Building Stories Logo
Member Sign In

Username

Password
Français

Forgot your password? | Become a member
Tour Title James Street North Walking Tour
Tour Points
Tour Points
Point Title
Sort ascending by Point TitleSort descending by Point Title
Description
Features
HAMILTON CLUB.jpg The Hamilton Club (1873) Founded in 1872 as a businessman’s club, the Hamilton Club at the corner of Main and James Streets provides a gathering place for the city’s business professionals and their families. Prior to the Club moving here in 1873, the building was the private residence of Hamilton’s ninth mayor, Charles Magill. Women were first admitted to the Club in 1960. Today, a membership with the Hamilton Club provides entry to their historic facilities, fine dining and events, and access to affiliate clubs around the world. The first chairman of the Hamilton Club was businessman Isaac Buchanan (1810-1883). In addition to running a lucrative business, Buchanan founded Hamilton’s first Board of Trade, was one of the original members of the first Union Parliament the of Canadas, and was an economic theorist and writer. Kid-Friendly; Street View only   Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.14.51 PM.png Landed Banking & Loan Company (1908) This Classical Revival three-storey building was designed after the Knickerbocker Trust and Safe Deposit Bank building in New York City. In addition to acting as the Landed Banking & Loan Company’s home, it also served as branch office for the Canada Permanent Bank from 1944 to 1972 and then housed the Mercantile Bank from 1972 to 1985. Instead of being demolished, it was designated under the Ontario Heritage Act and stands as a tribute to Hamilton’s ability to repurpose heritage buildings. Self Guided Tours; Street View only   Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.17.31 PM.png Canada Life Building/Birks Building (1883) Canada Life Assurance Company, Canada’s first life insurance company, began in Hamilton in 1846. From 1883 to 1929, it was housed in a five-storey Gothic building that occupied this space. In 1886, the Hamilton Art School opened in the same building on the third floor. The first head of the art school was John Ireland. He was an art instructor to many young artists including J. E. H. MacDonald who later became a member of the Group of Seven. In 1929, the Henry Birks & Sons Company took over the building and added a clock tower. When Birks moved to Jackson Square in 1972, the building was demolished but the clock was saved. It was moved to the King Street entrance to Jackson Square. More recently, the clock has been moved indoor to the renovated Farmer’s Market. Fully Accessible   Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.19.21 PM.png Gore Park After years of debate over the use of this manicured green space with its elegant fountain, “the Gore on King Street” was officially made into a public park on April 28, 1873. Flowers and shrubs were planted, but a locked fence surrounding the area barred Hamiltonians from enjoying the space meant to be theirs. Finally, in 1883, the fence was removed, but it was not until the late 1880s when bands began to serenade park-goers that it gained popularity. In 1927, Gore Park was decorated for Christmas for the first time. Evergreen trees were placed inside of the fountain with tinsel and electric lights. Decorating the park for Christmas is a tradition still enjoyed by Hamiltonians today. In the 1950s, Gore Park had a major pigeon problem. Feeding the birds was banned, and a large shooting of birds was organized in 1954. In a single day, 122 hunters shot approximately 2,500 birds. Despite these efforts, birds still enjoy the company of Queen Victoria’s statue and frequently bathe in the fountain. Fully Accessible; Kid-Friendly; Provincial Plaque; Self Guided Tours; Washrooms   Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.39.21 PM.png Queen Victoria Statue in Gore Park Construction on this statue designed by Philipe Hebert began on April 14, 1906 and was completed in 1908. 22,000 people attended the unveiling of the statue, including a group of Hamilton women who advocated for it to be built as a tribute to the Queen’s greatness. Fully Accessible; Provincial Plaque; Self Guided Tours; Street View only; Washrooms   Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.40.19 PM.png The Gore Park Fountain To make the city look at its best for the first royal visit to Hamilton in 1860, a fountain was built in the Gore on King for $2,400. The flowing water from the fountain not only made the downtown core of the city look presentable for Prince Albert Edward (later King Edward VII), but was also a sign of prosperity. Municipal drinking water had been brought to the city and flowed for the first time on May 24, 1860. Fully Accessible; Kid-Friendly; Provincial Plaque; Self Guided Tours; Washrooms   Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.24.07 PM.png Grafton & Co. Clothing (1895) The original Grafton’s Department Store opened in Dundas in 1853. By the early 1890s, the store was prosperous enough to open in other locations like this one. Grafton’s opened on James Street North in 1895 and specialized in men’s clothing. On February 12, 1917, a fire destroyed the store. The building was reconstructed and the new Grafton’s opened on January 5, 1918. Jackson Square’s opening across the street in 1970 hit Grafton’s hard: