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urbanicity A monthly journal in the bay city


HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | FEB 2012 |

“For those Councillors who are offended by my last comment, I have three words for you to help illustrate my point. Ivor. Wynne. Stadium.”

“Buy local, get rid of cruise ships, reduce our road network by 5% per year, tax impermeable surfaces, make rain barrels mandatory and promote compostable toilets. Peace not war. Slow down and smell the roses. Say it like it is.”

“Some things are just common sense. But when political correctness gets in the way of common sense, all we're left with is collective insanity.”

“I’m offended. Apologize. I disagree.”

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After years of debate, the Lister Block now stands as a restored jewel in Hamilton's core. Graham Crawford reflects on how this heritage structure got a second chance at a long future. p.3

It's not easy being green! Or is it? Peter Ormond issues a call to environmental awareness with the encouragement of some notable quotables. p.5

The Board of Education, McMaster University and Hamilton City Council are ready to complete a major land deal downtown. This would be good news if the taxpayers weren't about to be handed the $50 million bill with no real progress made. p.4

Hamilton's Sky Gilbert is known as a writer, director, drag queen, and professor. He's less known for growing up on a farm. Informed by his own rural childhood, Sky's latest play explores the experience of growing up gay in the country. p.7

She's irreverent. She's funny. She's honest. And she loves her city. Shelley Marshall, producer and headliner of The Full Bawdy Comedy Show, shares her reflections on getting down and growing up in Hamilton. p.11

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HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | FEB 2012 |


DISTRIBUTION QUANTITY: 10,000 copies per issue 12 issues per year DATE: First Friday of each month COST: Free

urbanicity [ur-buh-nis-i-tee] - noun 1. The premiere interactive forum of constructive, thoughtful, provocative, and local ideas, issues, and experiences.

DISTRIBUTION LOCATIONS Downtown Hamilton International Village Ottawa Street Locke Street Westdale Village of Ancaster Town of Dundas Village of Waterdown Stoney Creek Concession Street District Selected Hamilton Mountain locations Greater Hamilton Area

Why are we, in urban Canada in 2012, so adverse to open disagreement and polite confrontation? We can't seem to get enough of televised violence, the UFC, hockey fights, and bloody video games, but for some reason we often hesitate to rationally confront others on valid points of disagreement. How often have you found yourself listening to a friend describe their thoughts on a recent event, disagreeing with them silently, while nodding along to their points? How frequently have you found a way of avoiding having to give your honest opinion on an issue? I would posit that this happens to all of us -- likely more than we care to admit. It is easier to nod along than to state a contrary viewpoint. But why? Are we afraid that the other person won't appreciate us anymore? That they'll dismiss our viewpoint? Do we see disagreement as a personal affront? One thing is certain: silent disagreement has absolutely no effect on anyone, or anything.

MARTINUS GELEYNSE | photograph by Daniel Banko

In my January editorial, I used cell phone company slogans to encourage constructive conversation as a means of driving positive change in our city. In order for our conversations to be effective, however, they must have space within them for disagreement and confrontation. In fact, the very reason for conversation is to bring differing viewpoints into dialogue with the goal of sorting through them and forming new understandings. Without disagreement, our conversations will simply be exercises in head bobbing. They'll become rhetorical and directionless. The loudest voice will always be considered "right". The status quo will remain.


Inevitably, we will find differences in the ideas we each have for our city. The process of refining our collective vision will require plenty of confrontation. That's okay. Don't view disagreement as a personal attack - it's a natural result of being different people. Think critically about issues, define your own viewpoints, and then engage in discussion respectfully and honestly. Disagree with others when you think otherwise. Welcome disagreement when met with it. Grow collaboratively. Honest, respectful conversations, laden with constructive disagreement will go a long way in achieving the ideal Hamilton that we all inexorably envision differently. MARTINUS GELEYNSE | Publisher + Editor

We welcome discussion! Each month, the FORUM section will display letters to the Editor. In order to be accepted, letters must include valid contact information and the full name of the writer. Send your letters to:

Re: Lydia Lovric

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I've been reading your publication since last summer and very much enjoy the various viewpoints and urban focus of your paper. After years in the suburbs, I am now a "fish in water", enjoying the urban landscape and all of the great benefits of living in the city - walking distance to work, shops, restaurants, the market, the library and people-watching. Most of your writers are fabulous. Joey Coleman, Paul Wilson, Ryan McGreal, Graham Crawford and others. The one exception is Lydia Lovric. I've lived in Hamilton for a long time and remember when Ms. Lovric wrote for The Hamilton Spectator. Her articles were snarky and judgmental then and she's still churning out the same garbage. She has no special insights into urban living, urban issues, injustice, the political scene, the arts, the humour of every-day living - no, her special talent is in criticizing people she doesn't know, including sensitive men, parents of only children, and pitbull owners. Her basis of research and insight into the deficits of the people she rips apart in her articles: anecdotes, magazine articles, and her neighbour! I understand that she's trying to be funny, and she may believe that her writing is purposely provocative and possibly tongue-incheek, but the problem is that she's NOT funny, she's NOT cool and her articles are a blot on an otherwise great publication. When she wrote for the Spec at least two of her articles were about two-income families and how that's just "not right" - someone should stay home with the children or who knows what evil will befall them and at least one was about the horror of being an only child and the outright negligence of parents who, for whatever reason, end up raising an only child. So she returned to that well for an article in the December issue of urbanicity. According to Ms. Lovric, only children, although typically very successful in their chosen careers, are more "sad" than other people. Really? This is an article on which she did research? In what journal is there a study that showed the relative "sadness" of people based on family size? Why do I know that Ms. Lovric's conclusions were based on nothing? I have an only child, who also went to day care and guess what! She's fine. She's welladjusted, thoughtful, intelligent and very much fun to be around. Is she an exception among only children who had two working parents? I don't think so, based on the other only children that I know, but I'm willing to admit I've never done the research. But neither has Ms. Lovric. I guess because of her luck and incredible skill in having three children and the means to stay home (in Burlington) to raise them, she is qualified to judge everyone else's parenting decisions and, thanks to publications looking for a bit of controversy and reader feedback, she has the pulpit from which to expound her viewpoints.

I'll continue to read urbanicity for the great insights of your other writers (Graham Crawford's ideas about ward boundaries in the January issue were exceptionally visionary). But, in my opinion, Lydia Lovric's presence on your writing staff diminishes the quality of your publication. Sincerely, Frances Murray Lydia's response Dear Frances, Thank you for taking the time to write such an eloquent letter. You clearly have good taste, since you seem to appreciate most of what urbanicity has to offer (with the exception of my column). See...I do have a sense of humour. I am thrilled that your only child is welladjusted. That would be anecdotal evidence, however, which is interesting though not very scientific. My article (One Is The Loneliest Number - December 2011) was citing a massive survey of 5,708 workers in which only children reported being less satisfied with their jobs. The survey was conducted in 2011 and the findings were published by Incidentally, I don't think it takes "skill" to have three children (although I do appreciate the sarcasm). But I did not give birth to goldfish. I happened to give birth to three delicate, needy and complex human beings who deserve to spend more than a few hours a day with their mother. Re: Lydia Lovric I have read a few of Lydia's columns in urbanicity, and in my humble opinion, she is quite literally preaching to the choir in Hamilton. Her articles might raise some eyebrows in other places, but in Hamilton and the GHA, her ideas are often business as usual. With all the very right wing churches, of both the garden and exotic varieties, (exotic being churches that you have to Google to have ever heard of) Lydia's views on women are pretty much in keeping with many of them. Heads covered, eyes down, and silent at home and church. Her thinking goes along quite nicely with many of the fundamentalist groups operating in the GHA. While the rest of society changes, much of the GHA seems to be rooted in the 1950's Bungalo Bill mentality (which probably caused more marriage break-ups than any other factor). Women held down good paying jobs that required both accuracy and skill during World War 2. Then at the end of the war, they were all let go, and it was back to minimum wage retail and service jobs, if they could get a job at all. But at that point women knew that they had all the skills necessary to do "a man's job".

