Riding the Red Hill Trail

Riding the Red Hill Trail

by Tyler Fish

The scenic Red Hill Valley was forever altered when the Red Hill Expressway was completed in 2007. Hamilton’s most contentious infrastructure project prior to the LRT, the construction of the $245 million expressway divided residents and city council and involved a lengthy lawsuit against the federal government. Despite the loss of much of the woodland, a trail which follows the Red Hill Creek remains.  Beginning at the Niagara Escarpment, the Red Hill Valley Recreational Trail runs northeast through the valley until it intersects the Waterfront Trail near Van Wagners Beach Rd.

The trail is approximately 10.5 km long and includes a variety of surfaces and grades. Despite being adjacent to the parkway, the trail passes through several quiet forested areas, some of which feature vibrant cherry blossom trees. There is also an accessible 1.1 km section with a tar-and-chip surface which can be reached through the King’s Forest Golf Course. This walkable area is frequented by family hikers and dog walkers.

My typical path involves biking from the house to the trail entrance on Queenston Road. The trail north of Queenston towards the waterfront is unpaved, and features some moderately steep hills, but is not an especially challenging ride. After 30-40 minutes, riders will reach the highly visible red pedestrian bridge which crosses the QEW. From here it’s a short trip to the Waterfront Trail, which I would usually take to Hutch’s on the Beach for a moose tracks-filled waffle cone. Hutch’s has been a fixture on the beach strip for over 70 years, with it’s 1950’s dining experience and famous fish and chips drawing in visitors from across the city year-round. Other notable attractions in this area include the more upscale Greek restaurant, Baranga’s on the Beach, and the amusement park of Adventure Village. If you wish to ride farther, the Waterfront Trail runs east to Confederation Park and northwest all the way to Burlington’s Spencer Smith Park.

On the other hand, riders who set off south on the Red Hill will eventually reach Albion Falls. One of the best waterfalls in the region, Albion has been featured in numerous news articles and blogs across the GTHA. Unfortunately, this popularity has proven to be its undoing. After several deaths and injuries from people walking into or along the top of the falls, fences were put up and police stationed to ticket trespassers. Although the sight is still well worth visiting, riders should be prepared for heavy foot traffic by the falls for most of the day.

Most Crown Point and Delta residents live within a 15-minute ride of the trail, with easy access via Queenston Rd. or Barton St. There are parking lots by Lawrence Rd. and King’s Forest, while street parking is available by numerous other trail entrances. Readers interested in learning more about the trail or who wish to support the Ontario Trails Council can visit http://www.ontariotrails.on.ca/trails/view/red-hill-valley-recreational-trail.


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POINT PEOPLE: That’s a wrap

POINT PEOPLE: That’s a wrap

by Sean Hurley

Packing a lunch for school or work is an everyday routine for thousands of Crown Point residents. Plastic wraps or bags for sandwiches are staple ingredients in lunches. But plastic becomes a huge problem once it is tossed away. It ends up in landfills, breaks down into tiny pieces, and enters into the food chain and water tables. Thinking about it could spoil your appetite. Luckily two women, one who happens to live in Crown Point, have a solution.

Robyn Menzies and Sarah Shearing are two moms and long-time friends. They met while living in Toronto and “bonded over their love of family life, baby wearing and healthy living.” After Sarah moved to Crown Point their friendship remained strong.

“We always knew we would find a way to collaborate together and just needed the right project,” Sarah explained by email. That project turned out to be Earthology Food Wraps. The two women produce food wraps that are reusable, washable and, when they’re finally tattered and torn, compostable.

Sarah Shearing, left, and Robyn Menzies make North America's first vegan-friendly, 100 per cent plant based food wraps.
Sarah Shearing, left, and Robyn Menzies make North America’s first vegan-friendly, 100 per cent plant-based food wraps.

Describing themselves as environmentalists committed to “reducing toxins, waste, and protecting the planet,” Sarah explained that the project began when their children were set to begin school. “We started brainstorming ways to transition our home habits into our kids’ lunch boxes,” she said. “Nothing we saw combined both the all-organic, toxin-free materials with the beauty we wanted to see. Being green doesn’t need to be boring or difficult…so we decided to make our own.”

Thus began “a long and arduous journey” of sourcing materials that were organic and naturally produced. “It wasn’t easy, but with a little research a lot of patience and a little alchemy, we finally did it,” Sarah exclaimed. “We are proud to be the first North American makers of a vegan-friendly, 100 per cent plant-based food wrap.”

