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Sam Robinson: St. Hubert’s Very English Mayor

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larger_st.hubert.pngWhile much has been made in the media about Montreal having its first English mayor in a hundred years . Mayor Michael Applebaum is not the only English-speaking person to serve as mayor of a majority Francophone city in Quebec over the last century. In South Shore St. Hubert, for example, citizens elected Sam Robinson as their first and very English mayor in 1949.

By the mid-1920s, the English-speaking population of St. Hubert, scattered along the fringes of the streetcar line, was sufficient enough to elect an Anglophone for the first time to the municipal council. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, and relocated to St. Hubert in 1917, Samuel Robinson had a career in municipal politics that was spread over thirty years. Beginning in 1926, he was re-elected for three terms. In 1942, Robinson left politics to serve in Europe during the war. He was promptly elected, upon his return, to his old council seat.

Robinson's ultimate political achievement was serving as mayor of St. Hubert from 1949 to 1955. Robinson’s niece, Ella (Robinson) Goldthorp, recalls that her uncle never became proficient in French. His daughter Georgina had the opportunity to learn French as she grew up, and would be an asset to her father at municipal council meetings by assisting in the translation of citizens' comments.

During Mayor Robinson's time in office, the town of St. Hubert opened its first fire department, and there were many improvements to local roads and sewers. Roberson oversaw the merger of smaller communities into the growing city of St. Hubert, which was now the second largest town on the South Shore.

After his retirement from political office, Robinson remained active in St. Hubert community life and served on several committees. Despite his lack of French, his long sojourn in municipal politics bears witness to the respect in which he was held, not only in East Greenfield but in St. Hubert. At his funeral in 1964, held at St. Steven's Anglican Church, local French-speaking Catholic municipal officials were in attendance despite the fact that it was forbidden at that time for them to enter a Protestant church.

Today, in the sector that once was East Greenfield, a street now bears the name of St. Hubert’s only Anglophone mayor: “Robinson Street."