Commentary

Hamilton and Burlington: A Tale of Two Cities

Burlington is presented as a modern solution to a traditional Victorian city like Hamilton: in order to build the modern city it was necessary to escape the burdens of the past.

By Michael Cumming
Published October 07, 2009

Hamilton is not only near a border region with another country, but is also near communities that are sometimes strikingly different in terms of urban aspiration and political affiliation. One such community is the city of Burlington. The contrast between the two can be as dramatic as between Detroit and Windsor. This contrast produces interesting juxtapositions.

Dogs on roof in Hamilton, ON
Dogs on roof in Hamilton, ON

Hamilton has the reputation of being a classic rust-bucket city with an economy excessively dependent on heavy industry. It is seen by its critics as an unclean, rough and slightly dangerous place, where reckless civic decisions are made behind closed doors. It is the Golden Horseshoe's version of the dark Satanic mills of industrial England, combined with the inter-ethnic tensions of a seething, immigrant-fueled city like Chicago.

Mall parking lot in Burlington, ON
Mall parking lot in Burlington, ON

Burlington, on the other hand, is a classic North American bedroom community, where the ills of post-Victorian society have been scrubbed clean and suburban comforts can be enjoyed guilt-free. In Burlington, civic decision-making is seen as more sober, with less chance of overt corruption. By moving from Hamilton to Burlington people could avoid industrial blight, poverty, intractable social problems and historical decay.

Hamilton has industrial production, including steel, as its native industry. In Burlington the native industries are suburban tract housing and real estate development. Hamilton is left-leaning politically while Burlington is right-leaning. Hamilton is Scorsese's Mean Streets while Burlington is more Leave it to Beaver.

History of building

One important axis in which Hamilton/Burlington differ is that of history. Hamilton has lots of history while Burlington appears to have very little.

In Hamilton, history cannot be marginalized simply because there is so much of it. From mid-Victorian churches, to worker's cottages, to aging factory complexes, history-as far as architectural infrastructure is concerned-is in great supply. However, demand for this history does not correspond to the abundance of its supply.

As in many historical industrial cities, the historical richness of the place is confounded with its current, marginal economic value. This tends to grossly undervalue these resources. With diminished value, old dilapidated buildings are destroyed without outcry. A movement to create money from these old bricks, say, through industrial tourism as found in England and Germany, has yet to appear.

Burlington was purposely built to escape history and to start afresh. Nowhere in Burlington is there much evidence of settlement prior to, say, 1900. Burlington first grew as a post-war bedroom community to Hamilton. It has shifted its focus to being more a bedroom community to Toronto, or a viable edge city in its own right. Burlington also has a surprisingly diverse industrial corridor along the busy QEW, which divides Burlington in two.

Burlington is presented as a modern solution to a traditional Victorian city like Hamilton: in order to build the modern city it was necessary to escape the burdens of the past. Burlington encourages one to forget about history and focus more on consumption. Residents move there not in spite of the lack of historical context but rather because of it.

History of ethnic enclaves

When immigrants move to a rough and tumble place like Hamilton, the resources provided by ones ethnic community and church are a vital source of support. In the absence of money, support comes from the community. Immigrants often live near their supportive communities in urban enclaves.

Hamilton has the remnants of urban enclaves, such as the Italian and Portuguese North End. However, these are losing its ethnic flavour as residents acquire sufficient mobility to move to cleaner, relatively bucolic suburbs like Burlington. As older communities move on, newer ethnic communities like the Vietnamese or Somalis take their place.

Burlington was from the start a post-ethnic type of place. In Burlington, support comes less from community and more from cash-in-hand. In Burlington, the average household income is much higher than in Hamilton. The more money you have, the less dependent you are on support from your community.

In Burlington there is ethnic diversity in the population, since like Hamilton, it has inflows of immigrants. But you would not know this from driving around town. Neighbourhoods in Burlington tend to look all the same. There is some differentiation in neighbourhoods, but this is caused more by variations in income than in ethnic make up.

Avoidance of poverty and ambiguity

To move to Burlington, due to its elevated property prices, you need to earn a certain income. This is a crude stereotype, of course, but as a general rule being a resident of Burlington indicates a certain base household income. This means that if you move to Burlington you can successfully avoid much contact with the urban poor. For some, this is an attractive proposition.

