SLEEK: Hamilton's Modernist Residential Architecture 1950-1975

Whether called a house, a home, a residence, a dwelling, or simply a place, always we make it possessive. It’s our house. Their place. My home. Whether grand or humble, unique or ubiquitous,
traditional or modern, it's never about the materials, or the size to which we lay claim It's to the idea of a
space, an enclosure, a vessel made personal by what we put in it, and by how we live our lives within it. Combining personal possessions and a chosen lifestyle to fashion an individual experience.

From just after the turn of the last century, a new approach to residential, commercial and institutional
architecture was evident in Europe and North America. Sleek lines, industrial materials, open and integrated spaces, little or no ornamentation, all were the antithesis of the styles which preceded what would be called the International Style and Modernism. The term Mid-Century Modern focuses on the period of Modernism from the 1950's through to the mid 1970's. It is this period that SLEEK - Hamilton's Modernist Residential Architecture, celebrates.

Each of the residences in this exhibition have a special provenance and singularity. Each was designed by an architect, mostly for specific clients. Each is designed in the modern style. Each is located in the now amalgamated City of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Each was constructed between 1950 and 1975.

Each is still a home. Where the original owners have moved on, others have moved in. Most are in original condition. They continue now as they did then, as unique statements to a very modern way of living.

Hamilton HIStory + HERitage would like to thank each of the owners of the marvelous homes featured in this exhibition. We thank them for allowing us to showcase the beauty, elegance and uniqueness of the places each of them call home. We’d also like to thank architect Tony Butler, photographer Jeff Tessier, printer Tom Kelly of CopyDog, and Brian Kowalewicz and Paul Dolanjski of Historical Hamilton, for their remarkable work in helping to make this exhibition possible.

Be sure to check out the photographs and the location of each SLEEK home on Google at


fragments - The Hamilton Photography of Jack Whorwood

Jack Whorwood has been taking photographs all of his life. In fact, he earned his living as a professional photographer for decades. Although now officially retired, Jack is nevertheless still a photographer. As he says, "You simply never stop being a photographer, whether you're being paid or not."

The exhibition of Jack's photographs in the "fragments" exhibition feature dozens of his black and white images taken during the late 1950's through to the mid 1970's in downtown Hamilton. From Gore Park the way it was, to the before and after of Jackson Square and of York Boulevard. But Jack Whorwood did not simply record the way it was. His images demonstrate his remarkable eye for urban details. They include the buildings in Hamilton's core, as well as the people who lived and worked in those buildings. His is an emotionally infused catalogue of the Hamilton that is now, for so many, simply history.


ForWARD Thinking - Interesting Facts About Hamilton's 15 Wards

Hamilton HIStory + HERitage, in association with the Hamilton Historical Board, is pleased to present ForWARD Thinking. Think of it as the multi-media version of the Ward Fact Sheets project that was completed last year by the HHB and H+H.

A set of 15 fact sheets, one for each ward, was presented to Councillors to use within their own wards. Well, now you can watch the fact sheets on the monitors at HIStory + HERitage. Each ward has its own five minute video piece. All are full of colourful, sometimes arcane, and always interesting facts about the neighbourhoods and wards in which we live.


The Jewish Hamilton Project

Remembering Jewish Hamilton, an oral history project.

The Jewish Hamilton Project features Jewish Hamiltonians reminiscing and reflecting on their experiences of living Jewish lives in Hamilton. The project focuses on areas of everyday life such as education, the Synagogues, the neighbourhood, occupations and anti-semitism. In the process, the view comes to appreciate the vibrancy of Jewish community life in Hamilton particularly during the 1930s through the 1960s. 

Produced by Wendy Schneider and Billy Shaffir.

From November 13th to January 8th, 2010.



So, That's That

So, That's That - The Illustrated Life of Junky Jack Thornborrow

Hamilton-born artist/illustrator, Joan Thornborrow Steacy's gift to her father on his 100th birthday was a remarkable illustrated history of her father's life from his early years in England, to the rest of the is life in and around Hamilton. Now a multi-media piece produced by Hamilton HIStory + HERitage.

From November 13th to January 8th, 2010.