Hamilton, ON, Canada

Hamilton, Ontario is in the center of the Golden Horseshoe. The crescent-shaped region wraps around the western shores of Lake Ontario with Toronto in the north and Niagara Falls in the south. The city is an essential part of any visit to Southern Ontario in Canada.

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1 Gore Park, Center of Downtown Hamilton, Canada

Hamilton in Ontario Province is delightful. The city is home to about 750,000 people, the ninth largest metro area in the country. It is located on the Ontario Peninsula along the western shores of Lake Ontario. This is a great stopping point between Toronto (40 miles to the northeast) and the Canadian side of Niagara Falls (45 miles to the southeast). You are standing in Gore Park, the historic heart of downtown. George Hamilton acquired this land in 1816. He then founded the town and succeeded in having it become the capital of the newly established Gore District of Upper Canada. The water fountain was added to the park in 1860. On the right is the Stelco Tower, the city’s third tallest high-rise at 341 feet. In the middle is Commerce Place, a complex of two matching and connected office buildings standing 266 feet.

1 Hughson St S, Hamilton, ON L8N 1A6, Canada
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2 Ellen Fairclough Building in Hamilton, Canada

At 308 feet, downtown’s fifth largest building houses government offices, a courthouse and the Hamilton Convention Centre. The complex is named after Ellen Fairclough. During her distinguished career in politics, this prominent and accomplished woman was a part of the city council, a member of the Canadian Parliament, Secretary of State for Canada and the country’s first woman prime minister. In 1992, Queen Elizabeth bestowed on Fairclough the title of Right Honorable.

119 King St W, Hamilton, ON L8P 1H8, Canada
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3 Hamilton City Hall in Hamilton, Canada

Housed within City Hall are the offices of the mayor, the 15 member Hamilton City Council and the government staff for the Hamilton-Wentworth Municipality. The city is also represented within the province by five members on the Legislature of Ontario. Another five serve at the federal level as Members of Parliament.

71 Main St W, Hamilton, ON L8P 4Y5, Canada
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4 Former Hamilton Public Library in Hamilton, Canada

In 1890, Hamilton opened the first new building to house a public library in Canada. It was replaced in 1913 when the city leveraged a grant by Andrew Carnegie’s foundation to construct this main library. The philanthropist funded 125 Canadian libraries from 1903 through 1922. This structure by architect Alfred W. Peene served as the central public library until 1980 when new facilities opened on York Boulevard. After an extensive refurbishment, the former library reopened in 1989 as the Unified Family Court, a part of the Superior Court of Justice.

55 Main St W, Hamilton, ON L8P 1H4, Canada
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5 Whitehern House in Hamilton, Canada

Whitehern House was built in 1850 when Hamilton had a population of less than 7,000 residents. Originally constructed for an attorney named Richard Duggan, the grand home was acquired in 1852 by Dr. Calvin McQuesten. His descendants lived in the residence until 1968 when they donated the property to the city. Three years later it became a living history museum. Period costumed guides provide tours of the gardens and home containing furnishings from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Visiting this National Historic Site of Canada is fascinating.

41 Jackson St W, Hamilton, ON L8P 1L3, Canada
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6 St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Hamilton, Canada

The eleven bells ringing from inside this 180 foot spire will draw your attention to St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church. The bells collectively weigh 9,873 pounds. The limestone bell tower is Canada’s tallest. The parish was named St. Andrew’s when founded by Scottish immigrants in 1833. The congregation was affiliated with the Established Church of Scotland. A decade later, it became the Knox Presbyterian Church. The current English Gothic Revival structure designed by prolific church architect William Thomas was erected in 1857. The name of St. Paul’s was adopted in 1873. A highlight of this National Historic Site in Canada is the 22 stained glass windows.

70 James St S, Hamilton, ON L8P 2Y8, Canada
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7 Bank of Montreal Building in Hamilton, Canada

The Bank of Montreal has grown into the country’s fourth largest financial institution since opening in 1817. During a rapid expansion across Canada during the early 20th century, BMO constructed several elaborate branch buildings. Many are now designated as having cultural and historical interest. One of them is in Hamilton. The impressive Neoclassical design by architect Kenneth G. Rea was built in 1928. Notice the bank’s original coat of arms in the pediment. The figures represent members of the First Nations, the Inuit and Métis people. Engraved in the shield are a rose from England, a thistle form Scotland and a shamrock representing Ireland. The heraldic design also displays a beaver with a larger one on top of the shield. Today, this is called the Gowlings Building. It predominately houses law offices.