In Hamilton, the chance of poverty avoidance is much reduced. Hamilton, like Buffalo and Pittsburgh, has lots of poor people. But there are also considerable numbers of not-poor people too. Therefore, saying you are a resident of Hamilton imparts less information than saying you live in Burlington. In Hamilton you might be poor, or you might not be. You might be living there because you have no other options, or you might be there by choice. This ambiguity of rank and position creates opportunities to move between social strata.

In larger cities such as Toronto and New York, enormous wealth lives side by side with striking poverty. Diversity of income and circumstance are the marks of most traditional cities. Hamilton is traditionally urban in this respect: if you want to avoid poverty then Hamilton is not your kind of place. Burlington is the opposite: if you want to avoid poverty, Burlington might be just the place for you.

Property maintenance and social diversity

One striking difference between Hamilton and Burlington is their approach to property maintenance. Hamilton is full of buildings that require huge amounts of maintenance. Their bricks need re-pointing, parapets are falling down, flashings are corroded and need to be replaced. Typically, this maintenance work is done inadequately, presumably because of the huge expense of doing it well.

Burlington, on the other hand, is perhaps overly maintained - despite being a place where low or no-maintenance finishes such as vinyl siding are common. Burlington is full of house-proud homeowners who edge their lawns and power-wash their carports to an inch of their lives. There is a great sense of keeping up your property so that the neighbours have no reason to complain. In Burlington, with its relatively homogeneous population, there is concern about what neighbours might think.

In Hamilton, with its more diverse population, there is less concern to conform in this way because there is less likelihood your neighbours are similar to you.

This essay was originally published on Michael's blog.

Michael Cumming is a designer, writer and photographer concerned about sustainable design and urban development. He has training in Architecture and Computational Design and has lived in several cities in Canada, the US and Europe. He is delighted to have settled with his wife and two children in the Strathcona neighbourhood of Hamilton. You can view his website or follow him on Twitter.

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By JCS (anonymous) | Posted October 07, 2009 at 15:30:16

As an ex-Hamiltonian, now living over seas, I relish these pieces which so articulately describe the subtle beauty of Hamilton. It is much underappreciated for its history and architecture. The comparison to cities like Liverpool and other former industrial cities that have reinvented themselves is apt and would be a great aspiration for this rust bucket city.

Keep the intelligent articles coming RTH!

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By datguy (anonymous) | Posted March 19, 2015 at 23:14:48 in reply to Comment 34561

Burlington is a ridiculously successful and wealthy city that has TONS of history. This article just amplifies the arrogance and misguided judgements from Hamilton, which is a different and unfortunate burden of a town - and Hamilton is also a tax hungry city that has destroyed opportunities for success to languish in the triumph of mediocrity. THANK GOD that Burlington is NOT a part of Hamilton. Oh, and Hamilton is gross. If you disagree, then you live there.

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By rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 07, 2009 at 16:48:35

Some interesting observations. A couple of points:

"saying you are a resident of Hamilton imparts less information than saying you live in Burlington. In Hamilton you might be poor, or you might not be. You might be living there because you have no other options, or you might be there by choice."

I wonder how many Hamiltonians are living there by 'choice'. Sad to say that I never met anyone who was when I was there. Folks seemed to be there because they either had family ties, work, or couldn't afford to live somewhere else. I met several people who were moving away because they had the choice to do so. Since moving myself I've met many many people who moved away once they had the choice (eg Mac grads who moved once their term was up, folks who moved away from home once they were old enough to do so)

"In larger cities such as Toronto and New York, enormous wealth lives side by side with striking poverty. Diversity of income and circumstance are the marks of most traditional cities."

True enough, but again, the diversity of the communities that make up the city is related to the quality of life a city can offer. Hamilton needs to attract more people who have the true 'choice' of whether to live there or not.

