CNA Stories Initiative In The Spec

CNA Elizabeth


Nice to see our Co-Chair Elizabeth Ward covered in The Spectator today regarding our neighbourhood association’s initiative in partnership with the Workers Arts & Heritage Centre to capture stories from yesteryear about the community.

Here is the link to the full article

Here is the full article and photo above courtesy of The Hamilton Spectator

Elizabeth Ward’s Bay Street North home is warm and colourful, her walls covered in art and photography collected throughout her life.

But the house, too, has a life of its own. In the 1800s, it was the site of Mrs. Wheeler’s Boardinghouse, a temporary home to 19 Great Western Railway workers. Wheeler was a widow and without social welfare, “she kept herself going by running this boardinghouse,” Ward says.

She learned this historical nugget by fluke, from a walking-tour guide put out by the Workers Arts and Heritage Centre. But it got her thinking; what about all the other stories in the neighbourhood?

With help from a $5,500 grant from the Hamilton Community Foundation, the Central Neighbourhood Association (of which Ward is a co-chair) is launching a project to share the stories of the area.

Especially as more developers eye this central part of town – bordered by Stuart and Main and Queen and James streets – the neighbourhood association wants residents involved with archiving and protecting their own histories and memories.

“There’s really such a rich labour history and cultural history…what is the future going to look like for the neighbourhood?” Ward asks.

She says the association is all for development, “but if there needs to be pushback from concerned citizenry, there will be.”

And what better way to get people invested in their community than through the age-old art of storytelling. There’s a gold mine of stories, Ward says.

“A few people have talked to us about the Stelco strike, what it was like living here then … or about the march for the nine-hour day, which took place on these streets.”

But there is neat local lore, too.

For example, Ward’s friends live in a home at MacNab and Colborne, which, they’ve been told, was owned by an associate of organized crime figure Rocco Perri.

“Apparently, while the guy (who owned the house was in jail), these other guys destroyed the original floors looking for money that was supposedly hidden underneath,” she says.

So when the mobster got out of jail and had the floors replaced, he had a bold eagle motif put in as a symbol of revenge. And the eagle is still there today, smack dab in the middle of their living room.

There was an old safe in that house, too. Today, it’s used as a counter in a downstairs bathroom.

The association hopes to partner with the Hamilton Public Library and local schools on research. The plan is to hire a part-time co-ordinator in the new year and host a story-telling event in May.

For more information or to get your Central Neighbourhood story captured please e-mail us with your details 

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Central Neighbourhood Association – Updates & News

CNA Dec 1


Firstly thank you to everyone who came out to our recent General Meeting and Holiday Meet & Greet.  We appreciate your time and engagement toward our neighbourhood.

A capture of the main points discussed at the meeting will be posted shortly.

In the meantime we have a number of updates and news to share;

Sir John A MacDonald Closure


There was an excellent article recently in Raise The Hammer about considering reversing the proposed closure of Sir John A MacDonald High School.

The CNA is very keen to see this building either remain as a school or become a community resource. We certainly do not want to see the CasiNO issue rise again.

Read the article by clicking here

Snow Angels Needed in the Neighbourhood


As we experience our first few snowfalls it is an excellent time to remind the able bodied amongst us that there are many in the community who cannot clear their paths and driveways or the sidewalks.

Snow Angels (Twitter @VHSnowAngels ) are again looking for volunteers this winter.

Click here for all the details.  And if you know anyone needing help and you cannot, let Volunteer Hamilton know too.

James St GO Station – Call for Public Art


There have been a focus group meeting, neighbourhood consultations and soon to be a call for submission for a public art piece for the new GO station on James St. North.

More details can be found here. 


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