1 Main St W, Hamilton, ON L8P 4Z5, Canada
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8 Pigcott Building in Hamilton, Canada

An extravagant $1 million dollars was spent to build this elegant limestone façade with Art Deco features. The 18 floor, 210 foot office complex was Hamilton’s first skyscraper after opening in 1929. The namesake was the Pigott Construction Company. This dominate firm created many of Hamilton’s and Canada’s finest structures during the 20th century. The Pigcott Building now houses condominiums. If you go inside, watch for the ghost of Willie Thompson. He was the elevator operator for over four decades. The height of the Pigcott Building is currently overshadowed by 15 skyscrapers at or above 250 feet. Hamilton’s current tallest building is Landmark Place at 427 feet.

34 James St S, Hamilton, ON L8P 2X8, Canada
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9 New Vision United Church in Hamilton, Canada

The Methodist community was established by colonists in Hamilton in 1801. When this red brick landmark was opened in 1868, it was on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Methodist Congregation in North America. So, the name Centenary Methodist Church was chosen. In 2014, the congregation of this Victorian-Romanesque church merged with St. Giles United and became the New Vision United Church. In addition, the property houses the YGen Youth Centre. Increasingly, it has also become a venue for public concerts.

24 Main St W, Hamilton, ON L8P 1H2, Canada
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10 Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King in Hamilton, Canada

If you admire Gothic architecture, you will thoroughly enjoy the Cathedral Basilica of Christ the King. The minor basilica of the Diocese of Hamilton was constructed in 1933. Inside the belfry of the 165 foot tower are 23 bells. The biggest is the Bourdon Bell at 4.5 tons. The interior of the Roman Catholic church is even more stunning. The 13th century Gothic design features limestone columns, a marble floor, 82 stained glass windows, an organ with about 5,000 pipes and a vaulted ceiling above the nave.

714 King St W, Hamilton, ON L8P 1C7, Canada
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11 Dundurn Castle in Hamilton, Canada

Sir Allan Napier MacNab was a lawyer when he moved to Hamilton in 1826. During the next decade, he made a fortune in land speculation. In 1835, he spent the outlandish sum of $175,000 to build Dundurn Castle at Burlington Heights. Behind the Italianate façade are 40 rooms covering 18,000 square feet. MacNab was also a member of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada for 27 years, the Premier of Canada West (1854 – 1856) and the co-founder of the Great Western Railway in 1853. Are you curious how this rich land baron and political powerhouse lived during the mid-19th century? Period-costumed guides are waiting to give you a tour of this incredible manor house. You will be fascinated by the lavish furnishings enjoyed by the Dundurn family in contrast to the servants’ quarters in the basement. Interestingly, the wife of Prince Charles – Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwell – is a descendant of Sir Allan Napier MacNab. She has been designated as the Royal Patron of the castle.

610 York Blvd, Hamilton, ON L8R 3E7, Canada
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12 Kitchen Garden at Dundurn Castle in Hamilton, Canada

Most visitors to Dundurn castle overlook this well-manicured garden at the east end of the property. This is worth a few-minute stroll during the open season of June through October. Have a seat on the bench and watch butterflies fluttering among the blooming flowers. This garden has another purpose besides beauty. Since the mid-19th century, it has generated fruit, vegetables and herbs used by the chefs at Dundurn Castle. A percentage of the crop from the Kitchen Garden is also donated to local food banks. For a special treat, inquire about the free garden tours, how you can help maintain the garden and the occasional cooking workshops.

610 York Blvd, Hamilton, ON L8R 3E7, Canada
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13 Hamilton Military Museum in Hamilton, Canada

Burlington Heights was the scene of a British army encampment from 1813 through 1815. They initially retreated here after losing the Battle of Fort George in today’s Niagara-on-the-Lake. Although a typical fort was never constructed, the soldiers created earthen defenses with cannons along the South Battery. This is now the location of the Hamilton Military Museum. Exhibits cover five wars from 1812 through WWII. The museum at Dundurn Park is housed inside Battery Lodge built by Sir Allan MacNab in the 1830s. The only major offensive conducted by these soldiers occurred on June 6, 1813. Under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel John Harvey, they launched a nighttime attack against Americans occupying the Gage family homestead. The British victory was a pivotal point during the War of 1812 in Upper Canada. You can see enactments of the Battle of Stoney Creek at Battlefield House Museum and Park in Stoney Creek about 15 miles away.

610 York Blvd., Hamilton, ON, L8R 3H1, Canada
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14 History Encircling Hamilton Cemetery in Hamilton, Canada

This land was occupied by indigenous people named Anishinaabe during the late 18th century. In 1790, the property (called Burlington Heights today) was purchased by Richard Beasley for a fur trading post and homestead. During the War of 1812, the area was occupied by British soldiers. In June of 1814 – a few months before the war ended – 19 men were charged with treason for aiding and abetting the Americans. Eight were brutally executed in an event called the Bloody Assize of 1814. There unmarked graves are presumed to be near here. After the war, Richard Beasley continued to be the landowner until the mid-1830s when he sold the land to Sir Allan MacNab. MacNab then tore down Beasley’s home in order to build Dundurn Castle across York Boulevard. In 1847, MacNab sold about 100 acres to Christ Church Cathedral for use as a public graveyard. The city assumed control of Hamilton Cemetery in 1850. This chapel was built 15 years later.

