John Chisholm (police officer)

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John Chisholm
Chief Constable of the Toronto Police Department
In office
Preceded by Dennis Draper
Succeeded by Position Abolished
Chief of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Department
In office
Preceded by Position Created
Succeeded by James Page Mackey
Personal details
Born ca. 1896
Dundee, Scotland
Died July 4, 1958
High Park, Toronto, Canada
Nationality British, Canadian
Spouse(s) Vera Phillips
Occupation Police officer

John C. Chisholm (ca. 1896 – July 4, 1958) was the first Chief Constable of the Toronto Police Department and Metropolitan Toronto Police Force until he committed suicide. Chisholm was the first Toronto Chief to be appointed with policing experience.

Chisholm's father was a lay preacher in Dundee City Prison when John was growing up, giving him an interest in criminology.[1]

He served in World War I with the artillery in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and, after the war, decided to enter policing. After finding no openings with the Hong Kong Police, he came to Canada[2] where he joined the Toronto Police Department in 1920[3] he became an acting detective in three years, skipped a rank, to become detective sergeant in 1930[3] and went on to become the youngest inspector and then youngest deputy chief in the department's history in 1945[1] before becoming chief constable on the City of Toronto Police Department in January 1946.[3]

Chisholm was found dead in his automobile in High Park having killed himself by a single shotgun wound to the head.[4] He had been suffering from ill health since the previous Christmas - Police Commission Chairman C. O. Bick told the Daily Star that his "nerves" were bad, and had been rumoured for several weeks to be considering submitting his resignation.[4] He had also been in severe pain for several months since suffering a fall.[3]

The Metropolitan Toronto Police Force had been created in 1957 by the merger of 13 police forces with Chisholm, who had led the Toronto Police Force as Chief Constable since 1946, was put in charge of the new, much larger, organization as Chief of Police.

Chisholm had often clashed with Bick, the first chairman of the new Metropolitan Toronto Police Commission, particularly over questions of authority. Bick asserted that "under the Police Act, the control of the police department is in the hands of the commission,“ not the chief. Chisolm was unable to cope with the strain of managing the merging of thirteen separate police departments and this is thought to have led to his suicide.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Chief John Chisholm: Among world's best, colleagues say", Globe and Mail, July 5, 1958
  2. ^ "Chisholm worked self to death, staff reveal", Toronto Daily Star, July 5, 1958
  3. ^ a b c d "Chief Takes Own Life In High Park", Globe and Mail, July 5, 1958
  4. ^ a b "Chief J. Chisholm Shot Dead In Car", Toronto Daily Star, July 4, 1958
  5. ^ "Politics of policing the police; In Toronto board's 47-year history, tensions often flared up Latest row pales beside battle between first chair and chief" by Betsy Powell, Toronto Star, 31 May 2004