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By yo momma (anonymous) | Posted March 10, 2015 at 21:41:48 in reply to Comment 34562

don't get your point that Hamilton needs more people that live there by choice. What do 'by-choice' people bring that 'have to' people don't

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 07, 2009 at 17:21:43

look at the tens of thousands of students that come to Hamilton every year to attend Mac, Mohawk, Columbia, Redeemer etc.... yet the city has no vibe or feel at all as a 'student town' the way Montreal, Portland and parts of downtown TO do. Students run for the hills the first chance they get....and why not? They see an old boys club in charge here that calls the business and development ideas of the 21st Century as "anti-business" or "weird activist plots" etc.... Why would anyone with a choice and no ties to the Hammer stay here, especially seeing how viciously our business leaders, chamber of commerce, and politicians resist change and new ideas. Heck, we're still resisting ideas that become common in North America in the 80's, forget the 2020's.
As leadership guru John Maxwell says "everything rises and falls on leadership". Don't let the old media or old boys club ever try to make you feel like you are an obstacle or are standing in the way of change when they oppose new ideas. We need to constantly remind the public that THEY are the ones holding Hamilton back. They've been doing it for decades and show no sign of stopping.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 07, 2009 at 17:36:55

Rusty,

That sounds a bit harsh. If you applied those same standards ("family ties, work, or couldn't afford to live somewhere else") as rigidly to other cities as you do to Hamilton, you'd find most people are not living where they are by choice!

For example, many Torontonians have moved to Hamilton not because "they couldn't afford to live anywhere else", but because they could afford to live much better for the same money. This isn't the same thing and implies that by some measures the standard of living is better here.

Most people have some choice of where to find work (I had a choice of Warwick or Hamilton), so it is overly harsh to imply that everyone in Hamilton because of work had no other choice.

Finally, maybe your sample was not entirely representative. Last year's writer in residence at McMaster, Lawrence Hill, moved to Hamilton, apparently because he liked it so much ...

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 07, 2009 at 17:51:02

kevlahan, you're right that a good number of people live here and move here because they actually like the place. But when it comes to students and the minds of the future, we don't retain nearly as many as other cities with post-secondary institutions.
Look no further than city hall and the chamber of commerce to find out why.

Graduates are possibly in their most mobile time of life. They will go where the work is, where the 'cool' is, where the future is, where the other young grads are going. I hate to say it, but it ain't here.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted October 07, 2009 at 18:00:51

Jason: I agree with your stance and I think that as a community we should be doing more to encourage the new ideas and thoughts.

The other day I was leaving MacMaster and I started chatting with a young man who has started an ad campaign on healthy food choices and life styles. I have done my part in trying to direct him to possible different forums and such where he can promote his idea.

So in the future, if there is a forum on health issues, I will send him the info.

We must embrace those who advocate for change, the young people are the future and we must let them speak. Activism is a good thing, the power structure does not want to let go but the more people get involved, the more things will change. Even the dinosaurs died out and so shall others if they stick to the old and do not adopt the new.

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By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted October 07, 2009 at 18:59:20

I certainly don't mean to be inciting violence, but I for one am not content to simply let the "dinosaurs" die out ... A more active approach with respect to the extirpation of that species is definitely called for. ;)

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 07, 2009 at 21:09:16

I wonder how many Hamiltonians are living there by 'choice'.

I'm only one person, but I certainly live in Hamilton by choice.

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted October 07, 2009 at 22:15:40

What is choice and how is it circumscribed? If I had my choice, I'd live in Maui. But I'll take Hamilton over Burlington any day. Burlington is boring and the traffic sucks ass.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 07, 2009 at 22:24:17

My husband and I moved here entirely by choice. We were living in St. Catharines and my husband was working in Oakville. We could have moved to Oakville, Burlington, Grimsby, etc., but we chose Hamilton because we love it. When it came time to start his own business, again we chose Hamilton and it wasn't easy. There was alot more industrial space located in Burlington, but my husband didn't want to drive that far so we persevered, and thank God we did. There's a great talent pool here in our industry, and I can't think of a better place to raise kids.

I lived in Toronto for ten years and I still love it, but it doesn't have my heart like Hamilton.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 07, 2009 at 22:31:47

Jason wrote:

But when it comes to students and the minds of the future, we don't retain nearly as many as other cities with post-secondary institutions. Look no further than city hall and the chamber of commerce to find out why.

Students just aren't that politically aware for that to factor into their decisions, at least not on a conscious level.

They will go where the work is,

That's it in a nutshell, I'm afraid. It's the lack of jobs plain and simple

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By JonC (registered) | Posted October 07, 2009 at 23:16:46

I came for McMaster, but stayed for Hamilton.

