My parents immigrated to Hamilton in the 70's, a wave of young working class families fleeing various restricting regimes in Eastern Europe. We settled in our first house in the Ottawa StreetNeighbourhood, a massive duplex with two-2 bedroom units, each with a dining room and a living room.
Ottawa Street was the place where everyone went to shop, eat, socialize, to see and be seen.
It was full of ethnic delis, garment shops, travel agencies taking people back to the old country for vacations, newspaper stands, banks that actually provided customer service (yes kids, it was long ago and far away) and merchants that knew your name or maybe even your mother tongue.
Tim Horton, a hockey player for anyone who just landed from Mars, and Ron Joyce, whose autobiography "Always Fresh" really took me back to my childhood, opened the first Tim Hortons in Canada on the corner of Ottawa and Campbell opened in May 1964.
My father was offered a franchise some years later and I do remember he thought it was the most ludicrous idea he had ever heard. "Who in their right mind was going to pay for a cup of coffee when they can have one at home for free"
Ottawa Street's demise started with the "let's go to the mall" culture of the 80's and 90's but it's comeback has been remarkable. Guided by the local BIA it has revamped, re branded and reinvented itself as a neighbourhood/community street.
Dunav Meat and Deli is owned by a friend of my dad's and a very generous contributor to various charities. This shop is a carnivore's dream come true. Located at #201, don't miss it on your stroll.
Adenda, an antique shop is owned by a friend of mine Vlado. Vlado used to throw the most amazing eccentric parties ever, back in the day when I could actually stay up past eleven. His colorful resume includes a shop in Yorkdale, a re decoration of EsteeLauders apartment and a lot of film work.
If you're lucky, you may find a fainting couch or an armoir used on a major film production waiting just for you
A craving for Italian?
LimoncelloYou can't miss it, is a beautiful restaurant with great food and great service. I have snuck away from the grind to enjoy a White Russian, or two, on the quaint patio on several occasions.