January 17, 2013
William Fletcher Eaton, the third son of Timothy Eaton and founder of the extensive Eaton retail chain, purchased land for the Ballymena estate, located at 1198 and 1208 Lakeshore Road East at the foot of Morrison Drive, in 1916. Included in the transaction was the land north of Lakeshore Road (currently Lawson Park), which was designated for staff residences, stables and barns. Many of Oakville’s older residents can still remember the Eaton family horses running on the grasslands beside the now historical barn located on the property.
Upon Mr. William Fletcher Eaton’s death in 1935, this northern section of the estate was deeded separately to Mr. Noel Eaton, who eventually passed the land into the hands of a Canadian Trust. At the time of the land transfer to the Trust, Mr. Ray Lawson was an active director, and as such donated part of the lands to the Town in 1966. The Town of Oakville graciously accepted the land and subsequently named it Lawson Park.
Early in World War II, Mr. Ray Lawson was appointed Chair of the Crown Corporation, Federal Aircraft Ltd., which was responsible for the production of aircraft for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. He was awarded the O.B.E. in recognition of his contribution in 1943.
After the war he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, serving from 1946 to 1952. The Ballymena Estates offered he and his wife and widowed daughter a comfortable home within easy access to Toronto, the centre of his activities as Lieutenant Governor. Mr. Lawson also contributed handsomely to the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital and to the grounds and facilities of Lawson Park. Subsequently, the Town of Oakville named the park Lawson Park after his death in 1980. His generous donation of this land to the Town will never be forgotten, and today the residents of south east Oakville have him to thank whenever they visit and enjoy the historic Lawson Park.