Who is T. Melville Bailey and why is there a park named after him in Hamilton?

 

The T. Melville Bailey Park is a small, secluded park located on Hamilton's mountain, a couple of blocks east of West 5, with access through an unassuming alleyway.

It's one of Hamilton's little hidden gems as it's nestled in amongst several homes, almost a little private oasis.

It features a lovely little playground, a walking path and plenty of peace and quiet.

So the question is, who is this park named after?

According to Hamilton Public Library records, Thomas Melville Bailey was born in Hamilton in 1912.

From a young age, Bailey showed an interest in ministry but it seems he took a while to find his true calling.

He worked for Canadian Pacific Express for more than a decade and consider becoming a journalist until in 1949 he decided to follow his dream.

That year he enrolled in Knox College, a theological college of the University of Toronto.

At the same time, Bailey was appointed student minister of South Gate Presbyterian Church on the mountain, not too far from where the park that is now named for him is located. He would be associated with this congregation for the rest of his career.

In 1952, Bailey was ordained and presided over South Gate for more than three decades.

While his contribution to his congregation and its neighbourhood were impressive, it's his prolific writing on the history of Hamilton that he is most widely known for.

He wrote extensively on the history of Dundurn Castle and its inhabitants and was even actively involved in the restoration of the building and its property.

Bailey authored and co-authored more than 20 books on the subject of Hamilton. Bailey even wrote a comprehensive history of the Presbyterian Church in Canada.

His biggest accomplishment was the completion of the 'Dictionary of Hamilton Biography,' which he edited. When it was first published in 1981, it was the first of its kind in Canada.

Since then, four more volumes of the dictionary have been published.

His fascination with Hamilton's local history led Bailey on a quest to ensure its preservation, not just through his writing but as president of the Head-of-the-Lake Historical Society from 1956 to 1960.

Bailey passed away in 2005 at the age of 92.

Not only is Bailey honoured with a park named after him, but the City of Hamilton has also established the Reverend T. Melville Bailey Heritage Award, which is awarded annually to a local resident who is felt to have provided significant contributions in the promotion and preservation of Hamilton's history and heritage.

T. Melville Bailey Park is located at 45 Cloverhill Drive.

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