Category Archives: Hamilton

30 Aug

Around Hamilton

Observations and pictures from yesterday’s day trip to Hamilton:

1. Spotted outside a Money Mart on the way to the bus were a couple of disheveled bums perched on the sidewalk waiting for the place to open. From the look of them, neither had a dime to their name, yet they did have money for smokes. And a dog. Stop me if this is sounding familiar. You know, maybe it’s those ne’er-do-well poverty advocates who are the ones who don’t know about the basic issues behind poverty.

2. Standing in line in front of me waiting to board the #12 bus at Fairview Mall was a couple in their late 50s or early 60s. Displaying the devil-may-care immaturity of a teenager, she had half her hair dyed blue, while he had such a bulging beer belly that he could have passed for being pregnant. An odd pairing if I’ve ever seen one.

3. Also in line was an obese woman with a white cane. From the way she was getting around, she sure didn’t seem to have any vision problems. Especially at the dinner table.

3a. Obesity was another common theme I would encounter throughout the day. As was the lack of modesty in choices of clothing.

3b. For those who are more than tipping the scales, when you’re browsing in a clothing store and debating which size to buy, consider erring on the higher side rather than trying to fit into something so tight that it could cause serious circulation problems. And please take the Nancy Reagan approach to those sleeveless tank tops. Just. Say. No.

4. You can tell it’s tourist season by the fact that so many paid with cash even though it was a weekday. The driver took in so much cash, in fact, that he had to put it all into the lock box when he stopped at Grimsby.

5. On the way to Stoney Creek, I listened as a woman from Mississauga, originally from the U.S. and now living in Canada for the past 21 years, told us about how her son survived a tour of duty in Afghanistan while serving with the U.S. Army. Later on, the guy across the aisle told us about how he fell off his ladder while on a roofing job and spent a year in hospital recovering from his injuries. You do learn a lot about your fellow passengers and passengerettes on public transit.

6. You know the bus is crowded when three people get on at Beamsville. Or anyone gets on at Beamsville, a new stop that’s going over like a lead balloon. But at least they have an official park and ride location, unlike St. Catharines. And they’re scheduled to get regular GO train service before St. Catharines and Niagara Falls.

7. On Barton Street before the Stoney Creek stop, I spotted a vanity license plate “HAVEACUP” with the slogan “Sometimes I go topless” on the frame. This is a detail I doubt that the average motorist on the QEW really needs to know. But others obviously disagree.

8. Spotted on Nash Road was a car with a Canadian flag bumper sticker bearing the slogan “Fit in or (expletive) off.” Aside from the unnecessary profanity, right about now, the owner is probably someone I would like to get to know. And invite him to get on Gab. Like me.

9. Before boarding the Barton bus, I spotted a truck from Reimer Express. On the return trip, I would spot a car with a Bomber bumper sticker and two trucks from Bison Transport. As loyal readers are well aware, the SPRM does keep following me around.

10. It was only a few blocks before we picked up our first wheelchair passenger on the Barton bus, and I’m surprised it took until Strathearne before we got our first stroller. By the time I got off, as an able-bodied person who wasn’t pushing a stroller or using a cane, walker or wheelchair, I felt like a visible minority. Which is par for the course on the Barton bus.

11. Walking down Barton Street was a young woman wearing a skirt barely covering her privates and black fishnet stockings who looked every bit like she had just finished her overnight shift selling her services on the street.

12. Many people exited the bus via the back door and no one needed a battering ram to get out, as they would have to have done on Winnipeg Transit buses. Not that I’m bitter or anything.

13. Near Tim Hortons Field, a young man dropped his bike on the lawn in front of a pharmacy and ran in without locking it up. Unlike Winnipeg, there was probably a pretty good chance it was still there when he came back out.

14. A couple pleaded poverty when getting on and successfully evaded paying fare. I know that, come right down to it, there’s not much the bus drivers can do about it, but he could have used a little more verbal judo to make it a little more difficult for them. After all, if I have to pay, so should they.

15. I pity the poor man who was obviously having a great deal of trouble in the bathroom at Jackson Square. The people in nearby Nations Fine Foods probably heard his groaning and grunting.

