A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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EPISODE 15: An English Sense of Justice: T. Phillips Thompson
Directed by Lindalee Tracey


The grandfather of Canadian author Pierre Berton, arrived from England in 1857. T. Phillips Thompson became a crusading newspaperman in Toronto, and champion of the poor and the working class.


  • Emigration from England
  • Labour reform movement in the late 1800s
  • The power of journalism to express ideas and instigate change


  • Louis Riel
  • Labour Reform
  • Socialist
  • Journalism
  • Working Class


  • To understand what it means to be a social activist and a labour advocate
  • To be aware of the conditions of the working class in turn-of-the-century Canada
  • To comprehend the importance of journalism as a forum for public ideas and debate


  1. Discuss why Thompson is referred to as Canada's Charles Dickens.

  2. Research how Thompson's Quaker background might have influenced his social conscience.

  3. Create a chart that lists five examples of labour reform at different times in Canadian history. Explore the conditions that led to reform - long hours, low pay, unsafe conditions. List the action taken, such as a strike, walk-out, boycott, etc. Finally, what results were achieved: pay increase, health benefits, shorter hours?

    Date and Reason for Labour Reform
    Action Taken
    Results & Benefits of Action

  4. Put together a mock newspaper dedicated to a social cause, complete with columns, letters to the editor, feature articles, and cartoons.

  5. Compare three daily newspapers on their coverage of a contemporary social issue.