How did a three story building with a classic look end up being a squat ugly two story hair salon

background graphic redBy Pepper Parr

January 5th, 2021



Alan Harrington is a bit of a history nut. He has spent a lot of his spare time with the Historical Society and decided recently that he wanted to tell more of the Burlington story.

He chose a building many walk by if we are heading to Spencer Smith Park

He tell us that: “Viewers of CHCH television Evening News are informed at the end of each broadcast ,that the anchor gets “her hair done in Burlington at the corner of Lakeshore & John”.

“Often that is the ONLY mention Burlington gets on CHCH out of Hamilton. But, what building is at the corner of Lakeshore & John? – and how old is it?

Waldie himself

John Waldie, former Reeve of Burlington when it was a town, a member of the federal Parliament at a time when Sir John A McDonald was Prime Minister.

“The original store was built by W. Bunton in early 1830 and bought by John Waldie in 1847.

“Waldie was one of Burlington’s greatest entrepreneurs and benefactors. He was Reeve of Burlington for five years, and sat as a Liberal for Halton in the Dominion Parliament from 1887 to 1891.

“Waldie rebuilt the building in 1860 / 1865 to become his General Store which sold “everything”; probably in order to supply needs for his thirteen children.

Waldie store

The location when it was the Waldie General Store.

J Waldie & Co. General Store below featuring distinctive three second storey windows in this drawing from 1877.

After prohibition ended in 1927, the Brewers Retail (Beer Store) began operations and the building was opened as a Brewers Retail store.

Evolution continued in 1960 when the building became Burlington Motors.

When it was insurance

A fire resulted in the top floor being taken off – how often does an insurance company office file an insurance claim?

In 1966 it was renovated again to serve as three retail outlets and then changed further in 1973 with new tenants and new windows being installed as insurance against inclement weather.

Times have changed and now the building is shown as it is today as a hair salon.

Why did it go from three storeys down to just two? Did they want “a little off the top” ?

Actually a fire in 1973 resulted in the destruction of the upper floor while CAIG Insurance was its occupant.

Current look

Corner of John and Lakeshore today. Property is one of the Molinaro holdings.




Alan Harrington, when he was President of the Historical Society with then Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward checking out an historical marker on the waterfront.

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2 comments to How did a three story building with a classic look end up being a squat ugly two story hair salon

  • Diane Gaudaur

    At least it is still standing. So much of the very early residential and commercial buildings have been removed. Look through the Burlington Historical Society archives and you will see how much has been lost. Classic old buildings in the Core, along Lakeshore and in Roseland have been demolished in favour of new builds or unsympathetic renovations, erasing both charm and history.

  • Michael

    good to know , thanks