Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: James Thomson (1859-1933)

Fur trader.

Born at South Ronaldshay, Orkney on 6 October 1859, 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. They had three children: Eric Rognvald Thomson (1889-?), Thelma Thomson (1891-?), and Inga Thomson (1895-?). He 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.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Pulford House (39 East Gate, Winnipeg)


1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

Death registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Jas. Thomson, pioneer westerner, expires,” Manitoba Free Press, 24 April 1933, page 1.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 12 December 2020

Memorable Manitobans

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