Memorable Manitobans: Thomas “Tom” Petty (1890-1968)
Educator, historian, cleric.
Born at Castleton, Yorkshire, England on 23 May 1890, son of Thomas Harker Petty (c1853-1904) and Sarah Pybus (?-?), he worked as a blacksmith before immigrating to Canada in the fall of 1911. He settled at Winnipeg, and applied for enrollment at Wesley College with the intent of becoming a cleric. Following three years of studies, he was assigned to the mission field at Keewatin, Ontario for six months in 1915. After returning from this post in December 1915, he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He transferred from the No. 1 Field Ambulance to the No. 10 Field Ambulance before sailing for England. He served in the 3rd Canadian Division and the Canadian Army Service Corps in France, during which time he used his skills as a farrier. He was demobilized while at England in July 1919.
He returned to Canada in April 1920 and returning to his studies, though changing their focus to education, and graduated in 1922. He taught at Leeland School (1921-1922) and was Principal of Springfield School (1923-1927). During this time, he resided in Transcona and married Grace Freedy (1905-1997) at Winnipeg on 12 August 1925. The couple had two children: Jack Petty and Connie Petty. They moved to Indian Head, Saskatchewan where he continued teaching at the local collegiate. He also taught at Central Collegiate in Regina (circa one year) before returning to Indian Head as Principal of the public school (?-1952) until retirement. He was active in coaching children's sports, working at the local library, and researching community history, producing the book Echoes of the Qu’Appelle Lakes District (1955) and an unpublished history of the Trans-Canada Highway.
He died in 1968 and was buried in the Indian Head Cemetery.
Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.
Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Methodist laymen consider problems,” Manitoba Free Press, 13 June 1912, page 8.
“Appreciation for services doctors Bland and Irwin,” Manitoba Free Press, 19 June 1918, page 8.
“5-year service terms approved by Methodists,” Winnipeg Tribune, 17 June 1920, page 11.
“Manitoba University examinations,” Manitoba Free Press, 1 January 1921, page 10.
“University awards 25 gold medals, 77 scholarships and 4 prizes,” Winnipeg Evening Tribune, 19 May 1921, page 11.
“Three conventions of school teachers held,” Manitoba Free Press, 7 November 1925, page 2.
“Historic Site is discovered,” Miniota Herald, 31 January 1952, page 2.
“Winnipeg supplies elm for Sask. jubilee carts,” Winnipeg Free Press, 13 May 1954, page 18.
“Exact location of Fort Qu’Appelle being searched,” MacGregor Herald, 4 December 1958, page 1.
Brown and Gold, University of Manitoba Yearbook 1921-1922, page 58. [University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections - Digital Collections]
The People, Thomas Petty, The Kenora Great War Project.
We thank Becky Johnson for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 13 January 2018