POINTS PAST: Jimmy Lomax

POINTS PAST: Jimmy Lomax

Photo courtesy of Hamilton Spectator Collection, Hamilton Public Library

by Brendan Oliver

“It’s not the things you do at Christmas, it’s the Christmassy things you do year round that count.” — Jimmy Lomax.

One of the greatest and most charitable Hamiltonians of all time was Mr. Jimmy Lomax who grew up in Crown Point’s north end. For more than 50 years Christmas in Hamilton wouldn’t have been the same without Jimmy and his Operation Santa Claus.

James William Lomax was born on August 24, 1943 to parents Clifford and Orma. His parents resided on Bayfield Avenue just north of the Jockey Club. Jimmy attended Lloyd George Elementary School on Beach Road.

For much of his childhood, Jimmy was in and out of hospital suffering from bronchiectasis. In the days before OHIP, Jimmy’s father, a crane operator, worked three part time jobs including one at Stelco to cover his son’s medical bills.

One of the best parts of Jimmy’s childhood was his Christmas visits from Santa Claus played by family friend Curly Alkerton. Those visits made Jimmy vow that if he ever got better he too would one day wear the suit. In later years, Jimmy would say: “Other kids wanted to be firemen, policemen or Steelworkers. But I believed in Santa.”

Doctors gave Jimmy just three years to live, when he was seven, and his parents brought him home to live out the remainder of his life. Jimmy defied his doctors’ prognosis and was given a clean bill of health at the age of 15. It was then that Jimmy started to give back.

With a $5 donation from a gas station owner, Jimmy purchased some leftover Halloween candy and began spreading Christmas cheer. Wearing a Santa suit made by a teacher at Lloyd George Elementary, Jimmy went to area hospitals and nursing homes distributing treats to patients. It was the beginning of Operation Santa Claus.

Jimmy dropped out of Delta Secondary, at 16, and took a job as a steelworker. He remained a steelworker all his life and retired from Stelco after 38 years.

Jimmy always told people that he would never marry unless he found someone who had a heart of gold. He found that person in Susan, a former schoolmate and family friend. The couple were married and soon welcomed a son, Ryan, who was born in December and was named after actor Ryan O’Neil.

Over the span of 51 years, Jimmy and Susan grew Operation Santa Claus into a $200,000 a year operation serving 80,000 needy people in the Hamilton area. To keep the operation going, many fundraisers were held including the annual Beach Strip Garage Sale.  

Each Christmas Eve from 10 a.m. to midnight, Jimmy would dress in his custom-made Santa suit and visit nursing homes, hospitals and private residences to spread good cheer to people who wouldn’t otherwise have a Christmas. Jimmy’s appearance while being Santa was very important and he once said, “I can’t stand to see a sloppy Santa.”

Tragically, in May of 1986, son Ryan died of a rare form of lung cancer. Christmas then became a very difficult time, but Jimmy and Susan continued their work knowing that their efforts gave hope to so many.

Jimmy received numerous honours, over the years, including the Ontario Medal for Outstanding Citizenship and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal. He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1984 and was once named as Reader’s Digest’s Heroes for today.

One of his most cherished awards was the honorary diploma given to him by Delta Secondary School. The school also created the Jimmy Lomax Community Service Award which is awarded each year to one community-minded student.

In June 2010, Jimmy retired from Operation Santa Claus after being diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year. On October 9, 2011, he passed away at home peacefully in his sleep at the age of 68. Following his death, the flags at city hall were lowered to half-staff in his honour.

In a statement, then Mayor Bob Bratina said, “Jimmy exemplified the best of Hamilton and Hamiltonians… a humble east-ender who found a way to make a difference in people’s lives. We have lost a great man and a great friend.”

Jimmy’s celebration of life was held at Laidlaw Memorial United Church where he went to Sunday school as a child. In attendance were several dignitaries and several professional Santas dressed in their suits. As his urn was brought into the Church “Here Comes Santa Claus” played.

