Samuel Zimmerman

Samuel Zimmerman, businessman (b in Huntington County, Pa 17 Mar 1815; d near Hamilton, Canada W 12 Mar 1857). The best-known railway contractor of his time, he was notorious for his free-wheeling business methods and political connections.

Samuel Zimmerman

Samuel Zimmerman, businessman (b in Huntington County, Pa 17 Mar 1815; d near Hamilton, Canada W 12 Mar 1857). The best-known railway contractor of his time, he was notorious for his free-wheeling business methods and political connections. Coming to Canada about 1842, he became a contractor during the rebuilding of the WELLAND CANAL and then on a series of railway projects. In co-operation with American engineers Roswell Benedict and Ira Spaulding, he acquired the contracts, in some cases through the use of bribery, to build the eastern division of the Great Western, the Cobourg and Peterborough, the Port Hope Lindsay and Beaverton railways and part of the Woodstock and Lake Erie Railway, which was intended to form part of a Zimmerman controlled "Southern" line connecting the Detroit and Niagara rivers. He also acquired extensive real-estate holdings at Niagara Falls, Toronto, Hamilton and elsewhere as well as his own bank, a hotel, mills, a foundry and lake steamers.

Zimmerman was widely believed to be the richest man in Canada. He was famous for his lavish hospitality to politicians of all kinds and as a lobbyist for railway legislation he wished to see passed. He was at the height of his activity and influence when he died in a railway accident in which a Great Western train crashed into the frozen Desjardins Canal.