toronto2The Martin Prosperity Institute and NOW magazine have been studying the plight of TORONTO musicians who can’t afford to live and work in their own city. 80% of Canada’s music industry is based in T.O., from the core to inner city neighbourhoods in the west, along the Danforth, parts of East York and in the Beach.

hamilton5Local performance venues, recording studios, rehearsal spaces, and the music scene in general is clustered in these neighbourhoods of very expensive real estate, high rents, aggressive developers and residents who don’t like sharing turf with loud music.

hamilton6What to do? Rather than move to the suburbs, some musicians are moving to HAMILTON (pop. 520,000; metro 721,000). They’re not gutting the TORONTO scene, but according to NOW “the creative brain drain is real. TORONTO could see a substantial shuttering of venues similar to the situation in LONDON UK, where an estimated 40-50% of live music spaces have closed in the past decade.”

hamilton3        <Downtown Hamilton in the 1960’s – photo Hamilton Spectator>Back in the sixties Downtown Hamilton was a going concern with several large movie theatres,, electric buses, blocks of turn-of-the-century architecture, small shops, bars, restaurants and a nightlife. Then came the wrecker’s ball and a large swath of downtown disappeared, replaced by vast parking lots, a shopping centre, one live theatre, a library & the Art Gallery of Hamilton.

hamilton7Now the city centre is on its way back – thanks, in no small part to artists, musicians, gallery owners, restaurateurs and others who’ve gone down the road from boomtown TORONTO, 40 miles to the northeast.For a really good look at HAMILTON and what’s happening there, check out the “Rebuild Hamilton” website at


HAMILTON (known in some circles as The Hammer) is Canada’s steeltown – a city of factories and smoke-laden skylines – roughly 40 miles (65 kilometres) southwest of TORONTO. With a population of about 500,000, Greater Hamilton boasts one of the country’s top universities, a growing arts community, one daily newspaper, a major medical centre, a botanic garden, television station and fine art gallery.  <PHOTO ABOVE – Hamilton from Devil’s Punch Bowl/2009>JOSEPH HARTMAN, a Hamilton resident, has spent 7 years photographing his city’s East End, a cross-section of working class neighbourhoods and the surrounding landscape. With globalization, times are tough these days – marked by desolate downtown streets and the increase of low end stores. The citizenry waits for a rebirth as heavy industry slowly, but surely, leaves town.  <PHOTO ABOVE – Joseph Hartman by Scott Gardner, Hamilton Spectator>“Hamilton isn’t a perfect sort of idyllic kind of place, but there is a beauty which I think is quite unique. There’s a lot of resilience in Hamilton. There’s this sort of gritty personality and I mean that in a good way,” Hartman says.  “I love that Hamilton’s not trying to pretend to be something else. Hamilton’s happy with what it is.”<PHOTOS ABOVE – Gage Park/2008; Feast/2010; Canada Street/2010; Hughson Street/2011; Hamilton From Above Sherman Avenue/2011>

Nellie, 4 weeks old and 309 pounds, brings African Lion Safari’s elephant herd up to 12

After a 21-month pregnancy, little NELLIE, daughter of Natasha and Johnson, arrived in Canada on August 2, 2013.  She is the first naturally-born Canadian elephant, and joins the rest of the herd on 81 hectares of grassland and forest at African Lion Safari, roughly an hour west of TORONTO via Highway 401.  The Safari elephants go swimming twice daily, in between 18 hours of eating.  For directions, check the website: