By Brian Roulston
Mary Street was at one time considered a major street to the old Port of Hamilton; it was once called Gore Street named after the Gore District here in Hamilton. The street was later renamed Great Mary Street which of course later was shortened to just Mary Street. In 2008 the Ferguson Bridge was built over the CN tracks. Its primary objective was to allow a way for emergency vehicles such as Fire, Police and Ambulances to cross over the train tracks when both Victoria Avenue and Wellington Streets were blocked due to crossing locomotives. A pedestrian bridge was built on Mary St. just behind Food Basics, cutting off all vehicular traffic to northern end of Mary Street.
Today, many North Enders do their grocery shopping at the Food Basics store on the corner of Barton and Mary. This store was originally built as a Dominion Store sometime in the early 1970’s. In the late 1800’s William Malcom and Alexander Souter built The Malcom & Souter Furniture Co., Limited at the front of this property. Malcom & Souter Furniture Co. manufactured high end top quality furniture. Malcom & Souter shut down in 1969. It is also noteworthy that (according to a Wikipedia article) Thomas Bain the 8th Speaker of Canada’s House of Commons under Sir Wilfred Laurier was at one time the president of Malcom and Souter.
Hamilton Cotton and Canadian Knitting Company occupied several buildings at the back of this property. The Hamilton Cotton factory produced a variety of yarns and fabrics. James Mason Young a Scottish merchant along with several other local area merchants and manufacturers founded the factory in 1880. The factory, at its peak, employed more than 500 workers, many of them women from the North End at a time when women were just starting to enter the workforce. The company owned factories in Marysville N.B., Montreal as well as Trenton and Woodbridge Ontario. In 1962 Hamilton Cotton and Canadian Knitting Company was shut down due to competition stemming from foreign manufacturers. Again another interesting side note… Hamilton Tiger Cats current owner Bob Young is the grandnephew to James Mason Young.
Mary Street also features one of the oldest houses in Hamilton. It was built before Canada’s Confederation in 1867. It is a small wood and stone structure located at 176 Mary St. It was renovated in 2013.
As we travel towards the Bay we come to Picton Street. A grand old church called the St. Lawrence- the Martyr Parish. The church is built on a piece of land formerly called Bayside Hill. Construction for the church began on a cool (10°C) rainy Sunday May 6th, 1890 with the laying of the cornerstone. Eight months later the church was ready to receive her first mass on November 23rd of that same year.
As we continue down Mary we come to the end of Mary at Brock St. Eastwood Park and Arena are located here between Mary and Ferguson Ave. An excellent article about the history and area of Eastwood Park and Arena was submitted by Robyn Gillam back in the December 2019 issue of The North End Breezes.
You can check it out on our website www.northendbreezes.com.