The Grant Sail Loft is all that survives of Hamilton’s flourishing 19th-century shoreline landscape of wharves, boathouses, shipyards and warehouses. It was common for sail lofts to locate near boatworks or other marine industries. This allowed masters of different crafts to pool their skills and resources to provide integrated service in the artisanal tradition.
William Grant had this building constructed in 1869 to house his expanding sail-making business. Situated on a steeply sloping waterfront lot, the building presents an unassuming, gabled-brick front to the street. But from the bay, it looks like a tall three-storey structure, the first two floors built of coursed rubblestone.
Grant worked as a sailmaker in Hamilton from at least 1853. By the mid-1860s, he was working out of a warehouse on a wharf at the foot of MacNab Street. Grant and his small crew of skilled sailmakers were making sails for vessels from across the Great Lakes by the time he moved into this building.
Grant closed his sail loft in 1887, but this was not the end of its association with the marine industry. The Reid Gasoline Engine Company, builders of small stationary and marine engines, occupied the building for the first two decades of the 20th century. For a number of years, it served as the home of the HMCS Lion Sea Cadets, but since the 1980s, this building has once again housed a sail-making business.
William Grant’s brother, Peter, ran the Spring Brewery located a few blocks south.
This was the home of United Auto Workers (now Unifor) Local 525 between 1956 and 1973.