In late October 2011, just a few weeks after his death Jimmy Lomax park opened on the Beach Strip where he and Susan lived for so many years. That same year Operation Santa Claus became part of the CHML/Y108 Children’s Fund and Jimmy was inducted into the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame.

The rumour of Memorial School’s mural

The rumour of Memorial School’s mural

by Andrea Jackman

Rumours spread and infiltrate many people until they find one person willing to thrash out the truth. So, when I heard the rumour of “a large mural at Memorial (City) Elementary School that had been painted by a Group of Seven painter,” I had to investigate. I sought out the mural and aimed to assess if the rumour is true.

Getting access to the mural was a bit tricky. It took months of inquiries with the school and Hamilton Wentworth District School Board to get the curtain drawn back on the stage. I was finally received this September by Fatima Ziric, Memorial’s vice-principal, to view the mural. As the suede indigo curtains were swept away, an aged projector suspended by chains and stuck open blocked the majority of the image; not an optimal way to view art. Thus, I returned several days later when it was removed.

Spanning over twenty feet in length and thirty feet in height, the immersive mural is definitely impressive. A ruined European-like castle stands upon an advantageous hill in the background, surrounded by a small body of water, which places the viewer in the foreground surrounded by a trail lined by sweeping birch trees leading to a beached boat awaiting departure. Encasing this image is an optical illusion or trompe l’oeil of three painted, suspended stone like arches and wood panelling below.

Finally immersed by the mural, every part of me screamed that the mural was not authored by a Group of Seven painter, even if A.Y. Jackson did frequent Hamilton and A.J. Casson studied here. However, years in the arts and gut feelings do not always satisfy debunking a rumour, so I shared the digital image of the mural with several art professionals.

The image first went to my colleague Robert (Bob) Daniels at Earls Court Gallery, open since 1973. He too instantly agreed that the aesthetics and handling of the paint did not connote any traits of a Group of Seven painter. In fact, he initially thought of Hamilton painter Henry Nesbitt McEvoy, but he passed in 1914, and the school opened in 1919. Daniels’ second inclination and my initial reaction, was Juanita Lebarre Symington (1904-1980). It is the type of subject matter and project she would undertake, but that means the mural had to be done after 1925, as that is when she was a prominent Hamilton artist.

To support this claim, a Spectator article from October 1925 states that Memorial Hall was decorated with the bronze plaques and a painted Latin inscription border. However, still no direct reference to the stage mural. Further, in the Hamilton Public Library Archives, a 1948 Year Book illustrates a stage performance with the mural behind and no visible cracks. Thus, I suggest that the mural was done between 1925-1948.

I also distributed the image to curators Andrew Hunter (at the Art Gallery of Guelph) and Tobi Bruce (at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.) Both have extensive knowledge of the Group, Hamilton’s art history, and have witnessed the mural in person. Unaware of each other’s opinions, they too agreed that the impressive mural was not done by such prestigious authors.

So, what seems to be the consensus is that the rumour is debunked. It is more likely one of those stories that get passed down to the next generation with a few details missing. As it is shared and key words exaggerated, we end up with such a rumour. What I believe is true about the rumour is that the painter was as equally capable, and until further information surfaces, we will be at a loss of its true authorship.



Illustration by Elizabeth Seidl

by Bev Wagar

With a murder charge on the docket, security was tight at Horticultural Court. The usual shrubs on guard duty were joined by a contingent of red cedar trees who parted briefly to allow the accused, Ailanthus altissima, alias “Tree of Heaven” to pass. The stench was awful. Ailanthus moved quickly—too quickly—and put roots down on the stand before the courtyard crowd could respond. The extreme allelopathy of this tree caused much shuddering and wilting, but despite their distress, the onlookers were out for sap, hoping to see Ailanthus, notorious Asian thug and gang leader, sent straight to the chipper.

