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ISBN: 9781459409460

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Their Town

The Mafia, the Media and the Party Machine

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.


Bill Freeman

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

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.

Chapter Title Abstract Contributors Pages Year Price


An introduction to the core ideas behind this book. ; 5 $0.50


Examines how local government is structured and explains how business interests have managed to capture and hold political power in what is basically a working class town. 10 $1.00


Henry Jacek’s study of the John Munro political machine shows how a group of people have been able to put together an organization to serve their own ends. 12 $1.20


The study of organized crime in the city describes how a group of men have been able to develop a criminal empire that ruthlessly exploits the public while at the same time having politicians … 16 $1.60


The study of Hamilton’s one newspaper in the fourth chapter illustrates how the policies of a large business organization can lead to a more vigorous and critical local political life, but … ; 10 $1.00


The third chapter, focussing on a community organization, shows the possibilities of this form of organization for realizing the potential political power of working-class and middle-class … 11 $1.10


Hamilton, ON. 1950s, 1960s, 1970s. City Hall. Development of the community. Business over other People. 8 $0.80


Hamilton, ON. 1960s. Civic Square. Development of the downtown Business over other People. 16 $1.60


Hamilton, ON. 1970s. Public Buildings. Development of the downtown Business over other People. 12 $1.20


Hamilton ON. 1970s, Hamilton Harbour, Politics = Business first mentality, cover ups. 19 $1.90