Southern Ontario as a whole has had to develop a thick skin to thrive despite the scorn it takes from the rest of Canada. Toronto, especially, has endured insults and criticism from Canadians coast-to-coast, it seems. To hear British Columbians, Maritimers, or Montrealers tell it, Hogtown is next door to hell.
Honestly, despite the incomprehensible loyalty to their city’s hockey team, it’s puzzling to me that such venom is directed at Ontario’s vilified capital city. I quite enjoy Toronto, though I’ve never lived there.
For many Ontarians, the city of Hamilton is just a landmark along the QEW between Toronto and Niagara Falls. All they ever get is a quick glimpse of the industrialized waterfront. Recently, though, realtors have been noticing increasing interest in our city. A large number of buyers from Toronto are investing and/or relocating to this little city that is only one-fifth the size of theirs – and their investments are doing very well! What could be driving this southerly migration to Canada’s 10th largest urban centre?
Toronto has (rightly) marketed itself as a world class city for years, openly advertising what it has to offer residents and visitors. Hamilton has taken a quieter approach, allowing itself to be discovered by those who aren’t afraid to explore beyond its visible outer shell of steel plants and refineries. One only has to wander past the obvious manufacturing sector to find the charm and appeal that is drawing buyers to the Hamilton market.
If you are considering a move from Toronto, or are just curious about your neighbours who have packed up and relocated, you might be pleasantly surprised at Hamilton’s “answer” to five of Toronto’s highlights:
Toronto has HOCKEY. The Maple Leafs, the beloved and beleaguered NHL franchise, have what is arguably the most loyal fan base in all of professional sports. Saturday nights in Toronto during hockey season are sacred, and fans will pay $85-421 for a ticket to a regular season game. Anyone with pockets deep enough (or an obsession big enough) to justify season tickets can get a pair for the bargain price of $22 576.00.
Hamilton has FOOTBALL. The Hammer loves its Tiger Cats! The brand new Tim Horton’s Field, which replaced Ivor Wynne Stadium in 2014, is their home base. It is a prime venue, having hosted Pan-Am Soccer during the 2015 summer games. Tickets to a single home game run between $45.00-93.50, and a season pass can be purchased for between $200-940.
(By the way, Hamiltonians who are die-hard hockey fans are welcome to continue supporting the Maple Leafs. There is no conflict of interest!)
Toronto has HIGH PARK. This is a beautiful public park, cherished by nature lovers, dog-owners, and families as a retreat from the concrete and noise of city life.
Hamilton has GAGE PARK(which hosts live stage events in the summer), the BRUCE TRAIL, and over 100 breathtaking waterfalls to enjoy all year round.
Toronto is home to the University of Toronto and the UHN (University Health Network). These are world class teaching and medical facilities that do important work and serve city residents (and others) very well.
Like U of T, Hamilton’s McMaster University is a public research facility. Ranked 4th in all of Canada, the institution has produced two Nobel Laureates. It is associated with the Hamilton Health Sciences Network of hospitals, which includes McMaster Children’s hospital and the Juravinski Cancer Centre.
Toronto has the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, offering exhibits and galleries for art lovers of all kinds.
The Art Gallery of Hamilton is a beautiful facility that does an excellent job representing the city’s interest in the arts. The AGH organizes a popular, free monthly Art Crawl, and in October, 2015, sponsored the World Film Festival.
Toronto’s Air Canada Centre is home to the Toronto Raptors (basketball) and the Toronto Maple Leafs (no explanation required), but is also the venue of choice for large concerts and stage shows.
Hamilton’s First Ontario Centre (formerly Copps Coliseum) provides a home for the Hamilton Bulldogs hockey team. With a capacity of over 17 000, it is able to hold crowds who come to see Disney on Ice, comedians like Jeff Dunham, and music concerts ranging from Black Sabbath to Blue Rodeo.
Of course, every city has its own unique personality. Hamilton has its own culture and “feel,” and certainly more than enough of what a real, established city needs to offer to quickly become home to urbanites who become Hamilton transplants.
We invite (or challenge!) you to come check out our beautiful city for yourself. We’re confident that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.