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THEN AND NOW: The evolution of Clappison's Corners

The junction at highways 5 and 6 has transformed from an 1850s stagecoach stop to a high-traffic area - and it's slated to undergo even bigger changes in the next few years
Clappison's Corners had flashing lights and stop signs by 1952, but the intersection was dangerous even then.

Newcomers to Waterdown may be surprised to learn that Clappison’s Corners is not the area around the large retail plazas of Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire, but is actually the intersection of Highway 5 (Dundas Street) and Highway 6 North. The four corners were home to many hotels, motels, gas stations and restaurants over the years, all of which gradually disappeared as new highways were built and the need for truck stops diminished.

Looking west along Dundas Street, across Hwy 6. The Clappison Hotel built by Thomas and Mary Clappison in the 1850s is on the right. Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives

In the 1850s a stagecoach hotel, the Wayside Inn, was established by Thomas and Mary Clappison on the north west corner of Dundas Street and the Old Guelph Road (now Highway 6).

Their son Henry later renamed it the Clappison Hotel. The hotel served as a rest stop and post office and by the 1880s there were three hotels, a blacksmith shop and a general store in the community.

After the First World War, the proliferation of motor cars changed the way goods and people travelled. Hotels and stagecoaches were replaced by garages, service stations and 24-hour restaurants.

Built in the art deco style of the 1930’s, the B-Hive restaurant on the southwest corner was famous for diner food. Bachelors, truckers, local baseball teams and workers stopping for breakfast – everyone went to the B-Hive.

At night, the blue and pink neon lights were a welcome sight and hungry drivers packed the small booths and horseshoe-shaped counter. It was also a B/A gas station and was open 24 hours a day.

The B-Hive was a popular stop for truck drivers, bachelors and baseball teams. Peter Vance photo courtesy Flamborough Archives

An article in The Hamilton Spectator in 1952 noted that “Despite a flashing signal light and numerous stop signs, the intersection of the busy Highways 5 and 6 has been the scene of many serious traffic accidents in recent years. Both main arteries carry an almost steady flow of traffic.”

After standing vacant for decades, the Clappison Hotel was demolished in April 1952 to make way for improvements to the intersection.

Businesses at Clappison's Corners in 1952 included the Chatterbox Drive Inn Restaurant (left), Stan's Lunch and Esso Service Station (left) and a Sunoco Service Station (right). Hamilton Public Library, Local History & Archives Bruce Murdoch Collection

As the years went by, several other service station/restaurants opened up on the four corners creating competition.

The B-Hive cut back on hours in the 1960s and 1970s, opening from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. The other restaurants in the area had larger spaces and private rooms which could be rented - the B-Hive did not.

By the 1970s Clappison's Corners featured the Clappison Corners Motel, Big John’s, the B-Hive and Gypsy’s Ice Cream. Cindy-Lee Sim-Belbeck photo

Along with multiple gas stations and restaurants there were also two motels, located on the west side of Hwy 6. The larger one on the northwest corner was the Clappison Corners Motel owned by Jimmy Lee Sim. Other restaurants were Big John’s and Gypsy’s Ice Cream, which was previously a Fina station, all well known to Waterdown teenagers of the era.

As the highways became busier, road maintenance meant that properties were expropriated for road widening. The B-Hive was closed in 1984 and demolished in September 1985 to make way for a new Gulf self-serve gas bar. By 2008, all of the other buildings had been demolished.

Today, only a Petro Canada gas station, and a fast food outlet remain. With the proposed reconfiguration of the Highway 5/ Highway 6 interchange it seems likely that Clappison’s Corners' service industry past will be gone and forgotten.

Clappsion's Corners as it appears June 2024. Flamborough Archives photo


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