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Manitoba History No. 89

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Memorable Manitobans: John Laurence Hamerton (1929-2006)

Medical researcher, sheep breeder.

Born at Hove, England on 23 September 1929, the only child of Bernard and Nora Hamerton, he was educated at the University of London and Guy’s Hospital, where he collaborated on studies that helped pave the way for bone marrow transplantation, and he became renowned for confirming the correct human chromosome number. In 1969, he was drawn to Canada by the opportunity to create the Winnipeg Children’s Hospital’s first human genetics department. He continued to develop an international reputation as a researcher, with major contributions in prenatal diagnosis, cytogenetics, and ethical issues relating to the Human Genome Project, while mentoring many scientists and physicians.

He was a founding member and former President of the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists, and was instrumental in establishing medical genetics as an independent medical and scientific specialty. He also served as President of the American Society of Human Genetics and the Genetics Society of Canada. He was Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba, and received many honours and awards, including fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada and honorary fellowship in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. In 2003, he was given the great honour of being made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

After moving with his family to the country in 1980, he became fascinated by sheep farming. He and his wife immersed themselves in rural life, and developed a successful enterprise breeding purebred Arcott sheep. He made major contributions to the Manitoban and Canadian sheep industries, and served as President of the Manitoba Sheep Association and Chair of the Canada Sheep Council.

He died at Winnipeg following surgery on 9 February 2006.


Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 14 February 2006.

Page revised: 6 February 2010

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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