Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Sir John Thompson

Image of Sir John David Sparrow Thompson from pm.gc.ca

Like his predecessor Sir John Abbott, Sir John Sparrow David Thompson presided over a short Liberal-Conservative mandate, from December 1892 to December 1894.

Born in Halifax and trained as a lawyer, he was also a former Premier of Nova Scotia and an experienced federal Minister of Justice when he took the Prime Ministerial post.

During his time in office, Thompson worked established Canada's first Criminal Code. He also dealt with the United States over the Bering Sea sealing dispute and settled disputes over schooling in the North West Territories.

He also officially recognized Labour Day as a national holiday designated the first Monday in September. The City of Winnipeg initiated the celebrations with a parade 2 miles (3 km) long.

Thompson was a believer in women's rights, and strongly favoured giving them the vote, a view he expressed in 1893, over twenty years before women's suffrage finally became a reality.

Unfortunately, Thompson died of a heart attack while still in office. He was at Windsor Castle in London, at the time, and Queen Victoria arranged a requiem mass for him. Canada's first Catholic Prime Minister, he converted after his marriage.

His body was returned to Canada on a ship, painted black to mark the nation's mourning for him.

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