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By Hopeful (registered) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 01:17:03

I remember inadvertently starting a Hamilton Burlington debate on another piece awhile ago when I stuck up for Burlington by suggesting that, perhaps, they had embraced and supported some progressive urban thinking better than the big city next door as they grew over the past few decades.
I have to side with those who say that the "powers that be" in the Hammer (and their seeming inability to use some foresight in their decision making) are the City's worst enemies. Hamilton has allowed decay, ghettoization and bad planning to occur which have simply made large areas of the City unappealing to those with options. At the same time, they have routinely ignored the advice of their own staff and outside experts by supporting, and indeed at times encouraging, inappropriate new development. While this may have enriched some property owners and their friends it hasn't laid the underpinnings for a great revival.
In the meantime, the newer more prosperous "bedroom" communities towards Toronto have incorporated enough "faux urban" flavour and amenities into their plans to make the make real thing seem to be a hassle. Until diversity is defined by more than grit, Hamilton will be hard pressed to attract the people, jobs or disposable incomes needed to be truly diverse. Until there is more pride displayed by the leaders (combined with the gumption to insist on more than what they'll settle for today) I, sadly, can't see this sea change that I hope for coming.

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By rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 08, 2009 at 09:37:13

Some interesting comments, but I'm yet to be convinced. If we're honest we'd admit that a key part of Hamilton's attraction right now is low house prices. I'm sure many people live in the Hammer by 'choice' because the houses are affordable. But this is a backhanded compliment in many ways. House prices are cheap for a reason!

I moved to Hamilton by choice, because it was the best option for my money when I could only afford <$200k for a house. But once I could afford more, I moved to Toronto.

A city needs to attract and retain a diverse cross section of residents. Right now I fear that Hamilton is only 'attracting' residents who have to live there or who can't afford to live somewhere else.

Cheers

Ben

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 09:39:34

The big difference between Hamilton and Burlington is that the people of Burlington are net contributors to government coffers, while Hamilton is a net recipient of government coffers.

When Hamilton used to be a prosperous city, we too paid more in taxes than we received in handouts, because that's what all great cities do. Until we stop accepting money that we haven't worked for, we will not be rewarded with the fruits that come from hard work.

Highwater >> That's it in a nutshell, I'm afraid. It's the lack of jobs plain and simple

As soon as we change our mindset from that of a poor person to that of a rich person, Hamilton will start getting more and better paying jobs. Rich people don't tend to rely on handouts, whereas poor people do. As long as Hamilton models the behaviour of the poor, we will attract poverty into our lives.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 09:45:16

Why the downvotes? There is nothing in my comment that is rude or dishonest? I guess voting IS based on whether people agree with the comment or not.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 09:54:49

By LL (registered) | htp://linchpin.ca
Posted 10/7/2009 10:15:40 PM

What is choice and how is it circumscribed? If I had my choice, I'd live in Maui. But I'll take Hamilton over Burlington any day. Burlington is boring and the traffic sucks ass.

(Permalink)
LL believes that the problems of the city reflect deeper social contradictions
Comment Score: 1 (2 votes)

The above comment uses abusive language and little analysis of the differences between Burlington and Hamilton, yet it gets positive votes, whereas my comment offers a rationale for why Burlington is more prosperous and does not use abusive language and it is downvoted. Ryan, could you please tell me what is going on with this voting system?

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By frank (registered) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 09:55:54

I moved here for Mohawk and stayed because of Hamilton. I grew up in Beamsville and even worked in Niagara-on-the-Lake while living here. When people asked me why, I'd simply say that the potential here is far greater than the surrounding communities. I don't own a house (although I'm looking to buy one now) so that's not my motivation either.

I've seen the way Beamsville is developing and I have spoken to people about getting more active and trying to prevent sprawl. The problem there and here, it seems, is that the "dinosaurs" at city hall have gone deaf and have forgotten that they are to represent their constituents... and it's our fault for letting them forget that.

I used to play in the Teen Tour Band and became quite familiar with some areas of the city and while I like the idea of its quiet tree lined streets, it's not a place I'd want to live. Sprawl growth is unsustainable and unfortunately it seems Burlington is destined to find that out the hard way.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 10:49:18

A Smith, while I didn't down vote any of those comments, I could surmise why others might. Your comments are typically abusive, illogical and mean-spirited, so people tend to assume that of future comments. So, I wouldn't go around getting worked up when people do. I would suggest continuing to behave in the manner that you would like to be treated, and even in areas where people might disagree with you, you won't see automatic vetting of your comments and possibly even consideration.

