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Description found in Archives

Sir John Thompson fonds [multiple media] 



Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

14.2 m of textual records.
1 painting miniature.
18 watercolours.
15 drawings.
677 prints reproductions.
2 photonegatives b&w.
6 maps
3 objects: 2 photographs encased in lockets ; 1 ribbon

Scope and content

Fonds documents the political career and personal life of Sir John Thompson. It also contains extensive family-related papers including correspondence between Thompson and his wife and children. Fonds consists of the following five series: Political papers; personal papers; family papers; additional papers; and family art. Volumes 1-300 are available on 55 reels of microfilm. The index is available on one reel. Fonds consists of a plan of a proposed canal at Jeddore, N.S., a plan of Halls Harbour in King's County, N.S., a county map of Prince Edward Island, a map focusing on land grants in New Brunswick, a map of Barrington, N.S. and a map of part of Antiogonish County, N.S.
Fonds includes family related artwork. Portraits include one posthumous portrait miniature of Sir John Sparrow Thompson painted by Bonne de Bock, ca. 1895. Art also includes an 1894 posthumous painted photograph of Sir John Thompson by an unknown artist after a 1891 photograph by William James Topley and a monochrome photograph of Lady Thompson likely from around 1870, the time of her marriage to John Thompson. Both are encased in elaborate lockets with inscriptions. An early accession of art material includes an album of approximately 710 artworks of various media. They have been grouped into twelve sections: 1) Landscape views (in Canada, United States and Europe), 2) Architectural views (Europe), 3) Miscellaneous sketches of animals, and miscellaneous subjects, 4) Crimean, Civil War, and miscellaneous warfare scenes, 5) Scenes of Victorian gentry, 6) Love and matrimony, and miscellaneous, 7) Natives in Australia, Canada and the United States, 8) Greeting cards, 9) Scenes from Shakespeare's plays, 10) Portraits of various people, 11) View engraved by Smillie, 12) Views of Nova Scotia, lithographed by Eagar.

Graphic (photo)
90: Open
Cartographic material
90: Open
Textual records
Microfilm reel C-11061
90: Open
Textual records: microform
Microfilm reel C-11061
90: Open
Graphic (art)
90: Open
Item no. assigned by LAC
from 1 to 3
90: Open
Textual records: microform
90: Open
Microfilm reel
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

The originals, Volumes 1-300, have been withdrawn from circulation. Researchers must use the microfilm. Volumes 314, 315 and 320 have also been withdrawn from circulation. Researchers are requested to use the copies available in vols 302 to 313 and 316.
Physical access to the artwork is through an art archivist.
Cartographic material: No restrictions. Credit Library and Archives Canada.

Textual records The finding aid contains a microfilm conversion list which includes reel numbers, volume numbers, page numbers and dates. There is also a nominal list to Letters Received, volumes 1 to 224. In addition, there is a description of additional papers in volumes 300 to 319 including family papers, commissions, appointments, addresses and correspondence. MSS0156 90 (Electronic)

Textual records Finding aid 156 is available in electronic format for volumes 300 to 319. It includes item level descriptions for the commissions and addresses in volumes 300 and 302-315. MSS0156 90 (Electronic)

Textual records There are two card indexes located in the reference room which provide a detailed finding aid to the correspondence in the Thompson Papers. These are not available on microfilm. The first is a finding aid to Thompson's political correspondence (Letters received in 1855-1894, volumes 1-224) which consists of an index card for each letter indicating date, author, subject, and item number. The cards are arranged alphabetically by correspondent. The second is a similar card index for the rest of Thompson's political correspondence (volumes 225-274), his personal correspondence (volume 283), as well as Lady Thompson's correspondence (volumes 288-293), and that of their children (volumes 297-298). MSS0156 90 (Paper)

Textual records Finding Aid No. 156 is also available on microfilm reel C-11061. It does not include the card index in the Reference Room. MSS0156 90 (Microform)

Cartographic materaial Please consult lower level descriptions. Finding aid consists of an itemized listing. Thompson, John Sparrow David 86703/22. 90 (Paper)

Biography / Administrative history

The Rt. Hon. Sir John Sparrow David Thompson was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1844. He began studying law at the age of 15 and was admitted to the Nova Scotia bar in 1865. In 1877, Thompson was elected to the Nova Scotia Legislature and served as Attorney-General, 1878-1882 and Premier of the province from May to July 1882. In 1882, he was appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia and occupied this position until 1885, when he was persuaded to enter Sir John A. Macdonald's cabinet. He served as Minister of Justice under Macdonald and Abbott as well as in his own ministry. Following the resignation of J.J.C. Abbott late in 1892, Thompson became Prime Minister. He served as Prime Minister for only 2 years. He died suddenly on 12 December 1894 at Windsor Castle, moments after he had been sworn in as a Member of the British Privy Council by Queen Victoria.

Additional information

The papers of Sir John Thompson were received by the National Archives in 1949 from his son, Lt. Col. John Thompson. A scrapbook of newspaper clippings (volume 299) concerning Thompson's death was transferred from the Department of Justice in 1968. A number of Commissions and letters of appointment were received from his granddaughter Aloise Cameron of Rockliffe in 1971 and from her children, Ann Mitchell of North Hatley, Quebec and Douglas Cameron of Rockliffe in 1996 (volumes 300, 302-313). Additional material donated by Douglas Cameron in 2005 (volumes 316-320).

Subject heading

1. Prime Ministers - Canada - Family, 1868-1906 Lady Dewdney, 1888-1901.
2. Elections - Canada, 1879-1892 Lady Aberdeen, 1888-1901.
3. Canada - Constitutional law - Ammendments, 1879-1892 Lord Stanley, 1888-1901.
4. Fisheries - North Atlantic, 1879-1892 Robert Borden, 1888-1901.
5. Prime ministers - Canada - Spouses, 1873-1893 Sir Charles Tupper, 1894.
6. Prime ministers - Canada - Children, 1873-1893 Mackenzie Bowell, 1894.
7. Politicans - Biography, 1892 Dalhousie University. Faculty of Law, 1882-1884.
8. Judges - Canada, 1879-1884 Canada. Prime Minister, 1892-1894.
9. Law - Canada - Cases, 1879-1884 Edward Blake, [18-]
10. Legal instruments - Canada, 1862-1891 Toronto Press Club, 1895.
11. John Thompson - Oratory, 1882-1884 William Miller, 1895.
12. Lectures and lecturing - Nova Scotia, 1882-1884 Arthur Doughty, [1894-1916]
13. Consolation, 1894 Sir H.W. Just, [1894-1916]
14. Prime ministers - Canada - Death, 1894 Henry Ponsonby, [1894-1916]
15. Bering Sea controversy, 1879-1892.
16. Sealing - Bering Sea, 1879-1892.
17. Copyright, 1882-1889.
18. John Thompson - Diaries, 1865-1894.
19. Practice of law, 1862-1891.
20. Jesuit Estate Issue (Canada), 1888-1889.
21. Jesuits - Canada, 1888-1889.
22. Fishery law and legislation, 1873-1892.
23. Salmon fisheries, 1873-1892.
24. Oyster fisheries, 1873-1892.
25. Politics and government. Canada
26. Lady Thompson Fund, 1894-1906.
27. Politicians Canada.
28. Caron, Lady, ca. 1888-1901.


Other system control no.

Related control no.

1. 1949-078 NPC
2. 1949-078 PIC
3. 1972-028 MED
4. 1997-184 DAP
5. 1995-00015-9
6. 1995-00030-2
7. 2014-00203-7