Historic Hamilton

Ice Cutting on Hamilton Bay.  Fred Bishop and Herbert Fox, 1906.

Herbert Fox began to experiment with his own photography in the early 1900's.  Having set up a dark room in his Gibson St. house, he was able to process the images he collected on film.  With the earliest photo dating back to 1904 Herbert captured the story of industrial development in the City of Hamilton, along with other landmarks that no longer exist or are hidden amongst the current cityscapes.  The bracketed comments below the photos are speculations of subject identity.

(Unknown group of photographers)


Jimmy Wild's boat, 1904 - going through canal.   (See James H. Wild in  Friends and Neighbours)



Ice Boating on Hamilton Bay




Ice Harvest - Hamilton Bay, Circa 1906.

Detail of Hamilton's Ice Harvest season can be read on Worker's City website:  www.workerscity.ca/ice-harvesting

(Harvesting ice from a frozen Hamilton Bay, in the early 1900's. Dunlop’s grain warehouse was at the foot of Bay Street N. Vintage Hamilton FB Page.)


(This one appears to be taken on what was then known as Burlington Beach. In the area where where the Burlington Beach Fire Department kept their rescue boat. The volunteer beach rescue unit was formed in 1956 after the paid fire department took over the area's fire protection.These volunteers still man the rescue boat when needed today. The boat is kept next to the lake on the end of Lakeside Avenue.  Vintage Hamilton FB Page)


Hill near Bayview - Snake Road 1908
(Over the mouth of Grindstone Creek - Hamilton/Burlington - RBG - also known as Old Valley Road.  The white house is a toll booth, there was a sign warning of quick sand. People used to fish for salmon at the end of Snake Road here.  Historical Hamilton FB Page)


1912- Boat pulling barge of Musicians.
(Likely Desjardins Canal. That steam boat has been in several images related to the canal. Vintage Hamilton FB Page)



(The tower in the background is the Mountainview Hotel at top of the Claremont Access (at Upper James) where Southam Park now is. The road the auto is about to take is the old Strongman's Rd. that connected to the west end of Concession St. Today the remnants of the old road are just a grass trail.  Doug Southon - Historical Hamilton FB Page.
There's a good chance this was the visit of Edward, Prince of Wales, October 17-18, 1919. As part of his stay, he visited the Mount Hamilton Hospital and the Sanatorium.  David Lindeman - Historical Hamilton FB Page.)


(This section would have been Barton Township. Saltfleet began at Strathearne.)
(This amazing early 1900's image of the lower city was likely taken from Reservoir Park. The view is of the Gage farm before it became Gage park after being purchased by the City of Hamilton.
Follow the Trolley street (now Gage avenue) that angles in along the left edge and you should be able to spot Wagstaffes. Just in front of the line of trees.
The Gage family home is buried behind trees and nearly out of sight. The upper floor and chimney can be spotted.  In the foreground you can see two sets of rail lines. The nearer was the main line for the TH&B railway which would pass through Stoney Creek as they climbed the escarpment.  The further set was alongside Lawrence road and was used by the Hamilton, Grimsby and Beamsville Radial Railway. This electric railway operated from 1894 to 1931.
The farm became a park:  Purchased from the Gage family in 1918, greenhouse built in 1919 and opened as a park in 1922. The park design was made in 1920 by Howard and Laurie Dunnington-Grubb. The fountain was erected 1927. At the very bottom of the photo in the left corner you can see the top of one of the telegraph poles running along the GTR/CNR railway line running up the Escarpment to Caledonia. Vintage Hamilton FB Page)


Hamilton Reservoir : https://thepointhamilton.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/hamiltons-first-water-reservoir/


Hamilton Reservoir  (Note the camera and tripod on left of frame.)


The Barton Reservoir was one of the first major municipal water systems in Canada starting in 1859.  It was built 57.9 metre above Lake Ontario - fed from the engine house by the beach, had an 11 million gallon capacity and pumped water with the aid of gravity down across the city.  A Superintendent's residence (demolished in the 1970's) and public gardens called the Reservoir Park were built afterwards. Once the James Street Reservoir was completed, this Barton Reservoir was used as an emergency reserve up until 1958 when it was completely discontinued.  The area is now an overgrown ruin returned to nature and it has been recently designated as a heritage site actively under review to become a public park with walking trails.  This information was sourced from a 2018 public document from the City of Hamilton: pub-hamilton.escribemeetings.com/FileStream.ashx?DocumentId=149441 (pages 61 - 165) and includes many comparison pictures of the modern remnants beside the original reservoir structures in use.

Barton Reservoir on the Kenilworth Access. 1943 City Engineers map.  Provided by Vintage Hamilton



Adam Brown, Waterworks Commissioner (b. 1826, d. 1926).
An article published in 1924 showing Brown next to a tree he had planted at the Barton Reservoir in 1857 referred to him as ‘Hamilton’s Grand Old Man,’ further remarking hyperbolically that ‘Both the tree and its planter still stand, two sturdy, rugged giants typifying the best in nature and man’  (Figure 7) (Herald Scrapbooks 1924).
Photo and documentation from pub-hamilton.escribemeetings.com/FileStream.ashx?DocumentId=149441







Hamilton Reservoir


Hamilton Waterworks


Hamilton Waterworks


Highlanders group (possibly the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise's).


