With a few hours to spare and looking for a Saturday outing not far from Niagara, historic Ottawa Street North in nearby Hamilton will fit the bill. This street was established in the early 1900's. Most of the original buildings have survived and have taken on new life, transformed into fabric and textile stores, antique shops, restaurants, art and collectable shops and Fine Art Galleries
Patty Hayes, the enthusiastic Executive Director of The Ottawa Street North Business and Improvement Association (B.I.A.) says, "This is an eclectic street, rich in history and nostalgia. It's a place where many Hamiltonians visited in their youth, and it's now come back to life."
One of the oldest businesses is the family-owned
European Textiles. Colourful proprietor, George Tsiflikiotis, who has been here for 33 years (the family business has been around for 80 years) comments, "Originally the street was known for its textile and fabric shops but now there's a nice mixture of lots of other shops."
Ottawa Street North consists of about 120 businesses from Main Street to Barton Street.
My wife and I began our visit with a visit to the Saturday
morning 54-year old outdoor Farmer's Market just off Ottawa Street North. It opens year-round at 7 am and continues until 3pm. It's a real Farmers market; nobody tries to sell you belts and T-shirts, just wholesome food grown by local farmers within 100 kilometres of the market.
We pop in and out of stores like the
Big Big Wallpaper Store that has the largest stock of wallpaper in Canada, offering thousands of rolls at discount prices. Bounty Hunter Toys has collectible toys, vintage and retro items. Allsorts is an artist's co-op selling local handmade, unique artistic gifts.
One of the most unusual shops is Bra Makers Supply. You can purchase supplies to make your own bras or you can attend a course where you learn how to make bras, panties, corsets and swimsuits (people come from across Canada and the United States to take this course). Nearby, The Millionaires Daughter is packed wall to wall with furniture acquired from model homes and consignment items.
Earl's Court Gallery is a spacious store found in a former Wells Fargo Credit Union and one time used furniture store. Check out the contemporary and historic fine art. When you duck your head inside Antiques Unlocked you step back in time. Visit on Saturday because many of the textile and fabric shops are closed on Sunday.
When we were hungry we followed our stomachs to Café Limonecello-All Italian Eatery. Manager Trish Bridges says, "Everything is made from scratch, and our Italian dishes are just like the way mama makes them." The scrumptious Chicken Saltimbocca and Insalata Greca Salad were pure Italian.
Vegans will be very happy when they stop at Sestres. Sisters Zorka and Borka serve up some mean mouth-watering vegan and gluten-free pastries.
On Friday, May 3rd the third annual, "Sew Hungry" happens. This is a Food and Truck and Restaurant Rally. Throughout the day and evening there will be a total of 36 different food trucks lining Ottawa Street. Elisha Proietti, B.I.A. Events Coordinator, beams when she says, "This is Canada's largest food truck rally, and all the big guys are here offering a wide variety of food choices."
Ottawa Street North
George Bailey contributes to Sun Media's 43 paid-circulation newspapers across Canada as well as numerous magazines. George has appeared on CNN, Good Morning America, Canada AM, the Discovery Channel, and Live with Regis and Cathy Lee. He has published five books on Niagara Falls.