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Fast Facts from Hamilton's Past


Ambitious Little City


This term was first used by the Toronto Globe in a derogatory fashion and then adopted by Robert Reid Smiley of the Spectator.


Automobile Racing

The first race in Hamilton was August 8, 1904.



The first bank in Hamilton was the Gore Bank of Hamilton. It was chartered in 1835. It was located on King Street West between Macnab and Charles Streets.

It opened for business on Monday May 2, 1836.




The official name of the Beach as a whole is Hamilton Beach. There used to be portions named (from north to south) Van Wagner’s Beach, Crescent Beach, Community Beach, and Burlington Beach. Van Wagner’s Beach was named after Henry Van Wagner and is now Lakeland Beach in Confederation Park.


Bowling Alleys


The first public bowling alley in Hamilton opened in 1890, at the rear of the J.W. MacDonald Tobacco Shop, at 66 James Street North. The entrance was off Rebecca Street.


Burlington Bay Skyway Bridge


Officially opened October 30, 1958.Twin opened as Burlington Bay James N. Allan Skyway Bridge October 11, 1985.Both bridges were opened and renamed the Burlington Bay James N. Allan Twin Skyway Bridge on August 22, 1988.

Architect: John Turner Bell (1910-1983)

Height: 210 feetLength: from abatement to abatement: 8,397 feet 8 inches

The twin bridge is 1,300 feet shorter

Width: 97 feet

Percentage raise above sea level: 3% from 2.64 feet to 390 feet above sea level.

Tolls: the last day tolls were charged was December 28, 1973

Chinese Restaurant overlooking the mountain brow

The Lookout Inn was at 26 Claremont Drive. It was called the Chop Stick Restaurant from about 1952 to 1962, then from 1963 to 1968 was known as the KuoKau Kau Restaurant. At the time that the building was demolished, in 1969, it was over 100 years old.


Coat of Arms City of Hamilton


On September 7th, 1833, the Board of Police authorized Clerk David to pay for a Corporation Seal engraved in New York. On November 22nd, 1836, the Board entrusted the Seal “in all time coming” to the care of the President of the Board.With incorporation as a City, a new Seal designed by Edward Acraman was adopted by Council on January 20th, 1847 and ordered engraved in New York. For his design Mr. Acraman received 10 pounds. On March 29th the old Seal was broken. A month later, the Clerk was authorized to affix the Seal to documents for private persons at a fee of five shillings, and to retain the fee.

In July, 1963, a new Seal, more acceptable from the standpoint of heraldry was prepared and registered. Essentially the new Seal retains Edward Acraman’s design.

Crest: above the Sun rising from behind the Clouds, a silver Riband with the words, “I ADVANCE”. A stag proper and a Lion gardant

Arms: A Steamer fully rigged, a Beaver, and a Beehive with Bees

Motto, as typified respectively by the Arms: “COMMERCE PRUDENCE and INDUSTRY”

The Coat of Arms, with the inscribed words, “THE CORPORATION OF THE CITY OF HAMILTON” constituted the City Seal.

The new City of Hamilton, incorporated in 2000, has adopted a new seal that reflects the heritage of all of the constituent municipalities.


Department Stores


The first large department store in Hamilton was the Right House. In 1847 Thomas C. Watkins opened his first small store on James Street. This later became Oak Hall. In 1890 construction of the present building on the corner of King and Hughson Street began.

The architect for the building was William Stewart & Son.

The official opening as The Right House was in 1893.

In January of 1983, The Right House closed.


Distances from Hamilton Wentworth to:


Toronto 42m 68km

Montreal 377m 607km

Ottawa 290m 467km

London 78m 125km

Buffalo 64m 102km

Niagara Falls 47m 75km

New York 508m 818km

Detroit 200m 322km

Chicago 487m 784km

Washington 417m 832km

Boston 522m 840km

Cleveland 260m 418km

Philadelphia 505m 813km

Cincinnati 474m 763km

Indianapolis 489m 787km

Pittsburgh 295m 475km




There is one doughnut shop for every 5,721 people in Hamilton.




The Skyway Drive-In on Highway #8 near Gray’s Road in Stoney Creek opened on July 10, 1946.

It was the first Drive-In in Canada.




The first archaeological excavation of a dump in Canada was in Burlington, at the North Service Road Dump, on October 8, 1991.




The flag of Hamilton is composed of a white field with the red maple leaf of the National Canadian flag in the upper right fly.Commencing in the canton, a green horizontal bar proceeds lengthwise, then bends at an angle of approximately 45 degrees and proceeds diagonally to the lower fly, then again becomes horizontal and proceeds lengthwise in green with white block letters proclaiming “HAMILTON” occupying one-quarter of the green bar which changes to ultramarine blue to the end of the fly. The upper horizontal bar represents the Hamilton Mountain, the diagonal bar represents the escarpment, the lower horizontal green bar represents the lower city and the ultramarine blue portion of the bar represents the Harbour. Adjacent to the hoist, the shield of the Corporation Seal of The City of Hamilton is located. In the upper third of the shield is a black, red and white steamer, fully rigged on a blue background representing commerce. In the middle third, a brown beaver on a white background representing prudence. In the lower third, a gold beehive with bees on a blue background representing industry.