the store experienced a 50% drop in business in the first year of the Square’s opening. In 1973, after 78 years downtown, Grafton’s closed its doors forever. Kid-Friendly; Self Guided Tours; Street View only   Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.25.29 PM.png Lister Block (1923) Joseph Lister Jr. (1832-1892) opened a dry goods store with offices in the Lister Block in 1886. The building was extremely modern for its time and boasted heating, elevators, and an interior designed for commercial stores. The upper floors were used as apartments that housed over 150 tenants and held 100 additional offices. The first floor was a shopping arcade. With its proximity to the Great Western Railway station on Stuart Street, Lister Block enjoyed the company of many important tenants. On February 23, 1923, at 2:37 a.m., the building caught fire. It was so cold that when the firefighters arrived and began to spray the building, the water froze immediately. The Lister Block was rebuilt quickly and completed by the end of 1923. It was designated as a heritage structure in 1996 under the Ontario Heritage Act and now houses City of Hamilton offices. Stop into the Tourism Hamilton Centre on the lower floor of Lister Block to learn more about the building and upcoming events in the city. Fully Accessible; Kid-Friendly; Self Guided Tours; Washrooms http://www.tourismhamilton.com Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.26.24 PM.png Irving's Famous Clothes (circa 1850) When Irving Leon and his wife Fay took possession of a clothing store in the Lister Building in the 1940s, they probably had no idea that it would have the lasting impact it has had on James Street North. In 1948, the Leon’s moved the store to this location. Sid Leon, Irving and Fay’s son, took over the shop in 1971 and ran it until December 18th, 2013, when he passed away in the shop at age 67. Customers of Irving’s remember the family’s friendliness along with Sid’s advocacy for downtown Hamilton with special emphasis on improving and conserving James Street North. Sid was also the president of the Jamesville Business Improvement Area (BIA) from 1988 to 1991 when it was disbanded. Partially Accessible; Self Guided Tours; Street View only   Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.27.49 PM.png Federal Building, Post Office, and Sun Life Assurance Company (1856-1858) Once a humble three-storey post office (1858), over time this building has become an assortment of architectural styles. Hamilton’s growing population, industry, and prosperity called for two extra bays to be added onto the building in 1898 when Sun Life Assurance moved in. The insurance company had an elaborate stone-carved sun motif added to the top of the structure (no longer visible). Two additional stories of brick were added to the top and this was where Park Business College moved to in 1920. Because of the many owners and uses of the building, it has an interesting mix of architectural features that eclectically blend the old with the new. Partially Accessible; Self Guided Tours; Street View only   Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.28.54 PM.png Grand Opera House (1880-1961) The Grand Opera House opened to the public on November 29, 1880. The Gothic and Eastlake architecture drew crowds of over 1,000 to the Vaudeville theatre. In the 1920s when moving pictures became popular, the Grand Opera House resisted change: they continued with their Vaudeville acts, and as a result, the popularity of the Opera declined. After the building caught fire in 1926, the owners decided to convert the building to a movie theatre in the 1930s. The Grand Opera House had many other names through the years, such as the Grand, Granada, and the Downtown Theatre. It was closed and demolished in November of 1961. Fully Accessible; Kid-Friendly; Self Guided Tours; Street View only   Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.30.07 PM.png City Coach Works and the Tivoli Theatre (1875) Walk onto the gravel pathway and you will be standing in the foyer of the Tivoli Theatre! This elaborate building with its mansard roof and classical detailing was originally erected in 1875 to house the carriage factory of J. P. Pronguey called City Coach Works. In the 1900s when the demand for carriages declined, the building was transformed into a string of theatres, most notably the Tivoli Theatre. The Tivoli opened in 1925, showing Vaudeville acts until 1950 when it was converted into a moving picture theatre under Famous Players Corporation. The Tivoli remained popular until its closing in 1989. The last movie the theatre showed was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Arguments about the fate of the building raged on for years, but the facade of the theatre was torn down when it began to collapse in 2004. The rear auditorium still stands and will soon be converted to condominiums, but the charming face of the Tivoli is lost forever except in photographs. Kid-Friendly; Partially Accessible; Self Guided Tours; Street View only   Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.31.29 PM.png John Weir Foote V.C. Armourites Designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1989, the John Weir Foote V.C. Armouries is the single largest military armoury in Canada and one of the most striking. The north section facing James Street was built in 1888 with a gable-roofed drill