The court clerk read the charge and Ailanthus, with a sneer, replied “Yes, I’m guilty. Foolish humans brought me to this land 200 years ago and it’s been a candy store, let me tell you. My roots have killed thousands of you. Not one of you can compete with my rhizomes and clonal colonies. I’ve ruined countless gardens, ravines, and parks. Me and my gang are out to get your forests, too. Just try to stop me,” the accused laughed maniacally.

Ailanthus had visibly grown several feet taller already and was casting shade over the wildflowers in the front row. The tree’s roots were reaching into the jury, a mix of sugar maple, beech, trillium, and native viburnum.

Then ailanthus did something unthinkable—it cast seeds, thousands of them, all around the courtyard. It was a female tree! Most of the onlookers ran for cover. Only a few ornamentals, the cedars, and the judge, M. (Mama) Nature remained. Judge Nature looked uncommonly worried.

“Is there anyone here to provide a defence for Ailanthus?” she asked. A hybrid tea rose looked up from her book of poetry and stepped forward.

“The accused was the subject of a famous novel and movie called ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn’.  It survived drought, neglect, and decades of isolation in a bed of concrete. It became a source of joy and inspiration for a downtrodden inner-city neighbourhood.”

“The amusement of a few humans is irrelevant” Nature stated flatly. “Humans have carelessly unleashed too many alien plants into unsuspecting ecosystems. I am far more concerned about the survival of my forests. Humans keep cutting them and this Ailanthus keeps moving in.”

By this time the Ailanthus had sent up a few clonal shoots and most of its seeds had sprouted. The cedars, wary and beginning to feel the toxins from the Ailanthus’ rapidly spreading roots, had begun to desert their posts. The rose, the jury, and all the onlookers had gone. The courtyard was bare, the stink overpowering, and the gloating smirk on Ailanthus face exuded pure evil. Nature alone would decide this case.

“Surely you know about the Circle of Life. In China you evolved with insects who ate your leaves and roots. You were part of an interconnected web of food and feeders. Now, in North America, there are no creatures to curtail your invasive behaviour. Something needs to feed on you.”

Ailanthus roared with rage as its huge pinnate leaves shook and snapped like whips.  Then it attacked, releasing a squadron of high-speed clonal shoots. Reaching into her dress pocket, Mama Nature quickly tossed a handful of spores of Verticillium nonalfalfae, a native fungus, near the trunk.

“You will die in 10 to 16 weeks and the soil will be inoculated against your return. This fungus has no effect on most of my native flora. I have presented it, as a scientific discovery, to human conservationists. Your decades of murderous thuggery may soon be over.”

With Ailanthus already beginning to squirm and wilt, Mama Nature turned and floated out of the courtyard. It had been a trying day and her creatures needed some dormancy. Yuletide celebrations had begun in certain lands. So, looking forward to a winter recess, she headed north.

Make merry this Christmas season at Dundurn Castle

Make merry this Christmas season at Dundurn Castle

By Kathryn Shanley

Dundurn Castle, the former home of one of Canada’s most notable politicians Sir Allan MacNab, makes for a great evening tour location to get even the most die-hard Scrooge supporters into the Christmas spirit. This is even truer when the castle is lit up and dressed in its finest, the aroma of freshly baked Scotch shortbread filling the air, while a table laden with mouth-watering delectable goodies sits ready to tantalize your taste buds as you prepare to experience a Victorian Christmas.

Table set for Christmas in the dining room at Dundurn (1)
Photos by Kathryn Shanley

The Garden Club of Hamilton decorates the castle every year with wonderful greenery, lovely dried flowers, and beautiful wreaths, striving to maintain the authenticity of a Victorian Christmas. The holidays just wouldn’t be complete for me without experiencing the feeling of stepping back in time and enjoying the grandeur of Christmas at Dundurn.

Your guided tour begins in the castle’s magnificent entrance hall with the stunning black walnut staircase adorned with fresh boughs of greenery. The joyful singing of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” can be heard throughout the castle as interpreters in period costume lead visitors in a lively carol sing. During the Victorian era (1837-1901), families gathered around the piano singing their favourite Christmas carols while sipping steaming spiced punch.

