Knights of Labor, the Labor Advocate, the Labour Gazette
Born in England, Phillips Thompson migrated to Canada with his family as a teenager. Settling in St. Catharines, he studied law but soon turned to journalism. Eventually he moved to Toronto to write for local newspapers, including satire under the pseudonym of “Jimuel Briggs.” Drawn to ideas of radical reform, Thompson contributed columns to labour newspapers in the 1880s and became active in the Knights of Labor. In 1887, he published a book, The Politics of Labor, and between 1891-1892 edited Toronto’s first socialist newspaper, the Labor Advocate. By 1892, the Knights of Labor had published his collection of labour songs, The Labor Reform Songster.
Thompson was active in socialist organizations for many years and wrote numerous articles for left-wing papers. He made a living by writing reports for governments and serving as the Toronto correspondent for the Labour Gazette, the federal Department of Labour’s monthly publication. He was the grandfather of journalist, Pierre Berton.