16. A sale that’s half used?

17. Come and meet “you neighbors” …

18. A sighting enough to trigger any liberal …

19. Perhaps not coincidentally is this idyllic sermon just down the street undoubtedly carved into the sidewalk by some bleeding-heart liberal who naively believes that disarming law-abiding citizens and preventing them from defending themselves is the only way to rid society of violent crime.

20. Locks. On Locke Street.

21. A stop sign at a light, a puzzling oddity I thought was unique to Winnipeg.

22. I spotted many of these bike sharing stations throughout the city, something that no one would dare try in the Old Country, where the bikes would be promptly wrecked, vandalized, stolen and/or used as a toilet.

23. I’m suspecting these words on the sidewalk on Locke Street are part of a poem. I might be able to find out if cared enough to look it up. But I don’t.

24. Do these “whoopie pies” make a farting sound when you eat them?

25. When I spotted this van from Donut Monster, I couldn’t help but think of a former colleague who once boasted that he has never refused the offer of a free donut, as I did when we worked together.

26. I spotted a woman who stopped to pick up the mess after her dog took a dump on the grass. Readers from the Old Country will understand why this grabbed my attention, as I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a thing in several decades living in that part of the world.

26a. A male passer-by across the street whistled at her immediately afterwards. Perhaps he found something particularly attractive in how she scooped up her dog’s crap.

27. And by misspelling Dr. Seuss’s name, I guess that does make you stand out …

28. So say the free-spending socialists among us …

29. Much preferred to an impersonal mortgage …

30. Yes, these are legal parking spots, with cars passing on the left and bikes on the right. Someone thought this was a good idea. I don’t think I agree.

31. For all your “stationary” needs …

32. So says a dog looking to unload its bladder …

33. I spotted a scruffy looking dude foraging for buried treasure inside a garbage can near City Hall. He must have found so much in there that he decided to scurry off with the whole bag. I guess this was his lucky day.

34. One of the many works of a vandal who goes by the handle of “Rat Daddy”:

35. Looks like I might end up on Google Sidewalk View:

36. The tattoo industry is thriving in Hamilton.

37. Forgive me, but I just don’t understand the attraction of eating outside while sitting in the middle of traffic. But maybe it’s just me.

38. Spotted back at Jackson Square was a guy wearing a fur-lined hoodie. Later, I would spot someone wearing a heavy sweater. As someone born and raised in the sub-Arctic conditions of the SPRM, let me just say that people in this part of the world have no idea what real cold is.

39. Also spotted at Jackson Square was a young man sprawled out on a bench who was approached by security. After asking him if he needed medical assistance, which he didn’t, they asked him to sit up and then leave. Loyal readers from the SPRM know what would have happened if such an incident occurred in Portage Place.

40. Back-A-Da-Bus-O-Phobia, a term coined by Winnipeg Transit, is alive and well on the HSR.

41. While waiting for the GO bus at Nash and Barton, I noticed this car parked in the lot with an expired registration as indicated by the sticker on the upper right hand corner of the badly worn plate.

Not long after taking this picture, the driver loaded up his purchases from the Wholesale Club and took off. If you’re driving around Hamilton, better hope you’re not in an accident with this guy.

42. On the GO bus headed back to St. Catharines, our driver royally cut someone off when pulling out of the Grimsby stop, then on the QEW, he was practically riding the bumper of a small car in front of us. One has to wonder how he lasted long enough with GO to get that 15-year pin on his tie.

43. For more pictures on the day, check out the album I put up on Facebook, and make sure you visit before my account is suspended for having right-of-Lenin political views.

31 Jan

Another Tour of Hamilton

Observations from yesterday’s tour of downtown Hamilton:

1. The GO bus leaving Fairview Mall was more than 10 minutes late, but the driver actually apologized and vowed to try and make up time on the way. It is another sharp contrast from the Old Country, where the driver would probably drive extra slow just to piss his passengers off even more.

2. There was someone from Quebec boarding at Fairview and, obviously unable to speak Canadian, simply held up her cell phone to the driver to tell him where she was going. Interesting idea. If I visit that country again, perhaps I should come prepared with a picture of a sub should I need to stop while on the wrong side of the border.

