Image of the City of Regina

Dr. William Alexander Thomson (1869-1954)

Medical Pioneer

This early citizen of Regina initially earned his medical degree in Ontario and lived at Douglas, Man., for 10 years before moving to Regina in 1903. William was active in civic and public affairs. He served on city council in 1907 and 1908 where he was instrumental in having a bylaw passed requiring the pasteurization of milk. He also helped to establish the Regina General Hospital in 1907. A member of the Regina School Board from 1909 to 1915, he implemented the first school nurse program in Western Canada. William was active in provincial, national and international medical associations. Thomson Avenue and Thomson School were named in his honour, as was Thomson Bay in Upper Foster Lake, Sask.

William was born in Brockville, Ont. He graduated from the medical program at Trinity College in Toronto in 1893. He established a practice in Douglas, Man., before coming to Regina in 1903. He married in the same year, Mary Jane Witherspoon (1867-1949) (Block 122) of Ontario. They had twin sons and twin daughters. After Jane died William married his third wife, Jean Elizabeth Browne (1883-1973) in 1951, also from Ontario and also a nurse.

William was a member of city council in 1907 and 1908 and he was appointed chairman of the health and relief committee. He was instrumental in establishing the first city incinerator, built on Broad Street, (he did not want garbage flying all over the city) and was also responsible for a city bylaw that called for the mandatory pasteurization of milk. The pasteurization of milk cut down the incidence of typhoid fever. He shocked the early city fathers when he demanded that milk be delivered in sealed containers. In 1908, he ran for mayor, but was defeated by 19 votes. As a member of the Regina School Board from 1909 to 1915, he implemented the first school nurse program in Western Canada in 1911.

William was the head surgeon for the CPR, city coroner and the RCMP chief surgeon. He helped to form the Saskatchewan Medical Council, serving as its first president until 1915. In 1907, he helped to establish the Regina General Hospital and served on its staff for many years. He played a role in the purchase of Regina’s first x-ray machine. During the First World War, he served as a medical officer with the 217th and 249th battalions and was awarded the King George Medal. He promoted public health as a member of the Council of Public Health of Saskatchewan from 1918-1920.

A member of the council of the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons since its inception, William was also a member of the American College of Surgeons and president of the Dominion Medical Council in 1930. He was a supporter of the First Presbyterian Church and a director and honourary president of the YMCA. Active in all outdoor sports, especially golfing and snowshoeing, William also held memberships in the Wascana Country Club, the Assiniboia Club and the Wascana Masonic Lodge for many years. He was always the first golfer out in the spring and the last one in the fall. The doctor boasted that he played a round of golf every month of the year.

William was the first person in Regina to own an automobile, although he often made house calls via snowshoe to snowbound patients. He sold his first house at 2141 Victoria Ave. to the CPR for the construction of the Hotel Saskatchewan. In 1926, he moved into 2363 McIntyre St. which is now utilized as commercial office space for Lifestyle by Design, Funds Direct Canada Inc., and D. A. Foster & Associates.