Hamilton - Free Walking Tours

Pay what you feel

Expert local guides

Easy walking tours

Join Tour Guys on a free walking tour in Hamilton! Once just an industrial steel town, Hamilton has been revitalized in recent years to include many cultural perks! It’s now a lively city that features art studios, hip bars, a variety of eateries, and unique shops. Take in views of the stunning harbor, discover Hamilton’s hidden quirks, and learn how this city evolved from a forgotten industrial wasteland to the charming metropolis it is today!

Highlights

Waterfront Revitalization

Gangster history and rum-running to the USA

HMCS Haida Destroyer Class warship

Learn about Canada's Steel Industry

Local businesses

Hear Hamilton waterfront history from a local expert

Tour Details
Availability:

Click here to find our schedule
If you’re on time, you’re on tour!

Bookings are highly recommended, as we assign the number of guides according to the number of people booked. To avoid large groups with just one guide please complete your booking below.


Duration:

90 minutes


Price:

Free! We only ask that you tip your guide at the end if you enjoyed the tour.

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Comparable tours will cost you $20-$30 per person plus gratuity. Our tours are free but our guides work for tips only. A tip is the best way to say “thank you” for a great tour.


Meeting point:

Outside Granddad’s Donuts – a great local donut shop – 574 James St N #1, Hamilton, ON L8L 1J7

SEE MORE INFO.

Granddad’s Donuts is a small family-run business and we encourage our guests to purchase a donut or a coffee/tea if you arrive early and wish to wait inside. As a small business ourself, we do our best to support other local businesses!


End point:

HMCS Haida National Historic Site, Pier 9, Hamilton


Distance covered:

2.5km


Weather contingency:

Our tours run rain or shine!


Participation requirements:

We ask that everyone make a reservation with us in advance so we can contact you in the event of any changes to our schedule and to guarantee that a guide will be available to lead the tour. In the event that we have no bookings for that date, we will not be sending a guide out to lead the tour.

Please note that part of the tour is a downhill walk on an unpaved pathway, but there is a nearby paved ramp that can be used by guests using mobility devices or parents accompanying children in strollers.

SAILS TO STEEL

Starting at Granddad’s Donuts – a popular local business – this walking tour of Hamilton’s waterfront will give you an overview of the city’s relationship with Lake Ontario and how the harbour became one of the busiest ports in the country. During the 20th century as Hamilton’s harbour became industrialized, the environmental destruction and pollution levels rendered it both unsafe and unpleasant, giving Hamilton a reputation for being an unsafe and unpleasant place to visit. However, things have changed and the people of Hamilton have begun to reclaim the waterfront, and revitalization efforts have created new park spaces, new amenities, and new attractions to draw people back to the lake. Even local residents are surprised at how much things have changed!

Together with your local expert tour guide, you’ll take a walk through a neighbourhood once populated by dock workers and steel mill labourers and see how their modest little cottages are being transformed or replaced by new homes and follow a rough path residents fought the city to keep that leads down to the water.

Along the waterfront trail that winds past marinas and yacht clubs you’ll hear about Hamilton’s role in the Prohibition era smuggling of alcohol to the United States  and learn the fate of local gangsters who made money and spilled blood in an effort to keep the booze flowing. Once in view of the giant steel mills, your guide will explain the more recent efforts to repair the damage done to the environment by shipping and waterfront industries.

The tour will conclude with a visit to the HMCS Haida, Canada’s most famous (and “fightingest”) warship. Over two decades of service, the HMCS Haida was engaged in several battles over the course of the Second World War (including D-Day), the Korean conflict, and the Cold War, and sunk more “enemy tonnage” than any other Canadian warship. Although decommissioned in 1963, it has been granted the honour of ceremonial flagship of the Royal Canadian Navy. After your tour with us we encourage you to take a self-guided tour of the ship for less than $4 for adults, youth and children are free. The last admission will take place at 4:15 PM and the site closes at 4:45 PM. Exact admission rates and more info can be found here.

The story of Hamilton’s waterfront is not uncommon, as cities in North America are de-industrializing and working to repair and reclaim their shores, transforming them into places of recreation and enjoyment for everyone. Hamilton is earning a new reputation as “Canada’s Brooklyn” with an abundance of new businesses, art galleries, restaurants, and craft breweries replacing the grit and grime of industry. After your tour, your guide would be more than happy to help you explore Hamilton further!

Good to Know

The tour is entirely outdoors so please dress for the weather

You can visit and tour the HMCS Haida warship after the tour for a small fee (recommended)

We do not charge anything for this tour and our guides are not paid for it, so please tip your guide if you enjoyed the experience!

The tour starts at Granddad's Donuts, a great place to pick up a coffee, tea or snack before your tour