Hamilton perfectly executed a two-stop strategy to take his third Canadian Grand Prix victory, and with it reclaim the lead in the drivers' championship.
Come a breathtaking conclusion to the 70-lap race at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve just seven seconds covered the top five drivers.
Hamilton was joined on the podium by Lotus' Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez in his Sauber, the duo nursing their tyres to make a one-stop strategy pay dividends.
Asked whether his win felt incredible, Hamilton said: "It does. Thanks to the team who never seem to give up.
"I want to dedicate this one to all the fans who are constantly sending me messages of support.
"I knew this would be a tough race, but I loved every single minute of it, and I never had a doubt in my mind there was not a possibility of not winning.
"I knew I had to keep pushing, opening the gap. I had a couple of problems pulling away (in my pit stops), maybe it was my fault, but it shows we can always keep improving."
Summing up his emotions, Hamilton added: "It's been five years since I won for the first time here, but it feels good.
"It feels great to finally be up here on the top step."
At one stage it appeared as if double world champions Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso would join Hamilton on the podium - although in what order was unclear as the dying stages unfolded.
Instead, Vettel was forced to settle for fourth in his Red Bull, whilst Alonso's Pirelli tyres fell off a cliff over the closing laps as six from home he was leading for Ferrari, but could only finish fifth.
It means having started the day fourth in the standings, Hamilton now has a two-point cushion to Alonso and three to Vettel, with a further six-point gap then to Mark Webber who was seventh behind Mercedes' Nico Rosberg.
From the 32nd pole of his career the start was straightforward enough for Vettel, in particular on one of the shortest rundowns to a first corner on the F1 calendar at 260 metres.
In the early stages, however, Vettel was unable to execute his customary gameplan of opening a cushion to those behind him as the German, at the most, had a gap of 2.1secs to Hamilton.
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It was at that stage Hamilton swiftly reeled in the 24-year-old come the first round of pit stops, although he had Alonso in his mirrors and pressing.
Red Bull and Vettel were the first to blink, initially switching from the quicker supersoft to the slightly slower more durable soft Pirelli compound.
Hamilton and McLaren, however, worked the undercut to perfection as he pitted a lap later, despite a momentary stall from the Briton as he pulled away out of his pitbox.
That allowed Alonso to slingshot in front, and it became a question of whether he could follow Hamilton's lead and also work the undercut.
Unlike Hamilton, Ferrari kept Alonso on track for two laps, but again the tactic paid dividends, but only just as the Spaniard came out ahead of his former team-mate by a matter of yards.
On warmed-up rubber, though, Hamilton brilliantly carved his way past Alonso down the long straight into turn 13, opening up the DRS to assist his progress.
With Vettel in close attendance he too tried his luck soon after, but did not have enough to make a move stick and was forced to hold station in third.
There followed a lull and now the dilemma was whether it would be a one or two-stop strategy, with Hamilton in again of the leaders after 50 laps.
Not for the first time, though, this year from McLaren there was another slow stop, with trouble to the right-rear tyre that cost Hamilton two seconds as it lasted five rather than the average of three.
Several laps earlier Hamilton had specifically asked his team whether Alonso and Vettel would have to pit again, and he was told yes.
Trailing by nearly 15 seconds it was a case of whether they would make a one-stop plan work, or whether Hamilton had enough time to reel them in.
Come lap 62 he eased past Vettel, and then two laps later he delivered on Alonso who proceeded to go backwards as Grosjean and Perez knocked him off the podium on the following laps.
Even Vettel had time to pit for a second time, soon after being passed by Hamilton, and catch Alonso to claim fourth.
Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen, Kamui Kobayashi in his Sauber and Ferrari of Felipe Massa completed the top 10, with Force India's Paul di Resta 11th.
As for Jenson Button it was another afternoon to forget as not for the first time he was unable to make his tyres work, making three stops to finish 16th and trail Hamilton by 43 points.