Historical Plaque Properties


James Thompson - Editor
29 Ontario Street N.
St. Marys, ON

This two-storey buff brick house was built in 1878 for James Thompson and his family.

James Thompson was born in North Easthope Township, Perth County in August 1852, the son of Alexander and Mary Thompson, who had come to Canada from Northern Ireland in the late 1840s, perhaps fleeing the Irish potato famine. The Thompsons were farmers and later moved to Logan Township.

In 1877 James married Christina Jameson of Blanshard Township. Christina was the daughter of Alexander Jameson and Jane (Jennie) Glenn. The Jamesons had come from Ireland about 1842, settling in Blanshard about 1855.

At the time of his marriage James was still a farmer in Logan. A son, James Orvalle Thompson, was born in August 1878. Later that year the family moved into the brand new house on Ontario Street North in St. Marys. In the assessment roll for 1879 James’s occupation is given as “editor” and other sources confirm that about this time he acquired and became publisher for a number of years of the St. Marys Journal. (He may also have been the paper’s editor, but it is possible the assessor confused the two occupations.)

James Thompson had also taken advantage of the burgeoning area grain market and become a grain merchant. At the height of the grain trade St. Marys boasted more than a dozen brokers who acted as middlemen, purchasing grain from local farmers and shipping it by rail to Toronto and Montreal for export.

In 1881 James purchased a nearby corner lot and built a new house, now 165 Queen Street West. The Ontario Street house was sold to David Marriott that December.

The collapse of the export market for grain in the 1880s hit brokers like James Thompson hard and by 1888 the family had left St. Marys.

In 1891 the Thompsons were living in Parkdale, Toronto, where James’s occupation was that of horse dealer. Ten years later, in 1901, they were in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where James was employed as an office clerk.

According to an article in the St. Marys Journal at the time of his death, it was during this period that “[James] became an intrepid sailor on the Lakes.” He is not known to have served in the military, so perhaps this is how he acquired the title of “Captain.”

A staunch Conservative, James received an appointment from the new Conservative government of Ontario, elected in 1905. He was posted to Scotland for nine years as an Immigration Officer, “securing several hundreds of first-class farms settlers for his native province.” During the First World War he was sent to the United States.

While in Rochester, New York, James became ill; he died at his home in Toronto in September 1917 at age 65. Christina, still living in Toronto, returned to St. Marys for her sister Martha’s funeral in March 1924 and tragically collapsed and died herself just before the service. She is buried with James in Prospect Cemetery, Toronto. An obituary stated that she had one son, Orval, of Plainfield, New Jersey.