hall and corner pavilions. The south section was added in 1908 and features military references in its design, such as the arched troop door and crenellated battlements. The Armouries are named after John Weir Foote (1904-1988), a military chaplain who received the Victoria Cross for his service in World War II. During the battle at Dieppe, France, Foote collected wounded soldiers off the battlefield and deliberately allowed himself to be taken as a prisoner of war in order to be of help to others in captivity. He remained a prisoner until the end of the war. His medals are housed in the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Heritage Museum, which is located in the Armouries and available for viewing by appointment. Kid-Friendly; National Historic Site; Partially Accessible; Provincial Plaque; Self Guided Tours; Street View only   Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.33.53 PM.png Christ's Church Cathedral and Park (1875) Take a rest in Christ’s Church Cathedral’s park and admire the intricacies of the building. As early as 1827, there was a great need for a church in the growing town of Hamilton. This spot was chosen because it was accessible to city residents both from roads and the water. Robert J. Weatherall, architect of Dundurn Castle, designed the original church that stood here. Architect William Thomas drew up designs for a stone addition to the wooden church in 1852, but lack of funds prevented the new structure from being completed. By 1873, the city had grown again and there was need for a cathedral. It was decided that Christ’s Church had the potential to be the cathedral Hamilton needed, and it was renovated once again to become the cathedral that stands here today. The cathedral is known for its active arts committee and its hospitality to art and culture, often opening its doors for self-guided tours during Art Crawl and providing a rehearsal space for the Hamilton Children’s Choir and other music groups. Kid-Friendly; Partially Accessible; Provincial Plaque; Self Guided Tours; Street View only   Click here to show map location
CN STATION.jpg Hamilton Canadian National Railway Station (1931) By the early 1900s, Hamilton’s population reached 60,000 and there was a need for a larger central railway station that was accessible both from the lake and the inner city to support its prospering industrial trade. Despite the desperate need for a new station, the outbreak of the First World War prevented one from being built until 1928. The new Canadian National Railway station (CNR) was designed in the Beaux-Art style and constructed by Pigott Construction. The new station opened in 1931, complete with Queenston limestone imported from the Niagara region to show the prosperity of the CNR. The CNR employed over 10,000 people in Hamilton either directly or indirectly in the 1930s (that's 8% of the city's population). This station was the gateway for immigrants coming to Hamilton and would have been the first thing they saw when arriving by train. In 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Hamilton and entered, like so many others, through the CNR station. Today, the building is known as LiUNA Station, a popular location for weddings and banquets. It is designated under the Ontario Heritage Act. Fully Accessible; Kid-Friendly; Provincial Plaque; Self Guided Tours; Site Offers Food; Washrooms   Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.32.24 PM.png Hamilton Brass Manufacturing Co. (1873) Although Hamilton is known as an iron and steel city, brass foundries have also been an important part of the city’s industry. A. M. Forster opened a small brass manufacturing shop in 1873, employing six workers to make small brass goods and cash registers. By 1885, local investors purchased the foundry and changed its name to the Hamilton Brass Manufacturing Company. By the turn of the century, over 140 workers were employed in the expanded four-storey building with a corner tower topped by a peaked roof. This corner tower was lost in a fire in 1903, but the terra cotta panels and medallions around the carriageway (facing Colbourne Street) still survive from 1891. This is a great example of how 19th century industry in Hamilton was located close to commercial and residential areas. Kid-Friendly; Partially Accessible; Self Guided Tours   Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.30.53 PM.png Canada Sewing Machine Factory (1853) American entrepreneur Richard Mott Wanzer came to Canada around 1860 and began a lucrative sewing machine business. In the 1850s and 1860s, U.S. patents on American sewing machines did not apply in Canada, and Wanzer took advantage of this by producing American-designed sewing machines for Canada. The business started off slow, producing only four machines a week. Three years after the opening of the factory, sales skyrocketed and Wanzer was able to employ 140 workers and produced between 70 and 100 machines per week. The most popular machine manufactured was called “the Little Wanzer” which had a unique C-shaped body. At the 1873 Vienna Exposition, Wanzer received an award for producing the best sewing machine in the world. Fully Accessible; Kid-Friendly; Self Guided Tours; Site Offers Food; Washrooms   Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.22.55 PM.png McQuesten Fisher & Co. Foundry (1836-1854) Although he was trained as a medical doctor, Dr. Calvin