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urbanicity A monthly journal in the bay city


HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | NOV 2011 |



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FROM THE STORY of NORA WIGLEY DO YOU LOVE YOUR CITY? NEW DEAL FOR CITIES REDUX THE WHIPPED MALE: 101 PITTSBURGHLESSONS AND BUFFALO As with so many things in life, love comes in different colours. From the lighter shades that might express affection, to the very deepest shades that might express true, unshakeable love. When it comes to expressing how much you love the City of Hamilton, where are you on the colour scale? I love my city. Hamilton stirs deep emotions in me. I sing its praises to any who will listen. Sometimes, even when they won’t. I defend Hamilton against those who would ridicule or dismiss my city. I fight for Hamilton with my words and my posters when I perceive others are about to do harm to my city, either intentionally or unwittingly. Sometimes, they are fellow Hamiltonians. For some, that makes me a crackpot. Thankfully, most view my efforts as a little more noble. So, with apologies to Barbra Streisand, when it comes to Hamilton, colour me deep. Living in a city isn’t the same as being in love with a

Almost 10 years ago, former Finance Minister Paul Martin addressed the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference in Hamilton and proclaimed the need for a “New Deal for Cities” where better federal-municipal relationships would forge a stronger urban Canada. Jack Layton, then president of the FCM, looked on enthusiastically, as he had pushed for a higher profile urban agenda since he took on the top job at the FCM. Indeed, there was some progress on the municipal file when Martin briefly became Prime Minister and Layton took the reins of the federal NDP. A department of Infrastructure was created and financial tools like the Gas Tax were shared with cities. Federal departments started talking directly with local municipalities to share their plans and priorities. For once, cities, the poor cousins of Canadian confederation, were gaining the respect that was

Men today have been emasculated, metrosexualized and basically neutered by their female counterparts. While the likes of Helen Reddy may boom feminist anthems such as “I Am Woman” (Hear Me Roar), women are essentially acting like lion tamers when it comes to their mates. Men are so whipped, in fact, that when a Vancouver restaurant posted a sign telling male customers they weren't allowed to pee standing up, it barely made waves. The allure of the “sensitive” man has always been baffling. Obviously, if your girlfriend or wife breaks an arm or a leg, it's a given that you need to show some compassion. Or at least feign concern. But if you're the type of guy who sobs when you get a speeding ticket or loses sleep over the fact that your Facebook “friends” didn't acknowledge your birthday, then you're not sensitive, you're a wuss.

Pittsburgh or Buffalo? Pondering the possibility of a future with much less steel (notwithstanding the settlement at US Steel and its apparent survival in the short term), Hamilton leaders would do well to study the successes and failures from each of those nearby rustbelt cities. Both places lost massive steel industries more than a generation ago and responded in radically different ways. Having spent time in both communities recently, I wanted to share some reflections of the lessons Hamilton can learn from that adversity. First, the bad: Buffalo, New York is about an hour's drive from Hamilton, just across the Peace Bridge from Fort Erie. Starting in the 1950s, Buffalo's population spiralled into decline from a high of over 500,000 to just half that today. The big steel mills that powered its economy have closed, and the biggest employers are now the State

Hamilton’s Woodland Cemetery is home to 70,000 souls, most of them remembered by simple stones. The exception is in Section 15, where the king of adjustable beds spent more than $1,000,000 on his final resting place. Ron Patterson, the man who made a fortune pitching the Ultramatic to comfort-seeking seniors, hasn’t yet occupied the premises. But all is ready. Thirty tons of stone were trucked in from Quebec to build the columned mausoleum. It features a mural of Patterson and his wife wearing Hawaiian shirts and gold necklaces. The art showcases their home, their dogs, their decked-out Harley. Patterson, 70, is proud of this spectacle. He once taped a commercial here. But today our eyes fall on a quieter remembrance. It is a polished black marker that sits right next door, just past the chains that guard the Patterson

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HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | NOV 2011 |


urbanicity [ur-buh-nis-i-tee] - noun 1. a monthly journal of ideas, issues and experiences in the bay city. DISTRIBUTION

I have often heard it said that Hamilton has an inferiority complex. I wholeheartedly agree with this notion, but struggle to understand why this rings true. Perhaps it is because Hamilton suffers from ‘little brother syndrome’ – a result of being situated in the shadow of Toronto. Maybe it’s because we don’t have an NHL team. It could also be the consequence of years of mediocre municipal administration. Whatever the case, it’s time for us to go into therapy.

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Feelings of inferiority result in Hamiltonians explaining to friends abroad that they live in, or near Toronto. This cultural cringe that we suffer from convinces us that our local talent, ideas, and businesses can really only be validated when they are tested outside of our city. After all, we tell ourselves, we’re not a real city...we’re just Hamilton. Let’s face it; we are a city with a collective sense of low self-esteem.

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

When a city, just like a person, suffers from feelings of low self-esteem and inferiority, they repeatedly convince themselves of their inadequacy. With every failure, they slump a little lower. “See? We knew we’d blow it with the velodrome.” “We’ll never get light rail – we’ll probably screw that up now too” “Ugh – that could only happen in Hamilton...”


LAYOUT + DESIGN REG BEAUDRY Freelance | photographer Graphic designer CONTRIBUTORS *PAUL WILSON Former Columnist | Hamilton Spectator MARK CHAMBERLAIN President | Trivaris Family of Companies Chair | Jobs Prosperity Collaborative

When suffering these sentiments, cities, like people, no longer believe they’re entitled to the same opportunities as their peers, and so they settle for mediocrity. The cycle of failure followed by self-deprecation perpetuates itself. Eventually, self-deprecation leads to self-hate, and after a while self-harm becomes typical.

MARTINUS GELEYNSE | photograph by Daniel Banko

MARTINUS GELEYNSE Owner | MG International Director | Hamilton24 Festival

I think we need some perspective. Hamilton is a city with a growing population of just over 500,000 people. As shown on the cover of this issue, this ranks us in very good company. Our metropolitan area does not include any of the GTA, but has a growing population of nearly 700,000 people. When we step out of the shadow of the GTA, and view its massive population as potential clients and friends, our regional market area ranks among some of the largest cities on earth with roughly 7,000,000 people. Granted, population does not automatically result in a successful city. However, it should give us some pause for thought. If we look beyond the failures of recent history, the shadow of Toronto, and our silver bullet NHL dreams, we’ll probably realize that we can, in fact, stand on our own two feet. We might just start taking some inspiration from the examples of our peers in Pittsburgh, Portland, Geneva, Tel Aviv, and even (dare I say it?) Halifax. Hamilton is a large city in its own right. We have 500,000 citizens with 1,000,000 hands. Imagine what we could achieve if we inspired those million hands to work towards a clear vision for our city!

