Their Town
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Their Town

The Mafia, the Media and the Party Machine

By Bill Freeman and Marsha Aileen Hewitt

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This book is a classic of its kind -- a no-holds-barred portrait of Hamilton civic life in the 1970s.

The focus is on power -- and the powerful. On the surface, power was wielded by the city's businessman-mayor, a business-oriented city council, and a Liberal Party machine fronted by prominent cabinet minister John Munro.

Behind the scenes Bill Freeman and Marsha Hewitt found a fascinating set of characters and organizations. They offer a history of organized crime in Hamilton from its rum-running heyday of Rocco Perri to Johnny Papalia and his associates in the 1970s. Freeman and Hewitt provide a critical analysis of The Hamilton Spectator's often unquestioning support of the business agenda for the city, which produced the ruinous demolition of the downtown core and its replacement with Jackson Square. They also examine the labour movement's role in civic life. A chapter on the John Munro political machine, written by Henry Jacek, shows how politics is integrated into the power structure of the city.

The book tells the story of key development projects of the 1960s and 1970s that were supposed to transform the central city. The account of the notorious contracts for dredging Hamilton Harbour is compelling reading. The authors look closely at the winners and losers in these projects. Today, Hamiltonians can make their own judgments about the long-term impact of these projects on their city.


Foreword to the Second Edition

Foreword to the First Edition

Introduction: Hamilton politics and the ideology of business


Welfare Hamilton style by Bill Freeman

Business control in a working class town by Bill Freeman

Hamilton Labour: The failure of an opposition group by Bill Freeman


John Munro and the Hamilton East Liberals: Anatomy of a modern political machine by Henry Jacek

The Hamilton Mob and the politics of organized crime by Bill Freeman

Independence or control: Ten years at The Spectator by Marsha Aileen Hewitt and Bill Freeman

Selling out: The story of the Victoria Park Community Organization by Bill Freeman


The new city hall saga 1955–1972 by Marsha Aileen Hewitt

Downtown redevelopment: The Civic Square project by Bill Freeman

Arenas, libraries and parking garages: Downtown development in the seventies by Marsha Aileen Hewitt

Hamilton Harbour: Politics, patronage and cover-up by Marsha Aileen Hewitt



BILL FREEMAN is an award-winning historian, novelist, and screenwriter. Among his other books are Far from Home: Canadians in the First World War, co-authored with Richard Nielsen; A Magical Place: Toronto Island and Its People; Casa Loma: Toronto's Fairy-Tale Castle and Its Owner Sir Henry Pellatt, recipient of the Heritage Toronto Award of Merit in 1999; and 1005: Political Life in a Union Local.

MARSHA AILEEN HEWITT is Professor of Religion at Trinity College and the University of Toronto. Her books include From Theology to Social Theory; Critical Theory of Religion: A Feminist Analysis; and Freud on Religion. Marsha Hewitt has published numerous scholarly articles in the fields of religion, critical social theory and psychoanalysis. She is a psychoanalyst in private practice.

HENRY JACEK, contributor of the chapter on John Munro's Liberal party machine, is Professor of Political Science at McMaster University,

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Publication Details:

Binding: Paperback, 176 pages
Publication Date: 15th March 2016
ISBN: 9781459409460
Format: 11in x 8in
80 b&w photographs

BISAC Code:, HIS006000
Imprint: Lorimer


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