My first trip to Canada was last year when I spent the summer in Toronto, and my last was in January when I visited Hamilton about an hour West. I can now say I have experienced both extremes of Canadian weather, Toronto last July was hot and humid and Hamilton in January was crisp and snowy, the kind of Winter we can only dream of in the UK. I didn’t know what to expect from Hamilton as a city, I’d heard both good and bad things from friends in the area and was intrigued to find out what it was like. It turns out, if you know the right places to go, this city is arty and cool but it doesn’t take you a quick walk in the wrong direction to find yourself somewhere you’d probably rather not be- like any suburban city I guess. Here are some places to look out for if you ever find yourself in this little corner of good coffee, thrift stores and quirky art.
The Hermitage Trail – if you love hiking as much as i do
The Hermitage trail is in the Dundas Valley conservation area about a 20 minute drive from the centre of Hamilton and well worth it. It was a Wednesday when we finished brunch at Jack & Lois’ on James Street and decided to drive over to this forest paradise. We didn’t realise that because of the cold temperatures, the path would be completely frozen, and after initially thinking this would hold us back, we found out that it made for a much more fun hike. My sister slipped over around three times and to avoid particularly icy inclines we had to find other ways to continue on the walk- this is hiking at it’s best for me, a lot of laughs, a little adventure.
I can only imagine what this place looks like in the summer time.
The Art Gallery of Hamilton – free admission Friday evenings!
This gallery is comprised of two small exhibitions and a top level permanent collection, I spent a really lovely evening there. They had a mixture of contemporary work and other more dated pieces that spanned from painting, photography and sculpture, so you are guaranteed to find something that grabs your attention.
If your like me and love going to galleries and museums in new places, check it out. It’s right in the heart of the city, so an evening looking at some art and then heading over the road to a restaurant or bar could make the perfect end to your week.
The AGO is free from 4pm to 8pm on a Friday evening, for those of you on a budget like me!
Saint James Espresso Bar and Eatery- i still dream about the avocado toast from this place
If you love good coffee and a laid back atmosphere you will love Saint James. We went a couple of times and were obsessed with how cool all the staff looked. They have a small but great menu and i got the avocado toast which comes with a fried egg and it was perfect. It’s small in there and with high demand, a table can be hard to come by but it is well worth the wait.
I did go to this spot with friends, which I couldn’t recommend highly enough but there is definitely an atmosphere that can be soaked up alone here with a book or a journal.
Generally, there were lots of great brunch and cafe spots, just like Toronto, there is definitely a food and drink culture that just doesn’t exist in the UK. Papa Leo’s, Jack and Lois, Cannon Coffee, The Mulberry Coffee house and Augusta Coffee are definitely worth checking out too. As a side note, I also got the best hair cut I’ve ever had at Cameron’s on James Street!
I really liked Hamilton. It was a little dirty, but a little feisty, a little different, a little corner of the world that has a lot going on and a lot to say. I’d like to go back.