Hamilton, Canada 2020

Hamilton, Ontario is a city that has a bit of everything, from sprawling industries to local sports teams like the CFL’s Tiger-Cats. It is known as “The Hammer” or “Steel Town” for the thriving steel industry, notable for the many steelworks overlooking Hamilton Harbour. There’s plenty to see and do, including historic Dundurn Castle and over 100 waterfalls to visit. There’s never a dull moment in Ontario’s 3rd largest city.

Hamilton Geography

Skyline of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on a sunny fall afternoon. Editorial credit: Atomazul / Shutterstock.com

Hamilton is found in the southeastern province of Ontario in Canada, in the northern part of North America. Hamilton is a port city located at the western end of Lake Ontario. On a map, it’s about halfway between Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and Buffalo, New York, USA.

Hamilton is part of the Niagara Peninsula, but more specifically the Niagara Escarpment which divides it into “upper” and “lower” divisions and is commonly referred to as the “mountain”. The Niagara Peninsula is a stretch of land between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. This also constitutes the Greater Golden Horseshoe which is a combination of the Niagara Peninsula, Lake Scugog, Georgian Bay, Lake Huron and the Greater Toronto Area or GTA. Sometimes the term GTHA is used, adding Hamilton to this metropolitan area.

Hamilton Climate

A high altitude, aerial view over Hamilton, Ontario
Hamilton in winter.

Hamilton is in a humid continental climate zone and has 4 seasons which consist of wet summers and snowy and sometimes torrid winters. Spring and fall are crisp and transient. Each year, Hamilton receives 929.6 mm of precipitation over 157.7 days, which includes snow, sleet, and rain. However, apart from being the hottest month at 20.8 degrees Celsius, July brings the most rainfall at 101.6mm. Alternatively, January is the coldest month of the year, with an average temperature of -5.5 degrees Celsius. Historically, February brings the least precipitation with 58.5 mm. On July 14, 1868, Hamilton recorded the hottest temperature at 41.1 degrees Celsius.

Brief History of Hamilton

Named after George Hamilton, who thought the land between Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment would be a good location for a town, and laid out the settlement in 1815. It was not until the 1830s and l he addition of the Burlington Canal that Hamilton witnessed rapid growth in population and industry.

At the end of his second year as Prime Minister, Sir Allan McNab saw the Great Western Railway enter service, becoming Hamilton’s first working railway linking Hamilton with the greater American immigration route of New York, Milwaukee, Boston and Chicago. Thus, Hamilton became an important rail and logistics hub for steel transportation and was incorporated as a city in 1846.

However, it would be the rebellious actions of the steelworkers who were grinding steel at the time that instead began to melt the steel. Consequently, they mined limestone from the Niagara Escarpment, coal from the Appalachians, and iron ore found on the Canadian Shield. Forever giving Hamilton his claim to ‘Steel City’ fame.

Hamilton Demographics

With a population of 569,353, Hamilton is Ontario’s third largest city, behind Ottawa and Toronto. Across Canada, Hamilton is the 9th most populous city and has a population density of 509.1 km/sq. Hamilton has a large Francophone population with 30,530 Francophones and 5,000 dedicated bilingual services. There is also a large Italian, English, Scottish and Irish migrant population of 130,750 who claim the above as their heritage. The average age of a Hamiltonian is 41.3 years, of which 54.9% are in a couple or married and 6.4% divorced. The average household income is $41,730 per year, or about $21.70 per hour.

Hamilton Economy

downtown hamilton
Downtown Hamilton, Ontario.

Hamilton’s steel industry accounts for 60% of all steel produced in Canada, which is attributed to the two steel giants Dofasco and Stelco. Dofasco has approximately 7,300 employees and annually produces 4 million tons of steel for the automotive, construction and appliance industries. For seven consecutive years, Dofasco has been included in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.

Since 1912, National Steel Car Ltd, has produced freight and passenger cars. They employ 3,000 workers and can manufacture 12,500 cars a year, including boxcars, coal cars and passenger train cars. Today, the largest economic drivers are wholesale and trade with 60,400 employees, health care with 55,500 employees, and manufacturing with 46,000 employees.

Attractions in Hamilton

Dundurn Castle

view of Dundurn Castle in Hamilton, Ontario
View of Dundurn Castle in Hamilton, Ontario.

Located on York Boulevard, this 1,700 m² mansion is an example of neoclassical architecture. Built in 1835, this house once belonged to Sir Allan McNab and has 40 bedrooms and had running water and gas lamps. The mansion has been restored to its 1855 appearance and it cost the City of Hamilton $3 million to restore it to its former glory. Today the public can visit Dundurn Castle, where costumed actors reenact the time when the former prime minister was at the height of his political career.

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum
Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. Editorial Credit: Jeffrey M. Frank / Shutterstock.com

Located on the outskirts of Hamilton at John C. Munro International Airport, the Warplane Heritage Museum features 47 World War II and Cold War military aircraft. The museum has 1 of 2 Avro Lancasters in the world that are in flying condition. Other aircraft in their collection include the TBM Avenger, the S-2 Tracker built by De Havilland Canada and the Bristol Bolingbroke.

Alan Ness founded the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum when he purchased Hanger 3 at the airport for his then newly acquired Fairey Firefly. Over the years the collection grew to include many aircraft, forcing Ness to purchase Hangar 4 next door for the growing collection. In 1977, Alan Ness was killed in an accident at the Canadian Air Show with the Fairey Firefly. In 1993, a fire broke out in Hangar 3, destroying all aircraft, and it took three years to replace the hangar. Today, the Canadian Warplane Museum is open to the public to come see the Hanger and relive history.

Hamilton has a unique history that proves that the surrounding landscape of a mountain and a bay can create an industrial and economic engine that George Hamilton first envisioned. From Premier’s completion of rail lines and the creation of a transportation hub, to thriving steel mills and railcars, it’s what makes Hamilton l icon seen today from the Skyway Bridge.

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