in the mist

We’re on the boardwalk east of Exhibition Place and I’m shooting the mills in Hamilton.

There was a time in this fair land when the railroad did not run
When the wild majestic mountains stood alone against the sun

But time has no beginnings and history has no bounds
As to this verdant country they came from all around
They sailed upon her waterways and they walked the forests tall
Built the mines the mills and the factories for the good of us all 1

There was a time when the steel-mills in Hamilton lit the horseshoe that is this section of Lake Ontario; when train-whistles and boat-horns serenaded the golden horseshoe. Today, the mills are silent, dark, skeletal. And the city is being invaded by Toronto hipsters looking for cheap rents. Dirty, polluted Hamilton is becoming the Brooklyn of Canada.

Lightfoot’s lyrics talk to an aging generation, my parents’ generation, a generation that is quickly passing. No one under 50 sees mines, mills and factories as good. And yet these aging infrastructures built the middle class; built modern Canada.

The province is on the cusp of an election that will either return the Liberals and Premier Kathleen Wynne to power or embrace a loud, obnoxious Tory – Dough Ford – who is promising to return Ontario to the manufacturing giant it was 50 years ago.

1 – Gordon Lightfoot. Canadian Railroad Trilogy.