Category Archives: Hamilton

02 Aug

Planet Hamilton

Observations and a few pictures from yesterday’s tour of Hamilton in honor of the fourth anniversary of my defection from the SPRM and move to St. Catharines:

1. On the GO bus was a fat middle-aged guy wearing a golf shirt that might have fit him in high school. Barely. The tightly stretched shirt failed to cover much of his belly and he needed a bra for the boobs some women would pay big money for.

2. Dear GO Transit: I realize everyone else was going the same speed, but the red lines through the construction zones on the QEW are indicators that drivers are supposed to slow down, not speed up.

3. Seated across the aisle from me on the GO bus was a woman with a nose ring that looked like metal snot.

4. On the occasion of the anniversary of my defection from the SPRM, I spotted a Bison Transport truck on the QEW in both directions. As I’ve said before, the SPRM does keep following me around.

5. At Stoney Creek, the HSR driver kindly stopped and waited for those of us transferring from the GO bus. Once again, this is not the Old Country, where the driver would have floored it as soon as we got to the front door, then bragged about it back at the garage.

6. On the way downtown, there was only one stroller and one walker, but it was a completely different story on the way back. On that trip, there was one wheelchair, two strollers and one walker already on board when I got on with two more strollers getting on later. In fact, there was so little room left on the bus that the driver was unable to take on either of the two strollers waiting at a stop in front of a bar.

7. Spotted in a shelter along the way downtown was a scruffy old bum using a bunch of crumpled-up plastic bags from No Frills as a cushion.

8. Spotted on a Hamilton Cab was the slogan, “Powered by pride.” Does it only take gay gas?

9. A bum catching a few winks in the median on York Boulevard:

10. The number of smokers I spotted on the day led me to believe there’s an inverse relationship between economic well-being and likelihood of smoking. In other words, those who can least afford to smoke do. And then anti-poverty advocates cry about the social determinants of health.

11. As a cyclist who regularly puts on more than 2,000 miles per year on two wheels, I appreciate efforts to make cities more cyclist-friendly. But in the first shot, having the lane on the left side of the one-way street is counter-intuitive since drivers normally expect cyclists to be on the right. Same for the second shot, showing a two-way cycle track on Bay Street, which is one way for cars. This can lead to a situation where a driver is not expecting a cyclist who is traveling in the opposite direction of car traffic.

12. Walking the streets downtown, I get the feeling the annual Hamilton Fringe Festival starts on January 1 and ends on December 31.

13. Um, whatever.

14. As opposed to unregistered condominiums?

15. While at the A & W eating lunch, an older woman seated across from me with enough lipstick to dam the mighty Mississippi thought she needed more.

16. Also at the A & W, someone came up to the counter and simply said she wanted “something with beef.” After the clerk managed to coerce more specifics out of her, she ended up ordering so much beef that she needed a bag to carry it all out in. It was beef, by the way, that she really didn’t need.

17. Lay down the law …

18. I saw many oddities on the day, but the sight of this Hamilton police officer on horseback on James Street was perhaps the most unexpected of them:

19. If only these artist-run centers were also artist-funded:

20. To heck with any humans in the building, just worry about the dog:

21. How else can you explain popular support for the NDP?

22. On the day, I spotted two Muslim women driving. How nice of their husbands to permit such a thing.

23. Seated across from me on the Barton bus headed back to Stoney Creek was a guy with a Q-Ray bracelet, advertising himself as a sucker easily separated from his money.

24. HSR revenues would increase dramatically if they charged by the pound instead of a flat rate per person.

25. I feel the pain of the cyclist whose bike is at the far right end of the rack.

26. I don’t think this is exactly how they teach you to park in driving school:

 

20 Jun

On the Bus to Hamilton Again

Observations and pictures from my second trip to Hamilton in as many weeks:

1. Parking fail at Fairview Mall:

2. On the #12 GO bus was a guy hauling heavy luggage who got off briefly before the bus departed to hug his honey across the street who had come to see him off.

Did I mention that he left his wallet full of credit cards and cash unattended on the seat?

Fear not for the guy, however, as it was still there when he got back, further proof that this is not the Old Country.

Meanwhile, as we made our way west along the QEW, once he had finished his Tim Hortons coffee, he cracked open a can of Red Bull. As if the coffee didn’t give him enough of a pick-me-up, the Red Bull undoubtedly finished the job. As they say, Red Bull gives you wings. Not that I know from personal experience.

3. Dear GO Transit: On the heels of the heat warning we were under the last couple of days, was it really necessary to have the heat on inside the bus?