FRED EISENBERGER Former Mayor | Hamilton, Ontario CEO | Canadian Urban Institute

There is no reason in the world that Hamilton has to resign itself to being the last among equals. MARTINUS GELEYNSE | Publisher + Editor

*GRAHAM CRAWFORD Owner | HIStory + HERitage *MURLINE MALLETTE Director | Liaison College Hamilton Campus *TERRY COOKE CEO | Hamilton Community Foundation *PAUL SHAKER Director | Centre for Community Study *RYAN McGREAL Editor | ADRIAN DUYZER Associate Editor |

FRONT COVER [ left to right panel ]

FORUM 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:

*Mother and son skip through Dundurn Castle grounds | photograph by Reg Beaudry *Queen Victoria and the Gore Park | photograph by Reg Beaudry *Mr. Clean | courtesy of *This way Buffalo sign | courtesy of 123rf *Nora Wigley | circa 1948

*LAURA FARR Staff Writer *JAMIE TENNANT Program Director | 93.3 CFMU CHRISTOPHER CUTLER Manager | PATH Employment Services *JOEY COLEMAN Independent Journalist DONNA SKELLY Broadcast Journalist KEANIN LOOMIS Chief Advocate | Innovation Factory PETER ORMOND Environmental Engineer Lecturer | Mohawk College RICK COURT Dean of Business, Media, & Entertainment | Mohawk College *DON FORBES Manager, Specialist Advisory Services | Grant Thornton LLP ROBERT LEAKER Vice-President of Innovation and Emerging Markets | Meridian Credit Union *LYDIA LOVRIC former writer and broadcaster | currently enjoying life as a full-time mom to three little rug rats.



I was walking through downtown Hamilton the other day, going from our office at Main and Hughson to James North. I enjoy that walk, as there a number of things that make me smile. It takes me through Gore Park, where to my left I see FirstOntario Credit Union has invested in downtown with a new branch. In the summertime, I would have seen the Gore Park Promenade courtesy of the Downtown BIA. As I walk north on James, I see the newly renovated Lister Block. I stop to take it in; it looks magnificent. A little further down the street, I pass 118 James – the new home to TCA Architects and future home of the Art Gallery’s new storefront. That building looks better every time I see it. Just north of Cannon Street is Hamilton HIStory and HERitage, home to Hamilton’s history displayed with modern technology. I end my journey at Acclamation, one of my favourite restaurants. Things are on their way up in downtown Hamilton, I tell myself. The next day, however, I catch myself wondering… am I just seeing what I want to see? Perhaps I had stopped paying attention to the elements of downtown that I’d rather pretend weren’t there… the large number of panhandlers in the Gore area or the

incredibly worn-down building at King and James. I try not to look up at Stelco Tower, because I know it will remind me of the vacancy rate, and I’d prefer not to think about that. So, while we blame people from outside Hamilton for being negatively jaded, I ask myself, have I become positively jaded? Is there less happening here than I think? Am I so far into the city that I’m out of it? I decided to contact two friends who have recently moved to Hamilton and acclimated themselves into Hamilton’s business community. Ryan Scott is a manager along with me at Grant Thornton. He joined us from our North Toronto office in June after moving to Hamilton late in 2010. James Lefebvre is a Business Solutions Manager at FirstOntario, with an office in their new downtown location. He moved here earlier this year from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Perhaps they could help tell me if they see what I see. Ryan didn’t know what he would get from his move to Hamilton. He was expecting to miss the great restaurants, downtown vibe and constant attractions that come with the City of Toronto. However, he says he has been pleasantly surprised. The restaurants

downtown Hamilton are great, and there is a vibe here all unto its own. He was impressed on his first trip down James North when he saw the Lister Block, and sees Hamilton as a place that is making strides in many areas. Between revitalizing downtown and increasing activities, he has found Hamilton to be a comfortable and exciting place to be. He was also surprised by the young talent who work and/or live in Hamilton—all of whom exhibit a passion for their city far greater than he was used to in Toronto. Okay, so far, so good. James was expecting what many others have expected from our city: endless steel mills bellowing smoke in the air, and a lack of culture. What he has found are a number of hidden gems, such as the Art Gallery and War Plane Museum, and he has been infinitely impressed with ease of travel through the Hamilton International Airport. He, too, was surprised with how many great restaurants he found downtown, and has enjoyed the attractions in town, from the Tiger Cats, to seeing Pearl Jam at Copps. James recently was told by a client that, “You can do whatever you want in Hamilton right now.” Ah yes, the “Hamilton is the wild west” comment, in yet another form. James,

like Ryan, has been impressed by the pride Hamiltonians have in their city, and he can tell that the pride is extremely contagious. I was happy with James’ and Ryan’s comments, and interested by their outsider perspectives. It would seem people are not often disappointed in Hamilton – but mostly because they have low expectations to begin with. However, with every James and Ryan that we impress, there will be more like them. Public expectations will rise because they’ve heard things are good here, and that they continue to get better. So, I’m not crazy … and I’m not too optimistic. But let’s not kid ourselves, there is a lot left to do. While the momentum is building, and outsiders are seeing the pride Hamiltonians have for downtown and their city, we need to keep the momentum going. Let’s hope the right decisions are made in the coming months to allow this to happen. DON FORBES is a Manager of Specialist Advisory Services at Grant Thornton LLP.

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| IDEAS HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | NOV 2011 |


We cannot tolerate a city website that turns away investment, that turns away visitors, and makes our city seem populated by digital cavemen.

The current City of Hamilton web site



Let's take a drive. Start in the city of your choice. Your destination? Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. You've never been to Hamilton and have decided to see it for yourself. Let's assume we're riding an imaginary highway that isn't the QEW. On this imaginary highway, you're able to enjoy the scenery of beautiful modern cities as you travel. (Not being the QEW, we can also imagine not being stuck in a parking lot) You arrive on the outskirts of Hamilton to discover a highway sign in a decrepit state, hanging by a single bolt, dangling in the wind, showing worn paint, and with the faint outline of letters “We com t Ham lt n”. As you stare at this post-apocalyptic sign, you think: is this Hamilton? Would we as citizens tolerate our road signs being in such poor condition? Would we not act and mobilize a community clean-up?

The city's website,, is the road sign in this allegory and it is time for a community clean-up. Let's call it Website Crawl. (And no, I'm not paying royalties, Matt Jelly) We cannot tolerate a city website that turns away investment, that turns away visitors, and makes our city seem populated by digital cavemen. On the “information superhighway” (to use digital caveman terminology), our website is the post-apocalyptic city with the off-ramp everyone avoids. It's time to fix our decrepit city website. Municipalities model their websites upon the organizational structure of how government thinks of itself, rather than how citizens use government services. People don't think of the splash pad in their local park as a “public work” but they'd better start to if they want to find such information on the current city website.

This needs to change. A useful city website is structured for citizens, not bureaucrats. City Councillors have discussed hiring consultants to build a new website, with a figure of $1,000,000 tossed out by one Councillor at a recent General Issues Committee meeting. While it wasn't clear if billing for morning muffins was included in that cost, what is sure is that high-priced consultants are not the solution to the problem. They will return a closedsource custom proprietary website, which can't be worse than the current website, but won't be better. Waiting over a year for a high-cost non-solution is unacceptable. The road sign needed to be fixed last year. Council passed a motion on March 24, 2010 directing staff to “review the City’s existing web site and prepare a report respecting the total redevelopment of the web site.” The review continues over 18 months later.