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By Skully (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 11:00:37

My wife and I moved to Hamilton by choice. Previously we lived in Toronto, and then Markham. Neither has the vibe that Hamilton has, and I firmly believe in its future. We got a gorgeous house next to Gage Park for a fraction of what it would cost in Toronto, and my friends are all insanely jealous that a] our mortgage is one third of what theirs is and b] my wife can stay home with our baby daughter and we can live comfortably, in an urban environment, on ONE SALARY! I don't miss Toronto at all.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 11:03:08

Frwnk writes: Sprawl growth is unsustainable and unfortunately it seems Burlington is destined to find that out the hard way.

Burlington is already seeing the impacts. While the city pays to maintain all those roads and deals with the traffic impacts, it is also taking on ambitious projects like the Performing Arts centre, Waterfront pier, and McMaster satellite campus. All of these things are soaking up funding, leading to a lot of pressure on taxes. The city has also substantially outgrown the capacity of Joseph Brant Hospital to provide health care to its residents.

Still, Burlington does have a lot of good things going for it, and for the most part, its officials understand some of these challenges, unlike many officials in our neighbours in Hamilton. The urban boundary has been fixed, and it will be politically very difficult for any subseqent council to allow developers to go beyond it. That boundary is largely filled in today, and after the small parcel between Hwy 5 and the 407 is completed, all future growth will have to come from infill and higher density, transit-oriented development.

Development charges are much more reflective of the costs that development passes on to taxpayers than they are elsewhere in the GTA.

A very through cycling plan has been prepared, although it still a go-slow approach that does little to address the very real barriers to cycling in the form of the QEW/403.

The city has had some very small successes at reducing the dominance of the car, but has been subject to significant pushback from very vocal opponents who are used to the status quo.

I think that Hamiltonians are better served by encouraging their progressive bretheren in Burlington to help lead the way, instead of focussing on somewhat artificial divisions between the two cities. Given that over 20,000 Hamiltonians commute to jobs in the city of Burlington, and over 8,000 travel the other way, the two cities have a huge stake in one another's success (or failure).

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 11:11:25

JonC >> Your comments are typically abusive, illogical and mean-spirited,

>> By JonC (registered)
Posted 9/5/2009 1:44:04 PM

Even in Smith's stupid case. If the GDP is the same whether the money is borrowed or from savings. Which is the whole point I was making. Borrowing increases GDP.

Let's see, you call my ideas "stupid", and then you call ME abusive. You call my ideas "illogical" and then you tell us that borrowing increases GDP, even though that is 100% false.

How is it that you can be both abusive and illogical in your comments and yet not have them downvoted? Don't you find that to be a massive flaw in the voting system?

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 11:26:40

Just to add to the chorus of Hamiltonians by choice who aren't poor, I make enough to essentially choose where I live, and I live in downtown Hamilton. I have to work in Burlington every day and it makes me want to throw up. I couldn't be paid enough money to live there, let alone pay more than Hamilton prices. In fact, my biggest goal in life is to stop working there and find a decent job in Hamilton.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 11:51:26

Rusty,

I agree that Hamilton needs to market itself on more than just being cheap. However, claiming that "no one" is here by choice is not helpful or accurate.

Hamilton both benefits and suffers from being a large city close to Canada's largest city: we have to compete in a way that somewhere like Portland or Halifax doesn't.

In many ways the attitude to Hamilton reminds me of the "it's grim up North" image of northern England in the UK (where North meant anything north of the M25, including Birmingham).

Maybe Hamiltonians are really transplanted northerners:

"Hear all, see all, say nowt. Eyt all, sup all, pay nowt and if tha ever does owt for nowt allus do it for thi sen"

Our cheapness and lack of community initiative would certainly appeal!

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By JonC (registered) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 12:03:14

What I love best is how you've created a treasure trove of comments where you feel you've been wronged. That's classic, a little demented, but classic.

The thing I live second best is that you complete ignore the concept of the message and pick a segment of it to go off on a tangent about. To reiterate, if you act like an ass, people will assume you will act like an ass in the future. Predictive behaviour is a great survival skill.

Thirdly, I stand by my previous post (which you can't link to because you are to paranoid to register an account), the fact that you have held a grudge about it for months and didn't bother to learn what the gross in GDP stands for goes to your character.

