If a city can be judged by how it reacts in a crisis, Hamilton's creativity, generosity and resilience the last few months says a lot about its character.
Here are just some of the inspiring actions Hamilton's tourism and hospitality businesses have taken to spread the love during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the pandemic first forced the closure of so many hardworking Hamilton eateries, the owners at Salty Espresso felt compelled to act. Within days of closing the doors of their John Street North coffeeshop, they launched Totes Together which let donors purchase a tote bag (designed by one of the owners) and nominate a restaurant to receive the profits. Thousands of dollars were raised for fellow restaurants and local charity Food4Kids.
How to Support: While waiting for them to reopen, you can purchase their quality items at Salty General Store or pick up a bottle or can of locally brewed alcohol at their new pop up North End Bottle Shop.
"Restaurants are hurting. Hospital staff need feeding. Our most vulnerable neighbours are hungry." Some of Hamilton's most popular restaurants have come together to tackle this problem with an innovative campaign that checks a lot of boxes. Money raised pays restaurants to create meals to feed healthcare professionals, essential frontline workers and vulnerable neighbours
How to Support: Participating restaurants to add to your must-try list include Mystic Ramen, Mai Pai, Charred, La Piazza Allegra, Saltlick, Hambrgr, Caro, Blend Catering, Berkeley North, Buttrum Family Farm and Jonny Blonde.
In the early days of the pandemic, Hamilton's own Arkells found a way to bring fans around the world a lot of comfort with their daily online music classes (58 straight days in a row to be exact). Home-bound audiences tuned in daily to catch frontman Max Kerman lead an interactive music lesson (guitar chords provided in advance) and lead inspiring interviews. It was just the dose of positivity we all needed.
How to Support: Visit them online to enjoy their new single "Years in the Making", browse new merch and plan to attend their rescheduled Rally next summer. And their #FTCMusicClass is now available weekly, every Tuesday.
If there was ever a time we needed the magic of movies, this is it. The historic and recently restored Westdale Cinema recently launched its Front of the Line Movie Pass campaign which lets people purchase a pair of tickets for frontline workers. When the Westdale safely reopens, recipients can bring a date and enjoy refreshments as part of the white-glove treatment we can all agree they've earned.
How to Support: Besides purchasing a gift for a frontline worker, consider supporting this historic site with your own membership.
Hamilton's craft breweries have been quick to pivot from pouring to helping. From producing and donating much needed hand sanitizer to front line workers like Collective Arts to donating gloves to health workers in need like Fairweather and Merit Brewing to putting out 25,000 curbside beers for nominated frontline workers like Shawn & Ed Brewing, they've all stepped up in important ways.
How to support: While their taprooms might be closed for now, their bottle rooms – physical and virtual – are open with many delivering across Ontario. Explore them all here.
6. ‘THANK YOU’ MURAL
When local graffiti artist Scott Macdonald created this striking tribute to front line health workers in downtown Hamilton, he managed to capture with spray paint the gratitude we're all feeling. The mural was a collaboration with photographer Steve Haining and designer Scott Martin and has struck a deep chord throughout the city.
How to support: See the mural in person at the corner of Main and Sherman Streets. Check out more work by Scott Macdonald and other talented graffiti artists across the city through Concrete Canvas Festival and explore our Hamilton Mural Guide.
Hamilton's passion for sport runs deep. Enter the Hamilton Tiger-Cats football and Force FC Hamilton soccer teams' launch of a mask campaign. The campaign sees Ticat season seat holders and Forge FC co-founders receive a complimentary two-pack of the newly launched "Hamilton Proud" masks.
Football fans will also recognize new-again TiCat middle linebacker Larry Dean promoting the national food bank drive Tackle Hunger.
How to support: A limited quantity of masks are available for purchase with proceeds going to Food4Kids Hamilton. Also, football fans should start planning to celebrate with us in Hamilton when we host the 2021 Grey Cup.
8. #WakeUp Nick Cordero Campaign
Hamilton residents and fans around the world have been closely following the story of musician and actor Nick Cordero, who was hospitalized with severe symptoms related to COVID-19. Raised in Hamilton, the Westdale Secondary grad went on to become a Tony Award nominated Broadway and television actor. He recently moved to LA where he lives with his wife and infant son. Supporters worldwide, including celebs like Sylvester Stallone, have lent their voices to a #WakeUpNick and #OffTheVent campaigns with messages of hope.
How to support: Follow Nick's wife @amandakloots for frequent updates and ways to support, including singing his song Live Your Life and the fundraising campaign set up to support his recovery.
9. Hotel & Hospitality Help for Heroes
Hamilton hotels and event centres are also finding ways to support the community. Properties like Sandman Hotel and Courtyard by Marriott are making it easier for essential frontline workers to isolate from their loved ones and families to keep them safe by offering big room discounts. Meanwhile Best Western Premier C Hotel by Carmen's has 24-hour business centre and coffee station to accommodate workers' schedules as well as a well stocked mini-market behind their front desk. Carmens' is also continuing to give back to the community with meal donations to organizations serving those in need like the Good Shepherd, Interval House and YWCA.