Dan Black's Club House

140 James Street North

Advertisement from Sutherland's City Directory, 1870-71

This site was once the home of Dan Black’s Club House. One advertisement for the Club House offered “Private Pic-Nics and Dinner Parties, Pic-Nic and Wedding Parties, Church and School Entertainments.” A large marquee and a bowling green were out back of the House. But don’t be fooled: Dan Black’s was a popular working-class tavern.

Dan Black moved around, like many small shopkeepers of the day. In 1853, he worked as a chandler out of 19 Cannon Street. By 1856, Black had opened the Glasgow Inn, on the corner of Bay and Cannon Streets. In the early 1860s, he ran the Fountain Saloon in the old Market Square. Black opened his Club House in 1866. The business lasted almost 10 years. After that, Black’s name disappears from city records.

The Club House was a place for Hamilton’s working men to relax together. This typical working-class tavern offered food as well as drink and various diversions. It was also a cheap place to find lodgings, and it served as an employment information centre. Dan Black’s was an important place for talking and organizing.

Dan Black was well known to Hamilton unionists. His Fountain Saloon had been a favourite meeting place for the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE) and other craft unions. In 1865, the ASE proclaimed him “the Landlord of our Club House,” and presented him with a pipe and a ring for his wife. He often catered Great Western Railway picnics. His catering efforts at the 1873 Moulder’s Union’s Annual Ball received rave reviews.

The Club House hosted the first meetings of the Nine-Hour Movement. It offered an open forum for discussion, free from harassment by employers or city officials. These discussions led unionists to pursue their cause. They called the meeting at the Shakespeare Hotel, where the Nine-Hour League was formed.