Suburban Bureau

What about Buchanan?

Hamilton could use another museum celebrating the rich history of Upper Canada and the role Hamilton and its powerbrokers played in the young Dominion.

By Trey Shaughnessy
Published May 31, 2005

MacNab's Dundurn and McQueston's Whitehearn are museums. What about Buchanan's homes?

Hamilton could use another museum celebrating the rich history of Upper Canada and the role Hamilton and its powerbrokers played in the young Dominion. Dundurn Castle and Whitehearn are fantastic museums and add to our tourist attractions. Now that we have a reborn AGH and Hamilton is trying to capitalize on the millions of tourists between the Falls and TO, lets add two more attractions: Auchmar and Buchanan's city home.

Auchmar Estate
Auchmar Estate

I visited Auchmar during Doors Open Hamilton, and it was a spectacular building. However, it was in very poor shape. Investming in Auchmar and converting it into a museum would save it for future generations and add to a good collection of museums.

Sir Isaac Buchanan was an important figure in our history. Together with fellow Scotsman Sir Allen MacNab, he ruled his mini-kingdom in the new land. Both named their estates after clan castles in Scotland. This sounds like a good story, and a museum could complete it.

Auchmar is a walled-in (like Whitehearn) country estate on the 'hill'. I asked an attendant of Doors Open where Buchanan's city home was, he told me it's on the north east corner of John St. and Augusta St.

Buchanan's 'town house' at the corner of Augusta and John.
Buchanan's 'town house' at the corner of Augusta and John.

It's a beautiful mansard-roofed building forming part of the streetwall on John South. It is currently being used by a private business, but the city can make an offer to buy and save this building as well, and create another museum.

I had to laugh when I saw the picture of the dinky train station that Burlington is saving and moving to another location on the back of a flatbed trailer. If Mayor MacIsaac had any of the treasures Hamilton has, he wouldn't waste any time in saving them for a tourist museum.

Trey lives in Williamsville NY via Hamilton. He is a Marketing Manager for Tourism and Destination Marketing in the Buffalo-Niagara Metro.

His essays have appeared in The Energy Bulletin, Post Carbon Institute, Peak Oil Survival, and Tree Hugger.

And can't wait for the day he stops hearing "on facebook".


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By Bender Jak (anonymous) | Posted October 27, 2006 at 18:47:27

I agree fully with you on this as I attended the open doors tour as well. I used to live across the street from the "Gardners" house when I was very young on Arcade Cres. and the house is now in a mess along with Auchmar and it is a shame !!! I think a Hamilton Mountain Museum along with Buchanan ' s history in Hamilton is far, far over due !!!!!!

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By (anonymous) | Posted October 28, 2006 at 11:18:50

We can also use a real museum other than AGH, they are all an old house or building. Downtown at Bay and King would be nice with an office tower above.

Children's Museum (old house)
Steam and Technology (old factory)
Dundurn (old house)
Whitehearn (old house)
Labour museum on Stuart (old office building)
Auchmar (old house)
Women's Museum (old house)
Battlefield (old house)

It would be nice to have a real one like ROM with cutting edge architecture. An idea would be like a Science Centre specializing in manufacturing and materials, from bronze, iron and steel to plastic and teflon.

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By Concerned Hamiltonian (anonymous) | Posted May 07, 2007 at 10:38:31

I just finished the 2007 open doors tour. I am extrememely disappointed in the state of Auchmar and its grounds. It needs to be saved! So many potential uses - bed and breakfast, museum, banquet rentals and so on. Politicians spent so much money on garbage when it should be spent on protecting our heritage. We can use another Dundurn on the mountain and the tourists it could attract. Win win for everyone!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted May 10, 2007 at 13:03:04

Doors open was great, and I encourage everyone to see the steam museum in particular. We are very lucky to have it.

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By anHonoredHamiltonian (anonymous) | Posted July 29, 2007 at 22:02:15

I don't think that Auchmar Estate would make a duplication of Dundurn. The history of Dundurn is enough. I enjoyed my visit with the doors open 2007 and I intend to visit it all again.

I think preserving the wonders of Auchmar Estate and its history would be wonderful. If maintained by a museum I hope the gardens and atmosphere of its history of the family history and heritage be protected in every aspect and tried to remain intact.

I've been to the Auchmar Estate many many times and I'm always amazed by it more times I go there.

For quite some time the City of Hamilton has threatened to tear down the estate and yet it still manages to stand there strong in its glory.

Preserving it could do wonders, as there is tons of history in there.

I read this in another site "Since 2001, Auchmar has been vacant, generating some rental income as a film location, but not enough to offset the $55,000 upkeep of the property, let alone its restoration -- pegged at a minimum of $4 million.

Enter the Settlement and Integration Services Organization, which would like to open a reception house where immigrants and refugees could stay during their orientation period.

SISO says Auchmar's size and the layout of its buildings make it ideal. It would tear down the dormitory wing and replace it with a modern residence in a style that it says would be in keeping with the manor building.

SISO, however, is but one of a growing group of suitors who would like to take the property off the city's hands. The city has fielded several inquiries and one unnamed party has filed a letter of intent to purchase the property."

I hope that if this is true and the people are still hoping to buy this beautiful property will maintain the home excuse me "Estate" in all its fine, humble existance as we know it. If SISO tears down the wings of this estate, you might as well say that you are tearing down pieces of history. Hamilton is full of history, but how many times will you pass by an estate on the Hamilton mountain that overlooks the city below? Not alot I assure you.

Let's maintain this building people and prevent it from being torn down or re-made into something it was never meant to be. Preserve it, Maintain it, Flower it, and Museum it and keep it for years to come for many others.

I'd volunteer to help maintain the gardens any day in honor of Buchanan!

Here's the Remember When History Fact:
Built in 1855 * Home of Isaac Buchanan, an international merchant, first president of the Hamilton Club, founder of Hamilton and Toronto boards of trade -- forerunners to modern chambers of commerce -- and founder of the regiment that would later become the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry * Built in tribute to Buchanan's father's estate in Scotland * The estate's original grounds extended to Mountain brow.


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By oneofakind (anonymous) | Posted September 11, 2007 at 22:35:31

folks, i am new to this sorta thing, bulletins and blogging. whatever you may call it. for years i have been blinded to the many top notch sorta significance of Hamilton and its historical qualities. you dont really learn much Canadian history in Canadaian classrooms...unless they've changed that since i've past graduated.
Well great news.
preservation of these fading historical sites is most likely in the works, and we may just not know it.
I personally believe in preserving, maintaining and educating . I have been tuning into my hometown and its history, and recently have been lucky to be working for a landscape company in which our maintenance team has been on the auchmar grounds, doing some various landscape detailing, and groundsgrooming. mind you the picture as posted above is only what it looked like on that day of photo, it had since been let go and left unmaintained until today....and it, could and should stay that way. just like the barenaked ladies... i wish i had a million dollars...

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By lifelonghamiltonian (registered) | Posted February 04, 2009 at 21:36:55

In addition to the Gardeners house as was as was posted by Jak, the gate house for this estate also still stands a short distance down the street on the corner of Claremount and Arcade Avenue. If you go down Arcade Avenue from the gate housee through Arcade park and through the court, you would end up in the back end of the Auchmar Estate

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By TheGhostlySpectre (anonymous) | Posted March 17, 2009 at 14:42:27

I just got back from walking all around the Auchmar Estate and I agree with keeping this wonderful historical site !!!

It is beautiful and I love this place !!! Please keep it alive !!!

I would also gladly volunteer to keep the grounds clean and nice looking for nothing. :)

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