777 York Blvd, Hamilton, ON L8R 2A4, Canada
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15 Teahouse at Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Canada

A must-see attraction when visiting Hamilton is the Royal Botanical Gardens. The 2,700 acre property has five diverse gardens, 16.75 miles of tree-lined and waterfront nature walks, a major wetlands for fish spawning plus educational programs for nearly 20,000 students annually. On display are over 1,100 plant species. This is also a mecca for birdwatchers. Seen here is the reflecting pond and Turner Pavilion Teahouse in the 122 acre Hendrie Park. This tranquil setting is encircled by the two-acre Centennial Rose Garden. The abundant roses are from Asia, Europe and North America. RBC was granted permission to use the “Royal” designation by King George V in 1930. Spending a day here is definitely a royal experience.

680 Plains Rd W, Burlington, ON L7T 4H4, Canada
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16 Small Peninsula at Pier 4 in Hamilton, Canada

The westernmost edge of Lake Ontario ends at a narrow isthmus named Hamilton Beach. In the center is a deep canal dredged in 1830. This allowed commercial ships to enter the protected waters of Burlington Bay, also called Hamilton Harbour. For generations, this area only served a thriving industrial sector. The city is Canada’s top manufacturer of steel and iron. Increasingly, several of the old docks are being repurposed for recreational use. The boy fishing on a small peninsula at Pier 4 would agree the results to date are scenic and serene. Nearby is Bayfront Park. The 40 acre greenspace is a favorite among hikers, runners, cyclists, swimmers and boaters.

Pier 4 Park, 64 Leander Dr, Hamilton, ON L8L 1N6, Canada
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17 Tugboat Playground at Pier 4 in Hamilton, Canada

Flocks of young parents bring their children to Pier 4 because of the well-equipped and visually stimulating playground. At the center is a full-size tugboat. Kids immediately gravitate to its climbing platforms. A couple of hours of jumping, running and laughing at this section of the Hamilton Waterfront will prove the adage that an exhausted child sleeps best.

Pier 4 Park, 64 Leander Dr, Hamilton, ON L8L 1N6, Canada
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18 Seagulls Stealing Picnic at Pier 4 in Hamilton, Canada

Also flocking to Pier 4 at the Hamilton Waterfront are seagulls. These sneaky bandits will steal any unattended food on the picnic tables. They especially relish Timbits which are bite-size donuts from Tim Hortons. The Toronto-based company is Canada’s largest coffee and quick-serve bakery chain.

Pier 4 Park, 64 Leander Dr, Hamilton, ON L8L 1N6, Canada
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19 Harbour West Marina along Pier 7in Hamilton, Canada

Many people love strolling along the Hamilton Waterfront so they can savor views such as these sailboats and yachts docked at Harbour West Marina. This picturesque perspective can be enjoyed from the Pier 7 boardwalk. Other people opt to enjoy the scenery while aboard the Harbour-West Trolley. The 37 passenger, multi-compartment train slowly travels along the 7.5 mile Hamilton Waterfront Trail from Bayfront Park to Pier 8. Two other sightseeing options to consider are sailing on the Harbour Queen or the Hamiltonian Tour Boat.

Pier 7 Boardwalk, 1 Guise St W, Hamilton, ON L8L 8B4, Canada
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20 Activities on Pier 8 in Hamilton, Canada

Pier 8 on the Hamilton Waterfront is brimming with activity during the summer months. Consider skating on the outdoor rink. Rent a bike to explore the trails. Attend one of the free concerts on Thursday evenings. Or grab something to eat from the Waterfront Grill, Waterfront Scoops or Williams Fresh Café (shown here).

Pier 8, 47 Discovery Dr, Hamilton, ON L8L 8K4, Canada
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21 Waterfront Trail Lookout Point on Pier 8 in Hamilton, Canada

At the end of Pier 8 is the Waterfront Trail Lookout Point. This is a wonderful place to relax while watching boats sailing in and out of the marina. Accenting the plaza is a steel and bronze sculpture entitled Ráfaga – Unleashed. The artwork created in 2004 by Veronica and Edwin Dam de Nogales depicts two people raising a stylized sail.

Pier 8, Waterfront Trail Lookout Point, Hamilton, ON L8L 8K4, Canada
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