History

Portrait of a City: Promo Video From 1940s

By RTH Staff
Published April 06, 2011

Check out this fascinating promotional video about Hamilton, produced in the 1940s. It speaks to a prouder, more ambitious Hamilton.

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted April 06, 2011 at 16:43:55

Getting misty. Hankering for some of that good ol' fashioned post-war prosperity!

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 16:33:02 in reply to Comment 61908

Prosperity-related:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/03/business/03view.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=1970&st=cse

"...a simple supplementary index can be calculated from readily available data that captures one of the most important ways that changing distribution patterns have affected middle-income families.

I call it the toil index. It measures the number of hours that median earners must toil each month to be able to rent a house in a school district of at least average quality. (Could the median earner aspire to any less?) Unlike per capita G.D.P., which, apart from brief recessions, grew at a strong and steady rate from the end of World War II until the recent downturn, the toil index has been much more volatile. Its movements suggest that recent increases in income inequality have imposed substantial economic costs on middle-income families.

From 1950 to 1970, incomes grew rapidly and at about the same rate — almost 3 percent annually, on average — for families at all income levels. From 1970 to 2000, however, that pattern changed sharply. Incomes of the top 1 percent grew more than threefold, while median household income grew less than 15 percent....

By 2000, the median worker had to work 67.4 hours a month to put his or her family into the median home. The toil index thus fell by 2.4 percent from 1950 to 1970, but rose by 62.4 percent from 1970 to 2000. Yet all the while, steadily rising per capita G.D.P. painted a substantially rosier picture."

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 06, 2011 at 17:34:47

Wow. Awesome vid. Rooftop dining at the Connaught. Closest we have to that now is the London Tap House. I love the part about the high quality accommodations for tourists. We've sure fallen a long way in that one.

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By MattM (registered) | Posted April 06, 2011 at 18:51:34

"A city winds through to greatness because it's people are ambitious, enterprising and are not afraid to initiate new projects as they turn the pages of progress"

Amazing. That line really stood out to me. A line that so many people who live here have completely forgotten and what will be important if Hamilton is to ever return to greatness.

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By lorne (registered) - website | Posted April 06, 2011 at 19:33:57

Many thanks for posting this film. Although the 40's are a little before my time, I recognize many of the landmarks and stores from my youth. A very evocative piece.

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By mike_sak (registered) | Posted April 06, 2011 at 19:48:58

this really got me going.

amazing find! I mean look at that market..and the busy streets. loved the street cars and bus station.

just learnt that centre mall was where the old jockey club used to be...never knew about that!

Comment edited by mike_sak on 2011-04-06 19:49:23

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 07:42:52

Great video! There were a couple of "what ifs" in there

What if the Jockey Club did not go our of business?

What if the Birks building was not torn down?

We also forget that at one time, the Mountain consisted of Mountain Brow boulevard and a Sanitorium

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By moylek (registered) - website | Posted April 07, 2011 at 09:57:52

I hopscotched through this to get a sense of it and look forward to watching it properly at home tonight.

But one part caught my eye ... a beautiful formal park I didn't recognize.

Hamilton Park

View on flickr

I squinted. Thought about resorting to google. And then I gasped, quite literally. With a little noise and everything. In public.

"That's outside my office window. I can see where it used it to be."

I think that this was the McMaster Sunken Garden, torn down to build the brutalist hospital. Right next to a big empty field that's now a parking lot.

Hamilton Park

View on flickr

And speaking of McMaster .... coffee break is over; so enough griping at what McMaster was and back to working on what it is.

Comment edited by moylek on 2011-04-07 10:56:47

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 23:10:23 in reply to Comment 61926

For some reason I thought that was Gage Park back in the day

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted April 09, 2011 at 13:02:35 in reply to Comment 61972

There were Gage Park scenes in that video as well.

You can see all kinds of kids playing in the fountains of Gage Park.

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By R Don Lyres (anonymous) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 13:24:34 in reply to Comment 61926

I too was taken aback by that garden.

I never saw the garden at McMaster but when I saw that scene, with the cars passing in the background, I thought I knew where it was.

There exist what are almost ruins of a garden very much like that one, located just west of the high level bridge on York Boulevard.

It's barely visible on Google maps but
[here](http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=43.284245,-79.892966&num=1&t=h&sll=43.250079,-79.856765&sspn=0.006705,0.013797&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=43.283915,-79.89275&spn=0.003624,0.006899&z=17)
it is, nestled between the 403, York Blvd. and Old Guelph Road.

Now I'll have to go back to see if it's a fit. Do you know of any pictures or postcards of the gardens at Mac?

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted April 12, 2011 at 12:52:36 in reply to Comment 61933

"Do you know of any pictures or postcards of the gardens at Mac?"

The bottom half of this page is loaded with them:

http://www.hamiltonpostcards.com/pages/parks.html

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By R Don Lyres (anonymous) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 13:27:41 in reply to Comment 61933

Aargh. Looks like I need to reread the info on how to embed a link using Markup, as I clearly didn't get it right there. This is the map page I was trying to link to:

http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=43.284245,-79.892966&num=1&t=h&sll=43.250079,-79.856765&sspn=0.006705,0.013797&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=43.283915,-79.89275&spn=0.003624,0.006899&z=17

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By michaelcumming (registered) - website | Posted April 07, 2011 at 10:55:13

The old open-air market downtown is what stood out for me. I would have loved to have seen that. It seemed so vital.

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By MattM (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 11:05:34

Everything in that video stood out for me. The people, the stores downtown, the vast amount of big name industries. I can't believe Hamilton was home to the head offices or major manufacturing facilities of some of the biggest companies in the world. General Electric/Westinghouse, Firestone, International Harvester, IBM, Stelco, Dofasco, P&G, Otis, Studebaker, Lifesavers.

