Sunday, May 8, 2011

Doors Open Hammer and other signs of spring

As I sit here writing this blog post on a gorgeous spring evening, I can't believe how much Hamilton-related activity we've managed to pack into this weekend.

Going into Saturday, I knew this would happen...a simple inquiry on Twitter as to what types of activities were going in Hamont this weekend solicited a flurry of different replies. Yes, this was the weekend when 1) Doors Open Hamilton 2)West Hamilton Artists Tour and 3) Jane's Walk were all happening.

After starting our Hammer-filled weekend off right with a trip to Buckeye's Smokehouse (BBQ!) on Ottawa Street on Friday night (I will be dedicating a blog post to this later), we woke up bright and (not) early on Saturday to explore Doors Open Hamilton.

We decided to hit Dundurn Castle first, given that we're new to the city and its a notable and much mentioned tourist attraction. Before I get in to specifics about Dundurn, let me just say that Doors Open Hamilton is a much more enjoyable experience to Doors Open Toronto, which we visited a few times while we were TO residents.

For example, a trip to check out the inside of the Royal York a couple of years ago resulted in a three-hour lineup for a brief (but still informative) walk around the hotel.

Getting into Dundurn Castle, however, was a breeze. We didn't show up until late morning, but had no trouble getting in, with no lineup to be found. (Don't get me wrong - there were loads of people meandering around the house and grounds, but it wasn't absurdly crowded).

We were greeted by staff in period costume, who gave us a brief history of Dundurn Castle along with a map, and sent us on our merry way to explore the three levels of the restored home of Sir Allan Napier MacNab (including a taste-test of homemade pickles and preserves from the estate's garden!) If you haven't been, I would recommend a visit - its not only fascinating from a historical perspective, but the grounds are beautiful, and a definite gem in Hamilton. While there, we also checked out the Military Museum on the grounds, which was also well done, and had lots of kid-related activities.

Elsewhere on the Doors Open Hamilton trail, we took a tour through Stinson School Lofts (well, the construction site, but its quite an impressive building) as well as 281 Herkimer St, built in 1919 (currently the offices of Marsales Real Estate, but once the Bank of Hamilton), complete with vaults still in place and an ancient bullet hole in the window!

In amongst all of this Doors Open fun, we managed to squeeze in a couple of visits to studios on the West Hamilton Artists Tour, not dissimilar from the art crawl, but held in the daytime and a bit quieter.

We, unfortunately, didn't make it to Jane's Walk in Hamilton, but I would be interested to hear how it went, as well as which Doors Open Hamilton sites were your faves!


  1. The Jane's Walk was well attended with over 20 attending. Young, old, wheelchairs and dogs all came along. We had a couple of bonuses as the "Gallery on the Bay" consented to open for use - early for them. At our last planned location a local long time resident told us far more than any book or website could. Watch for a possible article in The Spectator as a journalist was along for the walk. A map of the route with notations is at

  2. Thanks llpo! Sounds like it was a great event!