Fonds UBCA-ARC-1131 - Watson Thomson fonds

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Watson Thomson fonds

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  • Textual record
  • Photographic material

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Physical description

1.29 m of textual records
12 photographs: b&w ; 8 x 15 cm or smaller
2 scrapbooks

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Biographical history

Watson Thomson was born in Glasgow, Scotland, graduated from Glasgow University with an MA in 1923 and tutored in Jamaica for three years. One year after his return to Scotland, where he taught high school and teacher training, he travelled to Nigeria to become a Superintendent of Education. After this job, he returned to London and worked on publicity for the European Federation. During 1931-37, he was actively involved as the co-editor of the important English weekly, New Britain.
Thomson travelled across Canada in 1937, lecturing and founding the Workers Education Association in Calgary. He soon became a staff member of the University of Alberta Extension (continuing education) and a regular commentator for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation until 1944. In 1941, he was appointed Director of Adult Education at the University of Manitoba. Three years later, he held the same post for the Province of Saskatchewan. During the War, Thomson was a firm spokesman for those suffering. He published a pamphlet urging Canada to open its doors to people persecuted by the Nazis. After the War, he became interested in the concept of intentional community. He began organizing one while writing Pioneer in Community. He lived on a co-op farm from 1948 to 1950 and lectured at the University of British Columbia. He continued teaching at UBC from 1950 to 1960. He was internationally known for the specialized English courses for Engineering and Forestry students. In 1960, he retired as Associate Professor because of illness and was awarded Associate Professor Emeritus in 1964. Still writing, he published Turning Into Tomorrow in 1966. He died in Vancouver in 1969.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of correspondence (1937-1968), manuscripts and drafts for books and articles, copies of radio talks (1937-1955), speeches (1943-1957), printed material, clippings and two scrapbooks (1937-1965).

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Related material can be found in the Watson Thomson Research Collection.


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