My first boss at CHML, Tom Darling, on the day he hired me offered only one instructional piece of advice about life in Hamilton. “Roy, you’re a young guy and young guys like to blow off steam. Just remember, if you do it in Hamilton I’ll know about it. Hamilton is a big city, but a small town at the same time. Have fun, get to know the people and the city, but remember, they’re going to want to get to know you too. If you consider doing something which might jeopardize your employment at CHML, I would strongly advise you go to Toronto to do so. Maybe, that I way I won’t find out.”
I never quite found out what aspect of blowing off steam would cause Mr. Darling (God knows, we never called him Tom) to send me back out of town lugging the same suitcase I arrived with, but I took the warning to heart as well as TD’s (we did call him TD among ourselves) advice to get to know the people and the city. The suitcase? I actually gave it to another CHML employee after he was asked to leave town, or at least the radio station. True story.
In those early 1970’s, Hamilton was booming and Burlington was waking up. Hamilton had a vibrant, busy, restaurant and club-loaded downtown. A world-class theatre big name artists would bypass Toronto for. Burlington was still some significant time away from realizing QEW access ramps from Walker’s and Appleby Lines.
I was a Montrealer when I arrived in Hamilton and a confirmed Bay area citizen when circumstance and opportunity caused my wife and me to head eastward along the 401 in April of 2007.
Today, from a distance (but not so far a commercial flight can’t get me home in 90 minutes or less), observing the goings-on in a redefining itself Hamilton (message to the new Mayor and council to be, ‘get that done, please’) and a grown-up, mature and well-led municipally Burlington, is the cause for a growing sense of loss. Of having lost the daily experience of enjoying life in a truly special place.
I miss strolling the lakeshore in Burlington, taking in the trails at Cootes Paradise, driving up Guelph Line to Campbellville, or the backroads to Niagara on the Lake on a lazy Sunday. I’d love to hear a concert or see a performance of some kind at Hamilton Place again. The list is long and seems to be getting longer.
Quebec has its charm, is culturally rich and with the PQ gone, so is my SRNF designation. The people are warm and friendly, but while it was once home, it is no longer. I like it here, but home is about 7 hours westward on the 401/QEW.
I’ve wanted to write these words for a while now in John Best’s terrific and perfectly named Bay-Observer. No words of challenge, nor any critique of a situation or development political or otherwise. I just feel compelled to share this thought. You’re very fortunate to call Hamilton and Burlington home. Very fortunate indeed.
Written by: Roy Green