Her's is not remarkable thinking, or a revolutionary mantra. It's just "same old, same old", and likely belongs in a society in which women are given the orders to marry, and then stay home to raise children. I stayed home for nearly a decade. I'm not against that principle at all. I think it was the most fun I've ever had! We gave many things up to do that, but we never regretted it. If she can stay comfortably home with 3 children, it only proves one point. She is more affluent than most. What I do see as wrong-headed, in her articles, is the idea that it's right for all women, or even appropriate. "Choice" is the thing that separates humans from pets or farm animals. If we are not given any options, that is being considered to be less than human. As for men becoming less manly... If you need to treat your partner like a subservient underling, how does that make any man more of a man? It wouldn't even make you a good employer. Being manly or womanly is about self confidence and the ability to take on challenges, and to think of others before ourselves. Women have been obligated to take over more and more tasks both at work and at home. The idea of Joe Cool ending his work day at work, and expecting to be treated like a little pasha at home is long dead, and getting pretty gamey in 2012. Maybe women are the 51% of the 99%? We do still often accomplish 99% of the house work and child care as well as holding down a paying job. Men have never had it so good! If they choose to shy away from work at home and from decision making, and become distant and disengaged from their families, it isn't any one's fault but their own if they find themselves in one sense or another 'on the outside looking in'. I'm sorry, but if her column is supposed to rationalize systemic inequity... GOOD JOB, LYDIA! If men think they have lost a little in the transition, well... That's life. You win some, you loose some. Women and children lost things too. If we want to play the blame game, why don't we blame the global corporate structure for creating the economic and social climate that virtually forbids women from staying at home with their children? We could also blame basic greed too, but I guess it's so much easier to blame the usual suspects: Women! -D. Shields Lydia's response: Dear D. Shields, Living in a free and democratic society is all about choices. I'm thrilled that we, as Canadians, have so many choices. I don't recall ever advocating a law or saying that we should force mothers to stay home through conscription. I was merely stating my opinion that mothers should try to stay home with their children, at least during the formative years.

Part of living in a free and democratic society is the ability to have opinions and be able to freely voice them. As for your assumption that I must be more affluent than most, I'm not sure how to respond. I'm certainly luckier and more affluent than most of the world's mothers. In Canada, even our poor have access to welfare, food banks, free medical care and education. We are a truly blessed nation. Compared to our own group of family and friends, however, we live in a very modest home (1,600 square feet for those of you keeping score). We drive older cars and we've been on one vacation in the past ten years. I buy many of our toys and books through Kijiji (love that site!) and we hardly ever eat out or go to the movies. I don't have a cell phone or cable television. So, we definitely do sacrifice in order to give our kids a stay-at-home mom. It isn't easy, but hopefully we are also helping to teach our children that family comes before money. Relationships come before things. I know so many kids who clearly have a better relationship with their nanny than their mom. But what happens when the nanny moves on? Re: New Kid On the Block by Don Forbes As a non-hipster, 40-something-year old artist, who recently settled in Hamilton, I am very glad to have come across your paper. The writing is smart, the stories challenging, topical and it is very rewarding to have ink-stained fingers after wrestling with the large format pages. As an aside, I am really very impressed with Hamilton. I really like my immediate neighbourhood, and love the fact that I can walk downtown, walk to James Street North for an opening or the Art Crawl and along the way stop in for a coffee or a drink. But being, as Mr. Forbes put it in the January 2012 issue of urbanicity, the new kid on the block, is not always easy, especially for an artist not very well known by the local arts community. So imagine my surprise, when I flipped to page 5 and there I was. Not me exactly, but a fairly dark and blurry image of my installation from the storefront space at 118 James North, for the November 2010 Art Crawl. I was still living in Toronto at the time and not able to make it out for the opening/crawl due to really thick fog. But it was when I came to install the work, that I first considered making the move to this great city. In closing and I am sure you know this, but my installation was a part of the exhibition entitled An Early Winter. It was curated by Ola Wlusek and included me (Svava Thordis Juliusson), Sarah Kernohan, and Eric Powell. There was a wonderful review written by Stephanie Veigh, currently the Executive Director of the Hamilton Arts Council. Thanks for the warm welcome. Best regards, Svava | 905.537.5928 PRINTER Canweb Printing Inc.

FRONT COVER Freeway CafĂŠ, photograph by Reg Beaudry FRONT PANEL Lister Block, photograph by Graham Crawford | Albert Einstein | Board of Education, photograph by Reg Beaudry | Sky Gilbert, photograph by Susan Bubak | Shelly Marshall, photograph by Reg Beaudry

| IDEAS HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | FEB 2012 |


The restored Lister Block at King William and James Street North | photographs by Graham Grawford

CELEBRATING THE BEAUTY of the LISTER BLOCK RESTORATION While not forgetting how we got there | Graham Crawford

Sometimes stories blur. The latest facts becomes the whole truth. History ends up getting rewritten. Sometimes unwittingly. The Lister Block is one such example. It was a sunny, snowless Wednesday morning in midJanuary that I, along with a number of others, took a tour of the nearly completed Lister Block. The event was hosted by Renew Hamilton, a group that has grown out of the Hamilton Economic Summit, sponsored by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. David Adames, the new President of the Chamber was there. As were Steve Kulakowsky, Glen Norton, Jeff Feswick, David Premi, Paul Shaker, Diane Dent, Kathy Drewitt, Paul Berton, Richard Allen, Jeff Paikin, Annette Paiement, Frank Vismeg. There were probably another dozen people. One of them was special guest Christopher Hume, award winning architecture columnist for the Toronto Star. Taking notes. Offering comments. Announcing an upcoming series of lectures he would be hosting and moderating in Hamilton about Hamilton as part of the Renew Hamilton project. The tour of the building was made possible by LIUNA, and was led by Carolyn Samko, the heritage

specialist who worked directly on the restoration project and who now works for the City of Hamilton. She knows her stuff. We toured the main floor and the second floor. I was impressed. Very impressed. What they could save, they did. Like 95% of the glazed terra cotta cladding. Like two intact, original store fronts, one on King William and the other on James, including leaded glass, copper, bronze, oak. Like the unbelievable marble mosaic floors on the main level and each of the hallways upstairs. Like the white marble stair treads to the second floor. It’s for these and other reasons I’m happy to give LIUNA an A+. Joe Mancinelli, head of LIUNA, did what he said he would do - a first class job of restoration. Admittedly, the citizens of Hamilton paid handsomely for that restoration, and for the building itself. We own it now. But the fact is, we have a heritage jewel that shines proudly in the heart of our downtown. Just like it used to when it was first built in 1923. When you see it for yourself, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, the restoration work is of such quality that your kids won’t be disappointed either, even when they reach your

age. Those are the latest facts. Not hype. Not half truths. Having said that, I feel it’s important to connect the latest facts with the facts that preceded them to be sure we don’t get so caught up in the goodness we see before us that we end up forgetting how we got here. This amazing piece of restoration almost didn’t happen. LIUNA’s stood beside then-Mayor Larry DiIanni and announced they planned to demolish the Lister and replace it with a vertically stretched replica. Heritage specialists and supporters were horrified. Many pushed back. Through letters. Presentations. Posters. Phone calls. Demonstrations. Things got ugly before they got collaborative. The debate involved Ministers of Culture, MPP’s, the Premier, Mayors, the Liberal government, Councillors, and thankfully the public. It also involved money. Doesn’t it always? Money from the provincial government and from the municipal government. Millions, in fact. Many millions. Moving from demolition to restoration didn’t just happen because a politician and a developer had a vision. It happened because citizens rose up and said no to wasteful and shortsighted demolition. Citizens of

all ages, from all parts of this city, had had enough of the endless circular arguments. Enough of the eyesore that the Lister had become. Enough of the messages its shocking decay sent to Hamiltonians, to visitors, and to potential investors alike. Enough of what it said about us. That we were broken. Careless. Done. I never really understood how an organization like LIUNA, that had reinvented the old train station into a first class banquet facility, not to mention the great job they did on their own headquarters on Hughson St., would want to knock down the Lister Block. Clearly, they knew how to restore a building. But that was not what they had in mind for the Lister Block. At least not the day I first heard them speak before Council in what would be a memorable re-introduction to Hamilton politics for me as I had just returned to the city after 25 years in Toronto. I watched spokespeople and citizens present their passionate, compelling and articulate arguments for saving the building. People such as Freiburger, Hamilton, Buttrum, Butler, Dent, Jelly. I have since come to know many of the people I heard speak that day. In fact, I’m proud to call many of them friends.

