Murray Thomson: Peace Warrior

Ploughshares News

Ploughshares Co-founder


“Murray modelled a life of commitment and high expectations. That covered active engagement in a wide range of causes aimed at human and planetary betterment, and while he was the progenitor of countless organizations and initiatives, those exemplary qualities shone through with particular intensity in his advocacy for a world without nuclear weapons—for a world, as he argued the case, with the wisdom and enough basic sense to turn from the insanity of looking for global security in weapons dedicated to destroying it.

His attention to nuclear disarmament came into sharp focus in his work with Project Ploughshres, which he of course co-founded, in the buildup to the United Nations’ First Special Session on Disarmament in 1978. He toured the country spawning civil society disarmament groups from Victoria to Halifax, and in the decades that followed, nuclear disarmament remained a central theme of his tireless work.” 

~Ernie Regehr, Ploughshares Co-founder


“While helping to sort some of Murray’s recent files, I spied it. A white, slightly used dinner napkin with the words ‘Let’s Mobilize’ written at the top in Murray’s handwriting. Something worth saving.

I worked down the hall from Murray for years, and then later we lived in the same neighbourhood. The home phone would ring: ‘Debbie? Murray here, I have this idea…. When can you come over?’

Whatever the idea was, it would entail a call to mobilize, to reach out, to include others, and to press forward with the agenda for peace and disarmament.

I cannot make out all the notes on the napkin, but at the bottom it says, ‘Call the Steering Committee to plan the mobilization.’ The Steering Committee remains on stand-by.”

~Debbie Grisdale, former member of Ploughshares Governing Committee


“Murray used to crack me up. And I’m pretty sure I cracked him up, too. Every single time we met, it seemed, mutual laughter would precede conversation. If we were at a conference or seminar, he’d say something like “Who let this guy in here?” as we shook hands. But he would always turn to, well, his life’s work: building a safer world. Not in an ethereal, undefined manner, but invariably proposing, challenging, asking, coordinating. Always with a concrete thought or idea. How do we get Canada to join this or that treaty? How do we inform and energize the public on the nuclear weapons threat? How about we write a letter to the government urging concrete actions? That was Murray: smiles and substance, till his last days.”

~Cesar Jaramillo, Ploughshares Executive Director


Published in The Ploughshares Monitor Volume 40 Issue 2 Summer 2019

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