Durham courthouse renamed ‘Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel S. Sharpe, DSO, MP Courthouse’

Court’s namesake started career as lawyer in Uxbridge

Durham courthouse renamed ‘Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel S. Sharpe, DSO, MP Courthouse’
Minister Doug Downey (second from right) at the courthouse naming ceremony in Durham

The Ontario government honoured World War I military leader, lawyer and parliamentarian lieutenant-colonel Samuel Sharpe by renaming the Durham Region Courthouse after him.

The courthouse, located on Bond Street East in Oshawa, will now be referred to as the Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel S. Sharpe, DSO, MP Courthouse, according to a statement on Sept. 12 from the Ministry of the Attorney General. The MAG called Sharpe a “legal pioneer,” noting Sharpe’s name is also inscribed on the Great War Memorial in Osgoode Hall Library.

“Over the past several years, the province has heard from people at every level of government in the region — and members of all political parties — about the importance of honouring lieutenant-colonel Sharpe,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “We salute a Canadian hero who bravely fought on the battlefields of Passchendaele and Vimy Ridge while continuing to represent his constituents as a member of parliament.”

According to the announcement from the MAG, Sharpe was born in Zephyr, Ontario in 1873. He studied at the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall before being called to the bar and practising law in Uxbridge, including as solicitor for the Town of Uxbridge. He was elected to Parliament in 1908 and served as the MP for Ontario North until his death in 1918.

After World War I broke out, Sharpe organized the 116th Ontario County Battalion and used his status and influence to ensure it was not dismantled in Europe, the MAG said.  Many of the young men Sharpe recruited had perished in combat, eventually leading him to relinquish command of his battalion, the statement continued. Sharpe was hospitalized for operational stress and he later died by suicide in Montreal.

The 116th Battalion became the modern Ontario Regiment, whose armouries are a short walk from the courthouse, the MAG said.

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