For keeps.

I’m disappointed that life has recently gotten in the way of photography and blog posts. But I couldn’t let today pass by without a tribute to the Mr. – a guy who barely even raises an eyebrow when I suggest we spend our anniversary touring abandoned buildings. And who doesn’t even complain when I order him to pose beside various busted windows.

More than ever, Mr. – for reasons far deeper and more plentiful than I’ve mentioned here – I’m so grateful to have you by my side. Happy anniversary ūüíē


Jail time.

A few weeks ago, the munchkins were happily sent off to their grandparents’ place (thanks, Mom and Dad) so that the Mr. and I could wander around town looking at old stuff.

It was during the Doors Open Hamilton event in May that I fell in love with The Cotton Factory, a block of historic industrial buildings now transformed into a vibrant arts community, full of artsy people and their creations.

This time, Doors Open took place in Waterloo Region. We began our outing at the Pioneer Tower (c. 1926), climbing an enclosed 50-foot narrow staircase to the observation deck. Well… it was actually more ladder-ish than staircase-ish. I managed to avoid having an acrophobia-related panic attack. Barely.

In Cambridge, we toured the renovated interiors of the former Galt Carnegie Library (c. 1903). (I spied no ladders in that building, and though there were stairs, they weren’t the panic-inducing kind.)

The old Waterloo County Jail¬†(c. 1852) had an intimate landscaped stone courtyard – a former “exercise yard” for inmates – with arched entrances. No ladders or staircases here, just benches. Good for play-it-safers like me, especially those whom have recently averted height-activated anxiety attacks.

Here, then, as an addition to the collection of interesting entryways found at Norm’s Thursday Doors weekly feature, are a few shots:

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Practical beauty.

What, Thursday again?

That means doors are congregating over at Norm 2.0 for his weekly feature, aptly titled,¬†Thursday Doors. This week, I’ll add to the collection, once again, from our¬†Doors Open Hamilton excursion a few weeks back.

The Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology is housed in the old Hamilton Waterworks, a National Historic Site (lucky for me, I keep running into those).

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Truth be told, we came here not to visit the museum but for the tour of the current water filtration building, which is on the same site.

The weather had been miserable that day. While we waited for the tour, the Mr. and I wandered round the exterior of the buildings for a minute or two, and I made a few photos.

I was struck by the attractive design and stonework of the oldest structures. Isn’t it a shame that fancy industrial buildings seem to have gone completely out of style?

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Later, once we’d returned home, Google told me that the many of the Victorian buildings were built in the 1850s and that the museum itself is well worth a visit due to a unique interior and engaging programming. Maybe another visit later this summer is called for, with kids in tow.

For now, I’ll just give you a couple more doors.

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My stock of doors from Doors Open Hamilton has dwindled. Watch out, various local communities, I plan to haunt another Doors Open event one of these upcoming weekends.

As always, I thank you for visiting ūüôā

(Historic) home away from home.

If you find yourself in Hamilton, Ontario, with nothing but a backpack and a few bucks, consider an overnight visit to the Hamilton Guest House, a historic residence now functioning as a hostel.

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We visited the building¬†while on¬†our Doors Open Hamilton excursion. If you’ve been following along, this was the fateful event during which I fell in love with The Cotton Factory.

Any place we visited after that had a lot to live up to.

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The owners of HGH greeted us warmly and gave us a little history of the building, which you can read more about here and here.

The home was built in 1855 for the Pring family. William Pring was a customs surveyor who moved to Port Colborne only a few years later. The building changed hands and purposes several times in the years since, which meant it didn’t always receive¬†the care it deserved. In 2006, a new owner made strides to repair and rejuvenate the building. The current owners bought¬†the house in 2012 and have operated the hostel there since.

It’s charming but not overly fancy. Some¬†paint is peeling and the common rooms we visited were cluttered, but everything has a comfortable, relaxed feel. It looks clean but lived-in, rather than stuffy and pretentious. There are some unique features, such as a narrow, spiral staircase, and a set of curved¬†doors that reminded me, for some reason, of something out of Alice in Wonderland.

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We didn’t visit the guestrooms, but there were interesting nooks and crannies scattered through the common areas. I’m a fan of any room with a camouflaged door.

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And since there are others who like doors just as much as I do, I’ll link up this post to Norm Frampton’s weekly feature, Thursday Doors.

While The Cotton Factory still holds my heart, the HGH provided another small, satisfying glimpse into the city’s architectural past.

Many thanks, as always, for stopping by¬†ūüėä


Oldies but goodies.

I fell in love last weekend.

