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Thomas John Bentley was born on May 3, 1891 in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia to Wells and Annie (Brown) Bentley. He was educated in Nova Scotia. Bentley worked in logging camps and on railway bridge construction prior to enlisting with the Canadian Army in 1915. He served overseas with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 66th Battalion and received the Distinguished Conduct Medal during his tour of duty.
Bentley returned to Canada in 1919 and farmed in the Preeceville, Saskatchewan district until 1926, when he began work with the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, first as an elevator operator and later as field staff. Bentley resigned from the Pool in 1944 to embark on a career in politics.
Bentley was elected to the House of Commons in 1945 and served as a Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) member for the Swift Current constituency until his defeat in 1949. He was elected to the Saskatchewan Legislature in 1949 and served as a CCF member for the Gull Lake (1949-1952) and Shaunavon (1952-1960) constituencies. Bentley served in the T.C. Douglas Government as Minister of Public Health (1949-1956) and Minister of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation (1956-1960). He retired from political life in 1960.
Bentley served two years on a medicare advisory committee headed by Dr. Walter Thompson before retiring to Saskatoon and later Vancouver, British Columbia. He died on June 2, 1983 in Vancouver.
Bentley married Lenora Rachel Chabot on April 1, 1914. They had five children: Ruth, Joseph, Donald, Thomas, and Jack.