I marveled at the eloquence, the tenacity, the vision people had for their city. In their vision, Hamilton was not broken, or careless, or done. The energy I felt for all 14 hours of that debate in Council Chambers was inspiring. As I reflect on it today, I’m still inspired by their words, even if the reality of Hamilton politics has tempered my enthusiasm. It’s for these and other reasons I’m happy to give citizen advocates an A+. What saved the Lister Block was a combination of the battled waged by citizens against convenience and short-sightedness combined with the quality of work done by LIUNA and its tradespeople. Let’s remember and celebrate both. Doing so ensures neither side holds a grudge. Doing so ensures we see the power of citizens and craftspeople working together to achieve something worthy of our city. The Lister Block is back. Remember its history. Celebrate its beauty. And perhaps above all else, continue to defend our heritage. GRAHAM CRAWFORD owns and operates Hamilton HIStory + HERitage, Hamilton’s first storefront museum. He is also the 138th Chairperson of the Hamilton Club.

From Barbie dolls to romance novels, women end up believing that if we don’t have THAT kind of relationship, there is something wrong with us. Corporations dove in – selling us what we think we need to attain that happiness.


| Laura Farr

Valentines Day. He thinks: I have to pick up roses. Red roses. A box of chocolates? A stuffed animal? Maybe a dinner reservation and a bottle of wine. I just don’t want her to be disappointed, and want to show that I care. She thinks: All I want is something heartfelt. To be pleasantly surprised would be amazing…. Prior to Chaucer, and the advent of courtly love, there were unspecified Greco-Roman holidays in February devoted to fertility and love that have been tenuously linked to St. Valentine’s Day. Chaucer’s poem, notably to celebrate the betrothal of Richard the II to Anne of Bohemia, espoused traditions that did not in fact exist prior to his writing, and many scholars

still contest the fact that the customs repeated through the Renaissance to today have no historical basis in fact. The romantic ideas took hold, and men began sending “Valentines” to their loves, which in turn gave way to our mass-produced cards and gifts for all ages. Perhaps because deep in our hearts, the feeling of romantic love is a warm, squishy fuzzy wonderful feeling when it’s reciprocated. The dopamine rush to your brain feels pretty good too. Romance is defined as an ardent emotional attachment or involvement between people. How the proper Hallmark sentiment that a copy-write churned out or recycled proves that to anyone is beyond me.

Be it a box of chocolates, stuffed animal or a piece of jewelry it gets away from the original intent of holiday, as much as most over-commercialized holidays are wont to do. We are socialized at a young age with folkways of how we are supposed to celebrate most holidays, gender based or not. From Barbie dolls to romance novels, women end up believing that if we don’t have THAT kind of relationship, there is something wrong with us. Corporations dove in – selling us what we think we need to attain that happiness. The inadequate feelings delve deeper – self-help books, therapy, chick-lit, -flicks, and, skinny margaritas and positive affirmations by corporations

that hope you buy their soap/cosmetics/whatever – all make money first selling us romance, then selling us how we too, can change ourselves if we just buy into ‘happily-ever-after’. Very few fairytales ever extend the story to let you know what happened to Prince Charming and the Princess after the peasants went home and they had the castle to themselves. Relationships in and of themselves are very hard work, and often romance is one of the first things to fall by the wayside in today’s world. The most romantic gesture anyone has ever done for me was not to greet me at the door with a dozen roses, a gourmet meal and a bottle of wine, but was

surprising me during a particularly stressful week by saying “Lets go take a hike and feed the birds at the creek. You want a coffee on the way?”. Perhaps February 14th is "Valentines Schmalentines" to you. Perhaps, as you’re reading this you already have some expectations of what you would like your partner to give you, and you’ve had their gift squirreled away for months. Perhaps, like me, you believe that sometimes the best gifts are those that cost nothing, and come from the heart. LAURA FARR is a civically engaged, communityminded downtown resident.

HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | FEB 2012 |


The Hamilton - Wentworth District School Board on Main Street, Hamilton ON | photograph by Reg Beaudry

BAD THINGS COME IN 3’s Why are three of our civic institutions collaborating on such a bad deal for Hamiltonians? | Graham Crawford While there are many good things happening in downtown Hamilton, this piece isn’t about any of them. No, this piece is about the very bad use of nearly $100 million in taxpayers’ money. It’s also about the combination of bad decisions made, some during incamera meetings from which the public was excluded, by three of our very local and very public institutions. The institutions are the ones that educate our children, teach our doctors, and lead our city. More commonly, they’re known as the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, McMaster University, and Hamilton City Council. Together, they’re about to set a very bad deal in motion. A bad deal that will affect generations of Hamiltonians to come. This isn’t a new deal. In fact, they’ve been working on it for a few years. But, as with so many things civic, when the details of plans go public, citizens get worried. Based on the details shared so far, citizens should be very worried indeed. So, what’s going on? Well, that depends on whom you ask. Look at the deal from the perspective of the three public institutions: All three of the institutions agree Hamilton’s downtown needs to be revitalized. City Council says McMaster University should have a presence downtown to show they’re an active partner in this revitalization. Now, under new leadership, McMaster University seems to agree. The Board of Education says they agree too, it’s just that their idea of helping to revitalize downtown Hamilton involves moving their headquarters into a residential neighbourhood on the mountain near a shopping mall. The Board will sell its headquarters across from City Hall and the land on which it sits, including the parking lot to the north of the headquarters, to McMaster University for a proposed family health centre. The money the Board receives from the sale will contribute to the funding of their new home on the mountain. McMaster is telling City Council they need the City to invest in their new health centre or the deal is a no-go. To make the deal happen, Hamilton City Council is willing to invest, through a grant ($20 million) and a

long-term lease ($30 million). Public Health employees will move from several different locations, the majority from the privately owned Right House Building on Gore Park, into McMaster’s new centre. Council has been told the Board of Education jobs we lose to the mountain will be offset by the number of jobs the new medical centre will provide. McMaster will demolish the Board building, erect a new glass building in its place, and maintain the parking lot to the north until such time as a development opportunity may come along. That’s the deal. At least at the time of writing this article. Oh, one other thing. Board Trustees and senior staffers say that three years ago the Board tried to do a joint venture with McMaster and the City so the Board could stay downtown, but the Minister of Education of the day, Kathleen Wynne, said she would not permit the Board to be in the “development” business. Kathleen Wynne is a very impressive and very competent leader and still part of the McGuinty Cabinet. Not sure why she, as the Board claims, chose to shut down this creative joint venture that would have contributed to the revitalization of Hamilton’s downtown? Wonder if the new Minister of Education, Laurel Broten, has a different view? What I really wonder is why the Ontario Ministry of Education has a view on this deal at all. Look at the deal from the perspective of Hamilton taxpayers: Already, our municipal tax dollars go to both the Board of Education and to the City of Hamilton. Provincially, and likely federally, some of our tax dollars go to McMaster University. As if that weren’t enough, now McMaster wants $50 million of our municipal tax dollars too in order to help fund their move to the core. The land on which the Board’s HQ sits currently at Main and Bay is land Hamilton taxpayers gave to the Board in the 1960’s so they would stay downtown. Now, the Board is going to sell the land we donated to them and use the proceeds to leave downtown. This suggests the Trustees misunderstand the phrase “taking the high road”. They seem to think it refers