Lucky for me, I had two objects of affection. The first was the Mr., who was by my side as we wandered through some of the Doors Open¬†Hamilton sites (Doors Open is a program during which one can enjoy free access to cultural and historic places in communities around the province). I’d already fallen in love with him, and that happened nearly two decades ago, so that’s old (but still good) news.

The new news is that I also fell in love with a building, and everything in it.

One of the stops on our Doors Open route¬†was The Cotton Factory, a sprawling industrial complex built in 1900. Admittedly, it’s not in the poshest area of town. And things look a bit sketchy from the outside. But this entire historic textile mill has been transformed into a hub of talent, occupied by over 60¬†tenants including artists, designers, and creative professionals¬†of all kinds. Events like weddings, fairs and film shoots take place here regularly. The buildings have been restored and re-purposed with great respect for the integrity¬†of the original structures. Maybe the factory wasn’t considered beautiful at the turn of the 20th century, but it is now, in its own rustic way.¬†And with a new life as a creative community space, there’s no denying the vibrant energy within.

I thought it timely – it is Thursday, after all, so a contribution to¬†Norm’s weekly Thursday Doors feature is appropriate – to share with you only a few of the fine¬†doors I encountered at this place. The shots are kind of dingy and don’t capture the real charm of the place, but I suppose that’s a good reason to return some day, with more time and better technique.

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The red door is an elevator. FYI: the other one is a fire escape.


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Sit and stay awhile.


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One of these people does not have realistic body proportions.


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Lest we forget.


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Diverse types of studios, workshops, galleries and offices occupy the space.


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Sliding doors.


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A reminder to be gentle.


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There’s cool stuff outdoors, too.

I had earlier stated that the Mr. was by my side during our visit, but technically he spent most of his time a few steps ahead of me because I was gawking at everything, resulting in a pace only slightly¬†faster than a snail. (Poor guy. He’s a good sport. In fact, it was his idea to come here. And though The Cotton Factory is probably indifferent to my affections, at least the Mr. loves me back.)

I’ll save a few other interior photos for another post. Share the love, I say.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by.

In case of emergency.

Up until the year 2000 (unless I misheard our tour guide), this was one of several consoles used to control the mechanics of the water filtration system at Hamilton’s Woodward Avenue Water Treatment Facility:

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Hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of water travel through this facility daily, sourced from Lake Ontario and eventually distributed to the homes and businesses in the region.

In this particular building, water is contained in rows of massive tanks on either side of this surprisingly attractive corridor:

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The old control panels¬†are¬†now just for show. Today’s routine¬†water treatment functions, as well as the emergencies, are monitored and dealt with using sophisticated digital equipment.

Hanging in the corridor are a couple of circular dials that look like clocks, but aren’t. Here’s one:

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I looked at this dial, then I looked at the vast amount of lake water filling the holding tanks to the brim. I thought about that water rising at a rate of 60 inches per minute. This instantly gave me the heebie-jeebies, likely due to my absurd and inexplicable longtime fear of overflowing bathtubs and/or toilets. Which then led me to more sobering thoughts about the folks in Quebec right now, forced out of their homes as they struggle to deal with large-scale flooding. And then of course to thoughts of the devastating floods of Hurricane Katrina and the Indian Ocean tsunami.

My overflowing bathroom fixtures are very, very small potatoes.

I looked at the simple lever labelled EMERGENCY, which, for some reason, reminded me of the sort of lever Wile E. Coyote would use during some ridiculous and unsuccessful ruse to capture the Road Runner.

I snapped a photo of the cartoon-ish emergency lever, reflecting on the fact that an “emergency” at this facility – never mind the flooding kind¬†– could have the potential to make a lot of people very sick. I gave silent thanks to all the brains, hearts and hands involved in keeping this place running smoothly.

And, finally, somehow all of this led me to thoughts of this week’s theme for the WordPress Photo Challenge: Danger!¬†(I apologize for the rather roundabout and perhaps obscure connection. Sometimes, much to the bafflement and frustration of those around me, that’s just how I roll).

If you’ve bothered¬†to read this far – and if you have, thank you for your patience –¬†you may be wondering why I chose to hang out¬†at the water filtration facility. Last weekend, Hamilton was part of Ontario’s Doors Open program, a series of community events that offer free public access to some of the province’s unique historical and cultural spaces. Churches, art galleries, water filtration facilities, alpaca farms… you name it. Did I mention the events are free? Other than the access part, the free part is my favourite. There may be a future post or two based on¬†our other visits (but don’t expect any alpacas, because we didn’t have time to make it to the farm, even if we’d wanted to).