Memorable Manitobans: James Thomson (1859-1933)
Born at South Ronaldshay, Orkney on 6 October 1859, son of James Thomson and Jane Budge, he apprenticed as a lawyer for five years before emigrating to Canada and entering the service of the Hudson’s Bay Company at Fort Garry in 1880. He worked for the company over 50 years, managing its facilities at Portage la Prairie, Calgary, Vancouver, and Victoria before returning to Winnipeg in 1911 as Land Commissioner. Seven years later, he also assumed the position of Trade Commissioner with jurisdiction over all fur trading posts from Labrador to the Arctic Ocean. He became a Chief Factor at the same time. In 1920, he asked to be relieved of these responsibilities and retired from active management of the departments, being appointed instead as a member of the company’s Canadian Advisory Committee, the first employee from the ranks to be so.
In 1886, he married Helen Flett (1863-1944) of Kirkwell, Orkney. Their son Eric Rognvald Thomson (1889-1978) was born in Calgary, Alberta and died at his home in Gibsons, British Columbia following a gardening accident. Their daughter Thelma England (1891-1985) was born in Calgary and died in Victoria. Their daughter Inga Moore (1895-1986) was born in Vancouver and died in Victoria. James Thomson was a member of the St. Andrew’s Society and Manitoba Club.
He died at his Winnipeg home, 39 East Gate, on 23 April 1933 and was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery.
1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
Who's Who and Why, Volumes 6 and 7, 1915-1916, page 745.
Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Jas. Thomson, pioneer westerner, expires,” Manitoba Free Press, 24 April 1933, page 1.
We thank Michael Moore and Terence Moore for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 3 November 2021