Two Tales of a City: Hamilton History Hunters Day 2

We spent the day in Hamilton again, this time walking around downtown as Official Hamilton History Hunters, building a timeline of Hamilton’s history with the help of city residents and visitors around Jackson Square, a multi-use complex in the downtown core.

Both Hiba and I had specific tasks that we alternated during our investigation. Hiba had our timeline, pins and post-its while I started off with the camera and a clipboard with research articles from our last trip up.

We met a lot people who ere eager to speak about Hamilton, others were rushed or didn’t have much to say.

This man was visiting Hamilton because his wife was in the hospital. He was a retired auto worker and had some good insights into that industry.

Our timeline quickly started to fill up with experiences, events, feelings, regrets, and hopes for hamilton’s past, present and future.

This person was a student and spent some time briefing a few articles and marking key words and phrases.

This woman was an infinite source of information about Hamilton’s Steele and Textile industries. I feel like we could have talked with her for hours.

Hiba did a fantastic job taking down her points for the timeline as she spoke. I think we must have had 5 or 6 different post-its filled before we continued our hunt.We used sewing pins to attach the post-its to the timeline. It was fast enough for me to manage but Hiba was having a hard time reaching from behind it.


Halfway through, I handed the camera off to Hiba and donned the timeline. I quickly realized that I now needed to renegotiate moving through city space.

Lots of hustle and bustle around Jackson Square on this morning, we headed out super early to catch students and workers on their daily commute.

It seemed productive to hang around the bus stops to spark up conversation with people coming on and off the bus.

This guy had some good stories about Hamilton’s past. As I was talking to this guy, Hiba was having a good discussion with another enthusiastic Hamilon Historian.

We were catching many people’s curiosity and interest. Some people were too busy to talk, some didn’t have much to say, and others enjoyed the invitation to share. One lady was just hanging around this area because she was looking for an address and couldn’t find it.

We had some yellow police officers follow us back to our car, I think they thought they were protecting us from the homeless people outside of this mission. I felt pretty safe, though. The night before, we also saw police officers on horses downtown. The only other time I’ve seen that was in Calgary. 

After about a solid two hours we returned to our parking lot and looked over our gathered notes.

Close up of our findings.

What will happen in Hamilton in 100 years?

What are you looking forward to tomorrow?

What happened 100 years ago in Hamilton?

What do you hope for Hamilton in a 100 years?

What did you do yesterday in Hamilton?

What will happen in Hamilton in 100 years?

Hamilton history.

100 years ago, the mafia came here from the old country.

Hamilton’s past.

The two day trip turned out to be really successful! We met and talked a lot of interesting people throughout the streets of Hamilton. Thanks to everyone at Hamilton Artists Inc. for making our stay enjoyable and productive.



9 Replies to “Two Tales of a City: Hamilton History Hunters Day 2”

  1. Hey!
    Loving the new project. I’m an expat from Windsor (and U of W history grad), now living and working in Hamilton. It’s too bad you weren’t there during the week when things are really bustling. I work in a building in one of your pictures and right behind you guys was the Right House (or more accurately, the Historic Right House). If you want some more history about the steel industry specifically, there have been some really nice pieces in The Spec the last couple of weeks and as always, the HPL which I had noticed you paid a visit to as well. If you’re in town again, you should take a trip to the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre.

  2. hey, that was Renee Wetsalaar! she used to be in the Dik Van Dykes.she and i had a studio here in Windsor in the 80’s. she worked for the labour museum in Hamilton for a good while – i’m sure she’s a font a knowledge for Hamilton history. good catch timeline women!

  3. awesome field work photos! great post. Did you guys have to pester people a lot first to get them to take a look? Was there any curious approachers/pedestrians asking questions first?

  4. Awesome work. Looks like some great photos to post on Pinterest and perhaps gather more information as you go. It’s amazing when you ask what you can actually learn.

  5. Yes I thought that was Rene! Great work women! Love the photos and love that you just go out there, the results are very excellent from the ‘random’ public, really love it! looking forward to your next visit…

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