After entering the elegantly decorated drawing room from the entrance hall, you’ll be impressed by the delightful Christmas tree decorated with candles, delicate fans, cornucopias, tiny trinkets, and treasured handmade gifts. The tradition of decorating Christmas trees was adopted by North Americans after Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, brought the custom from his homeland of Germany to England.

Though the drawing room is splendid, one of the tour’s highlights for me is a visit to the grand dining room with its French-door windows and breathtaking view of the bay. The splendid dining room table is elegantly set in readiness for a festive Christmas dinner. Up to two dozen guests could be seated around the table including Sir Allan himself who is believed to have sat at the head of the table. The Christmas dinner could last for as long as four hours with the grand finale of traditional Christmas pudding, laced with brandy and set ablaze, being brought to the table and served by the head of the household.

Venturing upstairs to the upper hall, imagine the scene on Christmas Eve, of the MacNab family singing carols around the piano and playing roaring games of musical chairs and charades. Victorians loved telling ghoulish ghost stories of days long past and listening to excerpts being read from books like Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol. Children hung stockings soon to be filled with candies, nuts, and trinkets if they were from a rich family, or candy, an orange or a piece of coal for luck if they came from a poorer family. Canadian children in the Victorian era may have dreamt on Christmas Eve of ice skates, sleighs, and snowmen typical of a frosty Canadian winter.

Victorians not only enjoyed their winter wonderland at Christmas, but after visiting the stunning dining room, it’s clear they loved a good Christmas feast while sharing the warmth of fellowship and family. I feel a certain kinship with the Victorians—it’s all about the food! The aroma of fresh baked bread wafting from the kitchen is irresistible. Hearty soups, relishes, cayenne cheeses, and homemade bread are served on a table in front of the iron stove ready to be sampled and savoured. Another table is laid out with homemade buttery shortbread, lemon cake, orange gingerbread and my favourite—carrot pudding. Who could resist sampling this array of traditional Victorian Christmas delights.

The Kate Andrus Pumpkin Prowl

The Kate Andrus Pumpkin Prowl

by Tara Aronson

It was five years ago while running as a candidate for HWDSB Ward 3 Trustee that Larry Pattison realized he would miss Halloween with his two daughters due to an unfortunate parenting schedule.  

So he came up with an idea to host an alternative Halloween—just like the real thing but on a different date. Larry and his neighbour, the late Kate Andrus, embarked on a journey to recreate Halloween for parents who might experience scheduling challenges due to divorce, separation, work, or other responsibilities that may get in the way.

Always a dynamo, Kate named the event Pumpkin Prowl and designed the two-sided event flyer, which was painstakingly printed by the hundreds on her failing finicky printer. Larry went door to door, asking neighbours to hand out candy a week early. That first Pumpkin Prowl saw twenty kids dress up and go trick-or-treating in Crown Point, visiting all the neighbours who agreed to participate.

Since then the number of participants has doubled each year. The 2017 Pumpkin Prowl engaged 250 kids, had 40 neighbourhood houses handing out candy, including several community partners who provided activities for the kids. There were bouncy castles, a petting zoo, games, and coffee and hot chocolate compliments of Gage Park Diner. Vagabond Saints sponsored and printed cotton trick-or-treat bags for the first 100 kids, and Jet Propelled developed beautiful marketing materials for the cause. Councillor Matthew Green helped support the event with a $1,000 sponsorship.  

The response has been overwhelming. Crown Point residents are coming out in droves; parents and grandparents of trick-or-treaters are offering to volunteer for this year’s event. For the organizers, going from a small, intimate event with a few kids to a project of this scale has been both humbling and inspiring.

Preparations for the event’s fifth anniversary include a name change that honours one of the founders: the Kate Andrus Pumpkin Prowl.

