Sir John S. D. Thompson

Sir John Sparrow David Thompson

John Sparrow David Thompson, 4th prime minister of Canada.

John Sparrow David Thompson was 4th Prime Minister of Canada, and 5th Premier of Nova Scotia.

Time as Canada’s Prime Minister
December 5, 1892 to  December 12, 1894


5th Premier of Nova Scotia
May 25, 1882 to July 18, 1882

Born: November 10, 1845 at Halifax, Nova Scotia

Died: December 12, 1894, at the age of 49, at Windsor, England.  His resting place is at  the Holy Cross Cemetery, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Political party:  Conservative

Thompson was a Canadian lawyer, judge, politician, and university professor.

Constituencies: Antigonish, Nova Scotia, 1885-1894.

Declined Prime Minister’s position when John A. Macdonald died in 1891 believing that his Catholicism was unacceptable to the party.

While John Abbott served as PM from the Senate, Thompson represented the government from the House of Commons.

He created the Canadian Criminal Code, 1892.

He succeeded as Prime Minister when Abbott retired in 1892.

He negotiated the Bering Sea sealing dispute with the United States.

Settled the dispute over schooling in the North West Territories.

Thompson was a staunch believer in women’s rights. Women may have received the vote much sooner had Thompson lived long enough.  “We look forward to it as one of the aims which are to be accomplished in the public life of Canada, because the Conservative party believes that the influence of women in the politics of the country is always for good. I think, therefore, that there is a probability of the franchise being extended to the women on the same property qualifications as men.” John Thompson, September 1893, on women’s suffrage.

Thompson suffered a heart attack while visiting Windsor Castle in England.

Queen Victoria held a requiem mass at Windsor for Thompson.

Thompson was returned to Halifax aboard the battleship HMS Blenheim (painted black for the task).

On a personal note:
He married Annie E. Affleck in 1870 and had 9 children.
A daughter, Annie, died at age one, while youngest son David lived to be two. Two other children died at birth.  They had  five children who survived childhood.

Religion: Born into a strict Protestant family, Thompson converted to Catholicism following his marriage to Annie Affleck. He later became Canada’s first Catholic prime minister.


Thompson’s collected papers were donated in 1949 to the National Archives of Canada by his son, Colonel John Thompson.

The high school in the Canadian sitcom Life with Derek, SJST, is named after Thompson.  (Life with Derek is a Canadian television sitcom that aired on Family (English) and VRAK.TV (French) in Canada and on Disney Channel in the United States. The series premiered on Family on September 18, 2005, and ran for four seasons, ending its run on March 25, 2009. The series starred Michael Seater and Ashley Leggat as the two oldest children in a stepfamily. It ended with 70 episodes and one spin-off television film, entitled Vacation with Derek.)

On July 23, 1894, despite opposition by his fellow Conservatives, Thompson piloted a bill through Parliament enacting Labour Day. The first Labour Day parade that same year, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was over 3 kilometres (2 miles) long.

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