Who are you?
I’m Debbie Christie, I moved here from Manitoba in 1986 and never turned back. I am a Social Worker and decided to move closer to family. At the time my sister lived in Dundas and I moved to Stoney Creek because it was affordable for me to buy a small house by the lake. Loved the two ends of what is now “Hamilton” but I longed to move WEST and so I did. In 1990 while attending McMaster University I rented a house in Westdale, then bought on Dundurn North (close to Dundurn Castle) but when I met my husband, we settled in Dundas. Dundas is a valley town on the west end of Hamilton and it has stayed small (25,000 population), due to its lack of land for expansion, which suits me just fine! It is walkable, with all amenities and quaint shopping, from where I live, within walking distance. I commute west to Brantford (way better than the other way) along Governor’s Road and love my life here in the WEST. The only downside to Dundas and another reason it stays small is the road system, it takes about 15 minutes to get to any major highway, but it is still a small price to pay for paradise!
You have to immerse yourself in the life of the community to get anything back, otherwise you just have a bed to sleep in and no ambition to get out there and live!
As stated above, my sister was here and I needed some tender loving care from family after experiencing a tough break up in Manitoba. Hamilton was not as affordable as Northern Manitoba. I had a nice house that I sold for $35,000 and bought here for $80,000 but it was still a good deal at the time. I have used real estate as a savings plan, so to speak, as I have always put some sweat equity into my homes to come away with a tidy profit and to be able to move up…
Where do you live?
I didn’t really know the real estate (breadth) of Hamilton area until I moved here. Who would know that to visit my sister in Dundas from Stoney Creek it would be almost a one hour drive…no Red Hill Parkway back then. So I longed to get closer and finally accomplished that with my move first to Westdale and then to Dundas…and then guess what happened, my sister moved North to Manitoulin Island…and I have never thought of following her there, well maybe for a few minutes every summer!
What resources were helpful to you in making your decision to move here?
I thought having family here was the only resource I would need, but as you can see even family can abandon you if they get a better offer! So the resource for me was getting involved in the community. Joining a few clubs (Girl Guides and Swimming) and attending a Church that helped me meet good people with the same values as me. Also if you have children in school getting involved in that community. Before I got a job here in Hamilton I volunteered with several organizations and met people that way. You have to immerse yourself in the life of the community to get anything back, otherwise you just have a bed to sleep in and no ambition to get out there and live!
What resources do you WISH you’d had access to that would have helped?
A welcome club or centre, one to get started and meet new people and get an orientation to the City. It was hard at first to put myself out there and get to meet people and get involved.
What things surprised you the most about Hamilton? Good & Bad
At first it was the pollution. I came from pretty pristine air quality. I had to stop wearing contact lenses when I came to Stoney Creek (air travels east and I was right in pollution alley – that also means Toronto gets the brunt too) but I got acclimated but could never adjust to contacts again! Also this was the first experience for me in a big city (more than 20,000) and it shocked me that I could walk, shop, and be out all day and not see one person that I knew…that was a lonely feeling. That all changed as I got involved. I remember early in my engagement to my husband, walking downtown and Dundas and I knew more people than he did…and he grew up in Dundas!! So once I established myself I learned how friendly people are here. I was also shocked at how many people have lived here all their lives, I moved around a lot as a young person. There is a lot of staying power in this City!
What advice do you have for anyone considering a move to Hamilton?
It is a fabulous City. Little pieces of paradise everywhere. I wouldn’t consider the trip to Toronto everyday…but some people love it and the few times I have travelled on the GO it seems like it is a social life onto itself! Get a Realtor to advise you on where it is best to live because some of the areas of the city may seem like a fabulous deal but you wouldn’t get the value out of a home when moving. Don’t buy a house without a driveway (Sorry Jeannie) …didn’t know this concept coming from a modern planned city in Manitoba, but it was advice someone gave me when I moved here and it has worked for me so far.
What are your favourite places and things to do around the city?
Winchester Arms English Pub, Thirsty Cactus and Taylor’s Tea Room are my favourites. We are one block from Warren Park in Dundas which brings you to the Rail Trail for Walking or Biking. I love wandering the Royal Botanical Gardens (every season has something special to offer). And of course hiking to the Dundas Peak and around from Websters to Tews Falls and back is a great fall hike…Thanksgiving weekend is too busy now though! I also love Dundurn Castle at Christmas.
Of all the things going on Hamilton these days – what are you most excited about?
My husband is an artist and it is great to have such an art enclave happening in Hamilton right now. From Supercrawl to all the galleries there are so many opportunities and events that we can’t get to them all!