Yet another event we can cross off the Check List – I had always wanted to attend a Pride celebration! It meant a lot to me to attend and show my support for the community. I had searched around for information on Hamilton Pride last summer, but it didn’t seem like there was much happening. This year, The Well: LGBTQ Community Wellness Centre of Hamilton took over the organization of Pride and went all out with events all month long to celebrate. There were events such as a trans-only social, youth craft night, workshops, a poetry slam, and of course the main celebration – the Hamilton Pride Festival.
Avi and I met up with good friend and Honourary Tour Member Jamie, at 11am at City Hall for a rally. We were happy to see so many colourful supporters out on this gorgeous day. We kept cool in the shade and listened to the heartfelt and encouraging speeches, including an appearance by Mayor Bob Bratina, who lent his support.
Rally at City Hall
From there, it was time to march! They specified it being a march, rather than a parade, but I love a good parade (“Don’t Rain On My Parade” being my own personal mantra) so I called it that. We marched down Main, rounding the corner at James, and walked all the way down to the Waterfront. Avi and I tried to capture the feel of it with photos, videos, and tweets – there was such an amazing energy being with everyone as we walked in the street, a lane being blocked off for us, and police escorting us alongside.
The Pride volunteers were friendly and energetic, occasionally getting a chant going. One participant played a steady beat on a bongo as we marched, which made us really step in time! Mayor Bob was just behind us and walked most of the way, and a lovely couple in front of us turned around and gave Avi and I some colourful, tropical leis. Then we were really in the spirit!
Marching down James Street
Mayor Bob Bratina in the crowd marching past Lister Block
It was fantastic to be greeted with so much support from citizens as we marched by – lots of waves, car honks, hoots and hollers from people on foot and in the car. Walking down James North was a lot of fun, since by this point on our Tour, we know the street so well. I spotted Dave from Mixed Media, Holly and Jane at White Elephant, and Roger from CBC Hamilton all outside their respective establishments, watching us go by.
Once we neared the James North staple, Mulberry Street Coffeehouse, Jamie and I decided we needed a little pick-me-up, so the three of us took a convenient little detour. After grabbing some iced coffees for a little jolt and to help cool down (and a delicious Dark City Brownie!) we scurried down the street to catch up with the procession, and seamlessly merged back into the flow.
A view of the procession from our detour at Mulberry Street Coffeehouse
When we hit the Waterfront, really one of my favourite spots in Hamilton, I didn’t know what to expect. The festival was a lot bigger than I thought, with the grounds of Pier 4 Park covered in tents, a stage, a barbeque all ready to go, and music blasting. Avi, Jamie, and I had fun strolling around in the sun, taking in all the vendors and sponsors before stopping for a rest under the beer tent to grab some drinks and watch the entertainment. It was some fabulous entertainment at that – there were several drag performers who took the stage and lip-synched to some classic pop hits, looking glamourous as they did! I’m a big fan of the art of the air band - I’m not much of a singer, but that I can do!
We took some more photos in the sun and just thoroughly enjoyed our time at the park and taking in the amazing, positive energy of the day. Check out our video blog of the day below (the first I’ve filmed and edited for the Tour!)
After dropping by CBC Hamilton’s grand opening at Art Crawl, Kristin and I, dressed to the nines in matching nautical inspired outfits (totally not planned, by the way! It’s a same wavelength thing) made our way to the Leander Boat Club to see the Dinner Belles play their first Hamilton show of the year. Fitting that we’d been to CBC earlier, as the Dinner Belles were featured on CBC Hamilton’s “Hamilton Rocks.”
The Dinner Belles had been on Kristin’s radar for a while and I remember her excitedly telling me about this country folk band and how they’d be a hit at our fundraiser, The Playlist 1.0. After listening to their tune “Til The Dawn” (featured on Kristin’s April Playlist), I could understand why. Naturally, we were both looking forward to seeing them perform after listening to their tunes, as well as get a feel for their live performance and the audience. It’d been a while since we’d ventured down to the Waterfront, so it was nice to be back. It was a beautiful evening and the sun was slowly setting across the water. I’m sure Art Crawlers were reveling in the beautiful weather.
