Memorable Manitobans: Thomas Herman Johnson [Tómas Hermann Jónsson] (1870-1927)
Lawyer, MLA (1908-1910), MLA (1911-1914), MLA (1914-1915), MLA (1916-1920), MLA (1921-1922).
Born at Hedinshofdi on Tjornes, Northern Iceland on 12 February 1870, son of Jon Bjornsson and Margret Sigridur Bjarnadottir, brother of Christian Johnson, he came to Gimli in 1879 and was educated at Winnipeg, Glenboro, and at Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minnesota). He sold newspapers to finance his education. He obtained a teaching certificate in 1888 and taught school around Glenboro. He entered law studies in 1895 with the law firm of Richards and Bradshaw, was admitted to the Manitoba Bar in 1900 and formed a law parnership with Samuel James Rothwell. He was Census Commissioner for Manitoba in 1901. He became chief legal counsel for both Lord Strathcona and the Hudson’s Bay Company.
On 21 June 1898, he married Aurora Frederickson (1877-1954) at Winnipeg. They had three children: Margaret Ethel Johnson (1899-?, wife of ? Jolly), Elswood Brandur Johnson (1901-?), and Cecil Frederick Johnson (1904-?). He was a member of the Carleton Club and the Lutheran church.
He served as a school trustee for the City of Winnipeg from 1904 to 1907. He was elected to the Manitoba Legislature for West Winnipeg in 1907, and was re-elected in 1910, 1914, 1915, and 1920. He became the right-hand man of Premier Norris and entered the Norris cabinet, where he promoted welfare legislation, prison reform, and workmen’s compensation. He served as Minister of Public Works (1915-1917), Attorney-General (1917-1922), and Minister of Telephones and Telegraphs (1917-1922). He retired from politics in 1922 in ill health, and resumed a law practice with the firm of Johnson and Bergman. In commemoration of his community service, he was inducted into the Order of St. Olaf by the King of Norway and the Order of the Falcon by the King of Denmark and Iceland.
He died at Winnipeg on 20 May 1927 and was buried in the Brookside Cemetery.
Marriage and birth registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Who’s Who in Western Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of Western Canada, Volume 1, edited by C. W. Parker, Vancouver: Canadian Press Association, 1911.
“Thomas H. Johnson, former attorney-general, is dead,” Manitoba Free Press, 21 May 1927, page 1.
“T. H. Johnson’s widow dies at age of 76,” Winnipeg Free Press, 24 June 1954, page 42.
Members of the Legislative Assembly (deceased), Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.
The Story of Manitoba by F. H. Schofield, Winnipeg: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1913.
Pioneers and Prominent People of Manitoba, Winnipeg: Canadian Publicity Company, 1925.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
We thank Nelson Gerrard and Oliver Bernuetz for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 9 April 2022