As I sat on the # 900 bus of West Midlands Transit leaving the 'Bull Ring' of central Birmingham towards Solihul, I thought of my own city in Canada, Hamilton, Ontario. Early references of Hamilton called my city the 'Birmingham of Canada,' closer to home Pittsburgh has also been used for comparison. What binds these cities is industry, steel and manufacturing.
Industrial Hamilton by the bay at night.
While travelling south east through Birmingham I am cordially greeted and directed by those who recognize my strange accent. Through the district of Small Heath, I think of the long departed motorcycle giant B.S.A. whose 'Rockets,' 'Lightnings,' and 'Goldstars' rolled out of the factory for the world to enjoy. As with Birmingham, the enigmatic Hamilton produced the even more enigmatic Studebaker and like the grand B.S.A., these are mere ghosts that only appear in museums or on summer cruise nights that embrace local eateries of east Hamilton.
Hamilton Night Skyline
Birmingham is one of the U.K.'s most culturally diverse cities and in Canada, Hamilton also exhibits and promotes the mosaic of world communities that has been its basis when the Hamilton steel giants canvassed Europe to fill jobs at their mills and the offer of a better life in Canada. Hamilton is a great city to live and, as Birmingham is over shadowed by London, Toronto has long since been the 'good , clean brother' forty-five minutes up the Q.E.W. from Hamilton with a population more than five times greater. I have heard the jokes from the uninitiated and understand that we are thought of as the 'little brother that smokes with a black-eye and dirt under his nails,' but in reality, Hamilton is an affordable and safe city to live with great neighbourhoods, kind folks and one of Canada's lowest rate of unemployment.
One of Hamilton's Many Waterfalls(ANCASTER)
The topography of Hamilton lends itself to some of the most picturesque homes in Southern Ontario in ares like Westdale, Ainslee Wood, Ancaster, Dundas, Stoney Creek and Waterdown. Central Hamilton boulevards such as St, Clair offer grand century homes with unparalleled craftsmanship. May times, one would see the late Lincoln Alexander ride through these neighbourhoods on his three wheel scooter smiling and greeting all as he rolled through to his Proctor Street residence. Lovingly referred to as 'The Hammer' or 'Steel Town,' a ride down Cannon Street through 'Berney Faloney Way' old Ivor Wynne Stadium awaites its re-birth for the hallowed and storied Hamilton Tiger-Cats Football Club to carry its one-hundred and thirty-five rear tradition. Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Karen Cain, Brian Linehan, Pat Quinn, Steve Paiken, Stephen Brunt and Doug Henning have all called Hamilton home and the ivied halls of McMaster University in the Westdale community was the centre of Canada's comedic "Canadian Conspiracy" to overtake Hollywood.
Much like Birmingham, Hamilton has had to re-invent itself with the exodus of industry to the Far East and Deep South. The innovative medical community, music and arts scene and its progressive educational facilities have all lead Hamilton as one of the top cities in Canada to invest. Birmingham has HP Sauce, Hamilton has Tim Horton's and a quick stop to Ottawa Street at Dunsmure one can order their 'Double Double' at the enigmatic hockey star's first internationally recognized Canadian franchise.
Abroad or at home, Oakville, Burlington, Mississauga or Toronto, take a look at Hamilton and why so many are proud to call it home.
The First Tim Horton's