a media industry resource

Thomson Group: Landmarks


This chronology is indicative only. It covers -

  • Beginnings
  • Expansion into UK (1952)
  • Hits black gold (1972)
  • Moves out of UK (1981)
  • And out of newspapers (2000)

Context is provided by the broader communications and media timeline on this site.


1931 Roy Thomson founds first radio station at North Bay in Canada

1934 buys first Canadian newspaper - the Timmins Weekly Press

1937 forms partnership with Jack Kent Cooke

1946 buys 50% of Canadian Liberty magazine

1947 buys Guelp Mercury and Chatham Daily News

1949 sells Canadian Liberty to Cooke

1951 buys Aberdeen Journals Ltd (inc The Aberdeen Press & Journal) in UK

1952 founds Canadian Weekly Review

Expansion into UK

1952 buys The Scotsman newspaper in UK for £750,000

1953 fails in bid for election to Canadian Parliament

1954 moves to Scotland

1954 owns largest number of newspapers in Canada

1955 buys Sudbury Star, fails to buy Globe & Mail

1957 gains Scottish Television franchise ("license to print money") for £400,000

1957 buys Highland News Group in UK

1958 buys Inverness Northern Chronicle (founded 1881) in UK

1959 buys Kemsley newspapers (including Sunday Times and regional newspaper operations in Aberdeen, Middlesborough, Blackburn, Sheffield, Manchester, Cardiff and Newcastle)

1961 forms Thomson Publications as a vehicle for UK book and magazine publishing interests

1961 buys The Illustrated London News magazines and Michael Joseph book publishing house

1961 buys Belfast Telegraph

1962 buys Thomas Nelson

1963 Hamish Hamilton, George Rainbird and Derwent Publications

1964 Roy Thomson becomes a peer

1965 buys Chester Chronicle & Associated Newspapers group in UK

1965 launches Reading Evening Post

1965 Thomson Newspapers in Canada goes public

1965 founds Thomson Travel by buying package tour companies and Britannia Airways

1966 buys The Times

1966 forms Thomson Yellow Pages

1966 Thomson founds Sphere paperback imprint

1967 launches Watford Echo, Slough Evening Mail and Luton Post

1967 Thomson Newspapers buys Brush-Moore Newspapers (12 dailies and 2 weeklies) in US for US$72m

1969 sells US Thomas Nelson

Hits black gold

1971 joins North Sea oil and gas exploration consortium

1973 Piper (North Sea) oil field discovery

1974 Claymore (North Sea) oil field discovery

1976 death of Roy Thomson

1977 sells Scottish Television, basis of SMG

1978 buys Wadsworth college textbook and professional book publisher

1978 International Thomson Organisation founded

1978 publication of the Times and Sunday Times suspended for eleven months

1980 buys Warren, Gorham & Lamont, information source for finance professionals

1980 buys FP Publications, inc Toronto Globe & Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Victoria Times-Colonist, Ottawa Journal and Lethridge Herald

1980 sells Thomson Yellow Pages, forms Thomson Directories as joint venture with Dun & Bradstreet's RH Donnelley

1981 buys Litton (renamed Medical Economics) and Delmar textbook publishing group

Moves out of UK

1981 sells UK Times, Sunday Times and various Times supplements to Rupert Murdoch for £12m

1981 takes 50% interest in 50% interest in Augusta Newsprint

1983 sells Highland Printers in UK

1983 closes Watford Echo and Luton Post

1984 buys the St George Spectrum (Utah)

1985 buys Gale and AutEx

1985 Thomson Books sells Hamish Hamilton, Michael Joseph, Sphere Books, Rainbird Publishing Group and TBD Book Service to Pearson-controlled Penguin

1985 sells Illustrated London News, Family Circle, Living, Drapers Record, Construction News

1986 unloads Burlington Magazine

1987 Thomson buys 37% stake in Associated Book Publishers (Routledge, Chapman & Hall and Sweet & Maxwell) for £77m

1986 buys South-Western Publishing

1987 buys Sweet & Maxwell in the UK

1987 buys Carswell of Canada

1987 buys Monroe Enquirer Journal, Shelby Daily Star and other papers from Clay Communications for US$135m

