upholstery shops, a giant wallpaper store, restaurants, delis, and an art gallery. The storefront landscape is for sure evolving .
I recently visited the strip for some antiquing. My first stop was to the latest edition to the block; Steel Town Pickers at 180 Ottawa St. north.
There are more antique stores on Ottawa Street. More than I can count on my fingers these days. Below are some photos from various antique stores on the strip.
Antique Avenue, which is my favourite antique store, opened up nearly 9 months ago with a huge stock of antique and vintage that came primarily from one man’s personal collection. To read the story click here.
Every time I go by this store I always make sure to pick up a little something. It’s a great place to buy super unique gifts. There’s an amazing selection of vintage magazines, books, tins, jars, dishes, toys, furniture, frames, tools etc. You name it they’ve got it. The owner’s of the store Tom Watson and Adam Hughes always give out great deals too.
Ottawa street is also home to a weekly farmer’s market, the first Tim Horton’s ever, a super record store, and regular and awesome sidewalk sales.
*Antique Avenue, 329 Ottawa St. north, Hamilton, Ontario, 905.547.7168
For one of the weddings I went to this summer I had been asked to be the DJ. I was super excited to take on this task (my 2nd time DJ’ing ever) exclusively with records. I spent days going through my vinyl collection and thinking about songs to play, while weighing out their danceability.
In university I once put a raging dance party to screeching halt by trying to cue up a song on a 5 CD changer but instead I accidentally cut the music mid song and dance. If there had been a record for the needle to go skipping across when everyone stopped dancing and the room went quiet, it would have. So for this wedding I wanted to be sure to have zero DJ disaster moments.
Having the ultimate dance party has always been an eternal dream of mine, so when the dance party was rowdy, collars turned up, ties on heads, and people were getting sweaty, I felt that I had done my duty. I moved through the eras and genres of ska, soul, surf, calypso, funk, disco, 80′s rock, pop, and new wave. I even managed to squeeze in a little Wu-Tang. One of my favourite parts of the night was when I turned to see the bride’s parents dancing to Nuthin’ But a “G” Thang.
Two songs I adore on this album, Just Can’t Get Enough, and Dreaming of Me.
The killer song on this album that just makes me want to die and go to heaven is Barracuda, which has an uncredited mind blowing trumpet solo by the legendary Rafael Mendez.
The song that I love on this album is a cover of A Hard Days Night, which was the entire reason why I bought the record.
Some of the songs that I played at the wedding a few people specifically came up and asked about after. Those particular songs came from the 2 albums in the pictures above, which I had picked up in Hamilton from the Deep Groove Record Swap hosted at The Brain. So if you’re into collecting records especially of the soul, jazz, funk, ska, afro, calypso, disco, rock variety you should definitely go by The Brain this Saturday from 1-5pm to do some record swapping and/or purchasing. I’ve been to 2 swaps so far and have always managed to pick-up a few amazing finds. There’s no better way to spend a Saturday afternoon with a coffee, or a pint, flipping through records and listening to great music.
*The Brain, 199 James St. north, Hamilton, Ontario
For the past month I’ve been noticing these large portraits posted on walls throughout the city. Turns out this is part of a large global street art project called Inside Out or the Inside Out Project.
INSIDE OUT is a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. Upload a portrait. Receive a poster. Paste it for the world to see.
When I was in Toronto over the weekend I saw Inside Out portraits pasted up on walls there too. Some people might not welcome this type of street art, but I like the way it interacts with passerbys and how it brings a personal story to public places. I love even more that this is a global project. You can see a map here of people all around the world who have participated in Inside Out.
I absolutely love all the new stores that are opening up in downtown Hamilton. I was so happy to hear the buzz about this gem of a store. Located in the old Factory: Hamilton Media Arts Centre, Hawk & Sparrow at 126 James St. is the latest store to pop up on James north. It’s another welcome addition to their recently new next door neighbours HOME; antique store and furnishings.
Hawk & Sparrow store owner Sarah Moyal has a sharp eye for choice selections of vintage clothing finds for both men & women.
I like the minimalist feel to the store in that the racks aren’t crammed. There’s just the right amount of eye candy, perfect for easy browsing. The style selection ranges from retro 80′s glam, and sparkle, worn jean and leather jackets to soft, and romantic skirts and delicate knits, shirts and blouses perfect for the summer to fall transition.
*Hawk & Sparrow, 126 James St. north, Hamilton, Ontario
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.
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 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.
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.
Then we went for a coffee at the Brown Dog Coffee and Frittery.
Yes, yes you can! You can get apple fritters, cheese cake fritters, and a banana split fritter!
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.
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.
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.
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.
I heard that David recently designed the album artwork for relatively new Hamiltonian Luke Doucet and The White Falcon‘s latest album Steel City Trawler, which is a tribute entirely to the city of Hamilton.
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.
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.
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.