Archives: Barton

summer crawling

I used to be an art crawl regular and could probably count on one hand the number of crawls that I’ve missed. But with this past year’s crazy cold winter and trying to stick to the little one’s bedtime, I’d have to admit that recently we’ve attended only a handful of art crawls. But with the longer days of summer here we decided to throw caution to the wind and take Omi out of his bedtime time routine and hit up June’s art crawl to check out what all we’ve been missing.

Art crawls in the warmer weather are always so busy! The streets were packed and I noted a significant increase in the number of street vendors and busking musicians. I always love seeing the street and community so alive on art crawl nights but then I also wonder where everyone is all those other days of the month.

We headed down James onto Barton where I saw this ghostly and gorgeous door. A door like this seemed like it would have a few stories that it could tell.

June artcrawl door

On Barton we dropped by Hamilton Audio/Visual NodeMulti-modal‘s (HAVN) for their second year anniversary party. The space was all tinfoiled up and shiny with some music that was just about to get underway. Incidentally, for tonight’s art crawl (July10) HAVN is hosting the launch of “384″ zine. There’ll be music by DJ’s Motëm & Muffled Suitcase, plus some limited edition screen prints, a few acrylic paintings on wood panels, and animated visuals.

June artcrawl HAVN

Our last stop of the night during June’s crawl was at Dr. Disc, where Steve and I took turns running down to the lower floor of Dr. Disc, to check out RE-DUO - a collaborative art exhibit by Jo-Anne Balcaen and Donna Akrey - while the other stayed with Omi and rocked out to Hachey the Mouthpeace‘s beat boxing session on Dr. Disc’s roof top.

RE-DUO was such a fabulous show! I loved the humour of the re-do covers and how spot on they were. I especially loved how they used common-place items to stand in for accessories and hairstyles.  For example, in the image below, simple black construction paper did the trick to re-do that Ian & Sylvia album cover.

June artcrawl re-duo exhibit

The RE-DUO show will be running until August 9th. You should definitely check it out during this crawl while you stop by to listen to the amazing line-up for this month’s Raise the Roof session on the rooftop of Dr. Disc (presented by I Heart Hamilton & Hamilton Magazine).

541 eatery & exchange

The chalk board sign at the front counter of 541 Eatery and Exchange reads:

Eat drink and stay a while. Our delicious food is freshly made and affordably priced for all to enjoy. The proceeds from our eatery fund community programs for kids and our neighbourhood. Thanks for helping make Hamilton a better place!

This past June at 541 Barton Street a new cafe, eatery and exchange opened. It was a long time in the making. And I had been excitedly watching the progress of this project from about a year back when I first saw a video by Bottled Media about the inspirational concept and idea of the whole community operation.

541 Eatery and Exchange is a unique type of cafe that is invested in making a positive impact on its community. Located in the heart of Barton Village it is undoubtedly breathing some fresh air back into the neighbourhood.

Barton is often considered a strip of Hamilton where some of the city’s largest pockets of poverty exist. If you took a quick jaunt down Barton you might notice some abandoned buildings fitted in among the spattering of notable Hamilton fixtures such as the Trocadero Restaurant -open for 70 years, Karolina’s Polish Restaurant -just like the way your Polish grandma used to cook, Duartes Portuguese Supermarket and Deli, the Vagueira Bakery and Pastry Cafe, and Starpolskie’s Deli. Now when you’re down on Barton you’ll also see the fresh-faced, hip, and contemporary cafe at 541.

541 Barton interior

It has a glossy polished feel that is open, airy, and welcoming. I loved that they maintained many aspects of the original features of the building like the exposed brick walls, lofty high ceilings and numerous sunny large wooden framed windows.

When we walked in a family was sitting having some treats and playing one of the many board games housed on the shelves at 541. I spotted a small children’s play area at the front of the cafe and thought that it’d would be a great walking destination where I could feasibly bring Omi to stop in for a treat, and to escape from the summer heat. A place with a family friendly vibe is definitely something I pay attention to when on the hunt for new hangouts these days especially now that I have an active little toddler to contend with.

