Ottawa Street North Hamilton

Ottawa Street North, Hamilton, long known as the best textile shopping district in Ontario, is gaining a reputation for art and antiques and dining as well. 

Every time I go to Ottawa Street North, I discover something new. Stores or restaurants are popping up all the time.

The strip runs from Cannon Street in the south to Barton Street in the north (right near the recently-reconfigured Centre Mall).

Shopping on Ottawa Street

It's long been known as THE place in Southern Ontario to buy your fabric and textiles for clothing or furnishings. But now it's the Antique District as well.

This street is jam-packed with antique and collectibles shops – about a dozen at last count.

If you start at Cannon, the first one you'll come to is Grannys Attic Treasures at 186 Ottawa Street North. It was the brownie's uniform (c. 1960s) hanging in the window that drew me in. It looked exactly like the one I wore when I was a girl, right down to that orange scarf and the badges on the sleeve. When I entered the shop, a quick glance around made me feel like I'd walked into my own personal past. I recognized quite a few holy pictures and statues that my parents had owned. Some of them were exact matches in fact.

When I mentioned this to Kathy, the owner, she laughed. "Lots of people have the same reaction." She told me many of her customers are drawn to objects from their childhood. (Perhaps we're getting old and sentimental? No!) So how much do these "souvenirs of times past" cost? Not much. Take the holy pictures for example. Seven bucks. Or that yellow formica table and chairs? $80. Prices seem reasonable. "I like to keep my prices low so people can afford them." She sells mid-20th century collectibles, as well as some antiques (items 100 years or older). These art glass pieces made such a wonderful display. Someone has an eye for colour!

Ottawa Street North

The store is small but well organized and clean-smelling, unlike some dusty vintage shops I've visited.

Kathy opened her shop after a collecting habit outgrew her home. "I started selling on e-bay and then decided to get the shop."

Antiques Unlocked, at 271 Ottawa North, has plenty of furniture, décor items and a good selection of cookware including those glass refrigerator boxes that I love. It's a very pretty shop, almost "girly". It definitely has a designer's touch. I bought a great refurbished footstool here.

I also spent some time browsing in some of the other stores including the consignment shop, "The Millionaire's Daughter".

You'll also find shops selling clothing, hats, candles, and even bikes, among other items.

Art Galleries on Ottawa St N

Whenever I go to Ottawa St, I hit two of the galleries.

Earl's Court always has some interesting shows, both contemporary and historic.

Ottawa Street North

Allsorts sells contemporary art and craft from local artists. A great place to pick up that one-of-a-kind gift for your friends (or yourself).

Ottawa Street North

Dining on Ottawa Street

If you're looking to refuel you'll find several choices here, including one special place with a "vintage" flavour: the very first Tim Horton's in the world, at 65 Ottawa Street North. This Timmy's is two stories high. On the main floor you'll find the counter, and on the second floor you'll find seating area and several large display cabinets with artifacts from the chain's history and the story of the hockey player who started it all.

On the side of the building, there's a mural showing how it looked back when it first opened:

There's also the trendy-looking Limoncello (with delicious pizza), Gorilla Cheese, Except for Kenneth, and Cannon Coffee, among others. Like the stores, the restaurants and cafes change frequently so it's hard to keep up!

Honouring Heritage

Another charming aspect of Ottawa North is the work that the Business Improvement Association has done to "brand" the area and honour its textile history. See for example this little parkette:

Ottawa Street North

For more information

See the Ottawa St web site: http://www.shopottawastreet.com

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Ontario Travel Secrets > Hamilton Ontario > Ottawa Street