|On the way to Hamilton, south of the Toronto islands|
We came to Hamilton in order to take Ben home to McMaster University. Ben had been visiting his parents in Ottawa (Chris works with his dad). We sat Ben in the co-pilot's seat to give him good views on his ride, preferable to the long bus ride he usually endures; we stopped for lunch at Peterborough airport and enjoyed superb views and flying conditions all the way, especially along the stretch off shore over Lake Ontario, passing Toronto.
|Signs of industry at Hamilton|
I don't think the university population visits downtown Hamilton very often. Ben's house was in the leafy suburbs 10 minutes' drive away and the MacMaster campus is in that area.
There's an attractive fountain at the centre where James Street crosses Kings Street, and the new flower beds on the sidewalks are lavishly planted and nicely maintained. We were aware of the down-and-outs at the street corners with nowhere else to go that holiday Monday afternoon and we found a plethora of pawn shops, dollar stores, cheap food outlets and money lending establishments, as well as a large Bingo Hall and abandoned businesses with their windows boarded up. The non-abandoned businesses, closed that day, were fronted with metal screens. In 1982 this part of town was designated a Business Improvement Area. However, many brand new buildings are now interspersed, including our hotel, the Crowne Plaza.
Walking through this district after checking into that nice hotel we decided to keep going towards the waterfront. The lower part of James Street near the redbrick military buildings seemed more gentrified. Further down the street was the former Canadian National Railways Station on Immigration Square, as imposing as a palace, now serving as a banquet hall.
Many immigrants once ended their journey to Canada here, but there's no longer any access from the back of the buildings to the railway track. No passenger trains stop here now.
After crossing the railway bridge we discovered the splendid Bayfront Park by the water, where we wandered over the grassy hills and sat under the willow trees watching the geese and boats till it was time for supper. Returning up James Street, we found the Gate of India restaurant, named after the famous arch in Mumbai (I added that link for Chris, who had misidentified it as Marble Arch). According to the taste of my saag chicken with rice, the glowing reviews posted in its front windows are justified.
In the morning I had a swim in the hotel pool, then we had breakfast (an excellent mushroom omelette for me) and studied the weather forecasts carefully before checking out. It no longer looked like a good plan to fly north to Tobermory that afternoon unless we wanted to spend the following day in a motel room staring out at the rain, so we chose instead to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens on the edge of Burlington, before flying east again, to Kingston.
The gardens were glorious, informative too. The Mediterranean garden featured plants that grow in the Mediterranean climate (many Australian species here––the scent of eucalyptus takes me straight back to Sydney). In the Hendrie Park gardens on the other side of the road I learned about medicinal plants, etc. while Chris patiently waited for me in the rose garden watching the goldfinches and the butterflies and thinking about the garden scene in Shakespeare's Richard II.
|In the (indoor) Mediterranean garden|
|Entrance to the main gardens, looking towards the Tea Room|
|Information in the Medicinal Garden|
|A lovely crop of Echinacea|