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    Art Gallery of HamiltonArt Gallery of Hamilton, Canada
    Today, the Art Gallery of Hamilton is located in the center of downtown, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and is one of the oldest galleries in the nation with a magnificent collection of more than 9000 works of art, that was started when the widow of artist William Blair Bruce passed away after having been born and raised in the city. Bruce passed away suddenly in 1906, but his family and widow, sculptor Caroline Benedicts-Bruce would bequeath 29 of his works to the city, with the explicit understanding that a properly equipped art gallery should be started to contain and present the collection. Now, those paintings, called the William Blair Bruce memorial donation, are showcased in a splendid salon-style hanging in the Art Gallery of Hamilton's third home. Their initial home would be on the second floor of the Hamilton Public Library building from 1914 to 1953, and in 1947, it would become a founding member of the Southern Ontario Gallery Group that has become the Ontario Association of Art Galleries. A new purpose constructed gallery opened in 1953, but just a bit more than a decade later, McMaster University would unveil plans to expropriate the land where the gallery sat, thus stopping any further plans to expand the gallery in its location. That would force the gallery to move elsewhere, which it did in 1977, to its current location in the heart of the city, when it was enjoying a downtown redevelopment project. The gallery would be restored in 2005, with new gold colored steel cladding to protect the structure, with a marvelous glass-enclosed front entrance on King Street, bigger and refurbished exhibit spaces and a new multi-purpose pavilion. The gallery houses a cafe, gift shop and so many outstanding exhibits that you will surely come back again to visit.

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    Dundurn CastleDundurn Castle Hamilton, Canada
    Dundurn is a magnificent historic neoclassical mansion in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada that would take three years to construct, $175,000 to build and finished in 1835, with 18,000 square feet filled with 72 rooms, enjoying the latest and greatest conveniences of the period with gas lighting and running water. Today, it is owned by the city that had bought it in 1900 for $50,000, although it would take another $3 million to renovate 42 of the original rooms so that they could be opened to the public. These rooms were restored to 1855 when its owner was Sir Allan Napier MacNab, 1st Baronet had reached the pinnacle of his career, and now costumed interpreters guide visitors around the beautiful mansion that offers a look at the lifestyle and daily life of a wealthy family from the 1850s. MacNab had bought the property from Richard Beasley, one of the city's earliest settlers, who was experiencing financial difficulties so he would be forced to sell his lands at Burlington Heights, that is now known as Dundurn Park and so MacNab would construct the castle on the foundations of Beasley's former brick house. Once it had been finished, the castle would become famous all over the nation for its grand entertainments, with visitors like King Edward III and Sir John A. Macdonald. MacNab, who would eventually become the prime minister of the united province of Canada between 1854 and 1856, had hired architect Robert Wetherall and the majestic castle would be finished by 1835. It eventually became the property of the city and during the late 1960s, it would be refurbished as a Centennial project and now is a National Historic Site of Canada. The castle operates as a civic museum, so the grounds are filled with numerous attractions. Dundurn Park and the green spaces associated with it have become favorite places for wedding portraits, and the Cockpit theater that is also on the grounds has hosted outdoor events and dramas. The estate houses a mystery building in Dundurn Park, that is east of Dundurn Castle; with no one knowing the purpose for the structure or why it was constructed. Historians have theorized that it could have been a theater, boat-house, office, laundry or chapel for Sir Allan's catholic wife. Urban legend suggests that there are numerous underground tunnels that had been constructed leading from the castle to other parts of the estate, including the mystery house, which might have been used for a cockfighting ring.

May 3, 2011