Hamilton and Liverpool – Two Ports, Two Stories.

I’m just getting back to working on my current photography project, Hamilton and Liverpool – Two Ports, Two Stories. At last! So many distractions and competing priorities in life but you always know the ones you’ll come back to.

I don’t have the official title yet but I’ll stay with Hamilton and Liverpool – Two Ports, Two Stories for the moment. The project is looking at  two cities that are over 3,000 miles apart and on different continents. Different backgrounds, different histories and yet strikingly similar in a number of ways.

Image of the six-sided clock on Victoria Tower at Salisbury Dock in Liverpool
Six-sided clock on Victoria Tower at the entrance to Salisbury Dock in Liverpool on a foggy day

I grew up in Liverpool in the UK. A city with a remarkable history that dates back more than 800 years, it thrived as an international port in its heyday, serving the transatlantic trades that developed before and as a result of the industrial revolution. Until more recent times it was in an extended period of decline due to shifts in trade and manufacturing over the past century. Now it seems to be embarking on a vibrant new life.

Image of steam clouds over Stelco in Hamilton
Steam clouds kicking off from Stelco

One of my earliest memories from when I came to Canada was on the approach to the Burlington Skyway as I headed down to Niagara Falls to see one of the great wonders of the world. As the car moved up the arch of the Skyway I glimpsed the distant skyline of Toronto off to the left, but the scene to my right drew a gasp and left me mesmerized. There I saw the iconic view of the Hamilton industrial waterfront, in all its grime and glory. I was immediately taken back to my childhood in the industrial north of England and I loved it. It didn’t just resonate, it was as if I knew the place. I often go down to Niagara and I still look enthusiastically off to the right for that inspiring view. I suspect not many people would say that.

Abstract image of hydro tower and blue sky
My view of Hamilton – natural and man-made

So, two cities, two ports that have thrived, experienced decline and are now recreating themselves. This is the story I want to tell, and from the way I see it.

Image of Banksy-Style art in Hamilton and Burlington
Banksy imitation image on the lighthouse at the end of the pier at the Burlington canal

I’ve included some initial images here, before I get into the real meat of the project, and there’s a bit of a side story.  Last weekend I was down at Hamilton beach with my husband and walked over to the pier at the Burlington canal, where we made two discoveries. The first was a Banksy-style image on the lighthouse – or more of an adaptation. The second was a live coyote trapped under the bridge above the water. That was a surprise! Poor thing was scared and apparently frozen to the wall of the pier. We alerted police and animal services and you can see the outcome here .