McQuesten (1801-1885) made his fortune by opening the first foundry in Hamilton at the corner of Merrick Street (now York Boulevard) and James Street North. The McQuesten Fisher & Co. Foundry’s six employees worked molten metal into stoves, threshing machines, and other metal products. The foundry’s location on the busiest street in Hamilton at the time was an ideal choice: not only was it close to the amenities of the city, it was also close to the harbor for shipping purposes. After a fire in 1854, the company relocated to Wellington Street. Dr. McQuesten retired in 1865 with a fortune of $500,000. The McQuesten family is known for their historic home-turned-museum, Whitehern, located at 41 Jackson Street West in Hamilton. Read more about Whitehern on their website. Self Guided Tours http://www.hamilton.ca/CultureandRecreation/Arts_Culture_And_Museums/HamiltonCivicMuseums/Whitehern/ Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.21.55 PM.png City Hall and the Market (1888-1961) City Hall The first town hall of Hamilton was on King William Street. It opened in 1836, but three years later, City operations were moved to James Street North. This second hall held offices and a market hall, which doubled as a theatre. As the city grew, the need for a larger City Hall became obvious. Construction on this building was completed in 1890, and City Hall remained here until 1960 when the current City Hall on Main Street was built. In 1961, the building was sold to the T. Eaton Company and demolished. The Market Hamilton has been known for its large indoor farmer’s market for years, but did you know that an outdoor marketplace was started in almost the same spot in 1837? The first market in Hamilton was a popular meeting place for merchants, residents, and newcomers to the city. Since then, markets of all kinds have existed and thrived on James Street. Remnants of an old fish market can be seen at 150 James Street North, where a tiled entryway to Eclectric Music + Audio reads “oysters”. Fully Accessible; Kid-Friendly; Self Guided Tours; Site has its own Parking; Site Offers Food; Washrooms   Click here to show map location
81761d97-c99c-46b6-9aac-40fff5dfa3d8.jpg Jackson Square (1972) On October 19, 1970, construction of Jackson Square began as part of the city’s urban renewal project. The indoor mall was designed in the Modernist style, sporting simple lines that contrasted with the ornate building styles from the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century featured on James Street. Today, Jackson Square features various shops and entrances to both the Hamilton Farmer’s Market and the Hamilton Public Library. Visit the Hamilton Public Library’s 3rd floor Local History and Archives for more historic information on the city of Hamilton. Lloyd Douglas Jackson (1888-1973) was the mayor of Hamilton from 1950 until 1962. Always quoted as having “too much fun” as mayor, Jackson focused his energies on the urban renewal of downtown Hamilton to bring the city up to modern standards and drive commercial business and industry. Fully Accessible; Kid-Friendly; Provincial Plaque; Self Guided Tours; Site has its own Parking; Site Offers Food; Washrooms http://www.hpl.ca Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.42.09 PM.png Pigott Building (1930) The Pigott Building, Hamilton’s first skyscraper, is immediately recognized by its iconic “wedding cake” rooftop. The 18-storey building was designed in the Art Deco style by architects Bernard and Fred Prack and built in 1930 by Pigott Construction Company as the company’s own headquarters. The building, popular for its prime downtown location, is now used for condominiums. The six stained glass windows inside the front doors to the building depict the company’s construction history and celebrate manual labour. Hamilton-born Joseph Pigott (1885-1969) was the son of Irish contractor Michael Pigott, founder of the Pigott Construction Company. After the First World War, Joseph together with his brother Roy began to direct Pigott Construction. They made their first million in 1926, and with this money, had the Pigott Building constructed. Joseph was also a notable member of the Hamilton Club. Fully Accessible; Street View only   Click here to show map location
Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 2.11.12 PM.png St. Paul's Presbyterian Church (1857) Architect William Thomas designed this Gothic Revival church that features a soaring 100-foot spire and expert stonework. This design was originally intended for the Anglican Cathedral in the city, but St. Paul’s acquired the plans in 1853. The spire took three years for master stonemason George Worthington to create and stands today as a testament to the intricacies of early Hamiltonian art and architecture. Stone was a popular material to build with in Hamilton due to an increase in quarry production in the 1850s. Previously buildings were constructed with wood, but many of these buildings have since been lost to fire or rot. Partially Accessible; Self Guided Tours; Washrooms   Click here to show map location

Find currently displayed points on the map

Group Public Entries
Added By Sara Volf
Date Added May 26, 2014
Last Modified By HRC Admin
Date Last Modified July 22, 2014
Comments on {title}
No matching entries were found
Linked Content
Linked Content
Type
Title
Relation
User   Sara Volf The user submitted this content.