For Hamiltonians and visitors to the city in the late 19th and early twentieth centuries, a frequent trip would often be made up the James street incline railway. At the top was the Mountain View Hotel, behind which was an open area used as a park, with a baseball diamond, roller rink, picnic tables etc.
A postcard showing the hotel. Its conical tower had long windows to allow visitors to take in the panoramic views to the north. The street heading west was Claremont, while the roadway seen at the bottom is the top of Strongman’s Road, turning to the left into what is now Upper James Street.
The property was afterwards purchased by the Southam family and the roller rink converted into a horse ring. The horse ring was destroyed by fire, and in the early 1940s and the stone hotel was demolished.
The Souham family were not interested in selling the property, particularly if it were to be subdivided into building lots (There is a memorial drinking fountain still on the property placed there in memory of Major Gordon H. Southam, killed in WW1)
In 1944, the Southam family donated the property to the city of Hamilton for a public park.
The following photographs taken by Spectator photographer Bruce Murdoch in March 1954 show some of the improvements made to the park by the City of Hamilton.
Sidewalks, walls and stairs installed – some of the stone left from the demolition of the Mountain View Hotel was reused in the walls.
Looking southward into Southam Park – the automobile is parked on Claremont.
Looking northward from Southam Park to the lower city – James street and Pigott Building in particular can be seen.
Postcard courtesy Janet at http://www.hamiltonpostcards.com and the photos courtesy PreVIEW, Local History and Archives, Hamilton Public Library.