Who are you?
My name is Karen Ancheta. I am a passionate customer service specialist at Pokeh in the Hamilton Farmers Market and at Pokeh Uptown in my old hood on Concession Street. My culture and hotel experience has given me a love for great hospitality. I studied classical theatre at Ryerson and am an actor/director/new play collaborator/storyteller. I am a magpie for vintage and all things art. I am a mother of 2 human boys and one furry 4 legged boy. I am a life partner to a quirky physicist. I am a born and raised steel town girl. I am a first generation canadian-filipina.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up on Hamilton Mountain and was born at Florence Henderson Hospital (Juravinski ). We lived at the Coliseum apt. on Concession st., then a house at the top of the Jolly Cut on Upper Wellington st. and then off of Upper Sherman and Stone Church. I went to Queensdale Public, G.L. Armstrong and Hill Park Secondary before moving to Toronto for Ryerson University. I came back after a decade in Toronto and a season at the Stratford Festival. I never thought I’d come back, but prices kept pushing us further and further west. My husband loved the escarpment and it reminded him of home in Budapest with the upper and lower city. I am so happy I came back.
Where do you live now?
I live in Ancaster in a 1956 bungalow, one of the last originals on my street. I never really ventured out this way growing up. I met our real estate agent on Concession st. when I stopped into an open house for my in-laws and we hit it off and she was living in Ancaster and showed us the house we have lived in now for 15 years. It’s so peaceful and it’s nice living close to the forest. I love having older neighbours, we really look after each other.
What changes do you see in Hamilton?
So many things have changed in the Hammer. It’s more diverse now then when I grew up here. (I was the only filipino kid in my elementary school.) The steel factories are not running full tilt and there many more artist/entrepreneurs. Since I’ve moved back I’ve found there are supportive artistic and foodie communities that are blossoming, vibrant with brave, creative, savvy new energy. The people I have met fuelled by passion, curiosity and innovative ideas and are trying to see what they can be here in this more affordable alternative to Toronto. People seem to want to add their colour and unique flavour to this place. I see so many young families from other places have chosen to settle down here and I see people who are actively shaping their new community. There is much more outside of the box vision happening here than I remember growing up.
Best & Worst things about the city?
The worst thing about the city is the transportation. I wish I didn’t have to drive so much. Getting from where I live efficiently is difficult. To get to my parents house would take me 2 1/2 hours and many transfers or I could take a 15 min car ride….I talked to a lady once at a bus stop at Fiddlers Green and Wilson and she said it was more efficient for her time to take the Greyhound that travels from Brantford to downtown Hamilton, catch it in Ancaster and pay $6 to get to her job at Jackson Square. I wish there was a bus that took me down the hill directly, EVERY day.
Advice for someone moving to the city?
If you are moving to Hamilton, my best advice is to get a tour with someone who is from here and see all the areas, upper and lower, far east and west. I think you might stay a few days and check out the commute if that’s what might have to do. I think if you grew up here are you see this place is a car city. You COULD stick to the downtown core, but there is so much to explore upper to lower, from Stoney Creek to Flamborough.
Favourite things to do here?
My fave things to do has always been sitting on top of the wall and the world ( I used to imagine!) at Sam Lawrence Park, walking the waterfalls (Tiffany and Sherman) on a week day preferably, biking with my family at Bayfront and McQueston Park, berry picking at Lindley’s Farm in Ancaster, stone fruit picking in Winona, movies at Starlite Drive-In Stoney Creek, strolling the main drag in Dundas, and hanging at Limeridge Mall with my dear mom.
What’s got you excited about the city?
I am most excited about the number of people outside of the Hammer that say, “Ohhhhh, Hamilton, that’s the place to be, every one is moving to Hamilton.” Nobody, EVER said that when I was a kid growing up here, even 15 years ago… It’s a good feeling. It’s good to be home.