4. I’m sure I was not alone in questioning the wisdom of the driver on the QEW near the 406 interchange who cut across three lanes of traffic, in one of which was a speeding double-decker GO bus.

5. LGBT activists can rest easier as the rainbow bench is now back at the Beamsville stop.

6. Is the “Happy Pride” reminder on GO buses really necessary?

7. I feel the pain of those on the uLinc bus that showed up at the Beamsville stop less than a minute after our GO bus left. Been there, done that.

8. I appreciate that HSR buses are air-conditioned, but first thing in the morning, it didn’t need to be cranked up full blast.

9. Seated across the aisle from me on the Barton bus was an older guy with the mother of all schnozzes.

10. The Barton bus is notorious for strollers and walkers, but this time I spotted a mother dragging her kid around on a leash.

11. Speaking of strollers and walkers, there was only one stroller on the trip in, but on the way back, there were three strollers and two walkers. One of those strollers on the return trip was being pushed by a woman with strawberry-red hair covered in tattoos from head to toe who had all sorts of pins and rings in her nose, lips and cheeks. No doubt, she was another low-income mother who has trouble making ends meet, but has plenty of money for tattoos and such.

12. I am amazed as to the quality of fabric and clothing they make these days that can be stretched so much without bursting at the seams. Case in point:

13. Walking the streets of downtown Hamilton, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was an environmental disaster on par with the Love Canal years earlier that has caused so many, well, issues with its inhabitants.

14. I actually spotted a cab driver outside the Hamilton GO Center who did not appear to be of Middle Eastern descent. No doubt he was a quota hire.

15. Just because you’re failing doesn’t mean it’s the system’s fault.

16. The Busy Bee Mart was certainly busy …

Too busy, in fact, to consult a dictionary before ordering their sign.

17. Did they just assume the workers’ gender?

18. A $5,000 fine for feeding pigeons? As an old university professor of mine would say, not bloody likely.

19. Spotted on Cannon Street was an aboriginal man carrying a beer tray. You and I would call it a laptop, one of much newer vintage than anything I have.

20. Inspirational message on the side of a pharmacy …

21. One of the many characters on James Street:

22. Anyone thinking of opening up a laundromat in downtown Hamilton need not bother as clean clothes are not exactly a top priority with most residents.

23. As I noted earlier regarding the quality of clothing, the benches in Gore Park are also made to the highest standards in order to withstand heavy loads. Case in point:

24. Spotted at Jackson Square was a guy wearing a T-shirt with the message “I’m going to hell in every religion” on it.

25. On the return trip, sprinkled among all those with strollers and walkers was a woman, or maybe a man or other made-up gender, with a Mohawk cut. By Barton bus standards, it didn’t even stand out too much since it wasn’t dyed some flashy color like purple or orange.

14 Jun

An Off-Color Tour of Hamilton

Pictures and observations from my latest tour of downtown Hamilton:

1. As I walked past the entrance to the library, a black guy in his 20s and a heavy-set white guy in his 50s were exchanging shoves and pleasantries. The black guy seemed content to let it go and walk away, but the white guy tossed aside his glasses and wanted to go. So the black guy obliged. Predictably, the black guy soon had the white guy on the ground and landed several good punches before a couple of guys across the street yelled “Enough already!”

1a. I’m not sure what precipitated this exchange, but I’d be willing to wager it wasn’t a literary disagreement.

1b. A Liberal watching the action would undoubtedly have blamed the whole affair on the hot weather, the root cause of which was climate change. Without this great evil stalking the land, the two gentlemen might have been able to settle their differences without tempers flaring. And only by taxing the living daylights out of those big, heartless job-creating multinational corporations can we effectively deal with climate change.

2. Somehow, I don’t think misusing or tampering with this fire hose is going to land you in jail for six months. Unlike, say, criticizing Islam.

3. If you can read this, the answer is no.

4. If there’s a weight restriction on this road, she’s likely a violator:

5. How’d you like to have this as your epitaph?

6. I saw a lot of such people on the streets begging for cash, yet this is the home riding of the leader of the party whose union buddies are largely responsible for so many in Hamilton being out of work. Just like with the case of the blacks in the U.S., get off the plantation and stop voting NDP.

7. This pole just kind of screamed “Downtown Hamilton.”

8. Dude, get another cart. Or call a cab. Or something.

9. Some “street art” …

10. The Hamilton Endoscopy Center. Fittingly, the handicap entrance is in the rear.

11. Be careful of what you wish for.

12. Spotted on the street was a guy selling crafts with a sign, “Too ugly 4 hooking. Homeless but crafty.”

13. While eating lunch, a young nursing student built like a bowling ball waddled by, no doubt on her way to learn more about how to lecture patients on healthy living.

