Greetings from Hamilton

Tourism in Hamilton

Tourists, as anyone who has ever been one can tell you, are either the life's blood or the bane of any region's existence. That much, at least, has not changed through the years, although I doubt that any Chamber of Commerce would condone such pessimism. One of the only differences one can notice between the tourists of long ago and of today is a lack of Bermuda shorts, Hawaiian shirts and Kodak cameras.

"The intensity of the cold ... has seldom been equalled ..."

Now as anyone who has ever travelled knows, one of the first things to be considered is the climate of the destination. Thomas Rolph, writing in 1841, waxed poetic over the winters, despite their length and severity. Hardly a lure for the people he is trying to persuade to come here.

"On the 19th of November, the country was for the first time this season, covered with snow, a clothing which has continued, as the ancient historians would say, 'even unto this day.' The intensity of the cold for more than four months has seldom been equalled, even in the recollection of the oldest settlers; the thermometer during that period being frequently 30 below zero. The injurious effects which must have been produced by it, have been completely counteracted by the deep snow which fell and was renewed at intervals throughout the winter, until its depth, in many places, was the cause of anticipated alarm of floods, with all their terrors, when the thaw would come."

The weather is not the only hazard noticed by tourists. The Reverend Henry Christmas noted, in 1849, that the streets were dangerous to walk on:

"The sidewalks and some of the streets are planted, as in Toronto , but not being hitherto provided with gas, as that city is, and deep drains moreover being cut on each side of the path in many places, walking about at night is really somewhat dangerous, unless you are provided with a lantern. Gradually, however, there can be no doubt that this crying evil will be mended, and the streets rendered as safe as they are in Toronto ."

He also noted another hazard when he ran into a band of Indians bringing venison to the city to sell.

"The venison, however, did not look well, it was not being "broken" after the approved art of "venerie", but hacked about in a manner that would doubtless have been highly unsatisfactory to Mr. Scrope; the heads, instead of being left on with the noble antlers, being roughly hewn off in a manner that gave some of the carcasses an uncomfortable semblance to that of a decapitated dog."