541 Barton drink menu

Besides good coffee, great food, and breezy atmosphere, one of the best things about 541 is how accessible it is to everyone (especially in their pricing). We ordered a lemonade, latte, coffee, banana bread and a scone all for under $10!

With those kind of prices I didn’t have a problem buying a handful of buttons from the button bank, which is just about the simplest and smartest charitable idea I’ve seen. The way it works is you can buy a button at a dollar a piece, which then in turn can be used to help out customers that may need a little extra coinage to buy a hearty and healthy meal or small bite to eat. 1 button=$1 and can be used as cash at 541. The button jar that customers could take from to pay for food was nearly full to the brim, which means everyone has the ability to afford and enjoy 541! So even if a $3 latte seems out of reach, you can use a button or two to get a coffee and a healthy home-cooked lunch or dinner.

541 Barton button bank 541 Barton cafe 541 Barton vision 541 Barton tables 541 barton

It makes me feel happy to see that you can have a place that is beautiful, stylish, and whole heartily committed to giving back and empowering its community. It is a place that believes that everyone deserves a nice place to hang out and good food to eat.

Congrats to 541 for breaking down many of the barriers that can come with elite cafes and coffee shops -so great to have a place like this in Hamilton!

*541 Eatery & Exchange, 541 Barton St. East, @541Barton, M-Sat 7-7, Sun 3-7

balmy

With the weather being unseasonably warm this winter I’ve been trying to take advantage of getting out of the house. I’ve taken to going for a walk a day with baby in tow.

Considering November and December can be so drab it was nice to see little pops of colour along my walks.

313 Barton St. E

62 East Ave. S

East Ave. just north of King

holy crêpes

If you didn’t already know, Hamilton has a crêpe place! Hargitai’s Creperie and Ice Cream shop opened in April and is located across from the Hamilton General Hospital on Barton Street.

I’m super excited that a place like Hargitai’s exists in the city (who doesn’t love crêpes) and I’m uberly happy about a place like this opening up shop on Barton.  Barton has all the right fixtures for a rebirth and I’m just counting down until the revitalization starts to really take hold.

The other day Kristin Archer of I Heart Hamilton and I decided it was high time for another rendez vous and double blog post (check out our previous double blog posts here: Apple Berry’s, J.H. Gordon Books, O’s Clothes & Relish Vintage). Kristin and I have taken a liking to exploring new places in Hamilton together sampling the goods and sharing our findings. So it was fabulous to catch up with Kristin and to hear about what she’s been up to.

I brought Omi along for the visit and for the most part he was on his best behaviour.

picture courtesy of Kristin Archer

We started off our crêpe sampling with a savoury cheese crêpe. As owner Maria made the crêpe we all chatted together about our fondness for Hamilton and Maria’s passion for starting her own crêperie here in this fair city.

Maria told us she was inspired to open her own crêpe shop after a visit to Toronto, where she lined up with a busy crowd of people at popular crêperie. Since the crêpe market in Hamilton had really yet to be cracked she decided to take the plunge and open her own crêperie -the first in the city! She’s set up shop on Barton knowing that it is only a matter of time before Barton, like Locke, Ottawa Street and James North, will experience its own renaissance.

the classic dessert crêpe: strawberry jam

For dessert Kristin went for the Sugar & Spice a cinnamon and brown sugar crêpe, which smelled heavenly, and I opted for the Classic a crêpe filed with strawberry jam.

Maria told us that although crêpes are traditionally known as a French delicacy it is also a shared culinary treat amongst Hungarians. Maria’s put a Hungarian twist on her crêpes with items like the Gundel: crepe filled with ground walnut mix, raisin, and topped with rich chocolate fudge, or The Palacsinta: crêpe filled with chicken breast topped with sour cream with your choice of cheddar or smoked cheese. In addition to savoury and sweet crêpes Hargitai’s also serves up smoothies, sundaes, shakes and ice cream.