Hamilton Market
(Market Square behind old City Hall [left]. The Sign for Grafton's Jubilee can be made out on the middle building in the background.  Grafton's celebrated their Golden Jubilee in 1903 and their Diamond Jubilee in 1913.  If you're not familiar with the view, you are looking east toward James.  Vintage Hamilton FB Page)



Old Market Building after Fire




(Eric C Jamieson grocers 369 John north, south west corner of Simcoe and John circa 1910. Vintage Hamilton Photos)
(Notice the strength in the ladies’ arms and the size of that child? The little wooden sidewalks behind the buggy wheels, chandelier, toys in the window (?) and look at those spotless aprons! I also notice that the horse’s feet are in need of a trim and he appears to be hard used. The man is either delivering or picking up produce but clearly has it on display for this photograph because he’s posing that big whip and could never travel with it laid out like that.  Shawna Beech Hogan - Historical Hamilton FB Page)


2 Nite at Dundurn Park


Dundurn Park  (Unknown Friend - See seated gentleman in photo # 3 of Unknown Photos)
(Pausing on the rustic bridge over the ravine at Dundurn Park in the early 1900s.  In the background on the left is the coaling tower used to load the steam engine tenders in the rail yard below the park.  Vintage Hamilton FB Page)

One corner of the paddock fence appears to be visible below the bridge. The gentleman standing on the bridge could very well be watching the buffalo which may help date this photo as being circa 1910.  The Buffalo at the Dundurn Zoo were sent from Banff, Alberta about 1908. They resided in a paddock on the sloping area beyond the Cockpit building.  Murray Aikman, Hamilton Historian - Vintage Hamilton FB Page


Buffalo at Dundurn Park are standing bottom right.  Picture courtesy of Local History & Archives Department, Hamilton Public Library - posted on Vintage Hamilton FB Page

Unfortunately, the buffalo were not the most popular of animals at the zoo and through the years of W.W. I repeated attempts were made to sell them. These efforts continued into the early 1920s at which time the buffalo were costing $200.00 a month to care for. [That amount in 2020 is the equivalent of $28,250.00] Here's a quote from The Hamilton Spectator: of January 24, 1919: "...the keeping of 15 or 18 big buffaloes in a little enclosure is not only not humane but it is almost a criminal waste of food" A few years earlier in 1914 the zoo's star attraction had arrived. This was Leo the Lion but In October 1921 Leo died and the zoo was never quite the same. In 1926 a proposal was made to convert the facilities into an aviary which was approved in 1927 and was completed in 1931 following the Gould bequest.   Murray Aikman, Hamilton Historian - VintageHamilton FB Page

Caged Ape photo credit Herbert Fox.  Caged Leo the Lion and Bears at Dundurn Park photo Credit Maria Burbidge - Historical Hamilton FB Page




Old Hamilton - Gore Park - Photo postcard addressed to Mrs. Herbert Fox 357 Balmoral Ave N. Hamilton Ont. "Dear Lyde thear (sic) will be a Box by Express for you in the morning from Dunnville.
(At the time, the post office picked up and delivered frequently enough that you could use postcards almost like text messages. - Vintage Hamilton FB Page)



Old Hamilton - North Side of King Street between Hughson and John Streets





Winter Scene - Hamilton, Canada, 1944


Brock's Monument


Post 1946 - Corvettes sold to Steel Co.


Hamilton Bay



(Hunter Street Bridge, Hamilton)


High Level Bridge


Top: Wreck on the GTR May 10, 1918.  Bottom: At the Y near West End 1915


Wreck on the GTR May 10, 1918


Wreck on the GTR May 10, 1918


From the Globe and Mail - courtesy of Vintage Hamilton FB Page



Ferguson Avenue, Hamilton


On the T H & B East of Stoney Creek, East of Stoney Creek, Mountainside


On the T H & B, East of Stoney Creek, Mountainside


On the T H & B, East of Stoney Creek, Mountainside


389544 L 34 (compare to link of June 18, 1929 - http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/histoires_de_chez_nous-community_memories/pm_v2.php?id=record_detail&fl=0&lg=English&ex=00000320&rd=72912# )


T H & B, East of Stoney Creek

Niagara Falls



Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls


 (Downtown Niagara Falls, New York possibly taken from Goat Island.)


Falls View Bridge.  (Collapsed January 27th 1938)


Falls view Bridge, Niagara Falls


Webster Falls, 1910

Scene at Toronto Harbor


On the Detroit River, 1909


West Point, Military Academy, Hudson River, New York, July 5, 1931


Port Arthur, 1909


Fort William CPR


Coney Island July 4, 1931


Coney Island July 4, 1931


(Hamilton Market Square. Old City hall is to the right. Vintage Hamilton FB Page)


Memphis Tennessee, USA - 1949

Royal Visit to Hamilton.  Photo Credit:  H. Henry and Mrs. H. Henry