to driving up the mountain, and has nothing to do with a taking a moral position. Neither the Board nor McMaster pay any taxes to the City of Hamilton. So, we pay them, but they won’t pay us. Ever. The Board will demolish their poorly maintained Crestwood School on the mountain and then build a new, 2-storey, $31.6 million office building on the Crestwood site with 480 parking spots in the middle of an established residential neighbourhood. Just in an out each day, that means approximately 1000 new vehicular trips in the once-quiet neighbourhood. Wonder if the Board has done any traffic studies? Wonder if the homeowners know the impact 1000 new vehicular trips will have on their neighbourhood? And on their kids? Wonder what their Councillor, Scott Duvall, thinks of this? I know my own Councillor, Jason Farr, along with Ward 1 Councillor Brian McHattie, are trying to keep the Board downtown. Perhaps others “on board” with them? Although McMaster could choose to build on the empty parking lot they will own on the corner of King and Bay, they prefer to demolish the existing Board of Education building and replace it with a new glass structure. A structure that replaces all of the current green space in front of the existing building with a glassed-in grand staircase. As a result, you’ll be able to sit on the stairs in a lobby inside the building, but you won’t be able to sit on a bench in a park outside the building. A park that already exists. Too many Hamilton Councillors, and our Mayor, call this progress. The “Swing Space Debate” is now in the news. Even if this screwy deal goes through as planned, the Board’s new HQ won’t be ready for at least two years. McMaster wants to start demolishing the Joseph Singer-designed Board of Education building ASAP. That means the Board has to move into temporary space for two years. The Board’s solution? Ask City Council to rent space from Yale Properties through a long-term lease and then rent the space to the Board for two years. After that? Well, the Board doesn’t feel that’s their concern. You have to admit, at least the

As a result of this deal, two buildings get destroyed. Two buildings get built. 350 jobs leave the core. 400 move in. Generally, that's called a wash. At least it would be if weren't for the small matter of $50 million of taxpayer money required to make it all happen.

Board is consistent in their short-range, it’s-all-aboutour-needs thinking. As a result of this deal, two buildings get destroyed. Two buildings get built. 350 jobs leave the core. 400 move in. Generally, that’s called a wash. At least it would be if weren’t for the small matter of $50 million of taxpayer money required to make it all happen. In addition, let’s add the issues of fair play, civic heritage, architectural preservation and reuse, environmental leadership, financial stewardship, to name just a few. I suspect you can add to this list. City Council should be able to as well, but most of them seem to have fallen prey to the shiny. And to the new. And to the short-sighted. And, with apologies, to the stupid. For those Councillors who are offended by my last comment, I have three words for you to help illustrate my point. Ivor. Wynne. Stadium. Another $50 million dollars of our money. Shiny. New. Shortsighted. And yes, stupid. As Councillors struggle to cut $16 million from the 2012 budget so our taxes don’t go up, perhaps they could rethink this deal while they’re at it? What can you do? Calling your Councillor will help. So too, will calling your School Board Trustee. And, given claims by Board officials, calling the Minister of Education might be a good idea as well. Perhaps it’s even time to invite Premier Dalton McGuinty to Hamilton for a visit so he can see firsthand the impact the decision made by his Minister of Education has had on downtown Hamilton? And, if his schedule permits, maybe he and I can take the bus up to Limeridge Mall from downtown, like many citizens will have to do if they have business with the Board, and find our way over to the Board’s new site? And unlike the bad plan described in this article, I’ll pay for the coffee and for the bus tickets myself. Won’t cost the taxpayers of Hamilton a thing. Now, doesn’t that sound like a good plan? GRAHAM CRAWFORD owns and operates Hamilton HIStory + HERitage, Hamilton’s first storefront museum. He is also the 138th Chairperson of the Hamilton Club.

3 of Graham Crawford’s recent posters.

The Board will sell its headquarters across from City Hall and the land on which it sits, including the parking lot to the north of the headquarters, to McMaster University for a proposed family health centre. The money the Board receives from the sale will contribute to the funding of their new home on the mountain.

McMaster is telling City Council they need the City to invest in their new health centre or the deal is a no-go...As if that weren't enough, now McMaster wants $50 million of our municipal tax dollars too in order to help fund their move to the core.

To make the deal happen, Hamilton City Council is willing to invest, through a grant ($20 million) and a long-term lease ($30 million).

| ISSUES HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | FEB 2012 |


“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction." - Albert Einstein

Welcome to the year 2012, and the end of the world as I know it! Am I an active participant in this global transformation, or just wearing the t-shirt? Socrates stated that “The unconsidered life is not worth living”. What is my life purpose, and is my current path aligning with my values, or being directed by others? A.C. Grayling asserts that to understand the bigger picture, one must be critical, reflective, and have the ability to think for oneself. Bertrand Russell proclaimed that “Most people would rather die than think, and most do!” True. For in today’s fast-paced life of technodistractions, quiet downtime to delve deeper into thought is becoming extinct. Mother Theresa said that “The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, and the fruit of service is peace.” Without silence, the steps to peace are thus absent. No wonder that the military-industrial complex rages forth unconsidered. Every insurance payment, security system, monitoring camera and dollar spent on policing supports this same culture of fear. Imagine if these resources were focused on communitybuilding service instead? In Hamilton, millions have been spent by the state to preserve relics of the war machine: the military ship

| Peter Ormond

“Most people would rather die than think, and most do!” Bertrand Russell

Haida, and the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. Yet protection of our non-violent natural treasures is steamrolled despite grassroots appeals. Furthermore, Einstein stated: “I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war. Killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.” Humanity fuels the war by participating in it. Besides active military roles, this includes stock and investment holders that turn a blind eye to corporate atrocities in the name of shareholder profit: think mining companies! It includes the impacts of my career. Hail the ‘heroic farces’ at the helm. Consider that: Alfred Nobel of Nobel Prize fame made his fortune on military munitions; Cecil John Rhodes, Rhodes Scholar founder was a diamond mining baron in South Africa; and Peter Munk, of Munk Lecture notoriety heads today’s global mining plunderer Barrick Gold. In reality, heroic farces exist in every corner of the globe, Need some proof? Watch a few YouTube videos on the Rothschild dynasty. Life is short, and intuitively, I do have a sense as to when I’m going to die. We all do! What does your gut tell you? Look deep into a mirror for 15 minutes. Two, ten or fifty years? Like many, perhaps you’ve never


“Courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” - Nelson Mandela

“The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, and the fruit of service is peace.” - Mother Theresa

considered your pending mortality. In the grand scheme of things, I’m the blink of an eye. Since I can’t take it with me, my ultimate legacy is to leave the world a better place for the next generation. I’m going to:

Planet Earth). I realize that Mother Nature’s domain has no boundaries. But technology was supposed to improve the quality of life on earth! What about:

● Consider my role in the world.

● Africa, where NATO flexes it’s trillion-dollar military muscle to liberate oil-rich Libya, yet ignores the starving millions a half-hour away in Ethiopia.

● Volunteer more and buy local. ● Divest of any investments that are destroying the planet and join a credit union. ● Get rid of the car and join Hamilton CarShare (already done) ● Join the Hamilton Civic League’s Call City Hall campaign. ● Protest the publicly-funded billion-dollar expansion of Hamilton’s private airport. ● Promote an LRT for Hamilton. ● Have creative fun in the process! With the global occupy movement, NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) is now being replaced with NOPE (Not On

● The rising crescendo of the Arab Spring is applauded, yet Occupy Movements in the ‘Western World’ are disgraced, arrested and dismissed. ● Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactors continue to contaminate our precious earth, wind, fire and air without a peep of media coverage. ● Canada derails the global climate change talks, and thus a global green economy. What to do, Einstein? “We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them. Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction." OK. Simplify. Buy local, get rid of cruise ships,

reduce our road network by 5% per year, tax impermeable surfaces, make rain barrels mandatory and promote compostable toilets. Peace not war. Slow down and smell the roses. Say it like it is. Even Obama has rejected Harper’s “No Brainer” Keystone Pipeline. The next target for “radicals” to block is Canada’s Northern Gateway pipeline. Locally, watch the airport. Nelson Mandela once noted that: “Courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” He elaborated: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” It’s now or never. Step up to the plate and start swinging. May the force be with us – the 99%. It is as it is. We have the power. Be not afraid. Be the change. I’m going to live in the moment this Earth Hour, Earth Day, Earth Week, Earth Month, Earth Year and Earthly Lifetime from this day forth. Green over greed. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me, one step at a time. What are you going to do about it? Walk the talk! Do the best you can. PETER ORMOND is a car-free vegan with solar panels on his roof. An engineer, he now teaches at Mohawk College.


