The Story of Colin and JoAnn Thatcher
During the mid 1970s Colins interest in politics began to take center stage. In 1974 he won the Liberal nomination for the riding of Thunder Creek. Thunder Creek was a large rectangular shaped constituency surrounding but not including the city of
Colin prided himself in his new position as a member of the cabinet, but he was known to not always play by the rules. Often his personal schedule conflicted with that dictated by his duty and his attendance record in the legislature was unpredictable and irregular. Some of Colins colleagues found him a rather difficult person to deal with at times and described him as, paranoid, inconsistent and insecure. However, Colin had his own agenda and his own method of doing things and he paid little heed to what others said behind his back.
While Colin was chasing his political ambitions, JoAnn temporarily worked as a bookkeeper for the family ranching business and for Colins political affairs. As the children became more independent with age she decided to pursue her own interests in interior design. In 1976 she established an interior design business from her home, which became a success. She contracted herself out to design homes and businesses in and around
In 1977, Colins career underwent a major political shift. Shortly after his electoral win, a rift between Colin and the Liberal party began to develop. He became increasingly unimpressed with the party and their political views and believed that its influence in Legislature was on the decline. In 1977, Thatcher made the unusual move of crossing parties and joining the Progressive Conservatives, believing they would have a better chance of winning the upcoming provincial election.
During Colins political transformation he lost a great deal of respect from his former party, but mostly from his own wife. According to friends of the Thatchers, JoAnn was disgraced by her husbands crossing of parties and embarrassed by his lack of loyalty to friends and colleagues. At this point, Colin and JoAnns relationship began to show outward signs of deterioration. Their marital problems were further compounded by Colins mistreatment of JoAnn and an indiscreet extramarital affair with a young woman who worked for him.
According to an affidavit filed two years later by JoAnn, Colin began to verbally and physically abuse her in 1977. Bird states in her book that on two occasions JoAnn was actually hit by Colin, both times resulting in a black eye. She also claimed that Colin would frequently come home at unusually late hours, sometimes around 2 or When JoAnn confronted him with his lateness he would often respond with verbal threats or insults. It was clear that what once seemed a happy marriage was beginning to crumble.
Colin and JoAnn went to great lengths to hide their marital problems, because it would spell political ruin if the facts about their relationship became public. In September 1978, Colin won the Conservative party nomination, which allowed him the chance to run for election for his partys seats in the Saskatchewan Legislature. That same year, Colin was appointed Conservative House leader. However, although he was making political gains, his marriage was sliding further into disrepair.
Colins reputation as a womanizer began to gain public attention. He made no effort at hiding his affairs and was often seen in the company of various women about town. In the late 1970s, Colin and JoAnn bought a vacation condominium in
JoAnn began to feel trapped within the marriage and sought solace with the longtime friend of the family Ron Graham. Ron tried to convince JoAnn that the marriage between she and Colin was in many ways finished. Being one of Colins best friends, he was aware of his numerous affairs and repeatedly warned JoAnn of them.
Disheartened, JoAnn attempted to escape the confines of the unhealthy relationship by engaging in an affair with Ron. JoAnn knew the affair was not the answer to her problems and, in fact, made things worse between her and Colin, who had become increasingly volatile toward her. Rons wife had on several occasions contacted Colin to inform him of her suspicions that the two were having an affair, but Colins ego would not allow him to accept the truth. Although JoAnns affair proved to be more problematic than she had hoped, in some respects it served as a catalyst to end her years of unhappiness.
That day, JoAnn packed up her belongings and with her two youngest children she drove to
She decided that Greg should remain in
After meeting up with Ron in
Colin didnt realize his wife left him until four days following her initial departure. Frantic, he immediately called everyone he knew to try and find out where JoAnn and the children were. One of the people he attempted to call was his friend Ron Graham, but instead Rons wife Jane picked up the receiver.
Jane came to the Thatcher house that same day and told him that her husband Ron had run off with JoAnn and reminded Colin of her previous warnings. Once again, Colin refused to believe it was true. He was heart broken and distraught trying to understand why his wife had left, not realizing that it was his abusive behavior, which caused her to flee across the country. Finally, after almost a week JoAnn made contact with Colin to let him know that the children were fine. She further instructed him not to come after her because she was not ready to see him at that time.
According to JoAnn, the children appeared to have handled the situation well. After moving into their new home in
Colin made great efforts to find his wife and refused to accept that she left him permanently. During JoAnns absence, Colin paid her best friend, Dorothy Yakiwchuk, a visit at her home. Siggins writes that during one of his visits to obtain information about JoAnn, he flew into a rage, shouting and throwing chairs around her house. Dorothy experienced the volatile and violent behavior of her friends husband first hand, further confirming the stories JoAnn had previously told her about Colins explosive behavior. Colin went out of his way at times to scare Dorothy and her family, who feared for their own safety. Regardless, she refused to divulge JoAnns whereabouts.
At one point Colin flew with Greg to
While in Moose Jaw Colin wrote three emotionally charged letters to JoAnn apologizing for his treatment of her and begging for the return of his family. The letters were forwarded to JoAnn through her lawyer, J. R. Rushford. JoAnn was deeply pained by the letters and she knew that Colin was attempting to manipulate her into revealing her whereabouts. She feared that if he found out her location he would do great harm to her and possibly take the children away. Based on these fears, she decided to maintain her secrecy about her location and asked her closest friends and family to do the same. It was a secret that would not last long.
In early September, Jane Graham discovered a phone number without an area code in her husbands pant pocket. She believed the number could have belonged to JoAnn. Jane showed the number to Colin, who suspected that the number was from the
Thatcher waited to call JoAnn until the next morning to tell her he had the children. Siggins states that Colin coldly told JoAnn that the children were safe and where you will never find them. Regan and Stephanie were re-enrolled into school in