I’ve been living in Hamilton for over 25 years now. That’s less than half my life, but longer than I’ve lived anywhere else. In fact, I’ve lived in my current home longer than any of my previous residences!
When I first moved here, Scott used to quiz me by naming places and having me tell him how I would get there. I did pretty well. This is an easy city to get around, after all, once you understand how the one-way streets work (or it was, until they started making stretches of some of them two-way).
A few weeks ago, I discovered a brand new copy of the Hamilton Book of Everything on my bookcase. I have no recollection of where it came from, but I knew it was something I’d like, because I enjoy trivia in general and have a particular interest in the origins of street names. I’d already read a few books about local history, including Mountain Memories: A Pictorial History of the Hamilton Mountain, Hamilton: A Panorama of our Past, and Brian Henley’s Hamilton: Our Lives and Times, and looked forward to supplementing what I’d already learned with more facts and figures about my adopted home.
I found it very informative, with sections on the history, slang, urban geography, weather, economy, culture, people, politics, and other aspects of Canada’s 9th largest city. It was also fun to read about places and events I already know about, and to discover others I should check out some day. How often do we play tourist in our own city? And of course I loved the Top Five Lists found throughout the book!
References to Hamilton writers and literature opened my eyes to future reading possibilities I’d never even considered (or heard of, in most cases):
- Jean Rae Baxter: A Twist of Malice and The Way Lies North
- Gillian Chan: Glory Days and Other Stories and An Ocean Apart: The Gold Mountain Diary of Chin Mei-ling
- Trevor William Cole: Norman Bray, in the Performance of His Life and The Fearsome Particles
- David Macfarlane: Summer Gone
- John Terpstra: Forty Days & Forty Nights, Disarmament; and The Boys, Or, Waiting for the Electrician’s Daughter
This in turn reminded me that I’ve been wanting to read Brown Dwarf and other titles by K.D. Miller, to whom I’m related by marriage, although we’ve never met.
I can almost see this becoming a reading challenge for a future year: to read one book per month written by a Hamilton author or about a specific topic related to Hamilton. It’s one thing to read historical overviews and another to learn the details about specific events.
If you think you know Hamilton, name the part of the city shown in the above photo!