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. Eventually 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. 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. As 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. 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. 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. The 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.
One of my favourite places in Hamilton is Jackson Square’s rooftop. So I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise (cause great minds think a like -right?) that it’d also be the chosen meeting place of Hamilton cheerleader and architectural lover Thomas Allen of Rebuild Hamilton. We met up on top of Jackson Square for an unusual evening gathering of likeminded folks.
We spent most of the night on various downtown rooftops talking about non other than our true love… Hamilton.
The best thing about it was grabbing a few of these shots (above) but also connecting with the likes of Forris Borris aka Sex Drugs and Hamont aka Taylor Heres (beautifully talented photographic aesthetic) and Matt Carson (creator of Exhale Music and Eternal Summer music series).
These gents are doing some pretty cool things in this city. Check their links and follow them on insta. You won’t be disappointed.
In the dwindling days of fall I took in some views from the top of Jackson Square’s roof.
Although I’m not the biggest fan of Jackson Square I do frequent it on a regular basis to run errands, and to go to the market and library. Despite its faults and concrete ugliness and the fact that in its construction the city demolished much of Hamilton’s rich Victorian architecture AND Ontario’s largest outdoor market and square, I do have to be fair in saying that it does serve as a walkable destination for me to get out and about with the little one and to get my day-to-day errands done. So I guess I shouldn’t really complain. I should be happy that at least some retail stores have remained downtown (don’t get me wrong there is room for plenty more).
In all actuality Jackson Square in the daytime is quite a hub. With all the office workers, students and loiterers walking and wheeling around Jackson grabbing their coffees and lunches, I’m surprised that other retailers haven’t decided to capitalize on this untapped market further. If I could work downtown, do my shopping, AND get my groceries all in one place during say lunch, on a break or after work, it would be muchos convenient and life changing for us downtown dwellers and for the daytime Hamilton office workers. I love being able to cram errands into a regular work-a-day day without having to get into a car and go from parking lot to parking lot especially with all the madness of the fast approaching Christmas retail rush.
But enough about that. On days when the market is closed and I don’t feel like walking through the mall or heading down to James, I’ll take in some views from atop Jackson Square. I know I’ve blogged about my love for this vastly underused public space before (click here for that post) but yet again I find myself here and loving the downtown views from this concrete rooftop.
I guess for me the rooftop is one of Jackson Square’s saving graces -can’t wait until the new downtown grocery store opens up too!