3. On the opposite side of the aisle was a gentleman having a very deep, involved conversation with himself. Moving his arms and talking out loud, he appeared to be thoroughly enjoying his own company.

4. Seated in front of this talkative gentleman was someone stretched out over both seats snoozing away. I wonder if she asked the driver to wake her at her stop.

5. Kudos to that GO driver who waited until the senior who boarded at Beamsville got to the top of the steps before taking off.

6. I noticed GO has finally indicated “Beamsville” on the new Ontario Street/QEW stop. It was long overdue, as there are three exits in Niagara for an Ontario Street, the others coming in Grimsby and St. Catharines.

7. Upon reaching Stoney Creek and the stop for the now-infamous Barton bus, I was asked by a younger dude in dreadlocks if he could use my cell phone. Not that I have one, but I wouldn’t have made the assumption he only wanted to use it temporarily.

8. I’m not sure it was safe for him to do it, but more kudos to the same GO driver for letting that young woman on despite being in the left-hand turning lane at the on-ramp for the Red Hill Valley Parkway.

9. HSR is now putting CBC “news” up on their video screens for the benefit of those sitting in the back. Needless to say, I found this deeply offensive.

10. I was even more offended when one of these CBC “news” segments showed a picture of the Government Forks in Winnipeg. The SPRM does have a way of following me around.

11. While stopping for a picture on Ferguson in the International Village, a woman carrying a tray full of Mr. Horton’s delicacies made a point of telling me, “If you see someone falling from the seventh floor, don’t mind it because it won’t be me.” Not only did I not see that one coming, but there were no buildings in the immediate vicinity that even had seven floors.

12. There were plenty of beggars out and about, though they were at least polite and somewhat respectful. One was seated on the sidewalk outside Hamilton City Center with his legs stretched out. Another was standing right outside the door at another of Mr. Horton’s locations asking “You don’t happen to have a nickel or a dime towards a bagel, eh?” After ignoring him, he said, “Sorry for bothering you.” All told, I was accosted three times throughout the day.

12a. Later that evening, a friend who I was speaking with on the phone said that if I had wanted to do something different with my life, I could have made a good counsellor. I’ll pause for a moment while you get all that laughter out of your system.

13. It is not a proper trip on the Barton bus without getting at least one mother with a stroller in tow. There might even be some sort of transit by-law requiring it.

14. I know only those of you from the SPRM who use or have used Winnipeg Transit will appreciate this comment, but it’s still a novelty not having to use a battering ram to get out the back door. On all HSR buses I’ve been on, the back doors open automatically and there’s never been a problem.

15. For a complete set of pictures, click here.

04 Jan

Visiting Hamilton and Dundas

Thoughts from my journey to Hamilton and Dundas today:

1. While waiting at Fairview Mall for the GO bus this morning, someone was out in a Bobcat spreading salt by the ton. OK, it had rained overnight. But it was above freezing, and it wasn’t as if there wasn’t any salt on the ground left over from the last unnecessary dumping. One more reason why I call Ontario the Great Salt Republic.

1a. A salt truck threw up at various intervals along the trail following Cootes Drive between McMaster and Dundas.


Yes, Virginia, they do use a lot of salt in this part of the world.

2. Again, someone on the GO bus charged upstairs, parked himself in the front seat, then leaned back, closed his eyes and started snoozing. There’s got to be something about that front seat that makes it more conducive to catching up on lost sleep. I just don’t know what it is.

3. The Barton bus in Hamilton was again an experience to behold. For starters, seated across from me was a rotund woman with only house slippers on her feet. Her only pair of socks must have been in the wash. Then some scruffy, bearded character got on and pretended like he was the driver’s best friend. Later on, he fancied himself as a goodwill ambassador for HSR when he greeted some young man with a “Happy New Year, eh?”

He was also anxious to fill us in on his upcoming wedding plans. “She loves my pension check,” he boasted. One thing’s for sure, she’s not marrying him for his looks.

3a. There was an ad on the bus with the caption, “Ride with Compassion.” Given how our Liberal mayor has been carrying on about his “compassionate city model,” I am genuinely surprised such ads are not on St. Catharines buses yet.

