Signs of Life on James North

By Jason Leach
Published April 21, 2005

I encourage Hamiltonians of all ages, backgrounds, and interests to head down to Gore Park on a sunny Saturday afternoon and take a walking tour of the short stretch of James from the Gore to LIUNA Station. (When you're finished, take a left at Strachan and relax at the waterfront.)

A recent article in VIEW magazine highlights the ever-growing importance of Hamilton's art scene in the revitalization of our downtown core. James Street north of King is home to several new and established art galleries and studios to enjoy and peruse.

The south leg of Gore is home to the Blue Angel Gallery and the Sky Dragon Centre. Inside Jackson Square, near the King and James entrance, you will find the Arts Hamilton head office and gallery. Keep in mind, one block west of here is the Art Gallery of Hamilton, which reopens in late May.

Heading north on James, you will encounter the Loose Canon Gallery at James and Cannon, the Print Studio on the west side of James, Sublimatus Gallery, the newly opened Hamilton Artists Inc head office and gallery, and finally the You Me Gallery just north of Barton on the east side.

Hamiltonians have the power to rebuild their own city core, but it won't happen by sitting at home and complaining about a few boarded up buildings or people of a different social class than your own (welcome to the real world). James North is a great spot for walking and enjoying one of the few spots in Hamilton with a vibrant, urban street scene.

It's much more than just art. The food on James North is world class from the Acclamation Bar and Grill to the Gate of India.

The street's various coffee bars have the most amazing cappuccinos and European coffee drinks.

The Wild Orchid is one Hamilton's best restaurants with a wonderful street patio covered in vines and an equally welcoming interior.

Pho Da Bo at James and Cannon has some of the best Vietnamese noodle soop in the city and the seafood at Ventura's Signature Restaurant is amazing. Harvest Moon and the Jade Garden, both on James near York, have some of the best Chinese food in Hamilton at incredible prices.

If clothes-shopping is your thing, you'll love Morgensterns. A true department store in the heart of James North with quality European imports as well as the daily essentials. Upscale men's clothing can be found at Jerrys and you'll find every kind of shoe under the sun at Miller's Shoes.

One of the highlights of strolling James North is the activity at the various fruit and meat markets. The streets are filled with colourful veggies and fruits, and every kind of meat and fish imaginable can be found in these wonderful neighbourhood markets.

James North, for all its ups and downs over the years, is showing signs of a true renaissance. There are so many elements to this street that need to be duplicated all through our downtown core - the continuous streetwall without huge ugly parking lots, the mix of businesses, the street life with patios, markets, and sitting areas.

The public squares and parkettes such as the new one in front of Christ's Church Cathedral, complete with a fountain, gardens and benches, and the beautiful space at LIUNA Station, with a wonderful fountain, more benches, gardens and a monument to Hamilton's immigrants.

James North is truly one of Hamilton's gems. Let's get out and enjoy it.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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