I spent some quality time in my old stomping grounds during the Canada Day weekend, revisiting a city that was my hometown for seven years. Seven years spanning a period in my life when I was a big-time lush. But it wasn’t spirituous beverages that brought me to Hamilton this time. All the bars in this city I frequented way back when have long since been demolished by the economic tsunami that hit the planet back in 2008, with the exception of two. One of those two was forced to close its doors because the building itself had been condemned – a turn of events that was completely unrelated to the recession. The city eventually had the property converted to a parking lot; I remember part of me died the day they brought in the bulldozers. The other actually survived that nasty storm and is still in operation to this day, but only because they sold their mortal soul and consented to becoming a miserable shadow of their former self.
Lack of historic watering holes aside, it’s always an interesting experience to return to a city you once inhabited after being away for a number of years, just to see how things have changed. Indeed, Hamilton has changed. A bit. Several businesses have predictably changed hands since I last set foot here. The downtown skyline is a little more manhattanized than it used to be. The new city buses are sleek and sexy as all shit, and handily beat the hell out of those boxy canary-yellow jobs that are presently being phased out. For a split second, I could have sworn they also got rid of the statue of Sir John A. Macdonald that stands on the eastern flank of Gore Park, but that turned out to be little more than a cannabis-induced paranoid reverie.
Whilst out on Sunday morning reacquainting myself with The Hammer (also nicknamed Steeltown, The Birthplace of Tim Hortons or The Armpit of Canada, that last nickname mostly used by stuck-up latté-sipping types from Toronto who for whatever reason think wheat gluten is a deadlier substance than Agent Orange), I came upon this street sign, and took a picture. This is where my main character’s surname ultimately came from. I guess I can say that publicly without getting sued.