Thomas Phillips Thompson

Thomas Phillips Thompson (1843-1933) was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in England on 25 November 1843. He emigrated to Canada with his family in 1857. The family spent some time in Lindsay (appear on the 1861 census in Lindsay) before settling in St. Catherines.

Thompson studied law and was admitted to the bar, but instead became a journalist for the St. Catherines Post. He covered the Fenian raids as a correspondent for the Montreal Herald.

In 1867, he became a police reporter for the Toronto Daily Telegraph.

Around 1870, he wrote a weekly political column under the pseudonym “Jimuel Briggs, D.B., graduate of Coboconk University.”

The column was satire, making fun of the law and politics, and giving Thompson a name as a humourist.

In 1873, a collection of the columns was published as The political experiences of Jimuel Briggs, D.B., at Toronto, Ottawa and elsewhere. (D.B. stood for “Dead Beat.”)

Other fictitious local references in his columns include the newspapers (the Coboconk Irradiator and the Coboconk Progressionist), the Coboconk Reform League, and the Bummer’s Roost (a “most aristocratic hotel”.) As for real references, Thompson mentions the Toronto and Nipissing Railway as well as Laidlaw.

Note the purchase price on the cover: 5 drinks.

On 2 February 1872, Thompson married Delia Florence Fisher. They had 3 daughters, Clara Florence, Laura Beatrice, Edith Maud and 1 son, William Phillips who died in childhood. Delia died in 1897. Two years later, Thompson married her sister, Edith, who was 13 years younger. In 1901, they had a son, Phillips Whitman.

Laura Beatrice Thompson married Francis George Berton. They had two children: Lucy Woodward and Pierre Berton.

In 1874, Thompson helped found The National, a weekly journal that supported the Canada First movement.

By 1883, his career was flourishing. Thompson accepted an editorial position at the Toronto Evening News. During this time he began writing in the weekly journal of the Knights of Labor.

He died in Oakville on 20 May 1933, well-known as one of Canada’s most influential labour writers of the late 19th century.


The Future Government of Canada: being arguments in favor of a British American independent republic, comprising a refutation of the position taken by the Hon. T. D’Arcy McGee in the British American magazine, for a monarchical form of government. (1864)

The political experiences of Jimuel Briggs, DB, at Toronto, Ottawa and elsewhere. (1873)

The Politics of Labor. (1887)

Thoughts and Suggestions on the Social Problem and Things in General. (1995)

The Labor Reform Songster. (1892)

Further Reading:

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