The time for action is now. Open Hamilton, our local open data community, is acting to build a new City of Hamilton website powered by the community, maintained by the community, and responsive to the community. We're going to hold a series of “hackfests” this winter to create an entirely open source City of Hamilton website focused upon empowering neighbourhoods and informing citizens of what's happening in their city. We'll do simple things like making bus schedules available in mobile friendly formats. At present, you can't access bus schedules from most smartphones as they are old-style PDFs. We'll do complex things such as adding GeoIP capabilities to the site to allow for customized homepages based upon the locations of the computer accessing – if you're in Ancaster, you'll land on a page focused on your community, and if you're visiting from overseas, you'll

be shown a page of information about Hamilton with the option to translate to your country's language. We'll save the city over $1,000,000 dollars, get a better website that truly reflects the great strengths of our city, and finally fix the decrepit image that our city's horrible website creates. Building a city website is a community effort. No matter your skill set, your contribution is valuable. Visit to join the effort. JOEY COLEMAN is one of Hamilton's emerging young journalists living downtown with his smartphone always in hand. You can follow him on Twitter:

“The ‘MTV generation’ of students these days can not just learn they must be entertained while they learn. If they are not entertained, then you’ve lost them” - John F. Affisco, Hofstra University.


Jane McGonigal predicates that there is a value to gamification – utilizing games to better society. With close to 160,000,000,000 hours spent on online gaming in the last year (15,000,000,000 hours on World of Warcraft alone) she argues that these games can be used to further positive engagement in society. Although these games may seem to disengage the user from reality, they actually set up a sub-section of society that can create better individuals, teams, and societies. The challenge lies in creating what she calls“the epic win” scenario. In a game, several players have to work together to reach an end goal by utilizing the tools at hand for the best possible outcome – winning, finishing the mission, saving the princess, etc.

THE VALUE TO GAMIFICATION Achievement of a successful outcome creates an elation that brings the team members closer together, or the “Epic Win”. Can we create the “Epic Win” in real life, or is this phenomenon something that is only relatable to online play culture? Games have long been used as an educational tool to teach social systems, communication, politics, ecology, health, history, relationships, marketing, business, language skills, economics, geography, and mathematics. Games have been used to help make decisions on marriage, career exploration, hiring decisions, or deciding admission into college. Some have event wondered aloud if gaming would eventually replace the lecture as the main method of

teaching. “The ‘MTV generation’ of students these days can not just learn - they must be entertained while they learn. If they are not entertained, then you’ve lost them” Says John F. Affisco of Hofstra University. He does admit, however, that, “perhaps it is not so much that students need to be entertained as much as it is that their culture has conditioned them to interact in a certain way with information. Students are not necessarily lazier than their predecessors; they have been raised in a completely different environment that seems to call for a new way of learning… Simulation and gaming offers our best chance of reaching these students." Gamification has a vocal detractor in Heather

Chaplin, Associate Professor of Journalism at The New School in New York. She decries McGonigal’s enthusiasm saying that (McGonigal) “Is not advocating any kind of real change… but rather a change in perception. She wants to add a game-like layer to the world to simulate these feelings of satisfaction, which indeed people want.” Yet, earlier this fall there was an announcement from FoldIt, a discovery game supported by the University of Wisconsin that allows players to contribute to biochemistry by “folding and designing proteins”. The big news was that gamers had helped solve the structure of an enzyme found in an HIV-related virus in less than three weeks, while scientists had been stumped by this structure for more than a decade.

Given the fact that the average child spends more than 10,000 hours engaged in online gaming before the age of 21, gamification could produce more “blissfully productive and super-powered hopeful individuals that are capable of changing the world” (McGonigal) as a by-product of the millions of gamers globally that are already willing to collaborate with each other to reach the “epic-win” scenario. This could very well result in an epic win-win for society as we know it. As McGonigal muses, “It’s as easy to save the world in real life as it is online; you just need to convince people to play bigger and better games.” LAURA FARR is a civically engaged, communityminded downtown resident.

HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | NOV 2011 |


continued from p.1 | NEW DEAL commensurate with their contribution to the prosperity of the country. However, progress was fleeting as there was a change in the federal government. The Harper Conservatives clearly believed that, aside from short-term stimulus spending, no long-term solution for cities was needed. If you think about it, the situation is rather absurd. Almost 80 percent of Canada’s population lives in cities, yet they have no official standing nationally, being creatures of provincial legislatures for what is essentially the purpose of carrying out the local administration of services. Revenue-generating tools for most cities are confined to property taxes, which do not come close to paying for the renewal of infrastructure and maintenance of services that are delivered by City Hall. This issue of municipal revenue is a constant theme that impacts Hamilton’s ability to plan for the future in a responsible way. Right now, other than property tax, and a few smaller sources of revenue like the gas tax, and the Future Fund, Hamilton has no other streams of consistent funding. For any infrastructure projects of significance, City Hall needs to appeal to upper levels of government for funding, which triggers the all too familiar spending sprees prior to elections. One obvious problem with this approach is that it doesn’t allow for sound decision making as political influence and expedience trump strategic planning. There was an attempt to fix this not too long ago. One proposal by former Toronto Mayor David Miller sought to allocate one cent of the federal sales tax to cities, distributed based on population. How would

this have affected a place like Hamilton? Well, onecent of the GST would have resulted in about $100 million more dollars into local coffers each year. Think about the local debates of late, ranging from the stadium, to rapid transit, to waterfront development, to water-wastewater expansion. That $100 million would have gone a long way in contributing to our infrastructure goals. Further, it would have allowed City Hall to accelerate implementation of plans for economic development and urban renewal both large and small. Take the LRT project, a transformative investment with widespread community support ranging from citizens, to developers, to local businesses. Unfortunately, funding for the project is a major stumbling block as the province waits for signs of municipal commitment before delivering funds and vice-versa. If Hamilton had additional revenue streams, it could signal its commitment to the Province by setting aside a portion of revenues every year to go towards the LRT project. At a smaller scale, consider the Gore Park pedestrian plaza, a concept planned out, costed, and endorsed by local businesses. Unfortunately, funding for this initiative didn’t make it through the budget process, throwing into question planned ancillary initiatives that were dependant on the plaza concept. While it is understandable that City Council would make choices and set priorities during these times of lean municipal finances, the fact remains that this investment in Gore Park was meant to spur economic development and other people were waiting for the City to take the lead before spending their own money.

Cancelling or delaying the investment just set back that particular part of economic development. This situation, while small in the bigger scheme, is not unique as the City constantly juggles many priorities with limited funds. Some see these funding restraints as the right way to provide fiscal discipline. However, there is a distinct difference between responsible priority setting and starving an entity of required funding needed to bring about future prosperity. This is where the national plight of cities to gain additional sources of revenue has its foundation. Cities produce most of the wealth, yet they don’t have the required resources to sustain and create cycles of wealth-generation. Watch any annual municipal budget process and you’ll see that we are nickel and diming ourselves out of future success. So what of the “New Deal for Cities” that was proclaimed almost a decade ago? Some of Canada’s new crop of Mayors such as Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi are picking up the torch renewing calls for one cent from the sales tax to be dedicated to cities. For the sake of Hamilton’s future prosperity, here’s hoping that this time they are able to close the deal. PAUL SHAKER is senior planner and Executive Director of the Centre for Community Study, a Hamilton-based urban research firm. He has worked at the federal and municipal levels of government on issues related to the revitalization and sustainability of cities. Paul is a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and a Registered Professional Planner in Ontario.