The market for Earthology Food Wraps is anyone who packs a lunch and who wants to reduce their consumption of single-use plastic materials. They also target those looking to “add a little flair to their kitchens or who are looking for a unique and beautiful gift.”

Sarah explained that while beeswax food wraps are not uncommon in other parts of the world, they are new to North America, “… so a lot of what we do is education.” She added, “Getting our product out there and demonstrating how amazing and easy it is, that’s our biggest challenge.”

Sarah said they both work hard to maintain the quality of their product while keeping prices low enough to entice people to give them a try. For anyone who would like to try Earthology Food Wraps in their kitchen and lunches, they can be purchased at Simply Zen on Ottawa Street near Cannon or ordered directly online at http://www.earthologywraps.com.


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Port Dover: Staycation on a budget

Port Dover: Staycation on a budget

by Kelly MacNeill

Lately, I have been on the hunt for things to do with our nine-year-old daughter that won’t bust the budget so I thought I’d share my experience of enjoying a staycation while being mindful of costs. Our recent trip to the beach in Port Dover was a fun and inexpensive day out for my daughter, her friend, and myself.  

Port Dover is about an hour from Crown Point—close enough to make it a half- or full-day excursion yet far enough to get the feeling of a fun road-trip experience.

Don’t get me wrong—Port Dover isn’t necessarily a cheap place to visit. It’s a tourist spot where a lot of money can be spent if you allow it. There are lots of wonderful shops, places to eat, and touristy things to do. If it’s in your budget, then I would definitely consider adding on the other fun things Port Dover has to offer, but it’s not required to still enjoy your time there.

For our trip, we headed out super early in the morning, about 6:30 a.m. Crazy I know to most of you, but as someone who doesn’t love the heat or crowds, it meant we got to the beach before it was really hot and busy. It was still nice enough for the kids to play in the sand and the water, and I got to enjoy some relaxing time. You definitely don’t need to go this early. If you like the heat and crowds, then any time of the day would be just fine.

To avoid the need to buy food while we were there, I took a cooler bag full of fruit, sandwiches, chips, granola bars, and water. It did the trick and I came back with leftover food. I didn’t buy anything special for this trip; I just used what we already had at home.

After a few hours of swimming and playing, the kids were ready to go and looking for some ice cream. We could have easily bought some in Port Dover, but I decided to take them to Hewitt’s Dairy Bar on Highway 6 in Hagersville on our way back. Other than perhaps gas, this was the biggest expense of the day, about $15.  Pretty good I’d say for a day trip.

Speaking of gas, it hasn’t been cheap lately, so on our way home I stopped near Caledonia on the Six Nations Reserve and filled up with gas. This saved me a lot of money as well.

I know there are lots of other ideas all around us—we just need to look for them. My mission now is to see how much fun we can have while spending as little money as possible.

Have a great summer!


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Experience your own art staycation this summer

Experience your own art staycation this summer

by Kathryn Shanley

Hamilton is alive with art. I’ve seen Bertrand Russell’s Nobel Peace Prize and the last letter ever written by Albert Einstein. I’ve been surrounded by eclectic artwork in an old factory transformed into a beautiful and unique creative workspace. I saw these things and more right here in Hamilton—for free!

In June, I embarked on an “art staycation.” Being an art newbie, I felt a little intimidated entering these places of artistic awe, but I learned that art is for everyone. There are no dumb questions; artists want to talk and educate people about art. My brief journey only begins to scratch the surface of places to experience art here in Hamilton.

The McMaster Museum of Art is a treasure nestled in the heart of the university campus. It was here that I saw Albert Einstein’s last letter and the Nobel Peace Prize won by Bertrand Russell in a fascinating exhibit about the accomplished 20th-century philosopher.  I found the two-channel video work March 5, 1819, by Anishinaabe artist Rebecca Belmore, to be unique and thought-provoking. Education Officer Teresa Gregorio says the museum has a rotating series of exhibitions throughout the year. Teresa encourages everyone to “visit us this summer to see science and art mix in The Midnight Sun Camera Obscura Project, or maps that are 250 years old in Espionage and Maps in the Age of Napoleon.” Teresa says, “If you’re interested in a stroll outdoors, we have lots of art across campus.” Sculpture tour maps are available online. For more information, visit https://museum.mcmaster.ca.