4. Despite the warning sign, I didn’t see any turtles trying to cross the road.


5. Along Cootes Drive, I spotted a truck from Trans-Ontario Express. No doubt, they provide nationwide service from Windsor to Cornwall. I suspect most readers from the Great Salt Republic won’t get it.

6. For anyone looking to recycle their community:


6a. I support the concepts of reuse and recycling, but some communities are beyond that stage and, in a figurative sense, just need to be hauled out to the landfill. One in particular comes to mind, and I think perceptive readers might be able to guess which one I’m thinking of. Not that I’m bitter or anything. Actually, yes, I am. And I’m not ashamed to admit it.

7. I was accosted twice in downtown Hamilton, although the accosters were at least polite.

8. Scenes from downtown Dundas for your viewing pleasure:


9. I wasn’t aware I needed to bring a Windows installation disc for my return trip on the GO bus:

10 Dec

Touring Downtown Hamilton

Thoughts, pictures and observations from my trip to Hamilton and tour of downtown today:

0. For the full collection of pictures, check the public album I posted on Facebook here.

1. You are not a true St. Catharines resident until you have sat and waited at the GO stop at Fairview Mall. It seems to be a rite of passage in these parts.

1a. You are not a true St. Catharines resident until you have left your car at the unofficial park and ride location at Fairview Mall.

1b. Why, pray tell, is there an official park and ride in Beamsville but not in Niagara’s largest city?

2. I was so relieved to see this sign when I got to Fairview. Here I was ready to jump on any old bus that came along.


3. You can always tell whether it is a weekday or on the weekend on the GO bus based on the percentage of people who pay with Presto. Weekday travelers mostly pay with Presto, while on the weekends, most pay with cash. Today, for example, I was the only one of a dozen who paid with Presto.

4. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see this dumping of salt in Grimsby, but I was. After all, this is Saltario and a light dusting of snow came down overnight. Call out the Army, for the love of Pete!™


5. Taking the Barton bus in Hamilton is an experience in itself. Low-income, shabby neighborhoods, strollers and cranky kids galore along with characters missing most of their teeth make for interesting writing fodder. If I lived in Hamilton, I might soon have enough material for a book.

5a. One of these days, I need to walk down Barton and get the full experience on the ground.

6. At a side-by-side storefront on Barton, one half was “Diapers 4 All” and the other half was a hair salon. Now there’s an interesting mix of competing smells.

7. One restaurant on Barton advertised their “feeding hours” out front.

8. One guy sitting near the back door used his loud, screeching voice to keep a running conversation going with a reluctant driver.

8a. Whatever those drivers get paid, I’m not sure it’s enough.

9. Once again, welcome to Saltario:


10. There’s a Catharine Street in Hamilton, yet in St. Catharines, there’s a Catherine Street. Go figure.


11. No slackers here:


12. They settle for nothing less than top spot at this block:


13. Another plate from the Old Country. That place just keeps following me around.


13a. As I was saying, that place just keeps following me around.


14. Many men get served here, but who’s the lone woman?


15. Now which political party do you suppose these people support?


16. Undoubtedly featuring products made right here on Earth:


17. Rub Aladdin’s lamp and take off on your magic carpet:


18. Quack:


19. For anyone planning to liquidate their family:


20. Bike rentals available right in the heart of downtown, proof that I wasn’t in the Old Country, where they would be vandalized and/or stolen within a half hour.


21. I toured Jackson Square and Hamilton City Center, indoor malls with many shops including a full-service grocery store. They were clean and I didn’t feel unsafe. For the benefit of those from the SPRM, the mirror opposite of Portage Place. It’s amazing the difference having fewer “ambassadors” can make. You know, the kind of “ambassadors” that keep trying to relieve you of even more of your money than they’ve already taken and flushed down the toilet.

22. Attached to Jackson Square is the Hamilton Public Library. It opens at 9:00 am on Saturdays. Unlike the downtown library in the Old Country that didn’t open until 10:00. Old gripes die hard.

22a. I have no doubt some staff at the Millennium Library still wonder what happened to me. To say the least, I was quite a fixture at the microfilm counter.

