Roy Thomson, 1st Baron Thomson of Fleet

From Academic Kids

Roy Herbert Thomson, 1st Baron Thomson of Fleet (June 5, 1894August 4, 1976) was a newspaper proprietor and media entrepreneur.

He was born in Toronto, the son of a barber. During World War I, he went to a Business College, because his eyesight was bad enough for the army to reject him. He went to Manitoba after the war to become a farmer, but he only did that briefly. He traveled to Toronto again, where he held several jobs at different times; one of which was selling radios. However, he found selling radios difficult because the only district left for him to work in was northern Ontario. By quite a stroke of luck, he was able to procure a radio frequency and transmitter for $201. CFCH officially went on the air in North Bay, Ontario on March 3, 1931. He sold radios for quite some time after that, but his focus gradually shifted to his radio station, rather than the actual radios.

In 1934, Roy Thomson acquired his first newspaper in Canada. With a down payment of $200 he purchased The Timmins Press, in Timmins, Ontario. He would begin an expansion of both radio stations and newspapers in various Ontario locations in partnership with fellow Canadian, Jack Kent Cooke. In addition to his media acquisitions, by 1949 Roy Thomson was the owner of a diverse group of companies, including several ladies' hair-styling businesses, a fitted kitchen manufacturer, and an ice-cream cone manufacturing operation. By the early 1950s, he owned 19 newspapers and was President of the Canadian Daily Newspaper Publishers Association then began his first foray into the British newspaper business by starting up the Canadian Weekly Review to cater to expatriate Canadians living in Britain.

Thomsonís ancestors were from Bo'ness, in the parish of Westernkirk, Dumfriesshire, Scotland and he moved to Edinburgh where in 1952 he purchased The Scotsman newspaper. In 1957, he launched a successful bid for the commercial television franchise for Central Scotland, named Scottish Television. In 1959 he purchased the Kemsley group of newspapers, the largest in Britain, which included The Sunday Times. Over the years, he would expand his media empire to include more than 200 newspapers in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. His Thomson Organization became a multi-national corporation, with interests in publishing, printing, television, and travel. In 1966, Thomson bought The Times newspaper from members of the Astor family.

In 1964 he was made Baron Thomson of Fleet.

In the 1970s Thomson joined with J. Paul Getty in a consortium that successfully explored for oil in the North Sea.

A modest man, who had little time for pretentious displays of wealth, in Britain he got by virtually unnoticed, riding the London Underground to his office each day.

Thomson died in London in 1976. On his passing, his son Kenneth Thomson became chair of Thomson Corporation and assumed the hereditary title as the 2nd Baron Thomson of Fleet.

Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto's premier concert venue, is named in his honour.

Preceded by:
New Creation
Baron Thomson of Fleet Followed by:
Kenneth Roy Thomson

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