Why a Vancouver couple ditched the coast for Hamilton

Actors Juno Ruddell and Mike Rinaldi were on CBC Radio One's Fresh Air talking about why they moved their family to Hamilton, and what they found when they got here.
Actors Mike Rinaldi, top left, and Juno Ruddell celebrate Rinaldi's birthday with their two sons earlier this year. (Courtesy of Mike Rinaldi)

Juno Ruddell and Mike Rinaldi had a dream.

Based in Vancouver until last month, the couple wanted to buy a house to raise their two boys, while continuing to pursue careers in acting — a tall order in the city, given sky-high housing prices.

"We've been trying to figure out a away for years to get a home for the boys to grow up in," Rinaldi said on Saturday's edition on CBC Radio One's Fresh Air. "Every city we're in since we've met, we've been looking at houses longingly and coveting that kind of life as we're living in our little apartment."

In the 10-minute segment, the couple told guest host Danielle Harder about how they found the life they wanted. They opted to move to Hamilton, driving across Canada last month with their two boys in order to move into a home walking distance of Gage Park.

Not only is Hamilton more affordable than Vancouver, Ruddell said, but it is also within close driving distance to a host of acting opportunities. Ontario, she said, has introduced tax credits that have siphoned TV and film investment dollars from British Columbia and offers a greater variety of acting roles.

"I knew that there were more [opportunities] in Toronto that I would have a better shot of being seen and also getting a gig, because I guess there's a little bit more diversity here."

Couple wanted to be a 'part of the movement'

Both creative types, Ruddell and Rinaldi were also drawn to Hamilton's burgeoning arts and culture scene. They mentioned the city's art crawl, its Fringe Festival and its small shops and cafés on streets like Locke South and Ottawa North.

"One of the things we really liked was the idea of being somewhere from the ground up," said Ruddell, "rediscovering it with everyone else, being part of the change, I guess, being part of the movement of 'Art is the new steel.' "

They also found something they didn't expect: instant community.

"We show up and were literally there for like one second. It was 'Hello! Welcome! We knew you were coming!'" said Ruddell. "All these amazing people came out of their doors to welcome us to the neighbourhood."

So instead of cooking for themselves or getting take-out on their first night in their new house, the family attended a barbecue at the neighbours.

"So there we were, first night in Hamilton, sitting on their beautiful back patio having some beers and some amazing food and the kids are playing. We just though, 'Wow, what an amazing way to start our next chapter.' "

Welcome to the neighbourhood.