Urbanicity staff members would like you to be on the look out for a stolen company vehicle that has been missing since April 1, 2011. The vehicle is a two-door Mitsubishi Mirage (2002) with tinted windows, a small scratch on the right rear bumper and a tree-shaped air freshner dangling from the rear-view mirror. There is a significant reward offered for the car's safe return. Namely, a year's subscription to this wonderful paper and we'll even throw in the pine-scented air freshner as a sign of our eternal gratitude. We realize that we have failed to provide our good readers with one minor detail regarding the vehicle's description. Specifically, the colour of the car. However, we find that you'll enjoy this venture so much more with the added challenge of not knowing the car's most obvious feature. Ridiculous, right? If the public is being asked to help locate something – or someone – a thorough description is kind of important. If the car colour is known, it should be reported.

certain newspapers, radio stations or online sources will make mention of a suspect's hair colour, eye colour, tatoos, scars, etc....while tiptoeing around the most basic characteristic: Is the person black? White? Purple?

However, media outlets are often hesitant to report the skin colour of alleged assailants for fear of being politically incorrect or accused of racism. Instead, certain newspapers, radio stations or online sources will make mention of a suspect's hair colour, eye colour, tatoos, scars, etc....while tiptoeing around the most basic characteristic: Is the person black? White? Purple? A recent article in the Hamilton Spectator proves the point. “10 minutes of terror for mom as car stolen with son inside” screams the headline. It is a parent's worst nightmare. The Spectator claims that police are “looking for a suspect who's about 20 years old and has short dark hair. He wore dark clothing.” Not true. The actual police description taken from the official police press release is as follows: “The suspect is described as: Male, caucasian, 20 years, dark short hair, wearing dark clothing.” Some media outlets will divulge the complete description, while others omit one glaring detail. It is a

practice that has been going on for years and frankly, it makes no sense. It must make hard-working police detectives, as well as frantic mothers and fathers, absolutely livid. Descriptions should be as detailed as possible. The greater the detail, the better chance someone will recognize the suspect. Reporting a suspect's skin colour is no more “racist” than it is sexist to say that a suspect is male or ageist to claim that the suspect is 20 years old. To be fair, in some instances The Spec does publish a suspect's skin colour, so it may simply be left to each individual editor's discretion. However, in the same article The Spec deems it necessary to note that the suspect “was seen in a red or burgundy sport utility vehicle before the car theft happened.” Apparently, the colour of the SUV that the suspect had been seen in is more important than the colour of the suspect. Let's face it, cars can be stolen or ditched. Hair colour can be easily changed or covered up. Tatoos or scars are not always visible. But an alleged assailant will have a fairly difficult time

disguising his or her skin colour. When my son lost a shoe at an indoor playground last month and I phoned to see if someone had found it, the first question the young staff member asked me was, “What colour is it?” She didn't ask about the size, the brand, or the fact that it had tiny green stars on the side. She asked about its colour because it's one of the first things people notice when they see something. Some things are just common sense. But when political correctness gets in the way of common sense, all we're left with is collective insanity. LYDIA LOVRIC wrote a weekly opinion column for The Winnipeg Sun and was a regular contributor to The Vancouver Province. She continues to appear as a guest commentator on a variety of programs, including the BBC, Adler On Line, and CHML’S The Scott Thompson Show. She is currently enjoying life as a full-time mom to three little rug rats.

HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | FEB 2012 |


David Suzuki | courtesy of

DOOM, GLOOM and INCONVENIENT |TRUTHS Toby Yull In the early 70s we learned that if massive overpopulation and global famine didn’t get us, air pollution, acid rain, PCBs or dioxin, would. Oil was running out, deserts were advancing and a new ice age and nuclear winter were just around the corner. After the optimism of the post-war fifties and the flower-power 60s, we adopted a world view that said: in our selfish, affluent consumerism, we are poisoning ourselves and this ‘spaceship earth’ on which we all depend. A sense of collective guilt set in, especially here in the western world. We began to feel badly about everything: eating meat, driving cars, fertilizing crops, killing weeds, using water. But wait: how much of that stuff actually happened? “In Europe and America’s rivers, lakes, seas and the air are getting cleaner all the time. Pasadena has few smogs. American carbon monoxide emissions from transport are down 75 percent in 25 years. Today, a car emits less pollution traveling at full speed than a parked car did in 1970 from leaks”. (from Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist) Population growth rates are down worldwide; no country in the world today has a birth rate higher than it had in 1960. Here in this heavily-industrial city (Hamilton), did we have even one of our usual ‘smog days’ this summer? Nada. And when was the last time you gave a thought to acid rain? We’re better fed in today’s world; better housed, heated, cooled, and have better working conditions than we’ve ever had -- not just in North America and Europe, but also in the (still relatively poor) poorest countries. We’re all living longer, infant and maternal mortality rates are down, IQ scores are up and the spread between low and high IQ is narrowing at a rate of 3% per decade. So why the long faces? With all the early education, heightened awareness, tougher regulations and improved technologies of the past three decades, why do we still doubt the vast worldwide improvements in air, water, land, and overall quality of life? Are guilt and pessimism our natural state now; our comfort zone? Do we prefer to feel bad? I’ve been reading (and quoting from) a wonderful book called The Rational Optimist, by Matt Ridley. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Ridley discusses the world from the Stone Age to now, with fun, refreshing observations on how human culture evolves through exchange, specialization, and human innovation – mostly on an upward trajectory. It’s a romp through world history with startling revelations on every page. History, geography, sciences and social studies are all part of his wide and connected worldview. But alas, his kind of fact-based optimism is out of style. Doom. Gloom. Inconvenient truths. Come on everybody; let’s feel baaaaa-a-a-d! David Suzuki himself says: “I do despair. My wife and I huddle at night and weep for our helplessness.” Oh, please. (Suzuki routinely appears on at or near the top of lists of the most admired, liked or influential Canadians.) Our watered-down history, geography and science courses have had a couple of generations to trickle down through society. Twenty- and thirty-ish teachers, journalists and lawmakers have all been raised on the same meme: “we’re bad, we’re careless and we’re doomed”. But what if things are better than “they” are telling us? What if Spaceship Earth is not so doomed? Who, anymore, is willing to do the work to find out what’s really going on? We rely so much on experts and received truth. We’re comfy with our guilt and gloom. Besides, checking facts is tedious and takes time and we’re busy. Surely if the papers and magazines, TV, radio and movies are telling us that things are terrible, that’s just the sad but true state of our poor old earth. What happens to a society that leaves the factchecking to others; that just reads the news, listens to the sound-bites and says, “Yup, uh-huh, ain’t it a shame”? We become a culture that is easily led. When everyone buys into a drastic world view, and children in school are subject to multiple viewings of An