Gore Park Master Plan rendering - facing west on the south leg parking area | courtesy of the City of Hamilton


Cities are inherently engines of economic development. By their very nature, cities bring a diversity and critical mass of people, ideas, energy and material inputs into close contact to generate enormous value. If we hope to make good decisions about how to plan and manage our city, we need to understand how cities fulfill that role. Cities provide five essential economies that work together to enable the chain of creativity-invention-innovation that drives economic growth. 1. Economy of Scale Economies of scale are well understood. Quite simply, a larger market means fixed costs of production are divided among more customers. By bringing large numbers of people together, cities make it easy to enjoy economies of scale. At the same time, cities make it possible to cultivate and target niche markets. 2. Economy of Agglomeration It is common for multiple firms in the same business to locate close to one another. This might seem to increase competition, driving margins down, but firms that cluster get to enjoy the benefits that come from sharing suppliers, specialty suppliers and shipping nodes. The cluster of firms draws a larger, more expert pool of employees, and local schools start to specialize in training for the required skills. In short, the economy of agglomeration generates positive feedback loops that more than compensate

THE FIVE ESSENTIAL ECONOMIES of CITIES for the increased competition. As Richard Florida puts it in his book Who's Your City?, "Creative people and companies cluster because of the powerful productivity advantages, economies of scale, and knowledge spillovers such density brings." 3. Economy of Density Density means doing more with the same footprint - in other words, building up rather than out. When you increase the density of land use, the unit costs for infrastructure go down: roads, water, wastewater and power. Communications costs also go down: courier, phone, cable, broadband, wifi, and so on. This allows communications providers to deliver more service for the same money. In fact, density provides a costeffective way to introduce new communications infrastructures that are eventually rolled out to less dense markets once costs start to fall. More important, density means that destinations are closer, and more destinations are nearby. That means transportation costs also go down, and you have a wider choice of what mode to use to get where you're going: walking, cycling, transit, or driving. Richard Register puts it best in his book Ecocities: "The shortest distance between two points is moving them together; every trip from then on is shorter. That's an efficiency multiplied thousands of times."

diverse) people into contact more frequently in settings that are both formal and informal, both planned and serendipitous, cities provide the ideal conditions for creating new ideas. With the exponential increase in the variety and efficiency of ways to collaborate, the economy of association drives innovation. The evidence bears this out: by a variety of measures, the innovation rate is higher in cities that are larger and denser and bring a variety of people into contact. This allows for cross-fertilizing ideas from one intellectual domain to another; asking open-ended questions; challenging orthodoxies; forking a project into separate groups that progress independently; and merging forked developments to integrate their best features. 5. Economy of Extension

4. Economy of Association

Finally, by allowing organizations to grow big and efficient, cities provide a platform from which those organizations can expand into new markets. It is to take advantage of the economy of extension that cities tend to develop around ports. The economy of extension also allows cities to share innovations. An idea that is developed, implemented and battle-tested in one city can expand to other cities once it is proven to work. These five economies are well understood, so as a city we need to ask: what can we do from a planning and city management perspective to take better advantage of this?

This may be the least well understood but most powerful economy: by putting more (and more

RYAN McGREAL is the editor of He lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer and writer.

| ISSUES HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | NOV 2011 |


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at present | courtesy of

Buffalo, NY

continued from p.1 | LESSONS of New York, the Federal government, the University at Buffalo and a non-profit health care provider. I've always had a soft spot for Buffalo, despite its history of self-harm. I grew up watching Buffalo TV stations and cheering its sports teams. Even today, Buffalo is beautiful in its blight. Its amazing park system was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, who also designed New York's Central Park. It features several buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright, the impressive Albright-Knox Art Gallery and a lively cultural scene. The downward spiral began when the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959 and bypassed Buffalo as a shipping hub. The big steel mills began to leave, taking their multiplier businesses with them. Instead of responding proactively to these challenges, Buffalo's politicians fought amongst themselves, pitting centre against region. Suburban governments poached businesses from the old city while building low-density suburbs that locked out the

less affluent. A new campus for the University at Buffalo was built in a distant suburb. Then the Buffalo Bills moved out to Orchard Park, 25 km south of the city. Buffalo built an LRT/subway system, but did just about everything wrong. Parochial politics stopped the line from extending to the university or other suburban locations, and the city maintained an investment-hostile tax and regulatory system. Buffalo also built a waterfront expressway that cut the city off from the beauty of Lake Erie while traumatizing the neighbourhoods it cut through. A few recent highlights suggest that there is hope even for Buffalo - a downtown ballpark and arena, a vibrant theatre district and some hip urban neighbourhoods - but Buffalo is still best understood as a living example of what not to do. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a more hopeful story. Another steel city that peaked in the 1950s, Pittsburgh began a long decline from a high of 675,000 people as

the steel industry collapsed in the 1970s. Today, Pittsburgh has transformed itself into a centre for medical research, and its top employers are the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the West Penn Allegheny Health System. Under the sometimes-controversial leadership of former mayor Tom Murphy, Pittsburgh drove $4.5 billion into downtown reinvestment, including a waterfront stadium, a new convention centre and almost a thousand acres of brownfield redevelopment. Circumnavigating the same city/regional government split that plagued Buffalo, Murphy managed to establish a commuter levy on suburban residents who worked downtown but paid no taxes to support city services. But non-profit medical services and research and higher education don't contribute much to the municipal tax base, and Pittsburgh has also worked hard to diversify its economic base into information

technology and finance. A former Nabisco factory now houses a Google office. It hasn't hurt that benefactors with names like Mellon and Heinz have invested heavily in downtown renewal. So what are the lessons for Hamilton? First, we need to be proactive about the risks and opportunities of a post-steel economy. Now is the time to talk seriously about a post-industrial Hamilton focused less on big business and more on an entrepreneurial culture. We know from experience that young entrepreneurs have choices about where to locate, and more than anything else they prize quality of life. Therefore, good public schools for their kids, safe walkable streets and a vibrant arts and culture scene matter a lot if we want to attract the best and the brightest. Plus, initiatives like McMaster Innovation Park and the Innovation Factory have the potential to incubate the next major employment growth centre. We also need a strong focus on downtown

revitalization. A strong, healthy centre of safe, attractive, lively urban neighbourhoods will carry the city's economy and produce the jobs we need to replace the industrial jobs we are losing. That calls for a dedicated urban redevelopment agency to foster the recovery of under-utilized downtown and waterfront properties, including industrial brownfields, for use as high-quality urban investment. Most important, we need to be brutally honest with ourselves about the choices we face. Failure to do so could well lead to a spiral of decline, disinvestment and uncoordinated flailing that continues to plague Buffalo, when our potential is so much closer to Pittsburgh’s. TERRY COOKE is president & CEO of Hamilton Community Foundation.

HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | NOV 2011 |


continued from p.1 | WHIPPED And if Fridays used to be Boys' Night Out and suddenly you're taking yoga or pottery classes with the girlfriend instead, you're not just're walloped. This trend has been so rampant in recent years, that even Cosmo is getting in on the action with such enlightening offerings including, “6 Times You Should Be More of a Bitch” and “Should You Give Him An Ultimatum?” I'm no Freud or Dr. Phil, but I have yet to meet a guy who is attracted to bitchy women. Some guys may prefer assertive, feisty women – but not bitchy. As for ultimatums, they always smack of drama and desperation. If a woman thinks a guy should pop the question after a year or two of dating, say so. But don't tell the poor sap that he better propose by such and such a date or it's over. Just move on. After all, do you

really want a proposal that's been offered under duress? How romantic. Chatelaine offers such gems as: “What To Do If You Can't Stand Your Man's Best Friend” and “Does Your Relationship Need More Conflict?” Fortunately, men can take heed. If you're dating a girl who has these magazines strewn about her coffee table, run. If her idea of appointment television is Jersey Shore or Housewives of Orange County, run. If you feel as though she's trying to change or “fix” you, it's time to fold and get new cards. Give and take is a normal part of any relationship. But there's a big difference between bending and bending over. For instance, it's not unusual for husbands to help out with the housework these days. Whether it's washing dishes or picking up after the kids, it's not

unreasonable for men to pitch in. After all, more and more women are working outside of the home and it isn't fair to expect ladies to earn a paycheck and do everything around the house. But if your partner likes to go clubbing with the girls but gets her panties in a knot if you want to hang with the guys, clearly there's a problem. If she has more shoes than Imelda Marcos or the Kardashians but freaks out when you buy the new iPhone, there's a problem. And if it feels like you're doing all the giving and she's doing all the taking in the relationship, then it isn't really much of a relationship, is it? LYDIA LOVRIC is a former writer and broadcaster, currently enjoying life as a full-time mom to three little rug rats.



And if Fridays used to be Boys' Night Out and


suddenly you're


ISSUE 7 NOV 2011 $3.99


T BOYS’ NIGHThealOU HOW TO TURN ing! tual spiri and t of yoga

taking yoga or pottery classes with the girlfriend instead, you're not just

into a fabulous nigh


BE YOUR OWN BOSS ...when she’s not around!


T TIME MANAGEMEN clean How you can the house and still watch the game!

YOUR ...and the introduction of HERS!'re

PLUS *Learning to drink wine instead of beer. *Staying home on Fridays to talk about your relationship. enjoy our monthly series on


satire by Reg Beaudry


PLEASE NOTE: No men were hurt in the making of this article. A few suffered from bruised egos and one was forced to forfeit his yoga deposit.

continued from p.1 | CITY city. Living in a city includes things such as working, shopping, traveling from one part to another, going to the dentist, putting out the garbage, shoveling the sidewalk in winter. When you’re in love with your city, its unique beauty brings a smile to your face all year round. When you’re in love with your city, you embrace fully its social, architectural, artistic and geographic uniqueness. You notice, embrace and enjoy the little things as well as the big things that comprise your city. Little things such as the friendliness you feel from people you don’t even know. Or like when you bump into an old high school friend at a farmer’s market one morning. Like people writing in my guest book at Hamilton HIStory + HERitage and knowing they mean every word of it. “My birthday is tomorrow, June 12th. I turn 28 and in the same house, in the same city all my life. I couldn’t think of a better evening than walking the streets of my dear Hamilton. Those that know it love it. Those that dislike it simply haven’t explored and through exploration, you fall in love with it.” -Alexandra “I’m new here and just arrived in December from France. I felt like I was repeating my first months here in Hamilton through your artistic work. It’s a wonderful introduction to the ‘real’ Hamilton..” -Nicholas Bigger things such as how we are reclaiming our waterfront for everybody to use. Or like the Around the Bay Road Race, whether you’re racing or just watching. Like taking visitors to see one of our waterfalls, or one of our heritage museums, or one of our parks or natural areas. Or an organized walking tour of one of our neighbourhoods. Or a street festival with 30,000 other Hamiltonians. Being in love with Hamilton means you never feel awkward using descriptors such as mountain, castle, royal, golden, paradise (as in escarpment, Dundurn, Botanical Gardens, horseshoe, Cootes), even though through the eyes of others they may seem a little grand.

Sometimes my love for Hamilton is nostalgic. Like when I caught my first glimpse of Hamilton’s fiery steel mills in 1959 through the backseat window of my Uncle’s red and white Ford station wagon as he drove across the Skyway Bridge the evening we arrive/d in Canada from England. It was awesome to me then, as it still is today even if it is reduced in size and in economic impact. Little did I know then, as a kid of five, that someday I’d be spending summers as a university student working in those fiery mills. Pulling red hot spring steel off a hot bed onto waiting rollers to be sheared loudly only a few feet away... Or packing still-glowing red railroad spikes into metal containers to be shipped off to wherever they were still building railroads at that time. Or like when I drive around my old neighbourhood on the east mountain where I grew up. My house. My school. My community centre. My corner store. All still there. So many years later. Sometimes my love for Hamilton is in the moment. Like when I’m standing at the bottom of my front steps talking with several of my neighbours at the same time. Some with dogs. All with smiles. As I’m fond of saying, Hamilton is a place where friendly isn’t just for friends. Or going to a family run business that’s been there for decades and experiencing warm, heartfelt service from someone who actually knows what he or she is talking about. Sometimes my love for Hamilton is put to the test. Like when politicians and bureaucrats want to tear down a remarkable building such as that of the Board of Education because they can’t look beyond the obvious. Or when they can’t make a decision so the decision gets made for them such as the Pan Am Games fiasco. But even when I’m disappointed or frustrated by what is happening, my love for my city means I’m able to move on once the final decision has been made. When you love your city you choose to pay attention to what’s going on. You speak up. You reach out. You raise your hand to volunteer. To help. To change things for the better, or to help things already going well to get even stronger. You praise the actions of those who are actually doing something and aren’t just talking or

complaining. You cheer when university graduates stay in Hamilton because a good job was offered to them or because a good job was created by them. When you love your city, you shed a tear for those who pass on. For those who gave so much to this city and to its people over their years of service, whether paid or volunteer. Whether celebrated or unknown. When you love your city you don’t just spend, you invest your time, your energy and your money, whether that’s a single dollar or millions, to keep it healthy and vibrant and attractive. You invest in your city by going out to dinner to a restaurant. By buying art from a local artist. Going to a concert. A market. A festival. A sporting event. Walking through the Dundas Valley. Along the Rail Trail. Or along the edge of the escarpment or the edge of the lake. For me, these are the kinds of things that cause me to love Hamilton. And if it isn’t already obvious, it’s a love I’m proud to talk about. To share. To celebrate. Maybe it’s not so much what Hamilton puts inside of you, but what Hamilton lets out of you. If you grew up here, maybe it’s always been there inside? If you moved here, maybe Hamilton unleashes something you’ve wanted to feel but perhaps haven’t until now? I don’t know. What I do know is that enough people, both lifelong Hamiltonians and brand new ones, talk to me about their feelings for this city that I know something special is happening. Here’s the big question. Do you love Hamilton? If yes, why do you love it? If not, what would it take for you to be in love with your city? And what could you do personally to ensure you loved your city? If you find the word love uncomfortable, as much as I’d like to say that’s okay, use a substitute, I wouldn’t really be honest if I did. I think love is the perfect word to describe how I feel about Hamilton. I think love is the perfect word to describe how so many other Hamiltonians feel about their city. I hope love is the perfect word for you too. I hope you love your city too. GRAHAM CRAWFORD owns and operates Hamilton HIStory + HERitage, Hamilton’s first storefront museum. He is also the 138th Chairperson of the Hamilton Club.



