All Through the Night

George Street

George Street

Almost every town in Canada; or nearly every town in a country that is still a part of the Commonwealth of Nations, has a George Street. Many of them seem to have something special about them that promote an attached district or neighbourhood. There are three George Streets in the City of Hamilton. One is in the constituent community of Flamborough, another is in the nearby village of Waterdown and the third is in the mega-city’s downtown neighbourhood of Central where I made this winter evening urban landscape. All of these streets are small and seemingly unimportant.

I can’t even figure out how any of these Hamilton streets were named. If any of them were named after King George VI, I would expect the street signs to make it obvious with the monarchical title in place but this doesn’t appear to be the case.

I suspect that the one of Central Hamilton is named after George Hamilton, the founder of the city but supposedly lesser men have certainly had larger and more popular arteries and entire neighbourhoods named after them. The history of George Hamilton reveals that the city was born out of secrecy and schemes of self-interest but that can’t be why I can’t tie the street to Mr. Hamilton; people have agreed to name the entire city after him, after all.

George Street bisects a popular bar and eatery district on Hess Street North where drunken ruffians are known to get into late night brawls on occasion, and jazz festivals are held annually. George Street, however, doesn’t even factor into the name of the district which is officially called Hess Village.

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7 thoughts on “All Through the Night

  1. I enjoy your photography and your writing. It is a balance I wish I could attain. But I am not much good with words and still learning my photography. Thank you for this photo-article. I enjoyed it and look forward to many more in 2014.

  2. Pingback: The Sophomore Slump

  3. An update:

    I have learned that this George Street really is named after George Hamilton. Some other downtown streets like Catharine and Mary were named after members of his family. Streets that used to be called Robert, Maria and Catharina; again Hamilton family names, were at some point changed to Bold, Forest and Young Streets respectively.

    I have realized that key to understanding how such a small street would be named after such an important figure in the city’s creation is in understanding how the land was when George was designing the city back in the early 1800’s. Much of Barton Township, as it was then called, was farmland and George Street may have been planned to be a more important travelling route for horse and buggy back then. Not even Mr. Hamilton would have been able to predict the city advancing in the way that it has in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries that this street has now become a minor but elegant path among much greater thoroughfares for motor vehicles.

    As for the George Streets of Flamborough and Waterdown, well these areas were at one time trying so hard to establish themselves as permanently separate and individually autonomous of the city we’ve come to know today as Hamilton. So, they each would have had their own George Streets; named for whatever reasons. It is strictly politics and economics why Flamborough and Waterdown are now included in “Megacity Hamilton”.

  4. Another update:

    My wife; I love her so much, she’s my greatest art fraud scout. She attended the October 2014 Binkley United Church Bazaar, and saw a man there pedaling a picture very similar to this one. She politely and diplomatically broached the guy, explaining how his shot was similar. He immediately became defensive and snapped at her, “Well, it’s a big city! Anyone can take a similar picture!”

    Okay, such an immediately terse reaction right there in the church basement was only going to set Kim’s BS detector off, prompting her ask him where he shot it. He snapped at her again, “It’s George Street!” He repeated his bit about how it’s a “big city” and all.

    I’ve unintentionally made photographs, drawings and paintings that are remarkably similar to those of others on numerous occasions in my life. When I discover that I have not been as creatively original as I had originally hoped, I humble myself, accept it and make it quite well known. My shot of “Gore Park Fountain at Night” is just one example of this. That’s just how I roll. Not everyone does this or can be expected to. To each their own is the idiom.

    It would be good if everyone did though. If, and only if, it is true that the gentleman made a similar shot by happenstance or was perhaps even inspired by my picture, he would be doing himself good service by saying so without coming unglued. Again, to each their own.

    Oh the poor soul.

    My wife commenced telling him off; blatantly accusing him of seeing my shot, and going out there to make a similar composition. By the time she was through, the few people who had gathered to look at his image and listen to her giving him the what’s-for became unimpressed by his composition and left.

    Oh well!

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