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By Mahesh P. Butani -- http://www.metroHami (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 12:57:37

A friend from Burlington sent me this in reference to Michael’s two observations in his article, and Rusty's comment(*).

This friend now calls himself the “Rest of Everyone” – as he does own a condo in Downtown Hamilton, has a family house in Burlington and travel all over the world as a environmental consultant – and really enjoys his stay in downtown Hamilton when he is home.

He was extremely upset at Rusty’s sweeping generalizations – and was coming down real hard on him - until I pointed him to Rusty’s "special needs" viz “...Let me in, or bathe me with your light
And let me love...love, let me love Love, love, only love.”: (www.raisethehammer.org/index.asp?id=747)

This really did put things in perspective for my friend and now he wants me to convey to Rusty his personal message on behalf of: Burlington, Hamilton and the Rest of Everyone.

His message is: "We do understand. You are welcome to come back. We forgive you. BTW we never rejected you, nor shunned your love. Jeez!!!! You decided to walk out pissed and now you want us to bathe you ...with what????” :-)

----------------

>>> Burlington was purposely built to escape history and to start afresh. Nowhere in Burlington is there much evidence of settlement prior to, say, 1900. Burlington first grew as a post-war bedroom community to Hamilton. (Michael)

>>> Residents move there not in spite of the lack of historical context but rather because of it. (Michael)

>>>> I wonder how many Hamiltonians are living there by 'choice'. Sad to say that I never met anyone who was when I was there. Folks seemed to be there because they either had family ties, work, or couldn't afford to live somewhere else. (Rusty Bull)

--------
(*) "Throughout Nelson Township, communities were springing up at cross-roads and near mills and port facilities, while existing settlements expanded; Wellington Square grew from a cluster of 16 houses in 1817 to an impressive 400 inhabitants by 1845 [...]
- John Lawrence Reynolds - Commemorative history of Burlington
(Burlington Committee for the Ontario Bi-Centennial in 1984)

Details with maps and images of Burlington’s History at:
www.eureka4you.com/burlington/history-history.htm


est. score: -3(4)

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 13:40:44

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By rusty (registered) - website | Posted October 08, 2009 at 14:49:51

A-ha! So you don't like my poetry?! There is nothing like the internet for instant and honest feedback :)

I'm not sure why someone would get so worked up by my comments. They are honest observations. I'm not sore about leaving Hamilton, I'm sad that I had to leave. I didn't feel pushed out at all!

I stand by my observations. While I wish the best for Hamilton, and always have, I am constantly saddened by how many folks I meet who are ex-Hamiltonians by choice ('I couldn't wait to get out' etc). I was also struck by how many Hamiltonians I met when I lived there, who were not there by choice.

Of course Hamilton has things going for it. I agree that it has a real sense of community and spirit and identity that I don't sense in Toronto. These things are not trivial but they are not tangible either, and they are not practical. Hamilton is a hard place to live. Waiting one hour for a bus is hard. Walking with your toddlers alongside Main or King is hard. Commuting to TO every day because there is no work in town is hard.

I'm sure Hamilton is attracting a few romantics and die hard optimists and folks who are obviously more resiliant then myself but overall I suspect that most folks have little choice about staying there. We may define 'choice' in terms are people growing up there and 'not knowing anything different' - i.e. people who are too afraid to make a choice. What I'm talking about is TRUE choice. People who can live somewhere else and choose not to.

As for the Monty Python comments - I always found Hamilton to be like a northern city. A Sheffield or a Leeds maybe. That's one reason I moved (I'm from Leeds). Hamilton, when I lived there, wasn't always pretty but it was real. But when it came down to it I needed a regular bus service, a job close to home and lots of things to do. Hamilton didn't offer me that so I made my choice. This is not a rough judgement or a 'dig' - it's a reflection of what I've experienced and seen.

Until we're honest about how attractive Hamilton is to mobile residents we can't appreciate the full extent of what we need to do to fix it.

Cheers

Ben

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By Mahesh P. Butani -- http://www.metroHami (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 16:24:41

Ben: No, no, pls don't get me wrong. I did like you poetry, honestly!! That is why I searched for the poetic side of an otherwise hard-edged rusty persona, and Google pleasantly surprised me very quickly. :-))

Besides, Edward Soja's "Thirdspace" did remind you once that there is something called Magical Realism by evoking Jorge Borges' The Aleph, ~ a place, where all places are; and Lefebvre's "adventurous explorations into the simultaneous worlds of the real-and-imagined".

