Hon. David Arnold Croll
Lawyer, mayor, Member of Provincial Parliament, soldier, senator
Born: March 12, 1900, Moscow Russia
– Practised as a lawyer, Windsor
– Mayor of Windsor, 1930-1934, 1939-40
– Served in the Second World War, (Essex Scottish Regiment) rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel
– Member of Provincial Parliament, 1934-1943, representing Windsor-Walkerville (Liberal)
– Called to the Senate July 1955
– Died in office, June 11, 1991
David Croll was a young child when his family emigrated at the turn of the twentieth century to Canada from Russia. The young Croll sold newspapers, shined shoes and worked in a munitions factory. Money from the newsstand helped with finances when Croll enrolled in law school at Osgoode Hall in Toronto. He returned to Windsor to practice after being called to the bar in 1925.
This region, like so many in Canada, suffered during the Great Depression. Elected as Mayor of Windsor in 1930, he sought to relieve the economic hardship of the citizens by assisting impoverished families through the creation of relief programs. At the time he was one of the youngest mayors, and the first person of the Jewish faith to head a Canadian city.
In 1934, Mr. Croll ran for a seat in the Ontario Legislature on the Liberal ticket and was elected to represent the riding of Windsor-Walkerville. Premier Mitch Hepburn appointed Mr. Croll to his cabinet and gave him responsibility for three portfolios, Public Welfare, Municipal Affairs and Labour. In this capacity he introduced legislation for the country’s first minimum wage. Mr. Croll also shepherded the 1935 government bill leading to the amalgamation of Windsor, East Windsor, Sandwich and Walkerville. But in 1937, a disagreement with Premier Hepburn over the handling of the General Motors strike resulted in Mr. Croll resigning from cabinet.
Back in Windsor, Mr. Croll was re-elected in 1938 as mayor of Windsor. During the Second World War, he enlisted with the Essex Scottish Regiment, and served his country overseas. After returning to Canada, Mr. Croll campaigned federally, winning the Toronto riding of Spadina in 1945, 1949 and 1953. Under the government of Louis St. Laurent in 1955, Mr. Croll became the first Jewish person appointed to the Senate of Canada.
Senator Croll continued to advocate for social issues during his tenure in the upper chamber, including acting as Chair of a special Senate Committee on Poverty. He died in office in June of 1991. At the time he was one of the longest serving senators.
Abrams, Alan. Why Windsor? An anecdotal history of the Jews of Windsor and Essex County. Windsor, Ont. : Black Moss Press, 1981.
“Croll, The Hon. David Arnold, P.C., Q.C., LL.C.” (website) Parliament of Canada. ParlInfo. Members of the House of Commons.
“Obituary: Liberal prided himself on being in vanguard”. Globe and Mail. June 13, 1991.
Previous Mayors. (website) City of Windsor [Windsor, Ontario].
Timberlake, Ian. “Ex-Windsor mayor, Senator Croll dead”. Windsor Star. June 12, 1991.