Woodland Cemetery, Hamilton ON | Photograph by Reg Beaudry

November is an important month to her. It brings Remembrance Day. It is the month she found Horst. And the month she lost him. continued from p.1 | STORY compound. The surname is Konietzko. There is Horst, of Berlin, Germany. Born Sept. 8, 1922. Died Nov. 14, 1996. And Nora, of Worcester, England. Just one date for her. Born June 16, 1927. And beneath their names, these words: “We’ll gather lilacs in the spring again and walk together down an English lane.” A German. A Brit. A war. How did Horst and Nora meet? What price did they pay for their love? Konietzko is a rare name. The Canada 411 residential listings show but one. It’s just down the shore from the cemetery. In a fine home on the water, we find Nora. She lives here with her son and daughter-in-law. She has not told the story before. She surprises

herself by agreeing to tell it now. Nora Wigley, youngest daughter of a bookmaker, was 12 when war was declared. Worcester is south of Birmingham, and the German bombers were more interested in that big factory city. But the air raid sirens sometimes screamed in Worcester too. “We had a big dining room table and we always crawled underneath it,” Nora says. She quit school at 14 and started working for a florist. She loved flowers and stayed at it. It was a Saturday evening in November of 1947. Nora, then 20, was delivering a bouquet on her way home. She waited for a bus by the Worcester Cathedral. And there a soft-spoken man approached her. “I’d like to speak to you,” he said, “but I’m German.” Nora looked at him. “Well, you can’t help that.” Horst wanted to know which bus to catch. It turned out he was going Nora’s way.

The war had been over two years by then, but there were still German prisoners of war not yet repatriated. Around Worcester, those men were put to work in the fields. And Horst had special privileges. Because of his dental training in Germany, he was providing care to his countrymen in England. In the war, he had been with the German air force in a non-combat role. On the bus that night, Nora and Horst shook hands. The next day, they met for tea. They soon decided they should marry. Nora spoke to her father. “I’m getting married tomorrow morning at 9:30. He’s a German. I would like you to be there, but I’ll understand if you’re not.” Her father asked to meet Horst, took him to the local veterans’ club, then gave his blessing. For the honeymoon, Horst and Nora caught a bus to Cardiff, Wales. There they took in a new musical romance called “Perchance To Dream”. One of its songs became a hit: We’ll Gather Lilacs.

There was a reason Nora liked that tune. “Horst used to pick wild lilacs and bring them home to me.” But Nora’s marriage came with a penalty. “Because I married a German, I lost my nationality. I became an alien in my own country.” That policy was later dropped. Nora and Horst bought a vegetable garden on the former estate of composer Sir Edward Elgar and lived in a tiny trailer. “I raised two boys there,” Nora says. Life for a German in Britain remained difficult. So in 1956, the young family set out for Canada. Horst was not qualified to be a dentist here, but he did establish a dental lab in Dundas that prospered. Son Nikolas runs that business today. Son Karl became a dentist in Dundas. Fifteen years ago, while watching his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs on TV, Horst died of a heart attack. Nora then placed that stone in Woodland. She was

dismayed when, a few years later, the bed baron’s showy compound appeared next door. “It’s atrocious,” she says. “In one advertisement, I could see my husband’s grave. I was livid.” But her memory of Horst is intact. November is an important month to her. It brings Remembrance Day. It is the month she found Horst. And the month she lost him. They will be together again one day, she says, “And I know he’ll have lilacs.” PAUL WILSON blew into town 30 years ago to work at the Hamilton Spectator and learned to love this place. For most of his career at The Spec, he wrote a three-times-a-week column called StreetBeat. He recently stepped away from that to become a citizen at large.

And that, dear readers, is how business is done in downtown Hamilton: over great food with good friends.

Jennifer Montani strikes a pose for urbanicity at Acclamation | Photograph by Reg Beaudry


An invite to lunch last week led me back to Acclamation on James Street North. Ben Ayres of Coppley called to say “let’s do lunch”. Now no woman in her right mind turns down a good looking young man’s offer to eat out. We chose to eat in the dining room in the little table by the front window. James North is becoming quite the busy street and I’m nosey. I love people watching. The young lady told us the specials of the day and both of us chose the pasta with scallops. It sounded delicious. Ben also ordered the cream of mushroom soup. It had great colour, the consistency was right

REVIEW | and so was the seasoning. When you’ve tasted as much cream of mushroom soup as I have over the last 14 years, you can tell the hits from the misses. I always order Pinot Grigio if I’m having pasta. Why? I have no idea and vintners are probably shuddering in their boots now. It was light and crisp. Seemed just about right for a lovely lunch. Ben and I have known each other for years, and so the table talk took off with each of us telling the other about the community events we are involved with at the moment. Ben is very involved in the community and his next event is the Special Olympics Four

Corners Tournament. Would I donate a prize for the table? Of course. The pasta special came nicely plated with ample amounts of fresh veggies and scallops and a rich creamy sauce. Conversation carried on. Since I’m a member of the Hamilton Follies, I was hoping Ben would buy a couple of tickets to our fundraiser “It’s Only Rock and Roll”. Would he? Yes, of course. Back to the food. The scallops were perfect, and the pasta was al dente and a with wonderful flavour in the sauce. I declined desert, but scanned the dessert

Acclamation on James North

menu anyways. You never know! I have been to Acclamation many times. I’ve spent some nice moments on the patio discussing architecture and the general state of the land with John Mokrycke, and I recently had a great meal with my nephew Kerry and son Jason. Then last evening I spent a couple of hours discussing our business with Rudy Florio – known in his football days as Captain Crunch. I’ve always enjoyed great service, delicious food and the very best of times sharing meals with both family and friends. When we finally left the restaurant, Ben bought 11

tickets to “It’s only Rock & Roll” and I donated two sets of brand new skiing equipment for the Special Olympics event, along with a gift certificate to attend our Liaison College Chef’s Table. And that, dear readers, is how business is done in downtown Hamilton: over great food with good friends. Next time you’re in the area, drop into Acclamation for a taste of wine and a bite to eat. You won’t be disappointed! MURLINE MALLETTE is the Executive Director/Owner of Liaision College of Culinary Arts Hamilton Campus.

| PLACES HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | NOV 2011 |


Images courtesy of PreVIEW, Local History and Archives, Hamilton Public Library | Information courtesy of


The Castle on James Street South in Transition

The Castle, located at James Street South and Duke Street was also known Amisfield for a time. The graceful building's architect was Frederick James Rastrick. The lovely grounds were surrounded by a high stone fence – and so the photo seen above left, taken in 1946, is from an elevated vantage point. In 1948, the property was purchased by a new owner with the intent to convert the home into apartments, and build an addition for additional apartments at the rear. The front of the house was to be the site of a first-class restaurant. The apartments were put in place, but instead of a restaurant the front of the property became home to a gas station, and auto repair shop and lots of asphalt for parking. What a desecration of a beautiful property. The garage was replaced by the current commercial structure in front of The Castle in 1980. On a personal note, I indeed left my first car, a 1973 Pontiac Astre purchased at Hamilton Motor Products, at the Castle Station for maintenance. I often wondered what the stone building behind the garage was. I eventually found out through my work at the Hamilton Public Library. – Brian Henley


Location: McMaster University Main Campus GPS Coords: 43.262835,-79.917585 Parking: Pay Parking Available on campus is a community-driven answer to the question “Why Hamilton?” The site has no affiliation with the city or its tourism board. For locals and outsiders, it’s a resource to show off the best of Hamilton. The emphasis on interactive maps, location, and imagery let anyone easily explore numerous “secrets” on their own as though they were local.