You do know that we already have the LRT, Starbucks and many great communities and condos in town -- Jason just keeps feeding you all the wrong info as he is just mad that you got enamoured by the big lights and decided to split town, leaving a lot of unfinished business here

Come on, you are not going to find the affordable and sustainable love you are searching for in Toronto - you know that. So, when are you coming back?

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By JonC (registered) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 16:59:50

To be completely off topic.... GDP does not account for source of funds. So if a trillion dollars gets invested from savings or a loan, it still counts as a trillion dollar investment. Borrowed money does not count as an import. Which again is why the GDP is ridiculous. There is no modification to GDP based on source of funds, which I explained last time, but of course, you didn't pay attention to things that counter your world view. You can go back to the forum you retrieved the old quote from and reread it for clarification. If you have some sort of source that would indicate I'm incorrect about that, feel free to cite it.

Again though, the point was, that if you ever want people to take you seriously, you have to present reasonable ideas in a socially acceptable manner, I called your idea stupid because a) it doesn't model the reality of how GDP is measured and b) that was probably about a half dozen posts that you had made in that thread that were factually incorrect and ignored previous posters corrections. I'm rude sometimes.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 18:08:45

JonC >> There is no modification to GDP based on source of funds, which I explained last time, but of course, you didn't pay attention to things that counter your world view.

This is what you said initially...

>> By JonC (registered)
Posted 9/5/2009 1:44:04 PM

Even in Smith's stupid case. If the GDP is the same whether the money is borrowed or from savings. Which is the whole point I was making. Borrowing increases GDP.

You say very clearly here, "Borrowing increases GDP."

Do you stand by this original statement, or do you believe that debt has nothing to do with how fast GDP grows?

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By JonC (registered) | Posted October 08, 2009 at 19:43:16

Apparently you missed when I said I stand by my statement.

I see that you've decided to not take my advice to heart though as "Borrowing increases GDP" /= the opinion that "debt has nothing to do with how fast GDP grows"

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 04:56:05

I borrow funds, 1 million

DR Bank 1,000,000 CR Loan payable(long term debt) 1,000,000

So I purchase 1,000,000 worth of vehicles from Japan, since I am a car dealer, thus the entry would be

DR Purchases or inventory 1,000,000 ( either are used in COGS calculation) CR Bank 1,000,000

So A Smith: The amount that is held in inventory or purchases is sold to consumers,a durable good, thus it would be catagorized under C-personal consumption expenditure, that is why as a import it is deducted, as it was not produced in Canada and cannot be included in the calulation.

Jon C is correct, it does not matter where the funding comes from, as GNP is based on EXPENDITURES.

Just because you borrow money, it does not mean that it would be allocated to something that would be produced. What if you if buying stock or ABCP? Do you get my drift? This calcualtion does not consider liabilities or assets, only costs.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 08:44:54

Grassroots >> Jon C is correct, it does not matter where the funding comes from, as GNP is based on EXPENDITURES.

JonC >> GDP is a fictional assessment at this point in time as any increase in the given time frame is the result of debt increase.


What JonC said initially and what he is saying now are two different things. Initially JonC implied that the GDP numbers presented here... www.marketfolly.com/2008/08/world-gdp-vs-oil-production.html were not real. He thought this because he observed that the world had taken on large amounts of external debt.

After taking a look at the formal definition of GDP, JonC now correctly understands that borrowing has nothing to do with GDP, because GDP reflects the PRODUCTION of goods and services within a border. In this way, whether a country borrows or lends, it has nothing to do with how much they produce.

To bring this back to Hamilton, whenever we receive money from other taxpayers, this does not add to our GDP, rather it would be counted as an import. If the goal is to get back to being a wealth CREATOR, our focus should shift from simply getting free stuff, to actually producing more stuff.

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By reuben (registered) - website | Posted October 09, 2009 at 09:49:04

/forehead slap

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By JonC (registered) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 10:22:19

indeed /forehead slap

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By michaelcumming (registered) - website | Posted October 09, 2009 at 11:15:52

I think people can get carried away with the whole 'choice' distinction. Like with any place, residents have a variety of motivations for being here. Often you choose to be near people you are connected to. You usually have limited control over other people's behaviour. Where you live is not always a choice you are able, or willing, to make. This may not always be a bad thing.