14. Want try on? Go see their friendly “staffs.”

15. This guy wasn’t about to tip over, he was just riding that way. It takes a special talent, I’ll give him that. But I don’t want to know what substance he was under the influence of that made him want to show that talent off.

16. And thank yu for your patronage …

17. I didn’t think they’d be selling boys dresses …

18. One of the few pearls of wisdom on James Street …

19. Good they put that sign there …

20. An LGBT-friendly food store?

21. And good luck to you …

22. I’m sure the feeling is mutual …

23. Spotted on James Street was a heavy-set woman in a yoga pose without a bra and wearing a low-cut top feeling up her boobs while smoking a joint. Trust me, this is one visual you don’t want.

24. Across the street was an older guy slowly shedding clothing who was carrying a water bottle mostly full of a pale yellow liquid. It wasn’t apple juice.

25. A low-budget security measure?

26. Hamilton’s finest …

27. For more shots from the day, check the album I posted on Facebook, a platform I haven’t been banned on yet.

17 Jan

Day Trip to Hamilton

Observations and pictures from my day trip to Hamilton yesterday:

1. Sitting across the aisle on the GO bus was the quintessential country bumpkin who looked like he really did just fall off a turnip truck. With a torn coat and toting all his worldly possessions inside two duffel bags, he was certainly well prepared for his journey. Inside a clear plastic pouch bound with an elastic band was a Niagara Falls Transit rider guide and almost as many HSR schedules as you’ll see at the MacNab Transit Terminal. He was particularly interested in the #41 Mohawk and #2 Barton routes. Later, he kept himself busy studying the fine print on the back of his Presto card and had the time to pour himself some coffee out of his thermos before we got to Stoney Creek.

2. Boarding at Fairview Mall was an obese woman with multicolored fingernails pushing a stroller who evidently still felt she needed to eat for two even though she had already long since given birth. Oddly, this would be the only stroller I would spot on the day, despite two subsequent trips on the Barton bus, a route that seemingly features a two-stroller minimum per trip.

3. Though he wasn’t driving unsafely, our driver took the “GO” logo emblazoned on his uniform a little too literally. Among the many semis he passed was one from Lockport, GSNY.

4. Inside the shelter at Nash and Barton was another heavyweight giving the seat one heck of a good stress test, but like a Timex watch, it took a licking but kept on ticking. Kudos to the engineers who designed it.

5. Spotted along the route downtown were signs stating “We fix eyeglass” and “Thousands of item, every day.” There was also a grocery store with an “Aunt Jemina” product on sale. Perhaps it was a knockoff of the more popular Aunt Jemima brand.

6. Also spotted along Barton was “Genuine Bakery.” Gotta watch out for those fake bakeries. Farther west, there was a caterer taking new orders for 2017.

7. At Gage Avenue, the HSR driver stopped and waited for a senior struggling with her cart a half block from the stop as well as someone across the street who wanted to catch the bus. Once again, this is not Winnipeg Transit.

8. Farther west, some dude boarded with cannabis leaf symbols all over his jacket. Who do you suppose he voted for in the most recent federal election?

9. Along the sidewalk was some spaced-out guy marching to the beat of his own drum. A drum that had a hole in it.

10. Just past Hamilton General was a city garbage truck with a big sign on the side stating “Put fruit stickers in the garbage.” Is it really that big of a deal there?

11. More pandering to the privileged, courtesy of CBC, the state propagandist. Your tax dollars at work.

12. The West Harbor GO station, one that those of us in Niagara will be seeing out the window from the proposed trains scheduled to service this part of the world.

13. I couldn’t resist this shot of the sign welcoming people to the North End. From walking around the area, it probably has the same negative connotation in Hamilton as it does in the Old Country, but here in St. Catharines, a North End address carries a premium.

14. Click here for my shots from Bayfront Park.

15. While in Bayfront Park, someone got out of her car ready to walk her two dogs. With the “extreme cold” outside, the dogs didn’t just have little booties on, but full knee-high socks. Oy.

16. I wonder if these guys with tents in the middle of the ice were aware that the forecasted high was -4 C, not much below the freezing mark. This isn’t the Old Country, where a January high above -20 feels like a heat wave.

17. On the way back downtown, I passed some teenagers jabbering away in what appeared to be some Middle Eastern language as they were smoking. Of what little English I heard, their favorite word was one that was four letters long and started with ‘F.’

