East Hamilton is home to Sam Manson Park, a huge green space that boasts soccer fields, bocce courts and, of course, a beautiful playground. It’s also home to the East Hamilton Soccer Club.
But who is Sam Manson and why is there a park in our city named after him?
This name is actually pretty famous in Hamilton: it was the name of one of the city’s leading sporting goods stores in the city’s downtown for decades.
Sam Manson Sporting Goods was co-founded by the man of the same name in the early 1920s.
Manson himself was a popular figure in Hamilton, having captained the Hamilton Tiger (before they were the Tiger-Cats) and helped lead them to their first Grey Cup in 1913.
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He was an avid sportsman, excelling not just in football, but baseball, basketball and rowing.
When The First World War hit, Manson signed up to fight with Hamilton’s own 91st Canadian Highlanders, the 173rd and the 54th battalions. He was injured during his service in the Great War and is said to have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder in the years following.
Upon his return from Europe, Manson immersed himself in local sports, still playing and eventually coaching football.
He’s credited with co-founding the Hamilton Olympic Club, Canada’s oldest track-and-field club, and the 91st Highlanders Athletic Association.
Not long after opening the sporting goods store, Manson’s ambitions took him to Hamilton City Hall where he served as a member of the Hamilton Board of Control for several years. He also served on the Parks Board and with the Royal Botanical Gardens.
He was among those prominent Hamiltonians that pushed to have the first-ever British Empire Games hosted here and he also managed Canada’s 1936 Olympic Team.
He, alongside his wife, spent his life dedicated to supporting young athletes in Hamilton, donating his time and space above his sporting goods store to host sports clubs and gatherings for youth.
Manson, who became known in Hamilton as ‘Mr. Sport,’ passed away in 1953 at the age of 61 of a heart attack.
His store lived on, however, under the guidance of several Hamilton sports figures and even moved from its original location on King West to Wilson Street (where Sonic Unyon now lives).
Much of the information above can be found on a plaque that was erected in the park in 2017 in memory of its namesake.