“She was an intellectual giant whose legacy will continue to live on in hearts, minds, and advocacy of our city,” notes Councillor Green. Kate is truly missed, and this community event wouldn’t be what it is without her.

This year promises to be even more spectacular. There will be activity booths sponsored by the Special Needs Resource Centre, Beautiful Alleys, Pride Hamilton, Messy Play Studio, My Free Hamilton, Erich’s Cupboard, Determination Martial Arts, and Mountain Kidz Club. There’ll be a petting zoo (weather permitting) from Urban Zoo, bouncy castles from Jump Start Rentals, and of course, there’s a special secret guest from Penny Pincher Costumes Inc. Wonderful supporters Vagabond Saints and Jet Propelled are back again with their marketing genius.

What makes this event truly special for Crown Point though is the community itself. It’s the neighbours who open their doors by agreeing to hand out candy to hundreds of kids, the volunteers who come out to help make the event run smoothly, the community members who donate candy so our neighbours don’t have to foot the ever-growing bill, and the kids who participate in a community event dedicated to them and their families. From a father’s simple need, a community festival has grown.

Get your costumes ready for this year’s prowl on Saturday, October 20, 2018, at Belview Park and visit the website for details at http://www.pumpkinprowl.ca. Everyone is welcome!

The Point is a community-driven volunteer effort supported through advertising. See the links on the left to learn more.

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POINT PEOPLE: Santa and Mrs. Claus

POINT PEOPLE: Santa and Mrs. Claus

by Sean Hurley

Ian and Joan Dewar-Adair are a familiar sight in Crown Point, walking their two, very large white dogs around the neighbourhood of Cannon and Kensington. Both dogs, Lochaber, a Great Pyrenees, and Fiona, an Abruzzenhund, are rescue dogs. It’s not enough for the couple to rescue dogs, though. They also rescue some Christmas joy for sick kids.

Joan told me by email that she and Ian arrived in Crown Point ten years ago and will be celebrating their 20-year anniversary in 2019. They met when she was a singer, classically trained, and he was already retired. “We moved into Crown Point,” she told me, “as it is near the Scotiabank at Centre Mall where I was working at the time.” When Joan retired they decided to stay because “it is near to downtown and all the places we normally go, including beautiful parks. The people around us are very good neighbours so we have decided to stay here.”

Joan, Ian and the Dogs
Joan and Ian as the Easter Bunny and Helper with Lochaber, left, and Fiona.

The couple did the usual things retired people do. They enjoyed hobbies, volunteered, and engaged their interests. However, a family crisis added a new mission to their lives. “Many years ago, a hospital out West was instrumental in saving our grandson’s life,” Joan explained. “Since we cannot pay back we have chosen to pay forward by raising monies for McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation. Each year we hold a Burns Day Dinner at the Hamilton Club where I am a member, with the proceeds going to the Foundation.”

As for Santa and Mrs. Claus, here’s Joan to tell that story:

“It all started when a man from Toronto called on us to ask if Ian would play Santa for him as Ian has a real beard. It was for the Sick Kids in Toronto and without thinking twice, I spoke up and said we would do it.

What neither of us knew was that CBC, CTV, CP24 and a whole group of radio stations were going to be there filming and interviewing him. He really was rather upset that he hadn’t been better prepared.

It wasn’t until a little three-year-old Shirley Temple look-alike came screaming across the room calling ‘Santa! Santa! Santa!’ and threw her arms around his legs that he fully understood the importance to the children of what he was doing. At that point we were hooked.”

The pair now go as Santa and Mrs. Claus to McMaster Children’s Hospital and the Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre each Christmas “to see and spend time with the children. We read to them and sing songs with them. Parents and staff enjoy an interactive Twelve Days Of Christmas as much as the children as evidenced by the number of phone cameras clicking away.”

According to Joan, “We also did the Easter Bunny and helper for McMaster this year, and we do a Halloween witch and warlock as well as various Dickensian characters. Along with these I do the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland.”

