Your can’t walk a block in the West Harbour area of Hamilton’s North End without bumping into construction projects.
Work continues on Ken Soble Tower as a retrofit updates the structure to modern affordable housing.
At Pier 8 the future site of 1500 residential units and a commercial village, the roads are in and lines painted, which leads one to believe construction on townhouses must be eminent. But as recently as a month ago the city said they still own the land, and a deal to sell it to the developers of Pier 8 is still unsigned.
On a walk around West Harbour it is possible have one foot in the future and one foot in the past. Since the start of the Pandemic, the harbour area has become even more popular as a place to walk, cycle and picnic. Many are discovering the area for the first time and no little of its history.
There remains a ramshackle collection of buildings, not without their nautical charm, between the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club and Williams Coffee Pub. In these buildings boats were stored, and wooden vessels varnished. The buildings, made of corrugated metal, are white washed, and fitted with old multi paned windows. Peeling signs direct sailors on rules regarding the tagging of spars, and proper operation of the the mast hoist. Activity at the former Hamilton Harbour Commissioner’s boat sheds and shops and the RHYC has a long history here.
I like these old relics, so tied to the harbours boating tradition. In contrast to the port lands further east, which are pretty much off limits to Joe Citizen, the West Harbour is still open for roaming.
Before the history is vanished, take a walk by the water.
Kathy Renwald lives in the North End