Smith Macdonell (1823-1907)
first Mayor Samuel Smith Macdonell
Photo courtesy Windsor’s Community Museum
people think that Windsor’s first mayor was James Dougall.
After all, there is a street named for him. The reality is
Samuel Smith Macdonell holds that claim. While there is no
street named in his honour, Brodhead Street is named for his
wife, Ellen (Brodhead) Macdonell. Brodhead is just two blocks
long and runs east west between Mercer Street and Howard Avenue
in the city centre.
Macdonell was born in York, Upper Canada (now Toronto) on
February 21st, 1823. He was the youngest child of Alexander
Macdonell (1762-1842) and Anne Smith and was named for his
father’s brother-in-law Samuel Smith (1756-1826).
Macdonnell was educated at Upper Canada College and graduated
from King’s College (now University of Toronto) with
a B.A. in 1845. He graduated from law school and was called
to the bar in 1847. Later, he received the degrees M.A. and
1849 he was practicing law in Amherstburg. A year later he
was made clerk and solicitor for the Western District, and
moved to Sandwich. In 1853 he resigned as county clerk and
moved to Windsor. He took an active part in the movement to
have Windsor incorporated as a village on January 1st, 1854.
ran for, and was elected to the village council in 1854. He
was chosen Reeve by the council, and held that position until
Windsor was incorporated as a town on January 1st, 1858. Once
again, S.S. Macdonell was elected Mayor of the town in 1858.
He had also held the office of Warden of Essex County in 1855
and 1856. While Warden of the county, Macdonell had led the
campaign to build a new county court house in Sandwich. This
building, completed in 1855, is today known as Mackenzie Hall.
S.S. Macdonell served as mayor of the town of Windsor from
1864 to 1867. He later served as a school trustee for twenty
1856 he married Ellen Guillot Brodhead of Boston. The couple
children: Henrietta, Cornelia, Gertrude B., and Archibald
addition to his legal and political careers, S.S. Macdonell
was a very active land developer. When the Great Western Railway
opened in January 1854, Macdonell and some associates bought
the Cuthbertson farm and subdivided it into building lots.
Glengarry and Aylmer Avenues were laid out on this farm and
were merged into one road (Howard Avenue) where they headed
south out of town. This gravel road connected to the Talbot
Road (Highway 3) in 1860. The opening of this road created
a shorter route into Windsor from the east and further spurred
growth in the town, already stimulated by the railway.
also opened Goyeau Street, which he intended to become Windsor’s
main street. In the municipal assessment rolls for Windsor
in 1855 and 1857, S.S. Macdonell was by far the largest landowner
in the town, requiring two full pages to list all the properties
he owned. The family also employed three servants.
the threatened Fenian invasions of the late 1860s, S.S. Macdonell
commanded a company of the First Regiment of Essex Militia,
and was later made Lieutenant Colonel of that Regiment.
was appointed crown attorney for the county in 1858 and clerk
of the peace in 1871. Ten years later he was appointed Queen’s
Counsel. In addition, he held numerous legal positions. His
law partners were John O’Connor (1824-1887) and Albert
1891 Mr. Macdonell left Windsor and returned to Toronto, due
to ill health and died there on March 25th, 1907.
despite his many accomplishments and positions he held
his years in this area as well as his considerable landholdings
in this city, Samuel Macdonell is all but forgotten.
original town hall at 255 Riverside Drive East was built in
1856 and served the community until 1904. Orginally intended
to provide space for the municipal council, a public meeting
hall and a market, this utilitarian structure expanded its
functions to include police, court and jail services. It ended
its days as a furniture warehouse and was demolished in 1968.
courtesy Windsor 1892-1992 by Trevor Price & Larry Kulisek
story is sponsored by avid TIMES reader and contributor
Frank Pengelly, who was born in Walkerville in
1914 and now lives in Bracebridge, Ontario. Frank, a
retired teacher, has vivid memories of his years growing
up here,though he left almost 50 years ago.Today, he’s
an active 90-year-old with his own web site: www.angelfire.com/on4/bigpoppy
here to go back to the home page.