In one of our irregular reports on visits to reciprocal clubs, Mark Cronin reports back from the hardship of a visit to the Hamilton Club, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
It is not often I find myself at a loose end at lunchtime, even less often when five minutes’ walk from one of our reciprocal clubs. It happened to me recently, so, taking advantage of the free time, I decided to venture into one of our newer reciprocals. The Hamilton Club is in Hamilton, Ontario, a city of just over half a million on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario. If you are familiar with the geography of Ontario, Hamilton is about halfway between Toronto and Niagara Falls. Founded in 1873, the Club is downtown and has occupied the same building for over 140 years. On first appearances it appears is as relatively modest from the outside, however, on entering, you really do enter a different world. Despite being unannounced I was greeted very warmly and offered lunch either in the formal dining room or the comfortable lounge and bar. Choosing the bar area, the menu was reasonably priced and my lunch excellent. The Hamilton Club prides itself on an outstanding wine list, ranging from modestly priced, and quite drinkable, local wines to those (from across the globe) at over $1000 per bottle; part of the extensive wine cellar is even accessible in a temperature-controlled room in the lounge. On my visit, an impromptu tour of the Clubhouse was willingly provided by Amanda Nesbitt, (the Hamilton Club’s Director of Membership and Marketing – and part-time wine sourcer) and was most enjoyable and enlightening. The Clubhouse itself is a series of dining, reading and meeting rooms, all maintained to a very high standard and in keeping with the age of the building and in the general layout of the house from which it originated. The centrepiece, however, is a newly refurbished bar area leading onto a roof-top terrace overlooking some pleasant art deco buildings – this must be very popular on summer evenings! Also striking is a fabulous contemporary art collection, which has been built up from 1912, mostly from Canadian artists. You first notice a portrait of Her Majesty in the entrance hall – also replete with a wonderful snug, but each room has its own distinctive character with various portraits, landscapes, historical and military scenes. As with the best clubs, when you step inside you are instantly isolated from the mayhem outside and feel totally at home. The Club uses its well-refurbished building to its best, combining old and new; the dress code is slightly less formal than British Clubs (with the exception of the dining room where a jacket is still required). The Hamilton Club is open for breakfast and lunch five days a week; dinner Wednesday – Saturday; the only downside is no accommodation and the fact I had to leave and go and do some work! So, a very warm welcome, excellent food and wine served by friendly and helpful staff, genuine hospitality, a fascinating, tastefully updated building and fabulous 20th / 21st Century art collection; should you find yourself in Ontario the Hamilton Club is certainly well worth a visit, even if it means a diversion from the “usual” attractions. Details of the Hamilton Club can be found at: http://www.thehamiltonclub.com.
Mark Cronin had lunch in the Hamilton Club on 16 May 2017 – and thoroughly enjoyed it! Athenaeum Proprietors who visit any of our reciprocals are encouraged to pass on their experiences and recommendations.