When we walked into the boat club, Kristin and I exchanged a look and I think the first word that came to mind was PROM! White sheets were draped along the ceiling with fairy lights strung alongside, as well as bright, colourful decorations hanging from the ceiling. There was almost an ethereal feel to it and it couldn’t have been more perfect for the evening. I think Kristin even made a reference to Glee, as Glee’s anticipated prom episode had aired just earlier in week. We were a bit early, so we took a walk around, taking in the decorations and caught up on all things Hamilton.
Toronto rock-roots band Samantha Martin and the Haggard opened the show. Backed by Mikey McCallum on lead guitar, Greg Sweetland on bass and Pete Lambert on drums, lead singer and rhythm guitarist Samantha took the mic and crooned about everything from relationships to hopeless love, hardships in life to simply about life in the country. Her strong, powerful vocals took centre stage; I was taken by surprise when she first started singing because what a voice, was not expecting it! The band had a cool groove to them, from the twangy and rockin’ guitar to the drums which set a great pace for all their songs. During a fewer of their slower tunes, including “Where I Went Wrong,” I could just imagine how fun their songs would be at a school dance back in the 50s. Kristin and I noticed Samantha’s cowboy boots and nodded in approval and glad we’d decided to wear ours! Their set was a great way to start off the night and ease our way into the Dinner Belles.
Then it was time for the Dinner Belles to take the stage! Kristin and I weren’t sure what to expect, but boy were we in for a show! By the time the Dinner Belles hit the stage, the boat club was packed. Kristin and I smiled as we looked around, taking in the crowd. We loved the mix of both young and old, a surprise appearance by good friend Gunner, as well as parents, friends of friends, family and grandparents who’d come out for a night of music and dance - truly a family affair.
The Dinner Belles pretty much ROCKED the stage. Each of these musicians are involved with other musical projects, but seeing them together on stage as a supergroup, it was like they were a family. They looked like they were having so much fun, playing and singing their hearts out and taking in the energy of the crowd, transforming it in their music and sending it back out to us. Playing songs off their album West Simcoe County, the Belles have been able to cultivate their own sound, thanks to a bit of musical inspiration and their own creativity. Terra Lightfoot and Brad Germain’s warm vocals complimented each other so well, especially on songs like “Running To Ravenna” (featured on most recent Playlist) and “Til The Dawn” which was a surefire hit with the crowd and had everyone singing along. Jonathan Ely Cass got right into things on the drums, keeping the tempo going and getting in the groove along with bassist Scott Bell during their more upbeat songs.
Kristin and I also loved the variety of instruments, as seen with Melanie Pothier strumming away on the mandolin, Brandon Bliss on banjo and Greg Bisco on piano who cracked jokes here and there throughout the evening. For “West Simcoe County,” Greg was on accordian duties and I remember Kristin and I looking at each other being like, “Oh my gosh, he has an ACCORDIAN!” We sure love our musical instruments.
Soon enough, both Kristin and I found ourselves dancing, clapping and stomping our feet along with the Belles and everyone in the crowd, many of whom were hardcore Dinner Belles’ fans. Did I mention dancing?? Oh there was dancing. At one point, a group of people made their way right up to the stage and were swing dancing and shimmying along. A highlight was one little girl in particular, bassist Scott Bell’s daughter, who’s pretty much a member of the band. She was such a joy to watch throughout the night as she spun and danced around, smiling happily without a care in the world.
As the crowd dispersed, Kristin & I stood in awe and looked at each other thinking, “Wow.” This show was probably one of the most energetic we’d ever been to and seeing how amped the audience was had as excited for the Dinner Belles’ appearance at our upcoming fundraiser. We had a blast and hope you’ll come out and watch the Dinner Belles rock the stage til the dawn. Check out the video below to get a taste!
Afternote: As just mentioned, we are excited that the Dinner Belles will be performing at our fundraiser, The Playlist 1.0! To learn more about The Playlist 1.0 and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hamilton, who we have teamed up with for the fundraiser, check out our blog entry and watch our official trailer.