18. Also en route, I passed by a couple of Tim Hortons locations that were absolutely packed. So much for that “No Timmies Tuesdays” the unionists, with the help of their friends in the left-wing fake news mainstream media, are trying to drum up support for, even in the heart of a big union town like Hamilton. Where, incidentally, Comrade Horwath’s riding happens to be.

19. Lunch was at the A & W a block away from Jackson Square, where they asked for everyone’s name upon ordering. The manager must have once worked at Radio Shack, where they were notorious for that annoying practice.

20. After ringing up my order for the chicken strip combo, the clerk asked “Do you want fries and a root beer?” Um, yeah, that’s what the combo means. Otherwise, I would have just ordered the chicken.

20a. Even with an abnormally high minimum wage, good help remains hard to find.

21. As I was eating, the guy behind the counter was quite amused that someone named Cam always came through the drive-thru around this time with the same order. Given how few people were actually in the restaurant, he might consider being a little more grateful to Cam rather than making fun of him.

22. The only two customers seated there besides me were a hobo and an older gentleman who sat like a stuffed dummy not moving a muscle as he stared blankly at passers-by on King Street.

23. Crossing King Street at Gore Park was a middle-aged guy who was flipping a water bottle in his hand as if he was trying out for Barnum & Bailey’s Circus. From the look on his face, I’m not sure if he or the bottle had a higher IQ.

24. Scenes in Gore Park:

25. Etiquette fail on the HSR bus I took back to the Nash and Barton GO stop:

26. This car parked at the Wholesale Club was presumably once a Grand Caravan, but is now a Grand Cara An:

27. On the return trip, there was as much food being consumed on the second level of the GO bus as there was in the food court at Jackson Square.

28. Leaving Fairview Mall on the way home was a guy perched in the median at Geneva Street with a sign, “Broke, will work, anything helps.” But despite being financially destitute, he had plenty of money to feed and care for the big dog he had with him. Priorities.

25 Nov

Black Friday in Hamilton

Pictures and observations from yesterday’s outing to Hamilton:

1. Given the extreme cold temperature of +2C when I left the house, I could certainly understand why the woman I passed by on Scott Street was wearing heavy, fur-lined boots that came halfway up to her knees. Even though there wasn’t a single flake of snow on the ground, you can never be too prepared. Same goes for the woman who got on the GO bus who had a woolen lining in her boots.

2. Did you lose this mitten?

3. Another cat owner who expects the general public to care more about his/her cat than he/she does:

4. Someone driving a van flagged down the GO bus on South Service Road as it was leaving the Beamsville stop and the driver actually stopped and waited as the passenger scurried around to the front door. Once again, this is not the Old Country, where stories of drivers taking off just as frantic passengers running after the bus reach the stop remain commonplace.

5. With a little time on his hands at Grimsby, the driver got off and hastily got in a few puffs of his cigarette before getting back on the road. Someone who is that desperate for a puff has a serious problem.

6. There are circus clowns who don’t apply as much lipstick as the teenager who boarded at Grimsby and got off with me at Nash and Barton. Sadly, it was a sight I would see twice more during the day. There should be something on the label stating that it’s not meant to be applied a tube at a time.

7. Said teenager, evidently annoyed that she was kept waiting for a few minutes for the Barton bus, kept checking the schedule posted on the pole. Experienced HSR riders know that the Barton bus comes often enough. You don’t need to check the schedule.

8. Evidently the GO bus driver is not alone in being desperate for a puff.

9. After boarding the Barton bus, three people came running after it as it was about to take off. And the driver waited. Once again, this is not the Old Country.

10. I couldn’t believe that the HSR buses had the very non-politically-correct “Merry Christmas” flashing on the display.

11. As expected, the trip on the Barton bus was again an experience to behold. It didn’t take long for the first stroller, followed right behind by another, and the number of walkers and carts that had come and gone on the way downtown must have reached double figures.

12. A hair stylist at Gage had the sign “Your welcome without an appointment” in the window. Apparently grammar wasn’t you’re best subject.

13. Back-A-Da-Bus-O-Phobia is a problem in Hamilton, but not nearly the way it is in the Old Country.

14. Only a veteran of Winnipeg Transit like me can still marvel as how the rear doors on HSR buses open automatically, even though it has been more than three years post-defection.

15. Plastered on the after-hours return slot at the library on Barton was “Library Book Return.” What else would the book return be for?

16. I’ve smelled worse, but the guy who sat next to me on the Barton bus needed a bath a few days ago.

17. After using the washroom at Jackson Square, I still appreciate how most people in this part of the world wash their hands after doing their business. On my return trip, there was even a lineup to use the sinks.

