Mr. Thiessen was appointed Governor of the Bank of Canada on 1 February 1994, for a term of seven years, retiring on 31 January 2001.
Born in South Porcupine, Ontario, Mr. Thiessen grew up in a number of different towns in Saskatchewan. After graduating from high school in Moosomin, Saskatchewan, he worked for a chartered bank in that province.
Mr. Thiessen studied economics at the University of Saskatchewan and received an Honours BA in 1960 and an MA in 1961. The following year he lectured in economics at the university. From 1965 to 1967 he attended the London School of Economics, from which he received his PhD in Economics in 1972.
He joined the Bank of Canada in 1963 and worked in both the Research and the Monetary and Financial Analysis Departments of the Bank. Mr. Thiessen spent the period from 1973 to 1975 as a visiting economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia.
At the Bank of Canada, Mr. Thiessen was successively appointed Adviser to the Governor in 1979, Deputy Governor in 1984, and Senior Deputy Governor in 1987. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank and of its Executive Committee since his appointment as Senior Deputy Governor.
In 1996, the government of Sweden awarded Mr. Thiessen the Order of the Polar Star in recognition of the assistance provided by the Bank of Canada to the Swedish central bank. In 1997, Mr. Thiessen received an honourary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Saskatchewan.