SECRET HAMILTON | The Archive at McMaster University Formally titled “The William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections,” the archive is located at Mills Memorial Library on McMaster University’s main campus. The incredible collection is hidden in the basement of the library, not so far from the building’s aging elevator control room. Named after William Ready, the University Librarian who served from 1966 until 1979, the site houses an impressive array of rare or one-of-a-kind items. The archive is open to the public and houses more than 3,600 metres of material. And yes, one of the curious things in the archivist’s world is the use of the word ‘metres’ to describe materials. Perhaps the most notable section of the archive is

dedicated to the Nobel Prize-winning philosopher/mathematician Bertrand Russell. It’s the world’s most extensive collection of his works, personal effects, correspondence, essays, and more. In fact, the archive even houses the actual Nobel Prize medal for literature that was awarded to Russell in 1950. If you’re kind enough, you can see, and even hold, the medal. Taken out of its slightly worn box, the most striking thing about the medal itself is its sheer weight. The untarnished gold prize bearing Nobel’s likeness is certainly awe-inspiring. The archive has a large number of individual collections. Collections are either bought, or acquired through donation. They recently acquired materials

from Marquee magazine, an in-theatre Canadian magazine that ran until 2004. That specific archive holds print and photographic materials (including press kits and promo materials) from major motion pictures dating as far back as 1976. Interview transcripts, photos, and graphics from films such as Star Wars and E.T. have yet to be adequately analyzed by interested researchers, and they may yet add something to the larger histories surrounding such films. Finally, the archive houses several other interesting finds. A World War I collection consists of detailed trench maps and aerial photography. There are even several ‘incunabula’ in the collection—books created

before 1500. These books are of interest to many because they were released during the early years of the printing press. The archive also holds a copy of Galileo’s ‘Dialogo’ from 1632. As companies like Google head major digitization movements of printed works, it’s incredibly interesting to be able to access works in their original form. Seeing books with their original bindings and layout create an effect not truly reproducible in digital formats. The site is open Monday-Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM. DWAYNE ALI is the founder of Secret Hamilton, a project that seeks to introduce Hamiltonians and visitors alike to the many unknown treasures of the Hamilton.

Perhaps the most notable section of the archive is dedicated to the Nobel Prize-winning philosopher/mathematician Bertrand Russell. It’s the world’s most extensive collection of his works, personal effects, correspondence, essays, and more. In fact, the archive even houses the actual Nobel Prize medal for literature that was awarded to Russell in 1950.

McMaster University, Hamilton ON | photograph by Dwayne Ali

HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | NOV 2011 |


In September, I kept bumping my stroller into pylons that would NOT move on Locke St. South. What possible Public Works project could this be, right in the middle of “my” sidewalk? Why was the sidewalk marked, cut, and then covered by pylons? One day, the pylons were gone. Uncovered was a historical-looking, bronze plaque saying: “Begin here.” And a few steps later another plaque said “here,” and continued “here/ each step/ a green light/ a deep breath/ a thousand mile journey.” Obviously this was not the doings of the Public Works department. After a little investigation, I found it was a commission by the city’s Art in Public Places department. It is poetry and art along Locke Street South. This piece, Concrete Poetry, is the work of local artist Simon Frank. It consists of bronze plaques, cut into the sidewalk, flush, and embedded into the surrounding concrete. Each plaque has a line from a poem by Frank that runs in a loop down both sides of Locke St. South. I was curious, so I contacted Simon Frank to learn


THE POET of LOCKE STREET SOUTH more, and he was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions. Simon Frank has spent his artistic career exploring the interaction between culture and our natural environment. His words string us along Locke Street, connecting the motions of walking and reflection. We can see the vibrant urban culture as people pass each other, or talk over coffee at one of many establishments. Similarly, the natural surroundings of Locke Street are striking, the road seems to pour from the escarpment above it, and flow into the dips and dives of the natural geography. This becomes clear in the lovely lyrics of the poem itself, “Like water that flows from escarpment rock/ to invisible pools,” or “to walk the streets/ of the city/ is to love it.” The natural world is not just the trees or the escarpment, but everything that surrounds us - from the wires of the telephone poles to the sidewalk. It all originates from the earth. The poem written by Frank is meant to act as a guidebook along this nature trail. They lead our

thoughts into questions of existence and context. “Where do I come from/ Where am I now/ Where am I going/ A map/ of my thoughts/ move fast/ like horses around a track.” The words are profound yet accessible. Frank is a resident of Hamilton, and lives in this city because it is a healthy and creative space for artists to live. I feel the same. City commissions like this make our public spaces conducive to reflection and growth. Concrete Poetry feels like a labyrinth. I’m referring to the medieval maze-like patterns that monks followed for spiritual reflection and meditation (not the creepy David Bowie kind). Experience this artwork along Locke Street South, feel the cool fall wind, the crisp drama of the sky, and read the words of Frank’s Concrete Poetry. I promise you it will enlighten your walk and encourage some thoughtful ambling. 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

Poetry on Locke | photograph by Elisha Stam

This piece, Concrete Poetry, is the work of local artist Simon Frank. It consists of bronze plaques, cut into the sidewalk, flush, and embedded into the surrounding concrete. Each plaque has a line from a poem by Frank that runs in a loop down both sides of Locke St. South.

Lee Reed | left photograph by Tom Lawlor | right photograph by Robert Michael

Peter Anderson as Dracula | photograph by Brianna Boulton


Black box theoretical science holds that the only way to determine inner workings is to assess input and output. Theatre, of the same name, is innovative because the performer and the audience are both parts of the same type of inner/outer relationship that theoretical science alludes to. The question then is, what is to be made of Black Box Fire, a local theatre production company? This self-styled amateur company was formed back in 2006, by a group of McMaster alumnae, out of a desire to continue the theatre experiences they began in school. Do not be fooled by the amateur status. The works are live experiments, selected on the basis of being challenging. Their last production, Dracula, ran at the Staircase Theatre, itself a black box theatre. The stark, intimate space leaves little room for any theatrical awkwardness that would make the audience conscious of themselves. The adroit handling of the opening scene by Adam Kuzick, playing Renfield, addressed the dilemma immediately. The prologue invited us in to be a part of their production, as if to say, “Come closer”. And so we did, becoming voyeurs to the girlish and