23. One store on James Street wrote their offerings on the sidewalk:


24. The Hamilton Store. In Hamilton, no less. You don’t say.


25. I didn’t see Rhoda here:


26. How very Ontario:


27. It was customer appreciation day for Presto users on the eastbound Barton bus that took me back to Stoney Creek thanks to a malfunctioning Presto reader.

28. Soon after I boarded the eastbound Barton bus, the driver took off just as a would-be passenger running after the bus got to the back door. It was a classic moment so reminiscent of my days taking Winnipeg Transit.

29. It was just a light dusting of snow. Honest.


30. Back in St. Catharines, it looked like a salt truck threw up on Scott Street. As I said, it was just a light dusting of snow we had.

13 Jun

Return to Tiger Town

For the second year in a row, I made the trek to Hamilton for the open house at the Tiger-Cats’ new stadium.

001_eastside
As soon as I boarded the Barton bus after getting off the GO, I knew I wasn’t going to be alone as it was filled with fans, young and old, decked out in Ticats gear. CFL football may not have that strong of a following in this part of the world, but those who do follow the league are mighty passionate about it.

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Outside, there was a table where they were clearing out some of last year’s merchandise at heavily discounted prices. Evidently, Hamiltonians like their bargains as much as Winnipeggers do, as there was a mad rush to get in line for first crack at the goodies. Having a strong aversion to crowds, as they say in Texas, El Paso.

As was the case last year, there was no charge to get in, but this time around, they forced attendees to register and show their ticket at the gate. The lines moved agonizingly slow, and I’ve made it through the pat-down security at NFL games in Minneapolis faster than it took me to get through the gate on Sunday. I don’t know what the hold-up was, but I hope they clear up the problems if they do this again.

Once I was eventually let in, I took some shots around the south end before going up to the club level.

007_westside 009_fromweststands
The “Champions Club” is an impressive restaurant/bar where VIPs can sit and watch the game while enjoying their food and drink.

012_club 013_club 014_club 015_club
Outside, I spotted the flags representing the Ticats’ two retired numbers. At left is Bernie Faloney’s #10 and at right is Angelo Mosca’s #68. After a Google search, I learned that Mosca lives right here in St. Catharines.

021_10_68 038_68
I was also pleased to see more recognition of their proud past with the names of those on the Wall of Honor displayed inside the Champions Club.

023_club
Nearby was a dedicated “No Alcohol” section, and I would later spot another such section at the opposite corner of the stadium. Having been treated to some horrid experiences at Winnipeg Stadium back in the 1980s, I would be curious to see if there was the same rowdy, out-of-control atmosphere here as there was in Winnipeg. Maybe one of these days, I’ll actually go to a game and find out.

024_noalcohol
I spotted this guy on the west side concourse. You think he’s a fan?

032_scooter
Later, once we were allowed on the field, he went to see quarterback Zach Collaros.

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On the east side is the steam whistle they blow before every game.

053_steamwhistle 055_steamwhistle
There’s undoubtedly some history behind it that I’ll have to look into one of these days.

At noon, they let us on the field and we were free to roam at will for the next hour.

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I wasn’t aware Brantford was in line for a CFL franchise.

085_onfield 087_onfield
Many players were stationed along the sidelines and fans could line up for the chance to meet them. Not surprisingly, the line to see Collaros was the longest.

088_collarosline
I continued on over towards the alumni table. I would have been quite interested in meeting some of the greats of years past were I a long-tenured fan of the franchise. But I’m not.

089_onfield 091_alumni
Jeremiah Masoli, who eventually became the starting quarterback after the midseason injury to Collaros.

095_masoli
Chad Owens, who came over from C.U. during the off-season. “Argos Suck” was a familiar line I saw and heard during the day.

099_owens
One of the mascots.

101_mascot
Luke Tasker, the son of Buffalo Bills’ great Steve Tasker.

108_tasker
Mike Filer, the team’s starting center, takes the stage for an interview.

121_filer
Having covered the field several times, it was time to return home. I’m not sure I’ll go if they have an open house next year, but it was nice of the team to offer us the opportunity to look around and I was glad I made the trip.

