McKinnon Hair Design 111 Balsam Avenue South

I don’t know what it is with me and hair cuts. I always seem to leave it until I’m absolutely desperate for a trim. I thought it would be a good time to explore a new business in the city and get a much-needed hair fix at the same time. Maybe I won’t leave it so long again, now that I’ve had the royal treatment from McKinnon Hair Design!

Like so many of my Hamilton adventures, this was another roundabout way of making a new connection. I contacted Creative Director at McKinnon, Cameron Elder, after seeing him giving hair cuts on the streets of James North during Art Crawls and Supercrawl. Cameron was also featured in the Sweet Ice Snow Cones commercial where I was an extra. (His adorable son gets the cone at the end!)


McKinnon is one of those places that I have driven by countless times in my lifetime. I’m happy to have finally learned more about it. The salon has been in business for 30 years and has a strong reputation for being one of the best in the city. It’s owned by husband and wife Andy and Christine McKinnon, who continue to work out of the salon.

Cameron has been at McKinnon for five years now but has been working in the industry for 15. He works with a great team of stylists at the salon. Each has a specialty and is ready to work with you on your brand new ‘do.


The building, originally a house, was turned into a salon. Being in the structure of a house makes it feel very homey and inviting. There is an open area on the first floor that is divided into three sections with a big window at the front, onlooking the street. I got to sit in the chair by the front window, which is normally used by Chris. I was the last customer and watched it getting darker outside during the last hour of daylight on the cold winter day.

Cameron also gave me a tour upstairs – there is a cozy room with a brick wall and big windows where the colouring is done. I took a peek at the beautiful array of colours to choose from, but was not so adventurous this time around!



As I was waiting, I got to peruse a drink menu filled with local roasters Detour Coffee and David’s Tea. I chose the classic Earl Grey to sip on, which came with two cute, heart-shaped (how apropos!) ginger cookies on the side. It’s a nice touch that adds to the experience, making you feel welcome and at home.

Before Cameron got to work on my hair, I filled out a new customer card to give a bit of info on the current state of my hair. This helps the stylist to better understand what you want and if you’re having any issues. Cameron also chatted with me beforehand about what I wanted and asked questions. This helped me to feel confident in what he was going to do.

Checking out the new do
Checking out the new ‘do

Normally, I would watch the hairdresser at work, but I got chatting with Cameron and didn’t really pay much attention to the intricacies of what he was doing. Cameron effortlessly snipped away, and it was clear he is amazing at his job and a whiz with the scissors. My hair felt lighter and fresher by the second as he worked away.

My hair being naturally quite wavy, and it being far too much work on my own to make it pin-straight for a different look, I had Cameron heat up the flat iron and go to town. It was a treat to have it straightened and see a style I’m not used to sporting.

Thanks very much, Cameron, for a fabulous hair cut and to McKinnon for having me drop by. It was fun to explore something in the fashion/style area of the city, which is something I’d like to do more of.

– Kristin

With Cameron Elder
With Cameron Elder
Kristin Archer is the creator of I Heart Hamilton (, where she has blogged about experiences around her hometown since 2011, growing a social media presence along the way. Encouraging locals to “be a tourist in your own city,” she promotes arts and culture across her various social media platforms, blog, and weekly radio show on 93.3 CFMU.

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