One of Hamilton’s oldest neighbourhoods, Corktown is bound by James Street South to the west, Main Street to the north, Wellington Street to the east and the Niagara Escarpment the South. Corktown received its name from County Cork in the south of Ireland, ans was the major embarkment point for many Irish Canadians.
Most homes are built closely together from the unique red brick still found in the area. Today, Corktown is home to approximately 7,500 residents.
Interesting fact: The famed Corktown Pub, one of the contry's oldest Irish hangouts, was built in 1888 and has been operating as a pub since 1931. It is the oldest licensed establishment in Hamilton.
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Looking for something to do this weekend? Architecture fan? Or maybe you never miss an open house? If you answered yes to any of the above, you will be happy to hear that Doors Open Hamilton runs this Saturday May 2 and Sunday May 3.
In its 13th year, Doors Open Hamilton “...celebrates our built environment. It’s designed to foster an appreciation and exploration of both heritage+ modern architecture and adaptive re-use plus the cultural history of our community.”
Here are five sites we think are pretty cool, but with 38 to choose from, you’ll want to take a look for yourself.
223 Weir’s Lane. The Weir’s Lane Lavender and Apiary, celebrating its 5th anniversary as a small family run lavender far (with bees!), has become known for its conservation efforts. New this year is a hazelnut grove and expansion of our apiary. Join in field walks and beehive viewing. Try your hand at making crafts with lavender.
14 James Street North. Probably best known as the Tip Top Tailor or the Sirloin Cellar building across from Jackson Square.
A rare opportunity to view a heritage building about to undergo an extensive renovation that includes adjacent properties at 10-12 James N and the alley in between. The 2nd floor — closed to the public for over 35 years — will be open.
1401 Barton Street East. Home of eastern Canada’s oldest Serbian Orthodox Parish(1913), the church’s architecture celebrates the Serbo-Byzantine style. The interior features hand-painted fresco iconography and traditional woodcarving in the Orthodox tradition.
56 Ferrie Street West. Semi-detached worker’s cottage transformed into an open- concept living space. Original structural boards and scavenged wood have been re-used. The house is a showcase of “Green” products and Hamilton’s sustainable companies. Ex-sulated house, solar energy, composting toilet, rain barrels and raised- beds garden.
2301 King Street East. The Bait un Nur Mosque “House of light” purchased by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in 1998, returned to its original use as a place of worship. Explore a Quran exhibition, displays on Islamic teachings and the mid-century architecture.
Doors Open Hamilton is the signature event of the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario – Hamilton Region Branch – organized by volunteers since 2003. Doors Open Partners are: The Hamilton Region Architectural Conservatory, the Hamilton Burlington Society of Architects, and Ontario Heritage Trust.+
Bounded by Main, James, Queen and Stuart streets, the neighbourhood of Central offers an eclectic mix of shopping areas, eateries, drinkeries, and businesses both traditional and modern. Broadly speaking, however, Central Hamilton extends from the base of the Mountain north to Stuart Street,west to Chedoke Creek/Dundurn, and east to approximately Wentworth/Sherman, encompassing a wide variety of residential options.
Downtown, King Street and James South boast the historic glory of Gore Park, lush with flowers from spring to fall, then home to a joyous holiday light display and play area in winter. Nearby, such sites as the 1914 Royal Connaught Hotel, the 100-year-old former Gibson School, and the James Street Baptist Church have been transformed into condominiums and lofts with key architectural elements restored and preserved without sacrificing any modern amenity. To the west, the shopping/commercial hub of Jackson Square sits at the heart of the business/banking district. Further west around Queen, the bar and entertainment zone known as Hess Village is a beehive of activity year-round. The HSR and Go transit lines both have major terminals downtown, offering efficient transport throughout Hamilton and within the GTA.
Living in Central means easy access to everything, from shopping to banking, historical sights to higher learning, day spas to nightlife. The Art Crawl and Supercrawl have grown into hugely popular events, with live entertainment, stalls, and a focus on local businesses and talent. Food festivals, farmer’s markets, pet stores, vintage clothing and music boutiques, the Canadian Football Museum, a vibrant library and art gallery, trendy skateboard stores, a wide range of dining options - you name it, Central’s got it.
So does all this mean no one gets a moment’s peace? Absolutely not. Off the main streets you find quiet residential neighbourhoods with homes ranging from the Victorian to the modern era, ample space between buildings, plenty of parking room, old-growth trees and beautiful lawns. Large retail stores at the Stuart/Barton boundary give way to smaller shops and a startling variety of the well-maintained, largely traditional homes heading towards the core; many more such properties lie in greater Central, stretching down to the residential areas between Wellington and Sherman.
Whether student, artist or professional, focused on convenience, variety, family, social life or solitude, there’s a perfect home for you somewhere in Central.
I wandered into Vintagesoulgeek at 279 King Street East, drawn by the Deco sign and belated-birthday-gift-for-relative guilt. Little did I know this would be love at first sight, then delight after delight. This new vintage shop, built on four years of street-selling items that would make any collector sing, perfectly encapsulates all there is to love about Hamilton circa 2015, where the past informs the future.
Hamilton’s richly historical nature is attested to by its landmarks and properties - even new ones like the condos being carefully constructed nearby within stately Victorian, 1920s and 1950s edifices . Vintagesoulgeek is located in the heart of Hamilton’s International Village at historic Ferguson Station, where the Business Improvement Association is active in supporting unique and forward-thinking local entrepreneurs, hosting everything from Victorian Village events to bazaars.
The clothing and accessories here are authentic, distinctive, and in many cases rare examples of a colourful past. In fact, as I walked into a store packed with excited browsers ranging from seniors to Macmaster students on early spring shopping sprees, I despaired of being able to afford the first item to catch my eye, a gorgeously crafted, mint-condition Flower Drum Song-era silk cheongsam. As it happened, at $85 it would have been a steal had it not been two sizes too small for the relative I had in mind!
For half that price, though, I walked away with two perfectly preserved enamel brooches - a schooner and a cameo - and an exquisitely matched rose scarf clip and earring set. There were stamped vintage Wedgewood earrings for $42, men’s Deco horseshoe cufflinks for $26, a like-new 80s Betsey Johnson pink lace dress for just over $130, a mint 60s gold mesh purse for $42, one-of-a-kind jewelry sets over $500, with many small but no less distinctive items only $10-15. Something for everyone, and run by a staff whose enthusiasm and verve is so infectious it’s no surprise to hear sales have exceeded their wildest imaginings in a few short days.
As the co-owner on duty, friendly and energetic Nikola Bulajic, cheerfully explained - while ringing in an another purchase, recording it in a log and dispatching a friend to fetch an item from the window - he and his wife Connie want people to be able to buy their wares. Connie has been collecting since childhood and “she has a great eye. Actually, she has two.” Pricing items they love affordably ensures tthey will be seen again in the modern world, revived. Their strategy includes the website www.vintagesoulgeek.com, an etsy.com account for online purchasing, and most importantly, embracing the area (they advertise neighbouring businesses, like newly opened vintage guitar store Tundra, as enthusiastically as their own on their Facebook page). So far, their labour of love is looking like great business.
Bringing the past into the present with fresh vigour is about as Hamiltonian as a business strategy gets these days. Down to earth, but unafraid to be unique, engaging the neighbourhood and keeping it real by catering to the upwardly mobile and budget conscious alike, Vintagesoulgeek is a perfect example of ambitious young entrepreneurs building bridges and making their antiques part of Hamilton’s future.+
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