What can be said about Hamilton that hasn’t already been said? Depending on whom you ask, we’re Brooklyn-esque, we’re gritty and real, we’re an up-and-comer, we’re a great Toronto alternative, we’ve got a long way to go, we’re the Hammer, and/or we’re better than you once thought. The city itself has a lot to say as well, so I’ll let these uses of text speak for themselves.

Acronym Above


The Art Gallery of Hamilton sign that floats above King Street like a beacon always makes me happy. It’s such a fine way to remind us of the incredible art mere steps away from the unfortunately named “restaurantainment.”
At night, when it is backlit, it looks like a halo adding a tiny bit of grandeur to our core.


Barton St. Sign


This sign on a storefront on Barton Street just simply makes me laugh … and of course be annoyed by the lack of an organized schedule. There is something about it that just rings true to Hamilton—straightforward, simple, and a bit cheeky. Or perhaps I’m reading too much into it. I also like that it looks like it was printed off one of those perforated page printers.

Claremont Greeting


This holiday message has been on the Claremont access every Christmas for years, and while I’m mildly surprised it hasn’t given way to the more politically correct “Happy Holidays,” it makes me smile. I’m sure it has a lot to do with the city having these letters in storage, ready to go. Meh. Embrace the greeting.

Is It Me You're Looking For


I took a major second glance when I saw this gracing an empty building for sale on a section of Cannon Street that doesn’t usually get many second glances. Playful and funny, I thought this was a great idea to add some whimsy and garner attention. Nice move, Keller Williams.

Look Down and Smile


While I have seen the small words and phrases that pepper the Locke Street sidewalks, I haven’t yet taken the time to string them together into sentences. I tried doing it the other day but it was so cold that all I made out was “think like horses.” That can’t be right. (Art by Simon Frank)

Look Up and Smile


You gotta love those hippie builders in the 70s who took the time to add this enormous “Smile” on the apartment building façade at Upper James and Mohawk. I noticed it while pumping gas and I’ll admit, I obeyed its cheerful command. It’s the little things, people. Smile.

The D Downlow


One of my favourite places for meals on the go is Dundurn Market. I will frequently drive across town for their roast beef or meatloaf and any number of comfort side dishes. Despite once having a bland first date there, I love everything about this place and wish I lived closer. The “D” should really stand for “delicious.”

The Writing's On The Wall


Johnny’s Coffee on Locke Street is one of my favourite places to work the day away, curl up with one of the random paperbacks they have, or enjoy a Locke Street bagel with a mug full of cream cheese. The back room is papered with the Hamilton Specta- tor and taking a pause to read old headlines (and oddly a mention of Nickelback) is a welcome break.

To Market, To Market


The Hamilton Farmers’ Market facelift a few years ago breathed life into the sad building, and together with the adjacent library, today it looks worthy of a downtown space. Now that the price of cauliflower has come down again, get thee to the market

Wall of Dedication


While I like to think of myself as a regular at a couple of places around town, only one or two know my name. So I’m always inspired and pleased to see local businesses honour their customers, especially a corporate one like Starbucks. We all know coffee customers are loyal to their caffeine so it’s nice to see the sentiment returned.

MELISSA MCQUEEN Born and raised in Hamilton, Melissa loves to read the signs of her city including her favourites: “Opening Soon,” “Sold,” and “Donut Monster Sold Here.” When not listing in groups of ten, she spends her time trying to watch all the Oscar movies (but please not The Revenant!), baking shortbread, coveting lead glass windows, and breaking in her new dodge ball gloves. She loves This American Life podcasts and the Burger’s Priest.