A Secret Place

Black and white BW B&W Hamilton Ontario Canada contemporary street urban photography

Hearing Voices

I shot this while traipsing through 270 Sherman Avenue North; a haunting old place in Industrial Sector C that some locals still call “The Cotton Factory”, although it hasn’t been that for quite some time.

Right behind steel production, textile manufacturing was the second largest industry in Hamilton during the late 19th to early 20th centuries. The Imperial Cotton Co. was founded in 1900, and took orders from all around the world.

By 1924, Imperial Cotton merged with Cosmos Cotton Mills, and became Cosmos-Imperial Mills Limited. After nearly three-quarters of a century the enterprise ceased operations in 1972, when the majority of its employees and equipment were transferred to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia – the birthplace of the predecessor of Imperial Cotton.

Today, “The Cotton Factory” is a creative industries complex where television commercials and parts of major Hollywood movies are produced. Inside, there are studios and suites that can be leased or rented by illustrators, photographers; graphics design firms, printmakers, and film and television production companies.

It is here that I also shot “Printer at Work.”

Much of the entreprenurial growth of 270 Sherman can be linked to economics that motivated domestic film makers to increasingly seek out Hamilton.  The Liberal provincial government introduced a 10 per cent provincial tax break in 2004 to domestic productions on labour costs for shooting outside of the Greater Toronto Area. Of course, with Ontario’s film production still dominated by “Hog Town”, Toronto is said by some to be unhappy about sharing the wealth.

It’s not just the Toronto film crews that are put off by Hamilton’s film market prosperity either; some communities within Hamilton, have become frustrated by the nearly incessant filming. The western community of Dundas, was unprepared for the sudden influx of film production and began refusing to allow any more productions in its core business district after the shooting of six films in 2005.

Year-after-year, the city overall earns considerable revenue from this industry.

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11 thoughts on “A Secret Place

  1. His whole posture shows surprise and maybe a little concern. Fun picture.

    Without knowing much, but I think it is a good solution they found in the old factory. It could also have been left to their fate without any use at all.

    • The figure in the shot is actually a girl. Her name is Ashley, as happened to be the facility manager who gave me the tour of the complex.

      You’re absolutely right on the use of the old edifice. In fact, after the textiles manufacturing operation ended the whole place sat vacant and unused for anything for many years before it was converted into what it has become. It is a local success story to be celebrated.

  2. I agree with Antonia. It is put to good use and it brings revenue, but who am I to judge about conflicts of interest, and who wants a bigger piece of cake. I guess that your “secret place” is not that secret any more 😉 I like the photo, Allan. I can almost hear the echo.

  3. A fascinating part of town and what a great patch for catching light, shapes, contrasts, everything. I suppose complaining about film crews is better than complaining about no film crews.

  4. Old abandoned factories always makes for good backgrounds. I understand that it can be of nuisance for some, but if it’s used for nothing better why not? Your photograph illustrates this very well. The backdrop makes for such an interesting photo, where you in addition are playing with light and the young fellow.

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