Who are you?
I’m Dave Hanley. My wife, Nicole and I are “Pop Up Hamilton”, a food & wine adventure company that celebrate our incredible local chefs, local food, phenomenal wineries & artists through unforgettable one-night only Pop Up events. We moved here from Toronto (after a brief stop in Burlington) in June 2013 with our little girl, Sophia and our Old English Sheepdog, Abigael. **April 2015 – Check out this amazing video put together by Digital Canary at this month’s Pop Up Hamilton at 270 Sherman”
Other than quick “off the QEW/back on the QEW” trips to Lowe’s in the east end, I hadn’t been to Hamilton since Robert Plant & Joan Jett played Copp’s Coliseum in 1989. I had a huge misconception of the city and originally refused to consider Hamilton as a place to launch “Dishcrawl”, our restaurant adventure tour business. After being coerced into exploring a few Hamilton eateries, we came here over the course of two weekends to test out the quality of the restaurants; neighbourhoods and the overall experience. I think we started actively looking for a real estate agent before the second weekend was even over! It was love at first sight.
I think it’s the closest an Ontario city can come to that famous “Maritimes” friendliness.
Where do you live?
We live in Ancaster (near Fiddler’s Green & Wilson). Originally, we were looking for houses in the Locke Street area and saw a few around St. Clair but we were outbid every single time. Ancaster wasn’t even on our radar but we went to see a house on a Saturday morning; fell in love with it; put an offer in immediately and the rest is history! I love Ancaster. It’s a really lovely place to live. A very kind, charming community with such fabulous people.
What resources were helpful to you in making your decision?
Being unfamiliar with the city, we leaned on our real estate agent a fair bit but the bulk of our information came from meeting Hamiltonians. Coming from Toronto, Hamilton is a much friendlier city. We found people here very authentic, accessible, welcoming and passionate about their city. I think it’s the closest an Ontario city can come to that famous “Maritimes” friendliness.
What resources do you WISH you’d had access to that would have helped?
We’re still navigating municipal resources and agencies. I’m not sure how many municipal bodies are involved with all things “house” like building permits, services, road maintenance and repair but it sure seems like a lot (and none of them apparently talk to each other)
What things surprised you the most about Hamilton? Good & Bad
The Good: After the culinary horsepower; the music. I’m a big music fan and I can’t believe how many phenomenal musicians,bands & singers are in this relatively small town. I haven’t looked it up but I’m sure we must have the highest number of music artists per capita in the country. I’ve taken to just showing up at Dr. Disc on Wilson and picking up whatever they’re showcasing in the way of local talent in any genre and I have yet to be disappointed. Harlan Pepper, Sara London, The Dinner Belles, Ginger St. James, Tongue Fu, Weekend Riot Club, Dawn and Marra…all impossibly awesome…I could keep going too…
The Bad: Our bylaw enforcement is on steroids. There are a lot of them (probably the most per capita) and they are a little too enthusiastic. I’ve never seen so many officers gleefully salivating when they observe a parking meter countdown to ‘Zero’.
What advice do you have for anyone considering a move to Hamilton?
Do it. Right now. You’ll be really glad you did (and it’ll be much harder to get in here in five years).
What are your favourite places and things to do around the city?
Restaurant: I can’t answer a “favourite restaurant” question without sending our business in to a tailspin! How about places we go to a lot? I could spend hours and hours eating and drinking at either the Aberdeen Tavern or Two Black Sheep. Both places have mixologists – Avi Constam at the Aberdeen & “Handsome” Dave Fateaux at Two Black Sheep that belong in the global mixology hall of fame (which totally should be a thing).
Bars: I love the Coach & Lantern in Ancaster. Consistently wonderful and you are just as welcome if you show up in a tuxedo as you are if you show up in a snowmobile suit. The West Town Bar & Grill on Locke is amazing too. They’ve really captured that neighbourhood pub experience. They’re synonymous with family milestones, special events and just staying in touch with your community. And Walter Roeper, their chef, is a wunderkind.
Trails: the Dundas Conservation area is breathtaking all year round and is as close to paradise for my dog, Abigael as she may ever come.
I love downtown Dundas too. I could bounce from shop to restaurant to bar to shop again all day.
Of all the things going on Hamilton these days – what are you most excited about?
I’m a huge soccer fan so Pan Am is pretty high up on my list. The Junos really belong here and I can’t wait to see that. We’re already counting down to the next SuperCrawl too.