THE ART of BLACK BOX FIRE touching confessionals of leading ladies Crystal Jonasson (Mina Murray) and Alessandra Gage (Lucy Westerna), and becoming first hand witnesses of the mental and moral dilemmas of James Thomas (Jonathan Harker) and Farhang Ghajar (Dr. John Seward). The gothic script is problematic for a modern audience not in touch with Victorian sensibilities, raising the potential for trite scenes, but the compelling performance of A. J. Haygarth as Prof. Van Helsing carried the day. Haygarth shone in this production, welcoming us to laugh with him at what could be construed as camp; opening the door to follow him into the complex issues of morality and choice that underscore this work. The audience was compelled to fathom the isolation of Dracula. Peter Anderson subtly brought to life this character and successfully drew empathy for his plight. His transformation to vitality, convincing. His vixens, keenly played by Lauren Bogle, Kristi Boulton and Laura Ellis, stopped us in our tracks, making us question our own impulse to laughter; perhaps inviting us to examine our own dark natures. Supporting cast members Matt Bandura & Damion

LeClair, asylum attendants, were understated and perfect in their roles, as was Steff Bishop-Lampman, maid to the ladies. Both LeClair and BishopLampman performed as assistant stage managers. Their scene changes were executed with a steady pace and precision, and morphed into part of the performance, allowing the audience to follow without any sense of frenetic energy that would disturb mood. Bram Stroker writes of what should repel us, but without the artistry of a good company we cannot emotionally examine our reactions. This was made possible due to the vision of co-directors Matthew Moore and Amanda N. Nesbitt, technical wizard and stage manager, respectively. Their deft selection and interpretation of Stephan Dietz’s Dracula worked. For anyone who appreciates the art of theatre, incubation of new talent or intriguing adaptions, Black Box Fire delivers. For more information about Black Box Fire and for dates of upcoming performances, visit LAURA CATTARI is a writer, former stage performer and community maven.

| ARTS HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | NOV 2011 |


A veteran of the world’s finest stages, Cuban ballerina Viengsay Valdes was recently ranked fourth in the world by Dance Europe magazine. This December, Valdes will be bringing her magic to Hamilton. While on tour in Europe, she was kind enough to do an interview for urbanicity - M.G

The Mixcracker will take place at Hamilton Place on December 6th, 2011. The Nutcracker will be performed at Hamilton Place On December 9 and 10, 2011. For tickets and more information, visit:

PROFILE | Viengsay Valdes






“I have passion for dance. I enjoy being onstage to become different characters, not only showing technique and virtuosity, but also artistic interpretation. For me, to dance is as breathing is to live.”

I enjoy very much dancing as the Black Swan, playing with her evil feelings to seduce the prince. I love the virtuosity but still respect the style of this ballet. At Mixcracker I will also dance the role of Kitri in Don Quixote. I also love very much to dance the Pas de Deux as the Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker because of her beauty, lightness, and happiness. I enjoy each role and identify with them, but Kitri is probably still one of my favourites.

I have performed many times in Hamilton. I have had great experiences performing there. I am sure of receiving another warm welcome, as with time I have cultivated many friendships. The audience is wonderful and exciting. The city is beautiful, but the weather is so cold!!!

The role of dance in society is that of communication and expression. It removes the barriers imposed by language and allows the dancers to communicate a story, a mood or an emotion. A dancer shows an audience the limits to which the body can be pushed, but it is done in a way that seems natural or unconscious because of the artistry and skill of the dancer. Dance is also an expression of culture and society. When I dance, I am not only expressing myself but by extension, I am also an expression of my company (Ballet Nacional de Cuba) and my country, Cuba. Dance is around all of us in our daily lives. We would be poorer as a society if it were absent.

People can enjoy the happiness of classic ballet and contemporary mixture in the same program, especially the virtuosity of the dancers, the different styles and beautiful music. I am looking forward to my performances in Hamilton. The audience's warmth makes up for the cold weather outside!!


There are many showcases for local music in Hamilton. The high profile ones – the Festival of Friends, Supercrawl, the C+C Music Festival, The Casbah’s New Breed Festival – give local artists a platform and spread the word locally. The Hamilton Music Awards are another such platform, but they have a slightly different bent: recognition of talent and dedication that can be put on the resume and help give artists an extra publicity push, both in their hometown and beyond. The Hamilton Music Awards, now in their 8th year, are the brainchild of long-time music fan Jean-Paul Gauthier. He started in management, working with his friends in The Progressive Minstrels (one of the city’s more popular local acts in the late ’80). In the ‘90s, he Blackie and the Rodeo Kings | photograph by Bob Lanois

HAMILTON MUSIC AWARDS moved on to create the Hamilton Music Scene festival. Near the end of that decade HMS went on hiatus but after it was refocused and rebranded, it re-emerged to become the highly successful awards show we see today. This year’s awards, held once again at Mohawk College’s MacIntyre Theatre, will feature the public, often-televised Hamilton Music Awards show (including a performance by Blackie and the Rodeo Kings). Other events include the Hamilton Music Industry Awards (not quite as public, as the appeal is more industry-focused) and the newest element of the HMAs, the Rising Star Search. Rising Star gives young musicians a chance to compete for prizes like studio time and a publicity campaign – though it is

ultimately more than just a ‘battle of the bands’ contest. “It’s pretty exciting event for high school kids, they’re really jumping on it,” says Gauthier. “It’s an opportunity to mingle with some of the industry people, A&R people and producers.” With each passing year the Hamilton Music Awards gains more credibility and its scope grows as well. These areas of growth are important, although Gauthier would prefer to see the event grow more in esteem than in size. “The temptation by any event producer is to keep building it, making it bigger,” says Gauthier. “I think people enjoy it as it is - a good event in an intimate setting. I prefer keeping it about community and not

having to bring in the “star power” per se; to try and put bums in seats and make more money. It’s never really been about that. It’s been more about community and just continuing to try and recognize as many bands as possible.” The HMAs provide credibility for Hamilton artists in outside markets. Tom Wilson, long-time HMA host and emcee, recalls Blackie and the Rodeo Kings being introduced, in the southern U.S., as “Hamilton Music Award winners.” For a band trying to break in new towns, having recognition from the industry and/or peers can be invaluable. “In promoting Hamilton music, it’s always been an uphill battle,” he says. “So seeing the buy-in from the community – and corporate Hamilton saying ‘you’ve

done a great job, keep going’ – is kind of cool. Those of us who have been fighting that battle for years can take a little bit of pride in the fact that Hamilton has become recognized for arts, much more than it was 10 or 15 years ago.” The 2011 Hamilton Music Award events include Blackie and the Rodeo Kings (Nov. 19), the Rising Star Search (Nov. 18), 2011 ArcelorMittal Dofasco Hamilton Music Awards (Nov. 20), the Industry Awards (Nov. 19), the Conference (Nov. 17) and the many live shows associated with the Festival at various venues, Nov. 18 – 19. JAMIE TENNANT is the Program Director at 93.3 CFMU.FM, the campus-based community station at McMaster University.

| LIFE HAMILTON ONTARIO | CANADA | Published Monthly | NOV 2011 |

On an art crawl | Glenn Faulman (top) + Rev Tom Kelly with his buddy, Bosco


Lydia Andres at the Pearl Company

GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN | Shelly, Sandy, Kim and Amanda

There’s something about Sabrina...

Mullberry Coffee House on James Street North

Man on Bold Street

Kelly, Kelly, Kelly Henderson

Man on a mission


a monthly journal in the bay city