1987 buys Law Book Company of Australasia

1988 buys Horizon Travel Group

1988 forms Thomson Free Newspapers (TFN) in UK, launches Scotland on Sunday, Wales on Sunday and Belfast Sunday Life

1989 buys Lawyer's Co-operative Publishing in US for US$810m

1989 Thomson Corporation formed through merger of Thomson Newspapers with International Thomson

1989 buys BankWatch from Keefe Bruyette & Woods

1989 sells North Sea oil interests for £358m

1991 buys Maxwell Macmillan Professional & Business Reference Publishing Division from Maxwell for £33m

1992 buys Micromedex and Institute for Scientific Information

1993 buys Online Journal of Current Clinical Trials from American Association for the Advancement of Science

1993 sells most of TFN chain

1994 buys Information Access Company and Medstat Group

1994 sells Reading Evening Post

1994 sells Thames Valley Newspapers to GMG

1995 sells UK newspapers to Trinity and EMAP, buys Peterson's

1995 buys Current Science journals

1995 buys Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum from Freedom

1995 buys Boyd & Fraser publishing

1995 sells The Scotsman and associated papers to Barclay brothers

1996 sells Routledge for £28m, buys Paraninfo in Spain

1996 sells Thomson L.A. News Group to MediaNews

1996 buys West Publishing of America for US$3.4bn

1996 buys Legal Information Resources

1996 sells Aberdeen journals to DMGT's Northcliffe

1997 sells Chapman & Hall to Wolters Kluwer, sells EF Spon

1997 sells Van Nostrand Reinhold to Wiley for US$28m

1998 sells Thomson Travel for US$2bn

1998 buys FT Law & Tax from Pearson for £70m

1999 buys Editorial Aranzadi S.A., Spain's premier legal publisher

1999 sells Corporate University Review

Moves out of newspapers

2000 sells community newspapers in North America for US$2.5bn (inc 17 dailies in Indiana, South Georgia, West Virginia and Maryland to CNHI for US$455m and 21 dailies in Louisiana, Maryland, Ohio, Wisconsin and Utah to Gannett for US$1.12bn)

2000 buys Greenhaven Press and Lucent Books

2000 sells BankWatch to Fitch IBCA

2000 buys La Ley, Argentine legal publisher

2000 buys Primark economic information products group

2000 buys Carson Group, financial information services firm

2000 buys IOB, Brazilian regulatory publishers

2000 buys online business of Dialog

2000 sells Mitchell International automotive info business

2000 sells five Alabama and South Carolina newspapers to Media General for US$237m

2000 sells other North American community newspapers to Gannett, Copley and other groups for US$1.58bn

2000 forms Bell Globemedia with telco Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE), with new company taking Globe & Mail

2000 sells Lethbridge Herald, the Medicine Hat News and six weeklies

2000 buys Editora Pioneira in Brazil and ECAFSA in Mexico

2000 buys Schirmer, Singular, OnWord, Dame, ARCO

2000 sells Thomson BankWatch to Fitch

2001 buys Harcourt's higher education and some corporate/professional publishing units from Elsevier for US$2.06bn

2001 sells Jane's Information Group to Thomson family's Woodbridge for US$110 million

2001 sells daily Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay

2001 buys NewsEdge

2001 sells its 50% interest in Augusta Newsprint to Woodbridge for US$190m

2002 buys Gardiner-Caldwell

2002 listed on New York Stock Exchange

2002 buys Current Drugs

2003 buys Delphion Research patent service for US$22m

2003 sells its 20% stake in Bell Globemedia to Woodbridge for US$279m

2005 BCE sells 48.5% of Bell Globemedia for C$1.3 billion to Torstar (20%), Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (20%) and Thomson family's Woodbridge (8.5%)

2006 Thomson Financial buys AFX business news service from Paris-based news agency Agence France-Presse