Whitehern Historic House and Garden, a national historic site, behind
Hamilton's City Hall
, lies smack in the middle of downtown Hamilton.
Three generations of one of Canada's most prominent families, the McQuesten's lived in this Georgian style home from 1852 until 1968. Almost everything during this time period remains in the home. When I stepped inside the massive front door,
I was met by historical interpreter, Nonni Iler, dressed as a servant for the McQuesten family during the late 1930's. She knew her stuff and transported me back in time.
The home was adorned with holiday décor including cedar garland, rich satin ribbon and a twelve-foot high tree trimmed with tinsel and glass ornaments. There were Christmas cards from 1849 as well as original toys from three generations that children had played with. Rooms were filled with furniture from the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian time periods.
Outside, I experienced an oasis of tranquility in the lovely gardens that surrounded the home. Behind the home is the
MacNab Presbyterian Church
where the McQuesten's attended for decades. I was filled with the impression that the
lived in a slower, kinder gentler world.
Getting a parking spot here can be tricky with limited street parking and a small parking lot nearby. If you can, visit on Sunday when the streets are quieter. Holiday tours from Saturday, Nov 24th, through Sunday December 30th (closed Mondays and Christmas Day and Boxing Day) 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Adults (18-59) $6.50, seniors (60 plus)/youths (13-17) $5.50, Children (6-12) $4.50, under five, free and Family, $16.50
Holiday tours are also offered at Dundurn Castle, where you can experience a Victorian Christmas just as the original owners of the home,
Sir Allan MacNab
, his wife Mary and their children enjoyed between 1812-1846. Restored to the year of 1855, the castle tells the story of the family and the numerous servants who lived and worked here to support this gracious lifestyle. There is lots of free parking.
holiday tours are the same as
Whitehern Historic House
. Adults $11.00, Seniors/youths, $9.00 Children $5.50, infants free, Family $27.00.
Battlefield Historic House Museum and Park Historic Site
in Stoney Creek is also decked out for the holidays. This is an early century homestead once home to the
Gage family. The Gages worked this land with ten children and became a strong voice in this small hamlet of Stoney Creek. During the War of 1812, the family retreated to the cellar as the
Battle of Stoney Creek raged outside on June 6, 1813. A 30-metre (100 foot) high
Battlefield Monument stands outside on a hill to commemorate the soldiers who died on this site.
There's plenty of free parking. You can purchase your tickets at nearby historic Nash-Jackson House near the base of the hill. Open year round (except Mondays, closed Christmas and Boxing Day) from noon until 4pm. Adults $6.50, Seniors/students $5.50, children $4.50 under six, free, family $16.50. For discounted tickets before you arrive, go to the website that is listed below. All of these attractions are owned and operated by the City of Hamilton.
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.