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Peter Thompson


The Family Tree

This branch of the Thompson (Thomson) line arrived in the Thirteen Colonies from Perthshire, Scotland in about the year 1650 and settled in what is now called Monmouth County, New Jersey. Genealogical records show participation in the judiciary by the early 18th century. Family members faced each other on both sides of the American Revolution but, ultimately, most moved to Canada as United Empire Loyalists in New Brunswick then on into Ontario by the early 1800s. Great great grandfather, William Thompson's reported claim to fame was that he defeated William Lyon MacKenzie for a seat in the Upper Canada Legislature in or around 1836.

In 1847, Peter's great grandfather, Alfred Andrew Thompson, was appointed Justice of the Peace in Penetanguishene, Ontario, where he later was elected first mayor. His fur trade business which was in competition with the North West Company is celebrated today in a wall mural found at the foot of Penetanguishene's main street. A. A. Thompson's son, Xavier Thompson is noted to have attended Osgoode Hall law school during the 1847 sessions.

In 1888, Alfred Burke Thompson, Peter's grandfather, was "called to the Bar" and went into private practice in Penetanguishene on his own and, later, in partnership with his brother, William McMaster Thompson. When clients were faced with difficult financial times, payment was sometimes by way of potatoes, chickens and other produce. Following this tradition, Peter once suggested to a client from Christian Island Reserve that a fish would be a fair trade for his services. Several months later he was presented with a tasty ten pound salmon from the client.

A. B. Thompson went on to serve as Member of Parliament and of the Ontario Legislature for twenty-five years. He continued practicing law until his death, in his 80th year, in 1943. His wife, Kate, a nurse thirty years his junior, died of diabetes complications in 1920. Notably, she was a singer in the Mendelssohn Choir (which may explain Peter's first career).

A.B. Thompson's three sons all attended Osgoode Hall Law School. Peter's father, Donald (D.G.E.) Thompson was the first to graduate, in 1940, while the eldest, A.B. ("Aff") Thompson II, the first Canadian P.O.W. in World War II, was busy planning his exit from Stalag Luft III in Germany. Aff later earned fame as one of the few survivors of the notorious "Great Escape" and practised law privately and as a Crown Attorney in Simcoe County until his death in 1985. The third son, W.J.P. ("Jack") Thompson left law school to pursue a career with the Children's Aid Society. The remaining family member, Ruth, married lawyer C.G.S. Dawson and one of their three sons, Douglas Dawson, is also a lawyer.

D.G.E. Thompson practiced law, primarily insurance defence work, in London, Ontario, from 1940 until his appointment to the Grey County court bench in 1970. He remained on the bench until his retirement in 1990; thereafter conducting pre-trial conferences and private arbitrations. His wit and wisdom is well known in the legal community as was his ability to cut through the legalese to deal with the real issues of the case. This common sense practical approach to law has been passed on to Peter, as has his love of the English language and optimistic view of life. Like his father before him and his son to follow, Justice Thompson married a nurse, Eleanor Oliver, whose two sisters also married lawyers. The Oliver family can take credit for the artistic side and was known in Toronto for its lumber company which was founded by Peter's other great grandfather, Joseph Oliver, who was elected mayor of Toronto in 1909.