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Durham Region Courthouse renamed after First World War hero

Friday, September 13, 2019 @ 12:49 PM | By John Chunn

The Ontario government announced that it is honouring a Canadian hero by renaming the Durham Region Courthouse after prominent military leader, lawyer and parliamentarian Lt.-Col. Samuel Sharpe.

The courthouse, on Bond Street East in Oshawa, will now be referred to as the Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel S. Sharpe, DSO, MP Courthouse.

“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.”

Sharpe was born in Zephyr, Ont., in 1873. He was educated 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.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Sharpe used his stature and influence to organize the 116th Ontario County Battalion and to ensure it was not dismantled in Europe. Under his command, the 116th Battalion fought at the battles of Vimy Ridge, Passchendaele and Avion.

The heavy combat and the deaths of many of the young men he recruited eventually led Sharpe to relinquish command of his battalion. He was sent to hospital for operational stress and died by suicide in Montreal a short time later. He was laid to rest in Uxbridge.

The 116th Battalion became the modern Ontario Regiment, maintaining its Ontario County lineage and distinguished record of service to Canada. The armouries of the Ontario Regiment are a short walk from the courthouse that will now bear the name of its first commanding officer and one of Durham Region’s legal pioneers.

“This is a humbling opportunity for all of us to reflect on the bravery of our heroes, past and present, and to honour the sacrifices they’ve made so we can enjoy peace and prosperity,” said Downey.