Kinda weird that a fair number of those companies left town within the last 10 years. Lifesavers, P&G, Westinghouse (bought by Siemens), Stelco. I think losing Lifesavers was really crappy, personally. It was a unique company to have. Same story as usual too. Lifesavers went through multiple buyouts between the 1980's to when they left around 2003 or 2004, those buyouts eventually resulted in the closure of "less efficient" plants.

Comment edited by MattM on 2011-04-07 11:07:03

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 11:43:12

You can buy this on DVD from HIStory & HERitage on James North. That's where I first saw it.

Now that I know it's online, I kinda feel like a sucker for buying it, but ah well...

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted April 08, 2011 at 11:27:24 in reply to Comment 61931

mrgrande

Just a point of information, 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the DVD you bought at HIStory + HERitage went directly to the person who produces the DVD's - Mr. Joe Bochsler. He is the man who saved the print from the garbage when they were about to tear down old City Hall in the early 60's, and for that we should all thank him. Joe is now in his late 80's and is still shooting images, although now digitally. He did the original transfer, first to VHS, and then to a digital format.

Having said that, the more people who watch this the better. It is well past the 50 year period for copyright.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted April 11, 2011 at 08:24:23 in reply to Comment 61988

Enjoyed the video at ArtCrawl. Graham do you have any knowledge of what is happening with the Connaught?

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted April 11, 2011 at 14:41:59 in reply to Comment 62043

TnT

I don't other than I hear there are several interested buyers but that the current owners are asking too much. There is also the rumour that they have been working at reducing the number of partners (and have already done so I believe).

As most may know, the floors above the ballroom level (second floor) have all been entirely gutted/emptied so that the full floor-plate is visible (i.e. no walls, only support columns). That's not such a bad thing as it means a lot of the dirty work has been done. The hallways, light fixtures, doors, etc. had all been replaced over the years anyway, so they were not of any real value.

That's not much of a report, but it's all I know.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted April 14, 2011 at 00:23:33 in reply to Comment 62049

I was hoping a joint Mohawk-McMaster effort would have gone into the space.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted April 07, 2011 at 14:37:43

It speaks to a prouder, more ambitious Hamilton.

"Can open, worms all over."

This was a promo piece. A quaint, laugh-eliciting, propaganda/promo piece. (Probably the likes of which my parents viewed before they ventured across the pond to become Canadians.) I'm thinking that something equally suggestive of a 'proud, ambitious' Hamilton could be manufactured today...and be just as accurate. So while the visuals were lovely (though as a cinema buff, I'd have appreciated some nice interior shots of the Palace or the Capitol), it's ill-advised to take what's there verbatim.

Or, in the words of another wag, not view it with either context or perspective.

(I do have to say that the utter 'whiteness' of the people shown in the piece was a great reminder of how things have changed in just under seven decades.)

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 16:28:05 in reply to Comment 61937

I was also struck by the monocromatic citizenry. And, for a reel so devoted to the virtus of industry, not a whiff of the labour turmoil that wracked Stelco in 1946.

http://www.humanities.mcmaster.ca/~cradle/html/siege1.htm

Then again, it's the product of a team that had earned its salt making WWII propaganda.

http://tiff.net/CANADIANFILMENCYCLOPEDIA/content/bios/gordon-sparlin

I believe that the Chamber of Commerce and CHCH co-produced a similarly rosy promo "documentary" in the early 2000s.... and they also took pains to omit more turbulent passages in the city's history.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 15:12:02

we could learn a thing or two from the 40's..... http://raisethehammer.org/blog/2119/port...

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 16:37:57 in reply to Comment 61945

this was meant to be posted in another thread clearly. lol. thanks for the upvote though.

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By mymy (anonymous) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 16:15:25

You might also enjoy, and/or mourn, these threads from the skyscraper website:

http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=151765
http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthread.php?t=166551

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By rednic (registered) | Posted April 07, 2011 at 20:44:56

brilliant .... to paraphrase a couple of lines 'Hamilton a city with no slums' 'Hamilton largest non US Site for US business'

neither seem true today ... some how related ... but yet ... The largest canadian employer at the time ( i thinking stelco) is now US owned ...and leaving ( more or less) .

Thank for digging it up

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By Peter (anonymous) | Posted April 09, 2011 at 00:27:00

There were a few shots of Civic Stadium/Ivor Wynne and it looked really nice; much moreso than what stands there today.

Incidentally, my parents have mentioned the beautiful Sunken Gardens on several occasions and apparently their demolition was quite controversial.

The Hamilton of 2011 couldn't be much different, could it?

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted April 09, 2011 at 09:09:51

Man, when oh when can the Royal Connaught be restored to be a prominent landmark in Hamilton again as it should be?

What at terrific video. Saw it on a larger TV screen at the art crawl last night. Beautiful!

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By Hamiltontransithistory (registered) - website | Posted April 10, 2011 at 23:26:54

(from vimeo) This was filmed in the summer of 1946. The ship at 5:35 is the former HMCS The Pas (K168), which was scrapped in Hamilton in that year. Also, the HSR streetcars have not been repainted into their final colours, which started in late 1946

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted April 11, 2011 at 10:47:04

And now the nattering begins!

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/514206--video-portait-of-a-city

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By OhDonna (anonymous) | Posted April 11, 2011 at 21:44:20

I absolutely love this video even if some of the things were before my time, it still invokes a sense of innocence and a simpler time.

I just can't get enough of these vintage films. Does anyone know where I can view similar types of video footage of Hamilton?

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By Art Brut (anonymous) | Posted May 31, 2011 at 10:37:35

More 1946 nostalgia...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzCY3uwq7Ts

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