Joan said the couple are available to do both corporate and private functions with the proceeds going to McMaster and they can be reached at 289-339-7242.

“The main reward we have from doing all of this is the joy on the faces of both children and adults, and the knowledge of the continued belief the children have in the magic of Santa and Christmas.”

A special request: Ian and Joan are helping to raise money for McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation through The Inside Ride: “The Inside Ride, presented by the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation is Canada’s first indoor cycling challenge and fundraising event dedicated to raising money in support of children with cancer and their families.” To sponsor their team, go to www.hamilton.theinsideride.com, click on the “Donate” button and paste in The Uptight Prig and The Artsy Fartsy

The Point is a community-driven volunteer effort supported through advertising. See the links on the left to learn more.

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LRT: Let’s Reduce Taxes

LRT: Let’s Reduce Taxes

by Sean Hurley

The current municipal election is about LRT.

That’s unfortunate because Hamilton’s housing crisis should really be the main election issue. The second most important topic ought to be road safety. Every neighbourhood in Hamilton is confronting the dangerous consequences of cars speeding and failing to stop on residential streets. And what about HSR, which has been neglected into crisis with fare hikes imposed, again, this past September?

Instead of focusing on these three critical issues, this election is mired in a debate that has been decided many times before. People are losing their homes while others are losing their lives—or learning to live them very differently—and yet we continue to talk about LRT.

When politicians mention transit, they all say they support it. However, when challenged by Environment Hamilton’s 2015 Throw Council On the Bus campaign to commute by public transit for a week, only four council members actually got on the bus. Politicians complained that public transit wasn’t adequate for their transportation needs. That’s not surprising. Despite words of support, investment in HSR has been declining for years while fares have been climbing.

There are two streams of money for transit costs in Hamilton: capital and operations. We pay the operational expenses through the tax levy (property taxes) and the fare box. The capital investments—buses and infrastructure—rely on contributions from upper levels of government. HSR’s ten-year strategy calls for capital investment, fare increases, and tax levy dollars in support of the BLAST network.

BLAST is a series of transit corridors that will link the city together:

  • B-Line: East /West transit corridor
  • L-Line: Downtown to Waterdown.
  • A-Line: Airport to the waterfront.
  • S-Line: Eastgate to Ancaster.
  • T-Line: Centre on Barton to Meadowlands.

Of those routes, B-Line LRT is the only hundred per cent capital-funded project. Hamilton has secured half the funding for the LAST lines over a ten-year period from the federal government. The City is still seeking capital funding for the remaining $150 million to implement express buses along the LAST routes. However, those buses must also be operated—and here is where it gets tricky.

Operation expenses are paid in part through municipal taxes, which are “area rated”. Area ratings are a tax scheme that exempts certain wards (ones that were not serviced by HSR at the time of amalgamation) from contributing fully to a public transit that didn’t serve their area. So a resident of “old” Hamilton pays a lot more to ride the same bus as a resident in a post-amalgamation suburb. However, it also means that any transit service added to an area-rated ward (Dundas, Ancaster, Waterdown, and Stoney Creek) must be borne in full by that ward. Area ratings are inherently unfair to all residents, an effective cork on service expansion.

Hamilton Urban Area Rated Transit Levy for a $466,900 assessed home
Area Area Rated Levy (%) Transit Levy in Dollars
Dundas 0.026 $121
Stoney Creek 0.027 $126
Ancaster 0.028 $131
Flamborough 0.030 $140
Glanbrook 0.040 $187
Hamilton 0.095 $444
Based on average assessed property value: https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/180625/cg-a003-eng.htm
2018 Tax rates: https://d3fpllf1m7bbt3.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/media/browser/2018-06-19/2018-residential-tax-rates.pdf
Calculations: http://taxcalculator.hamilton.ca/

Currently, HSR operations are funded 50 per cent at the farebox and 50 per cent by the tax levy. In every scenario of “just more buses”, Hamiltonians will pay more taxes and fares will go up. Not so with LRT. In fact, not building LRT will cause taxes to go up and building it will provide Hamiltonians with a tax benefit. Here’s how.

