William J. McNamara

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William J. McNamara
William J. McNamara.JPG
12th Mayor of Edmonton
In office
December 8, 1913 – October 27, 1914
Preceded byWilliam Short
Succeeded byWilliam Thomas Henry
Personal details
BornDecember 27, 1879
Renfrew, Ontario
DiedJanuary 1, 1947(1947-01-01) (aged 67)
Phoenix, Arizona
Spouse(s)Anna G. McNamara
ProfessionTeacher, real estate agent

William James McNamara (December 27, 1879 – January 1, 1947) was a politician in Alberta, Canada, a mayor of both Edmonton and Wetaskiwin, Alberta, and the first mayor of Edmonton to be forced from office over a scandal.


McNamara was born in Renfrew, Ontario on December 27, 1879. He was educated at Saint Laurent College in Montreal and came to Edmonton in 1886. In 1900 he was hired as the first teacher at Lone Spruce School, an Edmonton boys' school. In 1905 he formed a real estate partnership with Lorne York that acquired real estate in Camrose, Wetaskiwin, and Edmonton.

He was elected mayor of Wetaskiwin in 1909. After returning to Edmonton, he ran for mayor in the 1913 election, in which he defeated incumbent William Short, receiving 50.2% of the vote in the two person race. In doing so, he became both the first person in Edmonton's history to defeat a sitting mayor and the winner of the closest mayor election in the city's history, a record that still stands.

In office, he formed an alliance with future mayor Joseph Clarke (then an alderman) against those who wanted to drive prostitution and gambling out of the city. McNamara fired both the police chief and the head of the morality squad. His alliance with Clarke ended when the two came to blows in a meeting of Edmonton City Council.

Later in his term, he was convicted by Justice William Ives of voting on a matter in which he had a pecuniary interest and was, along with alderman James East, expelled from office on October 27, 1914. He stayed out of politics thereafter. He moved to Detroit, Michigan on November 19, 1915.[1]

McNamara died on January 1, 1947 at 3:55 PM in Phoenix, Arizona of heart failure.[2] He had lived in Arizona for the previous 24 years and had worked as a real estate agent.[3]


  1. ^ Detroit Border Crossings and Passenger and Crew Lists, 1905-1957
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ [2]
Preceded by
William Short
Mayor of Edmonton
Succeeded by
William Thomas Henry
(after being left vacant for two months)