Who are you?
My name is Jon Shaw, and I am an industrial and commercial electrician working in the GTA. My wife Candice works in technology and logistics for an audiobook company based in Oakville. We bought our house in the summer of 2016, and spent the next three months working hard to renovate it. With the help of family and friends, we were able to officially move in by October of 2016. We didn’t have any family or friends living here, so it was pretty much the two of us in a brand new city.
What brought you here to Hamilton?
Candice and I are originally from Orangeville, Ontario. We also lived in Toronto for about 10 years. Once we decided to start saving for a house, we moved back to Orangeville and into Candice’s parents’ basement for three years. We found ourselves missing the convenience and connection that city-life offered, so we shifted our sights to potential cities to call home. Hamilton initially caught our eye because it was a place we could afford; with student debt and a limited budget, affordability was crucial for us. As we spent more time visiting the city, we fell in love with its complexities – Hamilton is changing, but its history is very much alive. Hamilton has a tough reputation, but people are warmer here than in other cities we’ve lived in. There’s plenty to see and do downtown, but you don’t have to go far to enjoy trails and waterfalls. We quickly realized that Hamilton is a great city to call home, and nothing else really compared.
Candice still remembers the first drive Jeannie took us through the neighbourhood that’s now ours, close to the water, and thinking “this is where I want to be”.
Where do you live and why did you choose it?
We live in the North End of Hamilton. The ability to walk to James St. North was a big draw for us. Candice worked in the food industry for many years and is fond of having a reliable, local spot to eat with friends. James North has a great variety of options — restaurants, bars, coffee shops, two breweries — and some of them just minutes from our doorstep. The proximity to the waterfront was also a big draw for us. It’s a great place to go for a walk and enjoy the sun.
What resources helped you?
Jeannie! Jeannie’s love for Hamilton was contagious, and her knowledge of the city was a huge asset for us. Being relatively new to Hamilton (prior to this we had only really visited friends at McMaster), we were lucky to have Jeannie as our guide – once she had an idea of our ‘wants’ in a neighbourhood, we’d meet up and go for drives to discover the different areas that would fit. Candice still remembers the first drive Jeannie took us through the neighbourhood that’s now ours, close to the water, and thinking “this is where I want to be”.
What surprised you the most about the city?
Probably the diversity of hiking trails and the amount of waterfalls. Once we moved here we learned that the waterfalls are something Hamilton is known for, but we had no clue!
Any advice for people considering making the move?
Definitely explore the city and many neighbourhoods in your price range. We found that talking to some folks who live or work in Hamilton, they had some preconceived notions about certain areas, both good and bad. But many of those opinions were based on 5 or 10 years ago, or maybe some Downtown/ Mountain/ Stoney Creek biases. Go and look for yourself! Also, with Hamilton being a large city, its possible to drive a few blocks and to go from a very nice neighbourhood to a sketchy one, so definitely take your time driving around!
What do you wish you’d known BEFORE you moved here?
Probably that when people say “your water could have lead” that it doesn’t mean they are copper lines with lead solder (which I assumed, since lead solder used to be very common). It actually means that your incoming water lines are MADE OF LEAD. The amount of lead present isn’t even harmful for adults, but I still might have swapped the lines while my house was already torn up (if our budget allowed it).
What are some of your favourite things in the city?
The Wild Orchid is an awesome Portuguese place. The service is phenomenal and the quantity and quality of the portions for the price is amazing.
Landmark Cinemas at Jackson Square. Usually Mall theatres are a little dicey, but this place is rad! They have big comfy leather recliners, and the armrests fold up if you want to cuddle up to your date. I’d take this over Cineplex any day.
Confederation Beach Park. This spot has tons of walking trails, beautiful views, great restaurants, and lots of sporting facilities. It even has a water park if you have kids. Plus its location on the lake takes it out of Hamilton harbour — which is also beautiful to look at, but is prone to algae growth because of its geography, which makes it no good for swimming. At Confederation beach you are free to swim.
Of all the things happening in Hamilton these days, what are you most excited about?
We are excited for the ongoing waterfront developments to really take off. The views are beautiful and the space could be put to much better use. We’re also excited for an expansion of service for the West Harbour GO. As more stops are added towards Niagara Falls and St. Catherines, service at West Harbour should continue to expand.