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City Government

Mayor Isaac Lamont Matthews

Portrait of Mayor Isaac Lamont MatthewsIsaac Lamont Matthews was born of Scottish descent and was the eighth of nine children in his family. He was born and raised in Lanark County, Ontario, moved to Winnipeg, and arrived in Port Arthur in 1882, where he began working as a store clerk. Matthews later purchased this same store in 1887, and continued to own and operate department stores for most of his career.

When Matthews was first elected Mayor in 1901, the Canadian Northern Railway had just been established in the area and the Pigeon River Lumber Company had just arrived, providing the Port Arthur area with economic revival. During his early days as Mayor, Matthews improved the sewage and sidewalk systems, decided upon a municipal telephone system, was in talks for a water works system, and helped harness power from the Current River.

Matthews was acclaimed as Mayor in 1909 and 1910, and during these two years oversaw many new developments for the City of Port Arthur. He signed a contract with the Ontario Hydro-Electric Commission which began providing Port Arthur with electric power, eliminated the positions of the Electric Railway and Light Commissioners, extended the street railway on Arthur Street, and opened various streets throughout the town. At this time, the City also saw the introduction of the Western Dry Dock and Shipbuilding plant at Bare Point, and the creation of a wireless station used for shipping.

When Matthews was elected Mayor for a third period in the early 1920s, Port Arthur’s post-war finances were poor condition. Matthews worked to rectify the situation with the help of then Finance Chairman James Hourigan, and as new pulp and paper mills were established, the economy and the City's funds improved.

Born: May 1 or 4, 1859 in Middleville, Lanark Township, Lanark County, Ontario
Died: Aug. 17, 1941 in Port Arthur, Ontario at the age of 82
Councillor: 1896-1900
Mayor: 1901-1902, 1909-1910, 1920-1923

 

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