The final design for the City of Hamilton flag, designed by Stewart Roxborough, was chosen and adopted by Hamilton City Council on October 29, 1985.

The new City of Hamilton, incorporated in 2000 has adopted a new flag that  reflects the constituent municipalities of the new city.




Hamilton’s official flower is the yellow Chrysanthemum.


Golden Horseshoe


The phrase was first used by Westinghouse President, Herbert H. Rogge, in a speech to the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, on January 12, 1954. “Hamilton in 50 years will be the forward cleat in a “golden horseshoe” of industrial development from Oshawa to the Niagara River”...150 miles long and 50 miles wide”...”It will run from Niagara Falls on the south to about Oshawa on the north and take in numerous cities and towns already there, including Hamilton and Toronto."


Hamilton Automobile Club


The Hamilton club was the first in Canada and was opened on April 29, 1903.




Surface area: 2,160 hectares

Mean depth: 13 metres

Maximum depth: 25 metres

Watershed area: 500 square kilometres

Shoreline length: 45 kilometres

Volume of water: 2.8 x 10 to 8th cubic feet of water

Reduction in surface area from 1926 to 1982: 22%

Navigational season is from April through to mid December




Hurricane Hazel hit Hamilton October 15-16, 1954

Hurricane Connie hit Hamilton August 13, 1955

Hurricane Opal hit Hamilton October 5-6, 1995


Latitude & longitude


43 degrees 16 minutes north latitude

79 degrees 54 minutes west longitude

5 hours, 19 minutes and 36 seconds slower than Greenwich mean time


Lieutenant-Governors from Hamilton


1908-1914: Sir John Morison Gibson (1842-1929)

1914-1919: Sir John Strathearn Hendrie (1857-1923)

1985-1991: Lincoln Alexander (1922- )




Means “beautiful water”.




The rock present is sandstone, limestone, shale and dolostone (which is found in limestone)


Mountain Accesses


Jolley Cut

Kenilworth Access

Sherman Access

Queen Street Access (Beckett’s Drive)

Highway #403

Mount Albion Road

Highway #20

James Street Access

Claremont Access




The first supervised playground was on the Hess Street School ground. It opened July 26, 1909. In 1911, it moved to Wilcox playground.


Railway Swing Bridge


This bridge was at the Burlington Canal. It was knocked down by the W.E. Fitzgerald in 1952 and replaced by the current lift bridge.

[The Edmund Fitzgerald which sank a few years later was a different ship]

Royal Botanical Gardens

There are 2,700 acres of gardens and woodlands


Royal Visits


1860: Edward, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII

1869: Arthur William Patrick Albert, Duke of Connaught

1883: Prince George, later King George V

1901: Duke & Duchess of Cornwall & York, later King George V & Queen Mary

1911: Arthur William Patrick Albert, Duke of Connaught

1917, 1918: Duke of Devonshire

1919: Edward, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII (abdicated)

1927: Prince George & Arthur, Duke of Kent

1939: King George VI and Queen Elizabeth

1941: Arthur, Duke of Kent

1951: Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II

1958: Princess Margaret

1959: Queen Elizabeth II

1974: Princess Anne

1980: Duke of Edinburgh

1988: Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands

1988: Princess Margaret

1996: Charles, Prince of Wales

2002: Queen Elizabeth II

Ski Hills


Chedoke Winter Sports Park is operated by the City of Hamilton Parks & Recreation Department.

vertical drop: 99 metres or 330 feet

longest trail: 540 metres or 800 feet




Commemorative stamps of Hamilton were:

1. United Empire Loyalist Statue

2. Hamilton and Scourge, 1813

3. Royal Botanical Gardens

4. Adelaide Hunter Hoodless

5. Sesquicentennial

6. Hon. Ellen Fairclough

7. World Road Cycling Championships



The first named streets in Hamilton were:

King Street (named after King William IV)

Mountain Road (now John Street).

Early Indian trails through the area became King Street, York Street, John Street and Mohawk Road.




ca 1918-1919: U-97 German Mine Layer docked at the canal

May 16, 1938: U.S. Submarine S-49 arrived for part of a sea, land, and air display scheduled at Civic Stadium for May 20th

Nov. 7, 1990: H.M.C.S. Okanagan


Tallest Building


The tallest building in Hamilton is Century 21.

It has 42 storeys and is about 450 feet high.


Twin Cities


Mundialization of a community means that it is dedicated to the principles of international cooperation, peace, and world law and this term is used in conjunction with the twinning of cities in different countries.

The following cities were twinned with Hamilton:

Shawinigan, Quebec (1967)

Mangalore, India (1968)

Fukuyama, Japan (1976)

Racalmuto, Italy (1986)

Flint, Michigan (1987)

Ma’Anshan, China (1987)

Abruzzo, Italy (1990)

Sarasota, Florida (1991)

Monterrey, Mexico (1993)


Further information about many other fascinating aspects of Hamilton’s history can be found in the Special Collections Department of the Hamilton Public Library

Last update May 2006
Hamilton Public Library
Hamilton Ontario Canada