Who are you?
My name is Carly McLeod and I am feminist-body-positive-foodie. I am the Hamilton Squad Leader and contributor at the Fat Girl Food Squad. The Fat Girl Food Squad is a website and community of like-minded folks that places food, fat, and feminism at the centre of everything we do. I can be found snacking on donuts at Grandad’s, sewing at Needlework, or at the library in the bookstacks.
I am unabashed Hamiltonian. My family came to Hamilton from Scotland to work in the steel industry, so I joke that I have a little steel in my blood. I love this city fiercely. From the lake to the escarpment, and everything in between, Hamilton is and always will be my home.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in the East End, but in a couple of different neighbourhoods including: Greenford, Stoney Creek*, East Mountain Area*, and Fruitland* (* before they were considered a part of the City).
Where do you live now?
I am now living downtown in the Durand neighbourhood with my partner, Jeremiah, and our two kitties, Jolene and Cleo. It’s coming up on 2 years since I moved in with Jeremiah here. We decided to stay in the apartment that he had, rather than a new space all together because of the neighbourhood, its proximity to amenities, and transit routes. I can’t deny that it may a little bit to do with the building itself — it’s a really sweet apartment.
What do you think has changed about Hamilton over the years if anything?
Hamilton has changed a lot over the years. I don’t think it’s necessarily what has changed, but rather that we are constantly doing so. From the steel industry to the artistic community, we have a rich history of change. We are a force. It’s important be mindful of the kinds of changes, the different nuances, and how they affect people in our communities. We are working to build a city that can meet the needs of everyone. It makes me proud to see how a resilient city functions, grows, and re-defines itself… and to be able to be a part of the process along the way.
What do you think the best and worst things about this city are? What are the areas that you would like to see improvements in?
We are working to build a city that can meet the needs of everyone. It makes me proud to see how a resilient city functions, grows, and re-defines itself… and to be able to be a part of the process along the way.
To be honest, I think all of Hamilton is really great. We have a solid sense of community and hometown pride. Each neighbourhood has something to bring the table. If I had to choose, the best thing about the city is the people. Jeannie has done an awesome job sharing sweet profiles of fellow Hamiltonians, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface. There are so many awesome folks here, and each one of them has an amazing story to tell. The worst thing about the city? I would say that there aren’t any, but rather there are things that I am disappointed in. I am disappointed that we can too often turn a blind eye to the ways in which the city can be isolating to at-risk populations, especially women, that our city council is ineffective at times, and that you can miss the bus by 30 seconds. All cities, everywhere have their needs improvement areas and it’s not something that is specific to Hamilton. I think too often Hamilton gets bad rap because of people’s snap judgements, and that they were not fair assessment of how awesome this city is and how there is a community of people who are working to fix it.
What advice do you have for anyone considering a move to Hamilton?
Find a neighbourhood that works for you! Whether you are a single person or a family, learn about the different communities. Explore. Ask questions and make your own informed decision. That’s the only way that you will find a place that you are truly happy and a place that will fit your lifestyle.
What are your favourite places and things to do here?
There are simply too many favourites to put on this list. Honourable mentions: The Hamilton Public Library, The Burnt Tongue, Needlework, Handknit, Grandad’s, The Brain, The Cannon, WORK, THE LAKE, Bayfront Park…. ok, I’ll stop now. There’s too many to list!
Cake and Loaf – A beautiful “from scratch” bakery on Dundurn. Deliciously local. Get yourself some Cheddar-Onion-Beer Bread, you’ll thank me later. Pro Tip: If you follow them on Instagram, your visits to the bakery will increase 10-fold.
White Elephant – I might be a little biased (full disclosure: I work there!), but White Elephant is my favourite shop. Hollie and Jane, the owners of White Elephant, are very passionate about handmade Canadian goods. It really shows in the items they bring into the shop. If you are looking for unique jewelry, a new dress, or a heartfelt gift, White Elephant has got you covered.
The Escarpment in Fall – It is one of the most beautiful sights that I have ever seen. There is an endless blanket of brightly coloured leaves and trails for you to explore! I make a point to take photos of the escarpment in all her glory during the Fall. It keeps me grounded.
Of all the things going on Hamilton these days – what are you most excited about?
I am most excited about this upcoming summer! Summer in the city is best shared with friends and with a side of good food. Warm summer days, bike trips, BBQs, ice cream dates, and Lake Ontario swims. There are also a lot of sweet events like Because Beer, warm art crawls, Supercrawl, and Seven Sundays at Gage Park.