To mark the beginning of June, which we deemed nautical month, the four of us figured, what better way to kick off all things nautical than spending an afternoon at the Hamilton Waterfront?? The Hamilton Waterfront is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike year round, though things really pick up in the spring and summer. Known for its scenic beauty, calm waters and noteworthy history, I’m sure many of us have fond memories of cycling, jogging, strolling or rollerblading along the pathways and checking out the annual Canada Day fireworks. I think the four of us were all particularly excited to go on the boat though. You know, I think our goal should be to incorporate every (okay not every, but a few) forms of transportation into this tour. We’ve done automobile and boat…perhaps train and trolley next? Anyone with suggestions, drop us an email :)
We first headed to Williams Fresh Cafe to grab some lunch. With outdoor patio seating right by the waterfront, Williams is without a doubt a popular place to grab a bite to eat year round. While we waited in the queue (British/of the colonial vernacular for line), we had a little photoshoot and soaked up the sun. Summer had finally arrived here in Canada and we intended to make the most of it, especially by the water. As it’s been noted in a few of our entries, the four of us are generally, individually and collectively, indecisive which leads to moments of (somewhat) panic and hilarity so we took advantage of the queue to check out the menu! Carly and I chose the roasted veggie and goat cheese panini while Kristin went for the tuna wrap. Jenny and I were feeling particularly summery and got strawberry banana smoothies.
After lunch and a brainstorming sesh (involving designating duties amongst the group), we still had time to kill until our boat cruise so we took a stroll around the waterfront, attracting onlookers due to our colourful I Heart Hamilton shirts in the colours of sunshine, lime, slate and mauve that just POP!! The waterfront also popped with colour from murals displayed all around the waterfront. These are done by students from some of the local primary schools in the Hamilton area and it was great to see their interpretations of a fun day at the waterfront. Making the most of the beautiful weather, we found a spot on the hill and caught up on things, as friends do. We also spotted the infamous hop on, hop off red trolley which travels along the Hamilton Waterfront trail. Definitely a must for next time!
Soon it was time for us to board the boat! Tickets in hand, we made our way to the boat where we were greeted by our captain and took a seat. Our captain was hilarious, his dry sense of humour made for an entertaining boat ride around the waterfront. Rather than taking us on the typical scenic route, we sped through the water while he provided some historical background on the waterfront, highlighting notable sights such as a house with underground tunnels and the Desjardins Canal train disaster of 1857. He then turned it over to the passengers, inquiring if there were any history buffs. After learning that Carly had studied History, he wasted no time in quizzing her on historical facts of Hamilton. In her defense (despite Jenny and I being backup historical experts), we hadn’t studied that much Hamiltonian history in our undergrad so it was great to learn more about the area. He took us to an area called Carol’s Cove and we sat there in silence, taking in and admiring our surroundings.
It was such a beaaaaautiful day, perfect weather for a boat ride. We weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the beautiful weather. As we rode around the harbour, we spotted many boats anchored, clearly boat owners enjoying a relaxing afternoon out in the water soaking up the sunshine. While we passed by the collection of boats in the harbour, we kept an eye out for a potential tour boat. That’s right, ladies and gents, the Hamilton Tour Girls Super Sensational Summer Boat Tour, coming soon…
The boat cruise was about an hour and before we knew it, we were already back at the dock. We’d passed by the HMCS Haida, another site which we are planning on taking a tour of at some point this summer. To round off the tour, we grabbed some local Hewitts Dairy ice cream from Scoops, a perfect refreshment after a day in the sun and found a bench where we sat, enjoying the beautiful weather, looking at clouds, watching fishermen, and even spotted the Hamilton Harbour Queen making its way around the harbour! The Harbour Queen has a number of dining, sightseeing, special event and party cruises, one of which we’ll be going on in July, so keep an eye out for a recap of that.
What a neat way to spend a Sunday afternoon, simply delightful. The four of us will definitely be visiting the waterfront again and have even been brainstorming ideas for our next visit.