Originally published at: www.thesil.ca
On Saturday, I travelled down to Hamilton HIStory + HERitage at 165 James Street North. Since 2007, Graham Crawford has used the space as a multimedia exhibition centre that celebrates Hamilton’s history and its people. Over the years, 25,000 people have visited the spot.
Beginning Nov. 1, Donna Reid will be running HIStory + HERitage as a retail store, combined with different multimedia exhibitions. It promises to be a great place to shop for Hamiltonians, as well as for everyone else who wants to buy products made in Hamilton. I spoke to Reid about why it was important to celebrate Hamilton and learn more about its history.
According to Reid, there is a lot of interest in Hamilton’s past, especially among young people. “Part of it is because we have a lot of buildings that date back to an earlier time and century,” she said. Reid added that the HIStory + HERitage building was formerly a candy store and later a Portuguese bakery.
For Reid, “history is more about the people and how they lived and what life was like, than it is memorizing dates and when things happened. It is more of a cultural history. It is just different lifestyles and different way of doing thing,” she said.
Yet, these older customs remain important and influential today. “We are a very young country,” Reid said, “and so I think in some way it is worth searching for roots.”
Reid has ambitious plans for HIStory + HERitage’s retail store format. “I want to sell products that celebrate Hamilton, and take the Hamilton name into other places so that people recognize the city and the community,” she said. “In the retail store there will be an educational component and an opportunity to learn and view images of Hamilton and of the past, as well as gifts, books and other vintage items for sale.”
Eventually, Reid also hopes to curate a speaker’s series, along with other programming. “It has not been finalized yet, but a couple of very well known Hamilton historians have already offered to do a presentation to small groups,” she said.
“I’m also hoping to host various evening events in the space to make use of the video screen, and also to bring new people into the retail space itself. And there is a plan to have walking tours around the neighborhood that will leave from the store on a regular basis,” she said.
When I asked Reid about the one thing McMaster students should see in Hamilton, she shouted, “get out of campus!” Then she smiled. But she did recommend the waterfront, and her friend Barbara, who had been listening, mentioned Sam Lawrence Park on the mountain. Apparently, on a clear day that spot offers a panoramic view of the city.
So take Reid’s advice, get out of campus, and explore. HIStory + HERitage is one great place to start.