Monday, April 30, 2018


A Date with Dundas & A Flirt with Italianate

Guest post by Ola Mochol,
Founder and Creative Director of PGF Staging Studio

All photos (except where noted) by Raquel Fassler

During her last guest post, Ola shared her story of over- coming personal stigma and perception in which opened her eyes to the true beauty of our ambitious city of Hamilton. 

"I realized it wasn't love at first sight because I was making surface evaluations without really taking an opportunity to fully explore her."

So I (Ola) committed to the #HamOnt relationship and took on the role of local tourist, making a date with the charming 'valley town' of Dundas, Ontario (one of six local municipalities comprising Greater Hamilton). I'd never been there before, so I guess this was not just any date, but a blind one:) 

Good thing it started off on the right foot. I was surprised how fast Dundas and I met, myself, travelling north west from Grimsby. In 30 minutes, she was 'there', greeting me with all her 19th century King St W architectural glory.

A friendly passerby noted that the facades had recently been washed when she spotted my colleague and I taking photos. 

I wandered off to immerse myself in the rich local lifestyle - cafes, restaurants, boutiques, antique dealers, art galleries, book stores and all the fine epicurean retailers you could imagine (Torontonians might recognize Cumbrae's butcher-shop). It was all so romantic, and unexpected. A true 'surprise and delight'.


In fact, walking up to a little square with a cheese shop, I couldn't help but reflect to myself, "this town has a European spirit". I was falling hard for Dundas and couldn't help but envy the locals. I envisioned how beautiful their town must look during all seasons, especially in the summer with hanging baskets on old street poles and during Christmas with twinkling lights and holly wreaths adorning Italianate store fronts. 

My mind continued to wander. Visual overload with further nods to Europe. And no word of a lie, complete jaw drop when I saw the hilly view of the majestic escarpment which immediately reminded me of valleys I've seen in France and Germany.

By this point there was no doubt I was #DownWithDundas, but as self-admitted design freaks, my colleague and I had an ultimate ulterior motive on our 'Dundas date'. And that was to check out the oh so dreamy, Detour Cafe.

In case you aren't aware, it was designed by Mjolk owners (Toronto Scandi connoisseurs) and was recently introduced on the Remodelista blog, HERE

The highlight visit did not disappoint. We were completely enchanted and enamored by the looks and tastes of Detour. During our stay we sampled some delicious coffee and sandwiches and could not help taking numerous "Instagrammable" photos.

No wonder the ridiculously photogenic Valley Town is famous for hosting film productions. It may be sleepy by definition but the 25,000 population town has more than enough to keep your eyes wide open for days. Her vibrancy is helped significantly due to her close proximity to McMaster University, fostering a youthful energy and fueling a thriving arts community. 

As my date with Dundas drew to a close, I had checked off looks and substance, but was ready for some soul searching. Luckily, heritage and architecture delivered in spades! Dundas is a hot bed for my true love of Italianate style buildings.

Characteristics include:
· Picturesque flexible style
· Tall, off-centre towers
· Long verandas
· Extended eaves
· Ornate brackets
· Round-headed windows or flush relieving arches

Downtown is just the beginning, there's so many more neighbourhood flavours you can explore, and with Spring weather finally here, what a better way to spend a Sunday!

I'm still courting Hamilton (and area) and as such there's so much more for me to discover. So, if you have a beautiful story to share, it would be magical to hear. Please indulge me! 

What happened to the retro restaurant?; Did anyone see Robin Williams here?; What was it like living in Dundas 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago?; Is there a heritage tour I could take to learn more?; Or better share your idea for a tour around Dundas! What would you show so I can experience the town like a local? 

I can't wait to hear your story!

Ola Mochol is the Founder and Creative Director of PGF Staging Studio. She stages vacant houses for sale in Hamilton and Burlington in Ontario, Canada.

Staging by PGF Staging Studio; Photo by Tom Vogel,

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