History Of The City Of Hamilton

3912 words - 16 pages

Almost two hundred years ago (1788) a number of survey lines were drawn, "setting in motion the series of events that would lead to the establishment of the city of Hamilton" (Dear, Drake & Reeds, 1987, p. 3). Three decades later, the lot defined by these lines appeared as the townsite on an early map of Hamilton (figure 1). The town site at Hamilton was "neither unique nor imaginative" (Dear, Drake & Reeds, 1987, p.99) and it was said that there was little to distinguish it from others around it, each aspiring to "leap into urban maturity" (Dear, Drake & Reeds, 1987, p. 99). One hundred years later, however, the city of Hamilton was a thriving industrial metropolis and had undergone significant change (Dear, Drake & Reeds, 1987).Hamilton is situated in the eastern part of the Great Lakes basin of North America, at the head of the lowest of the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario (Henley, 1995). Strategically situated on Lake Ontario, the city of Hamilton is centrally located in Canada's manufacturing heartland. The city has a consumer market area of over 120 million people within a five hundred mile radius (Bailey, 1983). This paper will examine the historical growth and development of the city of Hamilton. Over the years Hamilton has witnessed many changes in patterns of urban growth, employment and land use. Hamilton and area has gone through many changes since the first people saw the area (Dear, Drake & Reeds, 1987).First InhabitantsThe first inhabitants of the area were thought to be a comparatively large, flourishing and organized Indian population. The Indians crossed the area, wearing paths on the escarpment and along the beach below. Other than their campsites, the Indians were said to have left no mark on the terrain (Bailey, 1983).The Loyalists were said to have been the first to develop the land at the Head of the Lake (Bailey, 1983). They were thought to have come to the area by approaching Burlington Bay from Lake Ontario (Weaver, 1982). It is not clear who were the first Loyalists to settle at the Head of the Lake, although the first to claim that distinction was said by some to be Robert Land (Bailey, 1983). Robert Land was one of the many loyalists that were banned from their homes after the American Revolution. Slowly, new lands west of the Niagara River were being opened and refugees of that war were looking for new homes. Land came upon the area at Head of the Lake sometime between 1782 and 1791 and saw "promise in this new land" (Elliot, 1999). Robert Land's property, in the new colony of Upper Canada, included everything from the Mountain to the Bay between today's Sherman and Wellington Streets (Evans, 1970).Several other claims of the first settler have included Richard Beasley, Charles Depew and George Stuart (Elliot, 1999). The strongest competing claim is made by Richard Beasley, known to have been living in the area in 1790. In fact, "a line engraved on his tombstone in the Hamilton Cemetery identifies him...

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