A Growing City

The land for the city of Hamilton was deeded in 1816, on the site of present-day Gore Park. The city was incorporated in 1846.

The opening of the Burlington Canal in 1820 helped Hamilton become an important port city. The coming of the railway in the mid-1850s spurred the city’s development, too. Hamilton’s booming economy attracted immigrants from the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, and Poland, among other countries. Immigrant labourers contributed greatly to the city’s economy and its community.

By the turn of the twentieth century, Hamilton was one of Canada’s most important industrial centres, a role it continued to occupy for decades to come. Firms such as the Steel Company of Canada, which was formed in 1910 from a merging of a five smaller companies, would become one of Hamilton’s most important industries and employers, as well as a stronghold of industrial unionization in the city.

Working Life in Hamilton

For many of the workers employed in Hamilton’s industries, though, jobs were precarious and life was harsh. Family members, including children, worked long hours for low pay in unsafe and difficult conditions.

1913 Wages

Inside workers earned $22 a week
Outside workers earned $10 a week (25 cents an hour)