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Thatcher, Ross

Thatcher, Ross and Peggie, 1917-1988

  • PA 447
  • Family
  • 1917-1988

Wilbert Ross Thatcher was born in Neville, Saskatchewan on May 24, 1917 to Wilbert Thatcher Sr. and his wife. Thatcher received his primary and secondary education in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and his post-secondary training at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. He graduated from Queen's in 1936 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree.

Prior to his entry into politics, Thatcher worked as an assistant to the Vice-President of Canada Packers in Toronto, Ontario. When Thatcher's father fell ill in the late 1930s, Thatcher returned to Moose Jaw with his wife and son to assist in the family hardware business. Thatcher's political career began when he was elected to the Moose Jaw city council in 1942. He served a two year term before entering the federal political arena in 1945 as a Member of Parliament (MP) for the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) party in the Moose Jaw riding.

After serving as an MP for Moose Jaw with the CCF for ten years, Thatcher left the party in 1955 over divergent viewpoints on corporate taxation policy and joined the federal Liberal caucus. He ran unsuccessfully as an Independent federal candidate in the Assiniboia riding (for two years), and in 1957 Thatcher joined the Saskatchewan Liberal Party. In 1959, Thatcher won the leadership of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party elected in the Morse constituency. Following the 1960 election he became Leader of the Official Opposition to a CCF government under Woodrow Lloyd. In 1964 Thatcher was elected Premier of Saskatchewan when the Liberal party defeated the CCF party.

During his first term as Premier of Saskatchewan, Thatcher sought to increase Saskatchewan's appeal to outside investors by cutting government spending, increasing privatization, and selling Crown corporations. Thatcher believed that Saskatchewan's "socialist" reputation was hindering economic development in the province.

Upon re-election in 1967, Thatcher's increasing fiscal conservatism became widely unpopular as his government instituted hospital utilization fees, and severely cut health and education funding. Thatcher's Liberal government practices were routinely at odds with the Federal Liberal party of Canada under Pierre Trudeau, leading to conflict between the two levels of the Liberal government.

After two terms as Premier, Thatcher's Liberals were defeated by Allan Blakeney's New Democratic Party in the Provincial election on June 22, 1971.

Peggie Thatcher was born Adrah Leone McNaughton ca. 1916 in Worthing, England to A. Charles and Flora McNaughton. When she was a young child her family immigrated to Canada and settled in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan where her father owned and operated the Capital Ice Company. She received her primary education at King George Elementary School and secondary education at Central Collegiate in Moose Jaw.

Prior to her marriage, McNaughton wrote articles for the women's pages of the Moose Jaw Times Herald. In Moose Jaw she volunteered with the Howard Johnson Society, was a member of St. Andrew's United Church and was an ardent supporter of both the Girl Guides and the Saskatchewan Liberal Women's Association. She was also a locally renowned badminton player.

Ross Thatcher and Peggie McNaughton were married in January of 1938, while Ross was living and working in Toronto. Once the family moved back to Saskatchewan in 1939 and Ross Thatcher had entered politics in 1942, their life became increasingly public. Peggie Thatcher provided a supporting role to her politically active husband. However, in 1972, one year after Ross Thatcher's death, Peggie Thatcher ran unsuccessfully in the riding of Regina East.

Ross and Peggie Thatcher had one son, Colin, born on August 25, 1938 in Toronto, Ontario.

Ross Thatcher died at his home in Regina on July 22, 1971. Peggie Thatcher continued to live in Regina until her death on July 1, 1988.