Samuel Lawrence

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other people named Samuel Lawrence, see Samuel Lawrence (disambiguation).
Samuel Lawrence
Sam Lawrence, 1946.jpg
MPP for Hamilton East
In office
Preceded by William Morrison
Succeeded by John P. MacKay
Mayor of Hamilton
In office
January 1, 1944 – December 31, 1949
Preceded by William Morrison
Succeeded by Lloyd Jackson
Personal details
Born (1879-08-16)August 16, 1879
Norton, Somerset, England
Died October 25, 1959(1959-10-25) (aged 80)
Hamilton, Ontario
Resting place Hamilton Cemetery
Nationality Canadian
Political party Ontario CCF
Spouse(s) Isabelle Marshall
Occupation Stonemason

Samuel Lawrence (August 16, 1879 – October 25, 1959) was a Canadian politician and trade unionist.

Lawrence was born in Somerset, England and went to work in a quarry at the age of 12 and became a shop steward in the mason's union at the age of 17. He entered politics running for election in Battersea in London. Known as "Mr. Labour", Sam Lawrence was an alderman, controller, and the Mayor of Hamilton from 1944 to 1949. He was also President of the Stone cutters' Union, Vice-President of the Hamilton Trades and Labour Council, and leader of the CCF Party in the Ontario legislature.

He immigrated to Canada settling in Hamilton, Ontario[1] with his family in 1912 and found work as a stonemason. He became involved in the local labour movement and was elected to Hamilton, Ontario City Council as an Independent Labour Party alderman in 1922. He ran as a Labour candidate in the 1925 federal election but lost his bid for a seat in the Canadian House of Commons, coming in second. He remained on city council and was elected to Hamilton's Board of Control in 1929, retaining his seat until 1934 when he was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Hamilton East, the first Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) MLA ever elected in Ontario. He was also the only CCFer elected in the 1934 election, and was defeated in his bid for re-election in the 1937 election.

Lawrence then served for a time as president of the local Industrial Union Council, and subsequently regained his seat on the Board of Control and kept it for six years. He was elected the first Labour mayor of Hamilton in 1944. He was re-elected mayor annually until his retirement from the office in 1949.

During his tenure as mayor, the city went through the deeply divisive 85-day Stelco strike of 1946. The strike was the union's first, and its victory established the United Steel Workers of America as a major force in Canada. It also helped establish the right of Canadian workers to collective bargaining. Lawrence was publicly supportive of the strike, and led a 10,000-person march from Woodlawns Park to the gates of Stelco. Despite pressure from the federal and provincial governments, he refused to call in police or the military against the illegal strike, and thus helped ensure its victory. When the federal government sent the army in, Lawrence angrily said that "the government was acting as the nation's chief strike breaker."

After stepping down as mayor in 1949, Lawrence continued on the Board of Control for six years until his retirement from politics.

Sam Lawrence Park can be found on the western-end of Concession Street. Prior to 1944, this property was the Webb Quarry. In February 1944, The City of Hamilton was given 3 acres (12,000 m2) of land for park use by Thomas Hambly Ross, MP (Hamilton East), and his wife Olive. The park was originally named Ross Park, then renamed Patton Park in 1946, in honour of captain John MacMillan Stevenson Patton, a Hamiltonian who risked his life during World War II by detonating an unexploded bomb. For this exploit he received the first George Cross for Valour. In 1960, the park was renamed to honour Sam Lawrence. During 1990 to 1994, Sam Lawrence Park underwent a major upgrading that included repairing the stone walls, installing new walkways, site lighting, site furniture, and the redevelopment of the major rock gardens.


  1. ^ Houghton, Margaret (2003). The Hamiltonians, 100 Fascinating Lives. James Lorimer & Company Ltd., Publishers Toronto. p. 6. ISBN 1-55028-804-0.