At a time of economic uncertainty that includes trade wars, steel tariffs, and official austerity, LRT represents to Hamilton a direct stimulus investment of $1 billion over five years. Of that investment, the lion’s share (about $700 million) is invested into infrastructure owned by the City.

Among the direct tax benefits:

  • The Longwood Road South bridge must be rehabilitated or rebuilt very soon. The LRT will replace the bridge. That is worth $20 million to ratepayers or about $66 on a $300,000 house. The dollars that would have been spent to rehabilitate the 62-year-old bridge can be reallocated to other infrastructure priorities.
  • The upsizing and optimization of underground infrastructure to manage stormwater and population growth is worth $150 – $180 million to Hamilton voters, immediately. In the longer term it lays the groundwork for additional assessment growth.
  • The complete repaving of King and Main Streets along the transit corridor is worth $20 – $25 million to Hamilton property taxpayers.
  • The Hamilton B-Line: Value Uplift and Capture Study concluded that LRT “would stimulate an additional 350,000 m2 (3.7 million sq.ft.) of development over a 15-year period relative to development in the area without an LRT … [equating] to a projected $280 million in new taxable assessment”.

Hamilton’s LRT is 100 per cent funded by the province in a commitment upheld by the recently elected government. There is no risk to Hamilton taxpayers as the Memorandum of Agreement makes the province solely responsible for the costs of the project and overruns. The operation and profit and loss is the responsibility of Metrolinx, through its contracted partners.

It is true that the Doug Ford government has said the one billion committed to LRT is available for another transit or “approved” infrastructure project. However, that has always been true.  Premier Ford is not saying anything different. Here is the process: the municipality develops a plan, performs the studies, conducts the consultations, observes the regulatory due diligence, and then asks the province for money. LRT is no different and neither will any future project be different.

The financing is committed to LRT. It took 12 years, through three municipal and provincial elections, to get to where we are now—a year to shovels in the ground. If LRT is abandoned so is the investment. There is no guarantee that any new project developed over a reasonable amount of time will obtain the same level of capital funding and that includes any unfunded aspects of BLAST.

As well, the HSR buses, drivers, and infrastructure made available by LRT can be redirected with the current levy and fares to the LAST lines. They would run at an operating deficit at first but they would provide Hamilton city council with the opportunity to commit to completing BLAST and building ridership as so many politicians have so openly supported and with no additional capital investment. Doing so could promote a phased elimination of area ratings for transit commensurate with service and demand.

Agree with me? Vote. Disagree with me? Vote.

This is the election to decide this issue once and for all. Let’s go to the polls, elect our councillors and mayor, and then live with the outcome so that we can get to the pressing work of making homes secure regardless of income and roads safe regardless of neighbourhood. See you at the polls.

Make a break: Planning for pleasure

Make a break: Planning for pleasure

by Deborah LeBaron

Going on holiday sounds wonderful. The idea of a trip to some magical place, the prospect of not just a change of place but a change of pace, and perhaps the chance to live in a different way, even for a short period of time, are all part of what attracts us to travel. However, making a trip a reality is sometimes impossible. Perhaps the financial burden of a trip is beyond our means or perhaps we can’t find a travelling partner and don’t have the courage to go it alone.

The possibility of a holiday is affected by the demands of work. If you have a demanding position, you may find that taking time off is hard to arrange. However, it is equally (or more) difficult to take a holiday when your employment is precarious. You may work from contract to contract, have been recently hired and thus feel uncertain about the wisdom of taking time off, or just not have the money to go away.

One of the realities of contract work, especially if you do short-term contracts, is the feeling that you always have to be ready to say “yes” to work. This can lead to periods of overwork which alternate with periods of no work (and the attendant anxiety of whether you will ever work again). This pattern can make the idea of a holiday seem impossible.

