City of Waterfalls, Steeltown – Hamilton, ON, has gone by many names over the years as it has risen to economic heights and fallen from them. In this essay collection Paul Weinberg has gathered some of Hamilton’s tireless advocates to chart the rise of a new ambitious city. From the city’s long history of immigration to vanished working-class neighbourhoods, to art advocacy, to battles over expressways and LRTs, Reclaiming Hamilton traces the fault lines that run through the city.
About the authors
Paul Weinberg has worked in journalism most of his life, primarily as a freelance writer. He has written for newspapers such as the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Daily Star and the Hamilton Spectator, weeklies including NOW Magazine and Eye Magazine, and a range of publications including the Report on Business, This Magazine and the CCPA Monitor. Currently living in Hamilton, he is editing an upcoming collection of articles about the City of Hamilton. And he spent a little over a decade researching his new book, When Poverty Mattered, Then and Now which he describes as combining the elements of history and investigative journalism.
Matthew Bin is an author and IT consultant, born and raised in Hamilton and currently residing in Oakville with his wife and beagles. He has published non-fiction books and articles on Canadian military history, international soccer and business, as well as military, horror and science fiction novels. In his spare time he is a licensed marriage officiant, artisanal pasta maker, and bassist and backup shouter in a punk rock band.
Nancy B. Bouchier, professor of history at McMaster, explores issues of locality, gender, social class and the environment in the history of sport and physical activity. She is author of For Love of the Game: Amateur Sport in Small Town Ontario 1838–1895.
Ken Cruikshank, professor of history and former dean of Humanities at McMaster, works on the history of business and of the administrative state in Canada and the United States, particularly between the 1880s and World War II. He is the author of Close Ties: Railways, Government and the Board of Railway Commissioners, 1851–1933.
As long-time research collaborators, Ken and Nancy have focused on the state, the environment and recreation in the history of Hamilton Harbour. In 2016 UBC Press published their The People and the Bay: A Social and Environmental History of Hamilton Harbour, which won the Canadian Historical Association’s 2017 Clio Prize for Ontario regional history.
I’m Joey Coleman, a Hamiltonian who works as an independent crowdfunded journalist, is engaged with open data, involved in my neighbourhood association, a pinball player and am blamed by City Hall for increasing civic engagement with my work over at www.thepublicrecord.ca.
Kerry Le Clair is a Hamilton-based editor, community organizer and activist with a background in human rights, Indigenous solidarity and environmental racism work. She loves Hamilton for what it is and what it could be, and as such, continues to celebrate and castigate the city as needed.
Robert S. Fiedler completed a Ph.D. at York University where his research focused on suburban change and the politics and planning of postwar suburbanization in Toronto. He is originally from Vancouver and moved to Hamilton in 2011 after living in Toronto for five years. He lives in the North End with his spouse and children.
Kevin MacKay is a writer, community organizer, union activist and social science professor. He has lived in Hamilton for over thirty years and for the past fifteen years he has acted as Executive Director of the Sky Dragon Community Development Co-operative. In 2017 Kevin published Radical Transformation: Oligarchy, Collapse, and the Crisis of Civilization, with Between the Lines. He is currently working on a second book, A New Ecological Politics, with Oregon State University Press.
Ryan McGreal is the editor of Raise the Hammer (raisethehammer.org), a website focused on civic affairs in Hamilton, Ontario. He is a founding volunteer with Hamilton Light Rail (hamiltonlightrail.ca), a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. His writing has been published in the Hamilton Spectator, Hamilton Magazine, The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers.
Seema Narula is a high school teacher, writer and sometimes DJ. She started her blog This Must Be The Place in 2011, where she documented her exploration of the city uncovering old gems and new places.
In 2016 she was nominated for the Hamilton Arts Award as an emerging artist in the category of writer. She has written for publications such as The Guardian, the Hamilton Spectator and Tourism Hamilton.
After writing this chapter, Seema has since become a member of the Coalition of Black and Racialized Artists (COBRA).
You can sometimes catch Seema DJing dance parties around the city or traipsing around various haunts with her kids in tow.
A graduate of Carleton University’s School of Journalism, Jessica Rose is a writer, editor and book reviewer whose work has appeared in publications across Canada. She is a founding editor at The Inlet, the book reviews editor at THIS, a senior editor at the Hamilton Review of Books and was a long-time writer for Hamilton Magazine. She is the marketing manager at gritLIT: Hamilton’s Readers and Writers Festival, sits on the Hamilton Arts Council’s Literary Arts Committee and is a board member at the Adult Basic Education Association. She has nearly fifteen years of experience writing and editing publications for children.
Shawn Selway has a BA in Religion from McMaster and an Industrial Mechanic license from the Province of Ontario via the Steel Company of Canada basic works in Hamilton, Ontario. He is a moderate technological determinist broadly interested in questions of material culture and the attendant paradoxes. Accordingly, he finds himself writing about municipal planning issues for the local civic affairs blog, and about superseded industrial equipment for the clients of his consultancy in the conservation of historic machinery. He is the author of Nobody Here Will Harm You, a book about mass medical evacuation from the Eastern Arctic during the second half of the twentieth century.
Margaret Shkimba is a writer and contributing columnist to the Hamilton Spectator. A mother and grandmother, she lives in Hamilton with her partner, Ray, and her two hound dogs, Bonnie and Clyde.
Sarah V. Wayland is senior project manager for the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council. From 2013 to 2018, she was the creator and leader of Global Hamilton, the City of Hamilton’s immigrant attraction and retention initiative. A dual US-Canadian citizen, she earned her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Maryland. She immigrated to Canada in 1994 and settled in Hamilton with her family in 2001. From 2005 to 2014, she served on the board of Hamilton’s largest settlement agency, including as secretary and president.
"Reading Reclaiming Hamilton, you come across a lot of different 're' words used to describe what has been happening for the last couple of decades in a city hard-hit by deindustrialization: 'renaissance,' 'revival,' and 'renewal' among them. But the 're' word of the title is different. It denotes action, results achieved by effort. And in these essays, the action in focus is decidedly not the effort of the powers-that-be."
Hamilton Review of Books
"An essay that touched me, personally, was by Kerry Le Clair who [...] details her own experience and personal interventions in a city that she has adopted as her own [...] She is trying to find her place here, to belong. In the end, she remains on the fence as to whether she does and that ambiguity will resonate with a lot of people who are new(ish) to the city."