Category: Hamilton Ontario History

Alley Ghost

Many older neighbourhoods in Hamilton have alleys. They’re great cycling shortcuts. You can stay off main roads between gaps in marked bike lanes. Recently saw another ‘ghost’ on such an alley ride.

Druggists bearing sodas came after Apothecarists bearing leeches, right…?!

Perhaps this building, at 254 Locke Street South, was Duncan Garson’s shop back when soda fountains in drug stores were common. Soda fountains were often the purview of druggists because druggists, or chemists as the Brits still call them, knew how to make carbon dioxide; no small feat ♫ waaaay ♫ back when! While commercial production of CO2 in the late 1800s ended that bit of dangerous in-house chemical wizardry the drug store soda fountain endured for many decades more.

Sadly, I could find no online reviews for a Garson root beer float…!

More fun facts about soda fountains & druggists plus actress Lana Turner not being discovered at the soda fountain in Schwab’s Drug Store.

Ghost-a Cola!

Passed this location a gazillion times without noticing this faded Coca-Cola ‘ghost sign’ before. Traffic flow is one-way west bound. It’s on west side of building at King West and Locke streets. Undoubtedly painted long before King W. became a one-way. Must be heading east to see it which today, while walking, I was. Boo!

Delicious and Refreshing. Sold Everywhere. 5¢

Ghosts of Evolution…

Over time you get to know your ‘home turf’ pretty well. You notice and enjoy the natural beauty that’s all around. You notice things that don’t quite belong too…

Pretty sure Osage Orange trees fall into the ‘don’t quite belong’ category, at least for Southern Ontario.
Osage is a deciduous tree more commonly associated with southern climes. I’ve seen two in Dundas, Ontario. They announce themselves in late fall when the fruit start dropping. Can’t help but notice those odd green balls on the ground.

Low hanging fruit?

Osage Oranges have been called Ghosts of Evolution since basically nothing eats the fruit. The seeds in these green balls are so small you’d spend more calories extracting them than they’d give you in return. Also, they ooze a very sticky white sap when opened. Ask your neighbourhood squirrel: not worth the effort.

A peek inside. Tiny seeds.

They’re not actually oranges although the fruit does have a light citrus aroma.
Part of the mulberry family. Alas, not the cool part of the mulberry family from whence the English nursery rhyme Pop Goes The Weasel originates. I guess monkeys and weasels stick to mulberry since nothing rhymes with orange…

Beautiful mature tree.

Southern Ontario is at the northern end of the Carolinian forest range. Tree cover is quite diverse here thanks in no small part to being near two great lakes, Ontario & Erie. The lakes help maintain slightly milder temperatures in winter. That difference helps these trees survive.

A Port Dover friend tells me there’s some there too. That’s 50 kilometers further south weather wise and again close to a large body of water.

I may have gone overboard collecting oddballs for this photo…!

This should be more than enough info for you to answer any pub trivia night question. Keep an eye out next time you’re hiking in late fall!

Civil War Gravestone

A local historian, Robin McKee, who conducts tours of Hamilton’s oldest cemetery, ‘discovered’ the unmarked grave of Nelson Stevens, a freed slave who returned to the U.S. to serve during the Civil War. A happy accident apparently; noticed during research for his Civil War cemetery tour. Mr. McKee did the diligence/paperwork required and, in due course, the U.S. Government delivered a Civil War headstone to memorialize Mr. Stevens’ final resting place.

Tap/click here for link to the CBC story that recently made me aware of this fascinating bit of local history.

BTW, as of this blog post the cemetery tour links noted above are a little, er, dusty. They have not been updated recently to reflect Covid-19 realities. To avoid disappointment please do your own thorough checking of dates/times should you decide to attend a cemetery tour.

Ghost Sign

Leather & Rubber – While You Wait!

Made a quick pit stop to check out this ‘ghost sign’ the other day. Recently revealed by adjacent 90-ish year old building demolition. Apparently ‘Super “Servis” Shoe Rebuilders’ was a popular local chain a century or so ago. Sign painter credit still readable in the bottom left corner too.

Some years ago I photographed this (mostly) Coca Cola beauty which emerged during another demo. There are examples of these ‘ghost signs’ all over the older areas of my city but time fades them or, as in the case below, new construction quickly conceals them again.
Hopefully to be discovered anew down the road…

Relieves Fatigue – 5¢ a bottle!