A look back at East Hamilton's Wondergrove
Today, and for many decades, the corner of Parkdale and Main has been home to the Pat Quinn Parkdale Arena and tennis courts. In recent years a skate park has popped up on the property.
From 1935 to 1958, however, Parkdale and Main housed a far more glamorous complex.
The Wondergrove, an outdoor dance venue conceived and built by the Hicks family in the 1930s, was a popular summertime dance venue for hip Hamiltonians.
The Hicks family wanted to create a romantic setting in the heart of the city's east end and in preparation for its construction, they planted a number of willow trees, some of which can still be seen today in the park.
The venue featured a large Spanish-style terrazzo floor, a refreshment stand, and an outdoor fireplace.
Peter Young, author of Let's Dance: A Celebration of Ontario's Dance Halls and Summer Dance Pavilions, described the cosy scene on a typical night at the Wondergrove. He writes that boys with wicker baskets would move around the dancers collecting glasses and bottles.
Young writes: "The beauty of the Wondergrove was enhanced with chairs and pathways fragrant with the scents of thousands of petunias and other flowers..."
A season at the Wondergrove lasted from June to Labour Day and featured a lineup of local talent and out-of-town musicians.
The Wondergrove operated until 1958 when the lease with the city expired.
Photo courtesy of Hamilton Public Library History and Archives
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