Hamilton’s industrial age is over. In the steel capital of Canada, there are no more skies lit red by foundries at sunset, no more traffic jams at shift change. Instead, an urban renaissance is taking shape. But who wins and who loses in the city’s not-too-distant future? Is it possible to lift a downtrodden, post-industrial city out of poverty in a way that benefits people across the social spectrum, not just a wealthy elite?

In Shift Change, author Stephen Dale sets up “the Hammer” as a battlefield, a laboratory, a chessboard. As investors cash in on a real estate gold rush and the all-too-familiar wheels of gentrification begin to turn, there’s still a rare opportunity for both old-guard and newcomer Hamiltonians to come together and write a different story—one in which Steeltown becomes an economically diverse and inclusive urban centre for all.

What plays out in these pages and at this very moment is a real-time case study that will capture the attention and the imagination of anyone interested in equitable redevelopment, housing activism, and social justice in the North American city.


"Stephen Dale’s textured analysis of urban change and conflict in his hometown of Hamilton is a timely study and potential model for future research. Dale has provided a unique glimpse into the social and cultural landscape of contemporary Hamilton and the people who are fighting to shape its future. Shift Change will be of value to anyone interested in gentrification, urban change, and the interconnected challenges faced by post-industrial cities across the Global North."

- Christopher Lawson