Historical Hamilton (historicalhamilton.com) has been developed by two dedicated Hamiltonians who’ve put in a ton of their own time creating a site that literally maps out much of Hamilton’s built heritage. Brian Kowalewicz and Paul Dolanjski are longtime friends. Both were born, raised and educated in Hamilton. According to Brian, Paul is the originator of the site, as well as the technical brain behind the site. Brian, according to Paul, is the ideas guy. Both take photographs that end up on the site. Together they have created a whole new way of looking at Hamilton’s heritage. Brian and Paul have placed, or tagged, hundreds of individual heritage buildings (houses, churches, public buildings, even cemeteries) on a Google satellite map of Hamilton. To see all of the red tags they have added to the map, you have to expand your view until you can see Brantford and St. Catherines, such is their heritage lens on Hamilton. Click on one of the red tags and you’ll see a thumbnail image of the building with a link to a page that includes additional photographs of the site, as well as a closer satellite view of where the building is located. In some cases, there is historical information about the building.
“I began the site in 2006 as a way of cataloging the photographs I was taking around Hamilton whenever I was out on my bike or walking,” says Paul. “Pretty soon it became clear that it could be so much more.” That’s when he asked Brian to join him in his ‘hobby’. Brian was keen to take the site to the next level. “It was important to try to help people who visited the site to see where all of this great built heritage was located,” adds Brian. That’s where the Google satellite mapping came in. “We’ve made it look pretty easy, but to be honest it wasn’t. Getting each of the locations properly mapped into the Google system took some time, but now that we have a process, it’s much easier.”