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Sir John Thompson fonds (MG 26 D)

About the Records

Sir John Sparrow David Thompson was Canada's fourth prime minister, serving from December 5, 1892 to December 12, 1894. Thompson was a member of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly, 1877-1882, serving as Attorney General of Nova Scotia, 1878-1882 and Premier of Nova Scotia, May to July 1882. He was a Puisne Judge of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, 1882-1885. Elected to the House of Commons in 1885, he served as Minister of Justice and Attorney General, 1885-1894. Sir John A. Macdonald was quoted as saying, "The great discovery of my life was my discovery of Thompson." As Minister of Justice he handled the debate in Parliament concerning the hanging of Louis Riel in 1885 and the refusal to disallow the Jesuit Estates Act in 1888. He revised the Criminal Code of Canada and led the investigation into the Langevin scandal which resulted in the resignation of Sir Hector Langevin from the cabinet in August 1891. Thompson was created a K.C.M.G. (Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George) in 1888.

When Sir John A. Macdonald died in June 1891, Thompson was thought to be the natural successor, but Thompson was Roman Catholic and he felt that this ruled him out. The Conservative party was not ready for a Catholic leader and Prime Minister. Sir John Abbott, a Senator, took over as Prime Minister in 1891 but Thompson was the Leader in the House. When Abbott stepped down in 1892, Thompson became Prime Minister. Prominent issues during his ministry included the Manitoba Schools Question, the Bering Sea Arbitration, the Intercolonial Conference of 1894 held in Ottawa, copyright negotiations, tariff changes, and the break of D'alton McCarthy with the Conservative Party. Thompson died suddenly on December 12, 1894 at Windsor Castle in England just after being sworn to the Imperial Privy Council by Queen Victoria.

The Sir John Thompson fonds contains political, personal and family papers as well as photographs, art work, and maps. Only the textual records are included here. The first 300 volumes are available on 55 reels of microfilm, reels C-9234 to C-9261, C-10534 to C-10539, C-105695 to C-10709 and C-10571 to C-10576).

How the Records Are Arranged on Microfilm Reels

The records were microfilmed in order, from Volumes 1 to 300. A conversion list is available describing the contents of each reel. The microfilm reels have been digitized and the images appear in the same order as they do on the microfilm. You can browse through the images in the same way you would look through a microfilm reel. You can also look at the conversion list to find specific volumes or documents. The conversion list refers to "item" and "page" numbers. Each page of the letterbooks (volumes 225 to 274) was numbered, however, for the rest of the Thompson fonds the various pages of a single item, e.g., a letter, contain the same number.

Other Resources

There is a nominal list to the letters received, volumes 1 to 224. This list is available in Finding Aid 156.

There are also two card indexes to the Thompson fonds which are in the process of being digitized and will be added to this website.

How to Obtain Copies

You can easily print the images or save them on your own computer.

Use the following link for other options such as borrowing microfilm.

Consulting and Borrowing LAC Material