Hamilton’s Central Library is an awesome place to explore art and it’s right downtown. When you enter the library, you’re greeted by interesting exhibits at both the York Street and Jackson Square entrances. You’ll find Gallery4 and Special Exhibits on the first floor and Gallery4 Annex on the fourth floor. I spent some time at the Unmasking Brain Injury special exhibit brought to the city by the Hamilton Brain Injury Association. The masks painted by survivors of brain injuries moved me to tears with the pain and joy expressed. Visit http://www.hpl.ca for more information about upcoming exhibits and events.

It’s hard to miss the iconic AGH sign identifying the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH) located in the heart of downtown. Exhibitions on the second floor are free to the public, but on the first Friday of every month from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. the entire gallery is free! I was happy to see that the AGH is committed to featuring more work by female artists. “Women’s art is being more recognized now, but we still have a long way to go,” says Karen Logan, local artist and director for the Women’s Art Association that has a juried exhibition in the AGH until September 3rd—free to the public. Learn more about Karen’s art online at  https://www.waah.ca/. The AGH web site is https://www.artgalleryofhamilton.com/.

Visiting the Cotton Factory is like taking a step back in time but with a twist. The former cotton mill at 270 Sherman Avenue North has been transformed into an amazing creative workspace full of artists’ studios, offices, galleries, and special event space while still maintaining its nostalgic charm, authenticity, and historic appeal. On the 3rd Saturday of each month, you can “Shop the Cotton Factory” from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. “We invite the community here to share in the creativity and art,” says Laura Zeidler from the Cotton Factory. You can visit all six buildings, view or buy art from 30 to 40 artists, relax and sip a coffee, enjoy some food, or watch the kids do art for free in the kids zone. Learn more at http://cottonfactory.ca/2018/04/17/shop-the-cotton-factory-stcf/.

Art is “made in Canada” at Earls Court Gallery. The gallery opened in 2009 at its Crown Point location on Ottawa Street North. Though the gallery is a commercial venture, coming in to visit and view the amazing works of art by these talented Canadian artists is free. Andrea Jackman, the gallery’s curator, encourages people to stop by. “We’re creating an opportunity to educate people about art,” says Andrea. “We don’t want people to feel intimidated. We’re community friendly.” The gallery’s next show, Cold Front V: Inuit Experience of Then and Now opens August 2 and runs until September 8, 2018. Visit http://earlscourtgallery.businesscatalyst.com/index.html for more information.

I can’t pass by the All Sorts Gallery on Ottawa Street North without wishing for an occasion to buy something unique for one of my friends. All Sorts Gallery is a co-op art gallery and retail store featuring a diverse array of art by local artists and artisans. “It’s a journey through the artisan’s world of Hamilton,” says local designer and co-op member Anne Miller of OOps Bags who was there the day I visited. Her beautiful purses and bags are displayed for sale in the gallery. “From stained glass to pottery, recycled jewellery and textiles, hand sewn greeting cards, prints, and glass production, we have the work of so many talented artisans,” says Anne. Go to http://www.allsortsgallery.com to learn more.

Ben Navaee Gallery is a newer addition to the art galleries on Ottawa Street North. Ben Navaee has been in the art business for 17 years. Relocating from Toronto to Hamilton, Ben opened his gallery here in 2017. He features his own amazing work as well as the works of well-known and emerging artists. He too believes in educating people about art, its importance in our everyday lives, and its affordability. “Artists are very happy to have their work seen for its pleasure,” says Ben. “Parents can bring their kids in to discuss art and not feel they’re interrupting.” The gallery’s next exhibit is featuring Michael Winny’s work from August 3 to August 9, 2018. Winny’s opening reception will be on August 4 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Visit http://bennavaeegallery.com for more information about future exhibits.

My art staycation was an amazing adventure! I’ve decided to continue my journey. People in the Hamilton arts community want to educate people about art and remove the mystique that often surrounds it. Make art a part of your summer staycation.


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POINT PEOPLE: Hammerhead’s Scott Forbes

POINT PEOPLE: Hammerhead’s Scott Forbes

by Aha Blume

At first glance, Hammerhead’s—located almost across from Tim Hortons on Ottawa Street—may look like just another take out fish and chips place, but there is more to it than just the fish.

Owner, Scott Forbes, has created a menu that will appeal to those of us with simple tastes (just a piece of fish and some chips for me) and for those who like to try a wider variety of seafood dishes, as well.  The place is small, but it comes with a big, neighbourly heart. Scott is a Crown Point resident who lives on Rosslyn Avenue North with wife, Jennifer Causey, their son, Arlo, and a great dog, Nina. Hammerhead’s is his first restaurant, but for Scott,  “It was Ottawa Street or bust”, he said.