08 Jun

Open House at Tiger Town

Yesterday, I was one of a crowd estimated at around 5,000 at the open house at the Tiger-Cats’ new stadium in Hamilton. Out of respect for Canada’s energy workers, I shall not identify the major corporate sponsor whose name is attached to the facility.

I took the GO bus from Fairview Mall and got off at Nash and Barton, where I took a little tour of Hamilton before heading for the stadium. On the bus, I was hoping to use my PRESTO card for the first time, but the fare box was out of order and, as a result, all the passengers ended up with a free ride.

01_nash_barton
Not that I was in a hurry, but the bus was several minutes behind schedule. Perhaps I should complain and demand my money back. Every last dime of it.

Parking at the stadium, nestled in the middle of a residential neighborhood, is undoubtedly a chronic problem, even when Ivor Wynne Stadium stood there, but there was plenty of parking for cyclists like me on the plaza off Cannon Street, otherwise known as Bernie Faloney Way.

91_motorcycle
Parked at one of the racks was this motorcycle, whose owner is obviously a passionate fan. The CFL barely registers on the radar in this part of the world, but you wouldn’t know it by walking around here.

89_gate1
After entering through Gate 1, I was given a free jersey rally towel, which currently hangs from my mantel right next to the IceDogs towel I received at the regular-season finale. The cellophane wrapper had a “Made in China” sticker on it. Buy local. Or not.

11_seagramtouchdownlounge
Just past the gate is the Seagram Touchdown Lounge, where fans can sit back in comfort and enjoy the game.

69_fieldlevel
Later, I noticed these tables right at field level, presumably reserved for VIP customers. I’m not sure I’d want to sit there for any amount of money. Even at this level, the guys hit pretty hard and that’s a little too close to the action for comfort.

16_concourse

17_concessions
Walking through the concourse and passing the concession stands, I couldn’t help but think back to a year earlier when I was touring Manitoba Taxpayers Stadium for the first and only time. How things have changed over the past year.

14_field

26_westside

27_field
The stadium seats only 24,000, making it a target for the critics, who call it a high school stadium. However, I could find little fault with it. Everything looked first-class with all the amenities.

35_autographline

52_southend

86_southend
Throughout the stadium, who I presume were Tiger-Cat alumni were signing autographs for eager fans. Since my knowledge of the proud history of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats is practically non-existent, I had no idea who these guys were. I thought I recognized former quarterback Chuck Ealey, but that was all. It would have been nice to have signs at each table giving their names.

37_championsclub

50_championsclub
My next stop was the Champions Club, the full-service restaurant on the club level where you can sit and watch the game while enjoying your meal.

49_podium
I arrived just as they were finishing with some announcements, but I was still able to partake in some of the free food. To my amazement, it was not a spread of hot dogs, nachos and other assorted junk, but rather yogurt and juices. The yogurt I had didn’t even have any of those hideous artificial sweeteners in it. This deserves a two thumbs up.

While near the podium, I had a nice, long conversation with Carol and Walter, an older couple who are regulars at the games. Carol actually does the face painting on the east side. In addition to being a connoisseur of all things Tiger-Cats along with cheese and sausages, Walter is also an avid cyclist who shared some tips on good places for a ride around the area. I nearly choked when he talked about how dangerous some streets were in Hamilton. I don’t think anyone can fully appreciate what danger means until taking to the streets of the degenerate capital of the SPRM on two wheels. The only thing that prevents me from writing an epic novel on that subject is the painful memories it would dredge up, memories I would rather leave in Canada’s toilet bowl.

59_austin
After finishing up in the Champions Club, I went down to watch as head coach and general manager Kent Austin put his team through a light workout. It is a refreshing change that the head coach and general manager doesn’t also own the team. Hockey fans reading from the SPRM will understand that reference.

73_practice

75_practice

77_practice
While watching, I couldn’t help but look to my left and notice the escarpment to the south.

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82_field
Contrasting that view is the industrial sector to the north with all the steel mills.

66_field
Hamilton in a microcosm, right from your seat.

After practice, fans were allowed on the field to meet and get autographs from their favorite players, but with a 40-mile bike ride ahead of me to get back to St. Catharines, I left before the practice was over.

It’s not likely I’ll ever go to a game there, but I enjoyed the tour as I continue to explore my new home region.