My name is David Michor and in 2012 my partner Christopher Brown and I bought a house on Wood West, we are now proud ‘new’ Northenders.
But I come from Northend roots, in the 1930’s and 40’s my mother and her big sister (Dorothy and Betty Hemingway) grew up on Simcoe East as ‘true’ Northenders. The Hemingway Sisters, born in Hamilton to Canadian parents of English descent, are now both widows, in their late 80’s, living on the Hamilton Mountain but, to this day they tell ” You have to have grown up north of the tracks to be a ‘true’ Northender’.”
My mother always jokes that my father, Reggie Michor, born in Hamilton to Romanian and Polish immigrants, grew up on ‘”the wrong side of the tracks”; Barton at Bay is just south of those tracks and so he was ‘nearly’ but not ‘truly’ a Northender, she laughs.
My Aunt Betty will add that her husband, Jimmy Hay, was born in Hamilton to Scottish immigrant parents, but, he grew up on Wood at Wellington, a ‘true’ Northender she proudly explains. They have many stories of Bennetto School, Eastwood Park, mobsters and booze cans and dancing at the Leander Boat Club but, one of our favourites is the story of Uncle Jimmy’s legendary Strawberry-Rhubarb.
Like many old family stories various versions are told The story we love goes like this.
Uncle Jimmy’s father came to Canada from Scotland in the 1920’s, he brought with him only a few possessions. One of those treasures, was a gift from his father, a root of Strawberry-Rhubarb, to be planted in his new country, in his own yard, in Hamilton’s Northend, a taste of home.
In the 1950’s Betty and Jimmy, and Dorothy and Reggie got married . In the 1960’s and 70’s, like many ‘true” and ‘nearly’ Northenders. they moved up to the new subdivisions spreading across the Hamilton Mountain, to raise families.
In the 1990’s the last tie to the Northend was severed when it was decided to sell the Hay home on Wood East; none of our family would then be in the Northend. My cousin heard the new owners were intending to tear down the old house and rebuild. She made one last visit to her grandparents yard and took a root to plant in her own garden in St. Albert, Alberta. Then in the 2010’s not long after Christopher and I settled in on Wood West we received our first house warming gift in the mail, all it read was “bringing it home”.
A root from a plant that started in Scotland, that sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, that landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that boarded a train and travelled to Hamilton Ontario to be planted in the ‘old’ Northend in the 1920’s, that flew to Alberta and that was returned to be replanted just 6 blocks west of its first Canadian home and now in 2020 again is thriving on Wood West in the ‘new’ Northend, 100 years after it’s journeys began.
Now we enjoy nothing more, especially during this global pandemic, than to sit under the grape vines in our back garden eating a delicious piece of fresh Strawberry& the legendary Strawberry-Rhubarb pie (Christopher has mastered the family pastry recipe) and talk to the Hemingway Sisters. We laugh about the ‘truly’ and the ‘nearly’ Northender’s tales, we listen about the immigrant roots and family stories. We tell them about what the great grandchildren are learning now online, we talk about the old times and new developments here and we proudly talk about how Christopher and I have replanted the family in the new Northend.