Great to explore with you again Kristin! To read Kristin’s post check out I Heart Hamilton’s post here.

So Hamilton, if you’re looking to brighten a dull winter day with a little Hungarian treat pop into Hargitai’s. Although mostly a take out joint there are a some seats -just in case you can’t wait to dig into your crêpe you can eat them there.

*Hargitai’s Creperie & Ice Cream, 304 Barton Street East, follow on twitter @hargitai_s

baltic bread

I came across this storefront some time ago, and just thought it was so amazing to see such a little neighbourhood bakery tucked in just north of Barton.  I imagine it looking just the same as it did 30+ years ago.  When I was a kid I remember going to bakeries just like this to get fresh kaisers, onion buns and loaves.  When I walked into the store a little old school bell dingled, and I could smell the sweetness of fresh bread and baked goods.  They had egg-buns, rolls, rye breads, pies and other baked confectionery.  It really felt like walking into a 1970′s time warp.  I savoured every minute of this soaking in all its bready aromas.  Really Baltic Bread and Bakery has been around for much longer than the 70′s.  The rumour is that they’ve been around for more than a 1/2 century traditionally baking the finest of European bread.

I took the photo for nostalgic reasons, and then realized that Baltic Bread is sold everywhere!  Since noting this bakery I’ve seen their bread sold in grocery stores and at their stall in the Hamilton Farmer’s Market -yeah I know it took me a little while to make this connection!  It was the super vintage lettering that has the “I” dotted with a star that gave away the fact that they were all one in the same -Baltic Bread.

baltic breads, 200 Gibson Ave., Hamilton, Ontario, rye bread, bakery

baltic bread, Hamilton Farmer's Market, rye bread, baked goods

baltic bread, the best rye bread, Hamilton Farmer's Market

If you can’t make your way to visit their home location on Gibson Ave. you most definitely will be able to pick up some of their bread at the Farmer’s Market. They do make a tasty rye.  I ate some of their delicious dark rye with my eggs at breakfast this morning.

*Baltic Bread, 200 Gibson Ave. Hamilton, 905.549.5929

schools out forever

What is up with all the downtown Hamilton schools that have been sold off, boarded up, and demolished?  It seems like there are more schools sold and closed than I can count on my two hands.  There’s the Stinson Street School, coincidently bought and recently redeveloped by Harry Stinson, who by the way developed the infamous Candy Factory Lofts, which spearheaded the urban revitalization on Queen west in Toronto way back in 1993.  For the most part I’m happy to see when gorgeous buildings in Hamilton, like the Stinson School, remain intact and are simply refurbished for their new life as lofty living spaces.

Of the downtown Hamilton schools that have closed there’s Scott Park, 220 Dundurn, Allenby, Tweedsmuir, Robert Land, Gibson,  and Fairfield schools, all of which were sold by the public board since amalgamation in 1998 (and those are just the ones downtown!).  I know that this partially reflects the declining enrollment that many school boards across Ontario are seeing, but I also think it has something to say about the expansion of new subdivision continued urban sprawl, and flight to the suburbs, which are now all part of the larger amalgamated Hamilton.

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting a few of these schools after their sale from the board, while they’ve been in transition between owners.

One rainy day I visited the old Gibson school.  It was a little eerie walking into all the empty classrooms, many of which had little reminders and remnants of its former life as a full on school.

I love the old school buildings in Hamilton.  I have a sentimental feeling associated with them, mostly because they are beautiful but also because I feel like they just don’t make buildings as grand anymore.

It can be really sad to see such beautiful old schools emptied, abandoned and boarded up.  I really hope that this school gets put to good use, and some life gets put back into it.  Smashed and boarded up windows really does nothing for the moral of a neighbourhood and city.

*Old Gibson School, 601 Barton St. east, Hamilton

 

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