Monday’s Update for March 10th, 2014

A weekly review of art related activities.

This week:

1.) Expressing the history of Hamilton’s Cork-Town in art and film

2.) The aftermath of the 27 Bold Street Fire

3.) Learning how to sew with my daughter

1. Expressing the history of Hamilton’s Cork-Town in art and film

History tends to record the rich and powerful. Rich people who can afford to own land and construct significant buildings; and powerful people who can make decisions that affect history. If you are not rich or powerful, then you live your life in the shadow of others.

Hamilton House with Car
Hamilton House with Car

My family came to Hamilton as blacksmiths and lived in very small, detached, houses. Prior to the 1940s, these homes tended to be only four rooms: kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms – no matter what the size of the family. Given the confined living spaces, social life usually occurred  outside the home: on the streets; in the theatres; or at the bars.

As an aside, this is why I find the demolition of Hamilton’s historical buildings so sickening; not only are they destroying history, but they are destroying my family’s history.

Augusta Street
Augusta Street

Why I find Cork-town so interesting is because a bunch of people came from a distant land and settle into Hamilton.  They have very little wealth and were forced to make homes on lands that no one else wanted.  Despite the odds, they succeeded in making a new community that we still remember.

The challenge, however,  is to find a way to approach the topic. As with everything, there is a lot more information about Montreal or Toronto, then there is about Hamilton. Last year, I was seized with the idea of Hamilton as a port town in the 1840s and how the Irish arrived by sail or steam. Unlike Hamilton, New York City has these wonderful photos of the Irish from the 1850s onwards.

1855 Irish disembarking at NYC
1855 Irish disembarking at NYC

So, last year, I did a lot of research and worked up several sketches, but nothing gelled.

Port Hamilton - 1880s
Port Hamilton – 1880s

This year, I decided to create a short film on Cork-Town.

On Sunday, I traveled around the streets in Cork-Town and filmed various locations and buildings.

Since I have only been working with my DSLR for less than three months, the results will not be award winning. Nevertheless, I hope I can reveal something of history of Cork-Town, and particularly where things once stood. The history of Hamilton is so hard to grasp when the landscape has changed so much.

2. The aftermath of the 27 Bold Street Fire

On Sunday, I also took time out to visit 27 Bold and see how things are shaping up. The building looks worse in daylight.

Lots of people were stopping and looking at the building. While to my eyes it looks beyond repair, I believe the owners are going to try and save the building. Three cheers to property owners who care about history.


There continues to be fund-raising efforts to help the residents who were displaced by the fire. In addition to the First Credit Union and Jason Farr efforts to raise money, there are two events at local pubs. I also believe there is also a crowd-sourcing fund raising effort.

Over the past several days, I have been working on some rough sketches for a potential painting. Hopefully, I can devote more time to this project after I complete the Cork-Town film.

The blogger of Not My Typewriter wrote a nice follow-up piece on the 27 Bold Street Fire with some good photos. I recommend that you check out her posting.

3. Learning how to sew with my daughter

My 7 year old daughter is quite crafty, and she has expressed an interest in sewing. So, when I was experimenting with lino and woodblock prints on fabric last year, I came across the fantastic work of the Beehive Craft Collective and the James Street North sewing store called “I Love Needlework.”

This past Friday, I arranged for a private session for my daughter with Liz, one of the original members of the Beehive Craft Collective.

We had a great time and Liz treated my daughter with a great deal of patience and respect. My daughter is a frustrated dog lover (Dad has allergies), and Liz helped her create a dog themed pillowcase.

Now, my daughter knows how to use a sewing machine and is keen on starting new craft fabric projects.

If you are looking for something that is fun and crafty, then I would strongly recommend the I love Needlework at 174 James Street North.

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