Inconvienient Truth but little real science or geography, or exercises that develop critical thinking, we are indeed stumbling toward a 1984 version of society: a depressing land of unquestioned groupthink. News organizations group the stories we read, and we sort ourselves under various social and political umbrellas: ‘the left’, ‘the right’, ‘progressive’, fiscal this, social that. There’s an assumption that people who feel like this about issue A, will also subscribe to a particular set of views about issues X, Y and Z. We become entrenched in whole groups of thoughts that swim together like schools of fish. Furthermore, and somewhat creepily, Facebook & Google monitor the friends, links and sites that we spend the most time on. After awhile, they tailor your news feeds and sidebar teasers to match what they know about your beliefs and preferences. (see here: eature=youtube_gdata_player) If, like so many Generation-X and Gen-Y’ers, you get most of your news and views online, you are being slowly starved of viewpoints that don’t match the ones you already hold. People are losing the awareness that there even are other points of view. Critical thinking has become an endangered species. Here’s an example of thought-groupings. We were all raised on the idea that the UN is ‘a good thing’. The UN -- correct on so many educational and health care and apple pie issues over the years -became a masthead for a whole way of thinking and seeing reality. The world’s policeman; goes where trouble happens; always on the side of fairness and right. And if you identify as being “for” the UN then you’re automatically on the side of a whole list of other things too, right? But wait a minute. In 2003, when Libya and Cuba were elected to sit on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights with Libya as Chair, was that OK? Or when Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the UN General Assembly just as if he were a reasonable world leader? Was that the moment when the UN jumped the shark? It was for me. When one part of our edifice of beliefs takes a tumble, we might not notice (see above: “tedious, takes time, busy”). Or do we prefer not to notice, as that would entail re-examining the whole list of automatically related beliefs? Which brings me to my second book, an investigation into the workings of a UN Agency called the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC “…surveys the scientific literature regarding climate change, to decide what it all means, and to write an ongoing series of reports. These reports are informally known as the Climate Bible.” “The Climate Bible is cited by governments around the world. It is the reason carbon taxes are being introduced, heating bills are rising, and costly new regulations are being enacted.” I’m quoting Donna Laframboise, the Canadian journalist/researcher who spent two years poring over IPCC reports, analyzing the operating procedures of the panel in the kind of detail that few in the media were moved to do. Her book, The Delinquent Teenager, came out last month. IPCC decisions have an impact on every province, state and nation; even on little towns, Councils and school boards around the world – many of which have added Managers of Climate Change to their permanent payrolls. (Which is about as effective as the town of Dundas decreeing that there shall not be any lightning permitted within Dundas airspace.) Donna’s meticulous research shows some very startling things: some of the scientific contributors were picked by their governments, not for their expertise, but for their political connections and for racial and gender “diversity.” Contributors themselves complained of this in an anonymous follow-up survey. Many of the writers of the Panel’s reports are very young graduate students in their 20s, years away from having either their PhDs or the sort of gravitas in their field that would justify them being lead writers of papers that are guiding world governments to make huge expenditures of public money.

At the same time, bona fide experts in scientific fields under study by the IPCC have not been consulted; established scholars who are truly at the top of their fields, with expertise on hurricanes, malaria, sea levels and more. Instead the IPCC has relied for scientific writers on environmental activists. But fundraisers for activist groups like Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund cannot be considered neutral contributors to reports from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Surely, serious ‘hard scientists’ would know this. Likewise, ‘Peer Review’ has always been the gold standard of legitimacy in academic publishing. Donna’s research found that “the IPCC’s actual record shows that about 28% of sources were from non peerreviewed sources including magazine articles, press releases, and unpublished papers.” Furthermore, the standard of ‘blind’ peer review where reviewers are not known to the writer and vice versa, was not observed in many cases. The same names crop up again and again in an incestuous tangle of friends approving the work of friends. The IPCC does not itself conduct scientific research. Its mandate is to survey the existing literature on climate science and formulate interpretations based on the work. Remember, these interpretations are driving world governments to legislate new regulations, carbon taxes, and what some call a ‘parallel stock market’ of traded carbon credits. Some people are going to get very rich from this exchange and taxpayers everywhere are going to get a lot poorer. Jobs and prosperity in many sectors are already being hit by the implications of IPCC reports. Before we embark on these measures, surely it’s worth pausing for a serious look at the advice upon which governments are basing their decisions. Particularly when questions have been raised about the way the data are assembled, filtered and presented. However, bathed protectively in the parent organization’s aura of authenticity and correctness, the Panel’s breaches of the rules of academic publishing and scientific enquiry have been given a pass. Which is why Donna’s work is truly groundbreaking. On hurricanes, on natural disasters, and on malaria infections, Donna shows that, “…the IPCC substitutes its own version of reality. In each case that version of reality makes global warming appear more frightening than genuine experts believe the available evidence indicates”. But oh, does it resonate with our deep desire to feel responsible, guilty and ashamed. Over the summer while reading both of these books, I had also been driving across this province and through half a dozen US states. What I saw with my own eyes were beautiful fields bursting with crops, millions of acres of lush forests, gorgeous streams, wild spaces and pasture land. As I drove, my heart swelled with gratitude for the natural beauty I saw; the abundance, and the freedom to make our way forward. Humans and the earth are not locked in mortal combat! I am through with apologizing and fretting about hell and handbaskets. Especially if the stream of information that’s feeding those anxieties is now found to be flawed and influenced, perhaps, by motives that are less than pure. I look around me and I do not see that reality. I’m choosing to remain an optimist and a bit of a skeptic. Perhaps it’s time for other scientists and investigative journalists to get busy, producing a wider, deeper pool of information and breaking the lock that the pessimists have on our news feeds. If David Suzuki wants to huddle at night and weep, so be it. I am busy reading what’s new and looking forward to what’s coming next. TOBY YULL is a consulting interior designer with a penchant for urban and cultural issues. She reads; she writes; she lives with her husband in Dundas. This article has been reprinted from her blog: Visit her website at



ORDINARY PEOPLE | Sky Gilbert's new play tells the story of growing up gay in the countryside | Andrew Vowles

Sky Gilbert: teacher, writer, director, drag queen and – farm boy? Think about the University of Guelph drama professor and you might envision an urban intellectual shuttling between his Guelph classroom and theatre productions in Toronto and his adopted hometown of Hamilton. Sure enough, there was not a hayfield in sight when one of his most recent plays, Hamilton Bus Stop, was staged at a new theatre just steps away from Gilbert’s home in the core of the Hammer. But city will meet country in a new Gilbert play this summer being staged by 4th Line Theatre, an outdoor company in Millbrook, near Peterborough. Produced on the company’s Barnyard Stage, no less, St. Francis of Millbrook will relate the coming-of-age story of a boy growing up gay in the countryside. Or maybe it’s less about a city-country encounter and more about erasing the lines between them. “I want people to think about how this young man’s life and issues are like any other,” says Gilbert, whose working title for the play was “Ordinary”. In earlier works staged mostly in Toronto, he has often thrown his characters into a kind of crucible of urban gay culture. There, it’s more about separateness or a culture apart, he says. Referring to

his new production, he adds: “Here it’s about ways in which we are the same.” Asked how theatre helps make a better planet, he replies: “You could ask that question about the arts in general. One of the basic elements in us becoming better people is the arts. Arts are about the human spirit.” He argues that gay bullying is a community issue wherever it occurs – in the real-life case of an Ottawa teenager driven to kill himself in late 2010 or on a fictitious farm as in the case of Gilbert’s young protagonist, Luke. “My play chronicles the life of a gay teenager who is beaten by his father because of his sexuality. It has an important message for all of us in Canada, and especially for those in rural areas,” says Gilbert. That is exactly why 4th Line Theatre commissioned Gilbert to write the play. “I felt it was important to explore these issues,” said artistic director Robert Winslow, who also recruited Gilbert to present a playwriting workshop in Millbrook later this month. Probe most city-dwellers and you soon find a link to the countryside, perhaps a couple of generations back, maybe not even that far. Gilbert, who holds the University Research Chair in Creative Writing and Theatre Studies at Guelph, was surprised to learn how

