Our predecessor: The Wentworth Historical Society (1899-1925)
The Wentworth Historical Society was formed in January 1889 to promote study into and publicize the "history, archaeology…and genealogy" of the area around the City of Hamilton, at the western end of Lake Ontario, known as the Head-of-the-Lake. The Society presented a speakers’ series and established an annual periodical, Wentworth Historical Society Papers and Records, in which they published the talks. The Wentworth Historical Society ceased functioning in 1925. At that time, its records and books were placed in storage, with the hope that the Society might later be revived.
The Head-of-the-Lake Historical Society (1944 - Present)
In January 1944, Lt. Col. C.R. McCullough (1865-1947) convened a meeting of historically-minded residents of Hamilton with the objective of meeting with Dr. Charles W. Jefferys, president of the Ontario Historical Society to discuss the possibility of establishing a new local historical society in the city. At subsequent meetings in February, a constitution was prepared and a slate of officers chosen. On March 22, 1944, twenty interested citizens met with this group and, after discussion, adopted the constitution, selected the name "The Head-of-the-Lake Historical Society" (HLHS), and confirmed the executive. Also, the OHS turned over all the publications and archives of the former Wentworth Historical Society to the new Head-of-the-Lake Historical Society so that they could carry on what their predecessor had started. The first general public meeting of the HLHS was held in the old Art Gallery, on Main Street West near James, on March 31, 1944.
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The MacNab Monument
In 2003, The Head-of-the-Lake Historical Society received permission from the Keppel Society of England and the decendants of Sir Allan MacNab to erect a monument on the resting place of various members of the MacNab family ( Sir Allan's parents, his first wife and his son, his brother and two nephews) in Hamilton Cemetery. This site had been unmarked since 1909 when the remains of the family were removed from the family plot, Inchbuie, on the Dundurn Castle grounds, and were reinterred in Hamilton Cemetery. (Macnab and other family members were reinterred in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.)
On Saturday, May 15, 2004 at Hamilton Cemetery, The Head-of-the-Lake Historical Society, unveiled a monument to the MacNab family members.
The 1890 Clock and Bell
In 1990 a Society initiated project saw the historic 1890 City Hall clock and bell incorporated into the Hamilton Eaton Centre development.
Rev. Dr. T. Melville Bailey
T. Melville Bailey grew up in Hamilton’s closeknit west end community developing a fascination for Dundurn Castle & Sir Allan MacNab. His strong faith lead him to a career in the ministry of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. During the early 1950’s Rev. Bailey led the effort to establish The South Gate Presbyterian Church.
Mel Bailey was instrumental in the founding of both The Head-of-the-Lake Historical Society in 1944 and the Hamilton Mountain Heritage Society in 1996. He was also a long time member of the Hamilton Historical Board and authored numerous articles and books related to Hamilton History. Perhaps his most important contribution was the four volume work of: The Dictionary of Hamilton Biography. A truly inspirational leader in the ongoing task of exploring, preserving and relating our local history.
Gore Park Fountain: Society members, local businesses and corporations, and residents of the community-at-large joined together, under the auspices of the Fountain Foundation, an offshoot of the Society, to raise over $500,000 in order to rebuild the fountain, which was a centrepiece of Gore Park and a focal point for civic life in Hamilton until it was dismantled in 1959. The newly-restored fountain was turned on in October 1996, one of the major events in the city's sesquicentennial celebrations of that year.
The King's Head Inn Plaque
The King' Head Inn Plaque was unvieled on September 24, 1994
Plaques: We have sponsored several historical plaques to commemorate people and events in the Hamilton area. In this regard, we have worked in close conjunction with the former Joint Plaquing Committee of the Hamilton Historical Board.
We have published the following books.
- Around and About Hamilton, 1785-1985: A Pictorial History of the Hamilton-Wentworth Region -- SOLD OUT
- On the Market, a history of Hamilton's open-air market – SOLD OUT
- Hamilton: Panorama of Our Past
- Downtown Hamilton: The Heart of it All
- In Search of The King's Head Inn. By Terry Watson
Speakers’ Series: We have held these presentations since our founding and continue to hold them eight times a year. For current information, see our Speakers' Schedule page.
See our Activities page