We all need time off work. Whether you are planning a long holiday or a day away, taking time off takes discipline. It isn’t only the discipline required to save up the money you need for your holiday. It is hard to avoid checking calls and messages, hard not to pick up the phone when it rings. It is hard to say to potential employers that you won’t be available for a period of time.

If you are only able to take short periods of time off, block them off as if they were work. Prepare a message that lets potential employers know how long you will be unavailable and when you will be able to return calls. Start small: a day at a time may be all you can afford, economically and psychologically. If you know that there are predictable slack periods in your line of work, try to take time off then. At least you won’t be pacing around the house waiting for calls!

It helps to plan an activity for your vacation day (or days). This gives your day some structure and prevents you from just hanging around the house thinking about things that need doing, wondering what to do with your day, or wondering whether you have any messages. Checking for messages, even if you don’t return calls, means that you are focussed on work, rather than on your time off.

Planning and research can add to the pleasure of a holiday. Whatever you plan, whether it’s a day or a month, a free neighbourhood activity or an elaborate expedition, when the time comes, focus on your holiday and enjoy it.

The Point is a community-driven volunteer effort supported through advertising. See the links on the left to learn more.

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TH&B 103

TH&B 103

by Brendan Oliver

For many Hamiltonians one of their best childhood memories is playing on the old train in Gage Park. For years the locomotive sat neglected and unwanted but now it’s on display in restored condition at the Westfield Heritage Village in Rockton.

In June of 1954 the Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo (TH&B) Railway gave the City of Hamilton an old steam locomotive to be used as a museum piece. For more than a year the Parks Board debated where locomotive 103 should be placed but eventually they agreed on a spot at the south end of Gage Park just east of the Roselawn Lawn Bowling Club.

In its working days the train, which was built by the Montreal Locomotive Works in 1910, travelled between Hamilton, Welland, and Montrose hauling steel and other goods to points on the New York Central and Canadian Pacific lines. In its 44 years on the job the train had no accidents and maintained a fine safety record.

In early October 1956 the train was moved across Lawrence Road and into Gage Park using two sections of temporary track. On October 18, 1956 at a formal ceremony the locomotive was officially handed over to the City. Present at the ceremony were Mayor Lloyd D. Jackson and Fire Chief Reg Swanborough who once worked aboard the train as a stoker.

At the ceremony TH&B General Manager Percy Hankinson proclaimed, “We give her to the citizens of Hamilton and to their children who have for so many years watched our trains from this very spot and to the generations of Hamiltonians yet unborn.” The train would remain in the great park for the next 20 years.

By 1976 the train that was loved by so many children was in a state of disrepair having suffered the effects of weather and vandalism. In September of the same year it was decided to transport the old iron horse to the Wentworth Pioneer Village, now known as the Westfield Heritage Village.

On January 16, 1977 the two pieces were loaded onto trailers and hauled up the Claremont access on route to its new home. The trip up the access alone took over two hours.

In May of that year a ceremony was held at the Pioneer Village to celebrate the new addition. Herb March, an 87-year-old former engineer on the 103, and Ancaster Mayor Ann Sloat each took turns driving in the ceremonial spike.

In 1987 the train was in the news again when the Wentworth Pioneer Village fell on hard times and closed. A group of railway enthusiasts suggested the train should be moved to the Museum of Steam and Technology on Woodward Avenue. Working every Sunday to prepare the train for transport, the group put more than 1500 hours into the project.

Plans to move the train came to a halt when Alderman Bill McCulloch opposed the move due to its high cost. The disheartened railway group ceased their work and one member wrote in The Spectator, “Goodbye Engine 103, may you rust in peace.”

In 1997 a group led by Charles Doubrough began restoring the 103 as a millennium project. The group found extensive damage and it wasn’t until 2005 that the project was completed. Now on display in restored condition inside the village, the train is being enjoyed by a new generation of area children.

For more information about the TH&B 103 and the 1997 restoration project, please visit http://www.facebook.com/CrownPointHamiltonHistory/

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