many of the students in his course on “Sexuality and the Stage” claim rural roots. “People forget that people in the country are gay, too.” Plus, for all his urban sensibility, Gilbert claims to be a little bit country. Not that he ever worked the land or tended livestock. But consider it one degree of separation. “I come from farm folk – my mother grew up on a farm and my grandfather died in a barn fire in Maine.” And there’s something of the playwright in the Millbrook play’s lead character – something that Gilbert volunteers about his own relationship with his father, Schuyler Sr. Sky was 30 before he came out to his parents. He had had girlfriends – even spent seven years with one woman. He finally told his father when they met for lunch one day at Union Station in Toronto, where his dad had come in by train from Buffalo. Sky recalls trying to share his news early in their meeting. His dad kept diverting him before finally hearing him out – to a point. “He wouldn’t let me say the word ‘gay’.” In St. Francis, Luke’s parent in the play reacts violently, even beating his young son. Nothing like that happened to Gilbert, but he says he remembered his

father’s evident discomfort as he worked on developing his characters. His dad, now 86, visited again this year to attend an early reading of the play at Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre. Funny, says Sky: “My father took it badly and came around.” The opposite thing happened with his mother, Patricia, during a separate revelatory lunch date with her. She appeared to receive his news with equanimity, but Gilbert read various shades of meaning in her seemingly glib line, delivered in the back of a Toronto cab: “Don’t flirt with the waiter.” She died early this year. Gilbert explores her character in in a new memoir called The Mommiad to be published in spring 2012. Gilbert was born in Norwich, Conn., in 1952. The family moved to Buffalo when he was five; he and his sister, Lydia, moved with their mother to Toronto after his parents divorced when Sky was 12. Patricia had spent many years living at the Sutton Place Hotel in Toronto. Says Gilbert: “She reminds me of a character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s: Holly Golightly.” Recalling his mother, he says, “She was beautiful. She always acted like a rich lady, always dressed beautifully.” She ensured that none of her Toronto acquaintances

would have seen the farm girl in the city mouse, he says. (His mother’s family was descended from Confederate Army general Robert E. Lee: hence Gilbert’s own middle name, “Lee.”) Gilbert has lived in downtown Hamilton for seven years with his partner, an artist. Here, he has established a company called Hammertheatre and has staged his own works in a century-old hall a few blocks from their Victorian home. This year, Gilbert will publish his sixth novel, Come Back, a dystopian fantasy about a 138-year-old Judy Garland. He has also published a novella, a memoir, two poetry collections and numerous plays. He will also play a role in fall 2012 in a contemporary adaptation of Antigone, produced by Small Wooden Shoe in Toronto. St. Francis of Millbrook runs Aug. 13 to Sept. 1 on 4th Line Theatre’s Barnyard Stage. In his Jan. 29 workshop, Approaches to Playwrighting for Adults, Gilbert will discuss some of the pitfalls and risks faced by playwrights and share tips for stronger dialogue. ANDREW VOWLES is a full-time writer and sometime musician, artist and actor. A lifelong Hamiltonian, he lives in the Delta East neighbourhood with his family.

“My play chronicles the life of a gay teenager who is beaten by his father because of his sexuality. It has an important message for all of us in Canada, and especially for those in rural areas... People forget that people in the country are gay, too.” - Sky Gilbert

Sky Gilbert | photograph by Susan Bubak, University of Guelph | photo manipulation by Reg Beaudry

HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | FEB 2012 |


“What is this we're standing in front of? Now is this one of the new prisons Stephen Harper is building? Because they’ll essentially be in most downtown cores. Correct? They’ll just be giant cages...” -Rick Mercer

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Rick Mercer standing in front of the Ferguson Station in downtown Hamilton during an episode of The Rick Mercer Report | below - SNL’s Oscar Rogers’ FIX IT skit


When the City first built the Ferguson Train Station at King East and Ferguson in the much-improved International Village (thanks to their BIA) it looked good - even for its hefty price of $1.5 million. I was never quite sure of its original purpose, but I can assure you it's not what it is being used for now: that being nothing. I was told by a City official that there was a plan. Plans are good. So what happened to the plan? Who knows? What I do know is that, because 'homeless' people were treating the space as their own private Idaho, the city decided to cage it up. Well that's nice. Now we have the most expensive bird cage in the world. Oh sure, it's opened from time to time, but not very often, and even then only one wall of the cage is opened. The others all remain down when there is an event. Now, usually when something in the city bothers me, I'm not alone. Turns out, not only was I not alone on this one, but outsiders - namely, the CBC – noticed this oddity. "What is this we're standing in front of?" Rick Mercer asks a Hamilton bicycle cop during an interview about bicycle policing, "Now is this one of the new prisons Stephen Harper is building?” he asked. It was hilarious of course, but at our expense. I had been meaning to address this issue for quite some time now. Unfortunately, Rick Mercer beat me to it – and on national television no less! So thank you Rick for the reminder. And so I am here, now, reminding the city, as Saturday Night Live's Oscar Rogers would so eloquently put it: “...identify the problem and FIX IT!”

INTRODUCING OUR NEW ANCASTER OFFICE Now open at 253 Wilson Street East



Westdale 905.522.3300 | Locke Street 905.529.3300 | Ancaster 905.648.6800

| PLACES HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | FEB 2012 |


Venue posters from This Ain’t Hollywood and The Casbah

VENUES of OUR OWN | Jamie Tennant

In Toronto there are legendary, time-honoured rock venues. From the Horseshoe up to Sneaky Dee’s and beyond, when I think of seeing bands in Toronto bars, most of them have been around since the 90’s – during my brief defection to T.O. - if not decades prior. Hamilton has never been like that. There’s nowhere left from the ‘60s, or ‘70s, or ‘80s, or even the ‘90s that still champions local music and smaller touring artists on a regular basis. It is almost as if venues seem to belong to “eras” on the music scene. Now is the era of This Ain’t Hollywood and The Casbah. When I was in a band (name us and prove your knowledge of obscure Hamiltonia!) it was the era of the Corktown, the Regal Hotel, The Other Side, Bannisters, and

Hess Village’s many rock venues. Oh, the halcyon days…now, half those places are gone, and the other half are dance clubs. Yet these venues didn’t necessarily fold because they were no good. The scene waxes and wanes; bookers come and go, for myriad reasons, and even successful venues close or change formats. Today, two of the city’s most stalwart venues, focused on touring artists, local music and original material, are This Ain’t Hollywood and The Casbah. The Casbah has been around for a surprising 12 years (which, after the Corktown, is the longest-lasting venue that comes to mind). This Ain’t Hollywood is newer, but owners Glen Faulman and Lou Molinario

have the kind of attitude it takes to make it last. Molinaro, who has been in Hamilton since ’95, believes all the best venues have been run and/or booked by people with one common trait: they’re music fans. “Live music is a commodity,” he says. “We tend to tag it often as an art form, but we have to remember it’s a product offered to our community. The most acclaimed businesses are those who really understand their product. Adding some colour and creativity adds to the ‘street cred.’ Business savvy is obviously important, but this kind of venture must be driven by ‘fan first’ who ‘gets it’.” Casbah owner Brodie Schwendiman has sustained

variety and substance for over a decade. The Casbah – and places like it – draw visitors to the core from the suburbs and beyond our borders. Out-of-towners especially have an impact on surrounding businesses for shopping, dinner, gas, etc (I remember the surprise Pixies show, at which I met a fellow who’d caught wind of it online and come from Winnipeg). “Casbah adds arts content to an already wealthy quantity of arts activity in the downtown core,” says Schwendiman. “It also provides a venue for local artists to hone their skills, perform, profit, showcase and work.” Every rock venue – and there are others, such as Absinthe; no disrespect to the unmentioned ones

intended – has the extra bonus of providing hospitality employment and technical employment to the sorts of people who, in turn, tend to live and spend money in the core. The benefits of a long-lasting venue are that the name becomes known; familiar names can do better business through that familiarity alone. Casbah is there; This Ain’t is on its heels; other venues have been Maybe we’re even on the verge of a new era – where we’ll have legendary, time-honoured venues of our own. JAMIE TENNANT is the Program Director at 93.3 CFMU.FM, the campus-based community station at McMaster University.

HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | FEB 2012 |


A WRITER AMONG US | Trevor Cole | Elisha Stam

I met Trevor Cole at a bar on Augusta St. He lives in Corktown, and likes the luxury of walking to a place to meet someone, which meant we already had something in common. His smile is diffident yet kind, as he carefully picks something on tap. Cole is a writer among us. He has an impressive list of awards for both his fiction and non-fiction writing. He has an enviable (albeit, a little intimidating) resume: he worked twelve years as a magazine editor for the Globe and Mail, three years as a senior writer at Report on Business Magazine, currently on assignment as a feature writer for Toronto Life magazine, he maintains an interesting website that promotes Canadian literature. Cole was living a writer's dream. Unpredictably, he left that covetous career path for his love of fiction. Colehas three novels under his belt: Norman Bray in the Performance of his Life (2004), The Fearsome Particles (2006), and Practical Jean (2010). All three of his novels received great acclaim and were short listed for some of the top fiction awards in Canada. His most recent work, Practical Jean won the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. Cole uses humour, unexpected plots and brilliant characterizations to capture his audience and reward them for picking up his book. He's an empathetic writer; his characters seem to exist off the page.


The writing is heavy, touching on profound and difficult themes. His most recent book, Practical Jean, is about a middle-aged woman working through an existential crisis. Jean cared for her dying mother for three months. Seeing the intense pain her mother suffered before she died causes Jean to question the point of it all. Jean is an artist, drawn to beauty. She concludes that a person should not die in a state of emaciation and pain, but rather when they can still appreciate beauty. With this epiphany, she sets out a calculated plan to save her closest friends. She plans to give each of them moments of pleasure and beauty, and then promptly murder them. The scenes are poignant and grotesque - yet playful and funny. Most of all, like Cole, they are surprising. Cole's love of literature is clearly the force behind a website called Author's Aloud ( The website is full of recorded readings from Canadian authors, established and up-and-coming. His hope for the website is to bring attention to the talent in our country. I recommend listening to Trevor read from Practical Jean, his most current offering, because it's a great example of his story telling. He is very comfortable in front of a microphone. The reading seems strikingly

dramatic, a contrast from the careful man who sat across the bar table from me. Cole moved to Hamilton in 2002, he came here because of his ex-wife's family. He now finds himself here on his own terms, gladdened that artists are coming to Hamilton, even if it is for cheap real estate. Trevor Cole won the Hamilton Annual Literary Award for Fiction Book in November 2011. It was an honour for him, although, he stressed to me that he is not a “Hamilton writer.” His books are not meant to come from any one city. Practical Jean, for example, takes place in a fictional town that could be any small town in Canada. Cole has an impressive list of achievements in the literary and journalist world and we'll see much more from him. The ideas for his next novel are becoming very clear. In the beginning stages of writing a new novel, he uses a white board. “I just pulled out my white board,” he told me, indicating that work on his new novel is well underway. He wouldn't share any details with me. “I like to surprise people,” he said. You can learn more about Trevor Cole on his website ( ELISHA STAM is a stay-at-home progeny wrangler, impulsive writer, and ravenous reader. She lives downtown Hamilton. You can read more of her reviews at

Jacket covers of Trevor Cole’s three novels | Trevor Cole | photograph by Louis Hudson

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*Deluxe motor coach transportation *3 hour Buffalo Architecture tour *Lunch on own at Pearl Street Grill and Brewery *1 hour tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House

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Bulldogs’ Classic Ivor Wynne game, Sat. Jan. 21, 2012 | photograph by Reg Beaudry

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Urbanicity was there at the Bulldogs’ Classic Ivor Wynne game, witnessing the largest crowd ever for an outdoor alumni-celeb-legends match, not held on the same day as an outdoor NHL game. More than 20,000 people attended the event.

| ARTS HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | FEB 2012 |


“I was the east-end street kid of a single mom. If I wasn't nursing her back from a manic episode, I was holding her cigarette while she dyed her hair over the kitchen sink.”


Shelley Marshall

Sexy, satirical, and sharply intelligent, Shelley Marshall is a unique character. She recently produced a world tour of her own stand-up comedy, opened for "Pupperty of the Penis" off Broadway in New York, and appeared on CBC's the Ron James Show. Now, she's back in Hamilton bringing her own breed of humour to more local stages in her production of The Full Bawdy Comedy Show - including a February 4 performance at This Ain't Hollywood. She is also hard at work preparing to launch her one-woman show, Hold Mommy's Cigarette. Celebrating Hamilton's comedy queen, urbanicity is proud to feature Shelley Marshall in this month's profile.

Shelley Marshall from her upcoming one woman show Hold Mommy’s Cigarette | photograph by Sylva Pereira

Hamilton may still have the reputation of being tough and hard, of being dirty and without direction. It changes its mind and gets itself into trouble with its attitude and lack of following through. It may have been dug up and pushed down, and has a hard time rebuilding. And as I reflect on this reputation, it seems to be a metaphor for my own life...Like Hamilton, I still have a sense of hope, like earlier days when the downtown core was bustling with pride and prosperity. It is a city of loss and hope of strength and beauty. Hell, we're the waterfall capital of the world, aren't we? I would learn early about loss, and Hamilton held my hand through that, and still holds mystery, curiosity and compassion for me today. I was the east-end street kid of a single mom. If I wasn't nursing her back from a manic episode, I was holding her cigarette while she dyed her hair over the kitchen sink. It was the 70's and the city took care of me. A soupie in Mahoney Park raised me most summers. Ten cent Barton Street bus rides downtown and back were a field trip. The Red Hill Creek was an oasis when you could wade through it hipdeep, Confederation Park and its zoo. Why did they take that away? Hamilton has always been home for me even when it's not; maybe because I was born there, like my mother and her mother. It's the city that paid for my father's funeral after his suicide when I was seven, and the city that my mother died in after a battle with cancer that was stronger than her 40-year old soul. Oh sure, I've had it hard, but I have a bright future, because, like Hamilton we pick ourselves up, we don't blame others, we just try to figure things out, we find our way and we carry on. There may have been a time when all felt lost for me and I would mimic my father's actions, but, like with my father, the medical system would fail me too That hospital wasn't just the place I would give birth, it was where I thought I might die when they locked me up for a while. I never felt cared for in that place. I felt shame and fear. I am not sure why mental health still holds a horrible stigma, but until "the system" learns how to truly care for their patients, they are just going to end up hurting us more. I spent three days in the emergency waiting room, sent home too early only to attempt suicide, and with absolutely NO AFTERCARE! I am still working on forgiving the system and myself for that one! I sometimes wonder what "cause" I should support... Mental Health? Cancer research? Suicide prevention? Gay rights? Why gay rights? My kids are gay. I figure this life wants to teach me everything in one shot. If we fast forward to my new, hopeful life, where joy and creativity flow freely through me, it's my belief that Hamilton is finding it's way too. The music scene is brilliant. Hosting the Hamilton Music Awards gave me the backseat view of the driven talent and camaraderie I crave for my own industry. Comedy has been my saving grace. I've taken the horror of my experiences and turned them into a fearlessness that has changed my life. After crawling out of my depression and onto a GO bus to Toronto, I would begin to study where my heroes studied: at Second City. I took the honest words that had been told by my broken mother that, "You can be anything you want". And I believed them. It's been a wonderful year this year. A world tour of stand-up comedy in 11 countries, including shows in South Africa, Spain and Amsterdam, living in the famed Notting Hill neighbourhood of London for almost a year. I've been blessed with television appearances on The Ron James Show and The Hamilton Music Awards, and a recent invitation to be the headlining act at this year's Gilda Randner Cancer Benefit in Toronto (she was my comedy hero!). But what I am most excited for, is to be bringing my production of The Full Bawdy Comedy Show to Hamilton's award winning "This Ain't Hollywood", so that I may share laughter, celebration, and award-winning talent! I love you Hamilton, every little dirty thing about you...because like me, you just keep fucking trying! - Shelley Marshall


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