We moved to Hamilton for several reasons. We always liked it here. It makes us feel good. My wife grew up here. We like hiking along the Escarpment, I like taking pictures of industrial sites, the kids feel settled here, the list goes on and on. Inexpensive house prices were also a factor. If we had just a bit more money we might even have chosen to live in Burlington. We are glad though to have ended up in Hamilton (and we have lived in many places) because it appears to attract like-minded people, it provides high-value high-quality living accommodation for us, and it is pushing us in a direction that we like being pushed towards. We like Hamilton not only if it 'improves,' we like it just the way it is.

I used to think that people who live in Burlington were one type and Hamiltonians were another. I no longer feel this way (despite what I might have implied in my article). This dichotomy is too crude to be useful, when applied to people. However, the architectural and urban contrasts between Burlington and Hamilton are quite stark and entertaining. It's the proximity of these two worlds that is so interesting to me.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 11:53:05

"However, the architectural and urban contrasts between Burlington and Hamilton are quite stark and entertaining."

I think that's the crux of it. There isn't anything to really differentiate Burlington from Oakville from Mississauga from..... A snapshot in some newer areas of Hamilton could just as easily be from any of those cities, but there are shots that are unique to Hamilton and I have an affinity to those shots.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 14:21:21

Hamilton is a real city. A recent photo-tour I stumbled upon online. Enjoy

http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthre...

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 14:27:33

Jason, Burlington also has many very nice houses, it is just not as old as Hamilton is.

Why must you always insult people who live in Burlington? What have they ever done to you?

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By z jones (registered) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 14:41:12

"Why must you always insult people who live in Burlington?"

Huh? Where does Jason insult people who live in Burlington? In his first comment he criticizes Hamilton's leaders for resisting change and new ideas. In his second comment he argues that Hamilton doesn't retain as many students as other cities. In his third comment he links to a photo essay of Hamilton houses.

I could ask you: why do you always attack Jason in your mean spirited comments?

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 14:49:25

@z jones

Jason states that Hamilton is a "real" city. By saying so he is implying that Burlington is not a "real" city, therefore he is insulting the residents of Burlington.

If someone said that Hamilton was not a real city then I, and many others on this sit would be insulted.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 09, 2009 at 16:49:36

Jason >> Hamilton is a real city.

If Hamilton is a "real" city, why does it rely on handouts from the suburbs (Oakville, Burlington, Mississauga)?

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By LL (registered) - website | Posted October 11, 2009 at 13:12:26

To the contrary. Everybody's heard the rumours of municipal officials and cops in Burlington giving out GO tickets to Hamilton to people they find on the streets. Whether this is literally true or not, the "moral of the story" is true. The "down-and-out" people who are concentrated in Hamilton come from all around this region. The mental health issues and alienation they suffer from are just as much a product of suburbia as they are of the inner city, perhaps even more so.

The Province is able to "concentrate" social services in Hamilton because Hamilton's working class people are by-and-large as compassionate as they are hard working. We won't callously let people starve or freeze.

Toronto has the same kind of "concentration". But unlike TO, Hamilton does NOT get pools of municipal funding from Burlington, Mississauga etc. When someone from Burlington falls off the rails, we take care of them with our own municipal tax dollars, taken from our hard-earned wages and salaries. Not only that, but Hamiltonians are doing the hard, front line work of social services for other municipalities in the region.

So the wannabe nouveaux riches of Burlington, Oakville, Grimsby etc. are exploiting the hard work and generosity of Hamilton.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2009 at 14:50:41

Hamilton needs to cap tax increases/property to the rate of inflation. By doing this, much more money will flow into the private sector, reversing the economic decline that has been caused by big government wasteful spending.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted October 11, 2009 at 17:31:02

LL: Great post, people need to know what is going on out there. Other municipalites should be taking care of their own, not shipping them here to our city.

But then it just perpetuates the myth, that there is no poverty, no homeless and any of the other social ills.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted November 09, 2009 at 15:26:46

Burlington isn't a 'real' city. Burlington is a 'city' in name only. There really is no comparison of a homogenous suburban community to a dense diverse city.

Note: Most of Burlington's residents are from Hamilton. Many of Burlington's jobs were once in Hamilton.

Burlington has done a good job with its waterfront. And some nice new density in Aldershot. MacIsaac was trying to make Burlington more a city and less a suburb.

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