On Monday, July 4, the first tenants moved into their new homes at Indwell’s “The Oaks”—a place once known as Royal Oak Dairy on East Ave. N. near Barton. New tenants arrive almost daily at Ain-dah-ing (pronounced “(AH-da-ning”), Heartwood Apartments and The Dairy Lofts—the first buildings to open in what will be a four-building complex. This marks the beginning of a new era for a site with over 120 years of history.

What is 139 affordable supportive homes began as the Royal Oak Dairy in 1898the last local dairy to close in the City of Hamilton in 1981. The property fell into disuse, was prey to vandalism, and eventually became an unsafe shelter for squatters. Indwell, with the help of government funding and generous donors, acquired the property in 2018 and began to develop the affordable housing.
Built to reflect the historic features of the original dairy in that same location, The Dairy Lofts is three storeys and contains 43 apartments. Construction is expected to begin in 2023 on a fourth building, Acorn Flats, also three storeys, which will contain 31 apartments, ranging from one to three bedrooms.

Ain-dah-ing, where 13 apartments are now fully occupied, is perhaps the most evocative of the dairy’s history. Well into the 20th century, horse and carriage were used to deliver milk, and Royal Oak Dairy’s large brick stable was equipped with a long ramp that allowed the horses access to the stables on the second floor. This brick building is now fully restored with some original features, such as the horse ramp, still intact.

Partners Sacajawea Non-Profit Housing and Hamilton Regional Indian Centre ensured that Ain-dah-ing (meaning Home Within Our Hearts in Ojibwe) would be home to Indigenous tenants, with Sacajawea offices on the ground floor.

As more tenants move in, Indwell would like to encourage community members to stay tuned for an official grand opening celebration in late September, to take place on the “piazza”—the spacious open area between buildings.

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Captions: Ain-dah-ing (pronounced AH-da-ning)
Dairy Lofts (L) and Heartwood Apartments (R) face East Ave. N.
Model Apartment- A model apartment was furnished to show staff and guests what a future unit could look like
Piazza- The piazza will be a gathering space between Ain-dah-ing (L), Heartwood Apartments and Dairy Lofts (R)
Ramp- This ramp was kept intact at Ain-dah-ing as a historic detail of the old stables. The windows gave the dairy horses fresh light and air.