18. The #25 bus I took to Lime Ridge Mall was packed, as were others I spotted during the day. Though it wasn’t the reason for my trip, Black Friday evidently remains quite popular. Go figure.

19. I think only someone born in Southern Ontario can understand the logic behind dumping so much salt in a parking lot on a day when it never got below freezing and when there isn’t a single flake of snow on the ground.

20. Someone didn’t play his cards right.

21. The Bill Friday Lawfield Arena, named for the legendary referee who was most noted for his work in the WHA. I still remember the game when Friday pulled a mirror out of his back pocket to check to see that every strand of his slicked-back hair was in place. No doubt he had a lucrative endorsement deal from Brylcreem, which was all the rage at the time.

22. Finally, some people are starting to come to their senses.

23. Back at Hamilton’s largest mall, there was one place with a sign saying “50% off entire store” out front. But what if I don’t want the entire store?

24. Crowds were so thick that there was a half-hour wait to get into the Disney store, a similar wait to get into a jewelry store and the lineup at the Tim Hortons in the food court was 20-30 deep.

25. Spotted in the crowds was a woman with shamrock-green hair. It was Black Friday, not St. Patrick’s Day.

26. Walking north on Upper Wentworth, I spotted a woman madly shivering in the “cold” as she was waiting for an approaching bus. Tip of the day: Do up your jacket.

27. As I’ve heard it said recently, $15/hour is great. If you have a job. Which many minimum-wage earners won’t once this “fair” wage becomes law.

28. More political uncorrectness:

29. Shots of lower town while walking down the mountain at Arkledun Avenue:

30. Spotted on the way down was a Hamilton Cab with the slogan “Powered by diversity” plastered on the door. Can’t we even get in a cab these days without getting a left-wing political lecture?

31. This convenience store across from Gore Park isn’t quite so convenient anymore:

32. The tree going up in Gore Park:

33. Two guys sitting in Gore Park shooting the breeze:

34. Spotted in Jackson Square was a restaurant serving sausage and spinach soup. As they say in Texas, El Paso.

35. Also spotted in Jackson Square was a store claiming to have the right to inspect bags and empty pockets upon request. Good luck with that. But in any event, I have the right to take my business elsewhere. Which I did.

36. Take a load off your feet.

37. More salt.

38. The return trip on the Barton bus had the requisite two strollers and another large collection of walkers and carts.

39. A teenager got on at St. Matthews with a pierced tongue. Ewww.

40. A woman sitting across the aisle looked at me strangely as I was taking notes. Was it because I was taking notes or because I was using a notepad instead of a cell phone like 99% of the Western world would do?

41. I took note when a woman got on wearing a hoodie with “Prince Edward Island” emblazoned across the front. For those who are unaware, Charlottetown came in second in the relocation derby.

42. After getting to Nash and Barton, I was promptly approached by a creepy guy asking me if I had a quarter to spare. Which I didn’t. At least not for him. He claimed to be 75 cents short for bus fare, which made his supposed need for a quarter look even less credible, yet he had plenty of money for smokes and the cell phone he was jabbering away on while going through three of his cigarettes during the long wait for the GO bus. Fear not for 25-Cent Dude, however, as he bummed a dollar off of one of the cashiers inside the Wholesale Club grocery store.

43. Giving 25-Cent Dude some competition was an older guy standing on the sidewalk holding out a Tim Hortons cup with a pre-printed sign hanging around his neck approaching cars on their way out of the lot.

44. Seated in front of me on the GO bus was a woman so obese that she was taking up one and a half seats. Somehow I don’t think she paid a 50% premium on her fare.

45. The GO bus driver wasn’t wearing a name tag, but I could tell that his name was Leadfoot. Between Stoney Creek and Grimsby, he was in the third lane from the right passing semi-trailers.

46. 25-Cent Dude got off at Beamsville, where he unlocked his bike and proceeded west on the wrong side of South Service Road.

47. Dear crossing guard at Geneva Street: It was not necessary for you to blow that accursed whistle in my ear. Same goes for the crossing guard at Vine Street.

48. I know they do it for everyone, but do I look like someone so young that I need help crossing the street? I mean, I was in elementary school when the Jets were in the WHA.

49. The cyclist who passed me on Scott Street needs to lube his chain. It was that obvious.

50. Passing me on the sidewalk on Scott Street was someone in plaid pants wearing his house slippers whose head was completely shaven save for several randomly scattered clumps of hair.

51. As opposed to stale Ontario trees …

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.

002_sale 126_shop
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.

103_collaros
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.

076_onfield 124_crowds
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.