Fish and Chips
Take out fish and chips from Hammerhead’s with coleslaw, tartar sauce, and really good fries.

“I love the comradely support among the merchants and their staff, the adventurousness of the clients and the determination of the residents of Crown Point to see Ottawa Street do well,” he explained. “You will be given a chance on Ottawa Street.”

The local love, though, flows both ways. In renovating the restaurant Scott reached out through social media for painting and tiles. “Crown Point Community (Facebook Group) was invaluable when starting up,” he said. “When I needed to hire someone, it was all done through that group. They, in turn, have been great, supportive customers.”

Chatting with customers as he prepares orders, the place is busy and there are stools for your comfort while your meal is prepared.  It is worth the wait. Hammerhead’s sources fresh, sustainable options and “If a customer is actually interested, I can show them a photo of who caught their cod”.

“Traceability is a key value of Hammerhead’s. Along with freshness,” Scott said, adding, “I have no problem putting a fish under the customer’s nose.  Or sending back anything that is sub-par. We fill our deep fryers up with sunflower oil which is superior to canola. Our kitchen is a gluten-free facility.  At Hammerhead’s we like to say that taste is subjective, quality is a fact.”

Open only a few months, Hammerhead’s has already attracted many return customers to the restaurant so the subjective part speaks for itself; it is delicious.  Located across from the historic first-ever Tim Hortons, you can get your fish and chips, and then go get your coffee and donuts and take it all home to enjoy. There are benches outside that are just perfect for an added table and Scott said he would love to have his customers sit outside in the nice weather enjoying his food.

Scott is continually making plans including “a small, fresh seafood counter.” He promises the freshest selection of seafood in the city.

Be sure to visit Hammerhead’s On Ottawa, Tuesday through Saturday Noon – 7 p.m.


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Whose job is it anyway? Provincial vs. municipal jurisdiction

Whose job is it anyway? Provincial vs. municipal jurisdiction

by Tyler Fish

On June 7, Ontarians will head to the polls to elect a new premier. As political parties vie for votes and pitch their visions for the future of the province, it is important to understand the roles and responsibilities of our provincial and municipal governments.

The wide range of provincial responsibilities, in many cases, originate with the Constitution Act of 1867. These include education, health care, labour standards, prisons, liquor sales, public utilities, control of certain natural resources, and road regulations. In recent months, provincial policies with regards to healthcare, electricity generation, carbon taxes, and the regulation of marijuana sales have been prominent in the news. These could look a lot different depending on which party wins the election.

With regards to taxation, provinces control the provincial portion of personal income tax, corporate taxes, and sales tax. When combined with other revenue streams such as tobacco and fuel taxes, profits from crown corporations and transfers from the federal government, the province had a total revenue of $140.7 billion last year.

In contrast, municipal governments manage the city or local region. Their responsibilities include parks, libraries, water treatment systems, waste management, local police and fire departments, local by-laws, local transportation, roadways, and land zoning. Decisions made by municipal governments can dramatically shape local neighbourhoods, illustrated recently by the Pier 8 Redevelopment project.

However, municipal governments are limited in how they can raise funds. Largely relying on property taxes, supplemented by user fees for certain services, municipalities in Canada are not allowed to run operating deficits. This generally prevents cities from entering a debt spiral such as the one that forced Detroit to declare bankruptcy in 2013. This does mean, however, that for large-scale projects cities must rely on provincial or federal investment, such as the $1 billion earmarked for Hamilton’s LRT system.

Despite the multitude of ways that the provincial government can affect our everyday lives, voter turnout in Ontario’s recent elections is at all-time low. The 2014 election saw only 52.1% turnout among the province’s 9.2 million eligible voters. Although this was higher than the 48.2% turnout in 2011, both numbers are far below the 64.4% turnout in 1990. Municipal elections are even worse, with only 34% of eligible voters casting a ballot in the last municipal election. Whether due to general apathy or cynicism for our democratic institutions, these low rates are not only cause for concern among many political commentators, they are also blamed for the rising political polarization as parties cater to special-interest groups with hopes to draw voters to the polls.

There are many parties and candidates represented in the Hamilton Centre and Hamilton East-Stoney Creek ridings. By taking the time to cast your vote, even if it is just to spoil your ballot, you can ensure your voice is represented in Ontario’s next legislature.


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