Memorable Manitobans: Harvey Thorvaldur Walter “Duke” Benson (1893-1971)
Athlete, footwear specialist.
Born at Davidson, Saskatchewan on 4 March 1893, son of Hans Benedict Johnson (1853-1921) and Rosa Gudmundsdottir Johnson (1850-1923), and brother of R. J. Benson, his family moved to Winnipeg during his childhood years, residing at 530 Toronto Street. He played hockey with the Central Congregation Boys Club within the Sunday School hockey league (1912) prior to joining the Winnipeg Falcons for the 1912-1913 season, served on its executive committee, and played with the hockey club through in the 1915-1916, when they played season in Winnipeg Patriotic Hockey League. He also joined several Falcon teammates, playing with the 223rd Battalion team during the 1916-1917 season.
He married Gudrun Anna “Gertie” Arnason (c1890-1974) at Winnipeg on 8 March 1916; and went on to have three children: Pearl Benson (c1916-1990, wife of Norbert Guertin), Myrtle Benson (c1916-?, wife of Ken R. Douglas), and Joyce Benson (wife of Sid M. Levy). He enlisted in the 223nd Overseas Battalion the day after his wedding, where he would serve in the infantry before changing to a machine gunner, attaining the rank of Sargeant before returning from military duty in 1919.
He reunited with the Winnipeg Falcons and played with them during the 1919-1920 season. He accompanied his brother and the Falcons squad to their 1920 Allan Cup championship in Toronto but on account of tight team finances, did not travel with the team to the 1920 Games in Antwerp, Belgium where they won the Olympic championship. In following years, he continued to play with the Falcons in a substitute role, and later became Manager (1928) of the Eatons team in the Big Four Hockey League.
Early employment was as a shoe-man (1916). He later worked as a footwear clerk for the Timothy Eaton Company from 1920 to 1943, when he would again answer his county’s call, the first to volunteer for service with the Veteran Guards of Canada (1943-1945) at the Army’s downtown Winnipeg recruiting office, remaining in active service through 1947. He was a sales clerk for Macdonald Shoe Store Limited (c1951-1955) and Affleck Shoes from 1956 until retirement in 1963. Outside of hockey, he also played baseball in the Winnipeg Patriotic League with several other Falcon teammates (1915), as well as cricket (1915). He was an active member of the Royal Canadian Legion No. 1 Branch and resided at 589 Alverstone Avenue for most of his life.
He died at Deer Lodge Hospital on 9 December 1971 and was buried in Brookside Cemetery.
Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
1916 Canada census, Library and Archives of Canada.
1921 Canada census, Ancestry.
Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives of Canada.
“Lutherans win finals,” Manitoba Free Press, 22 March 1912, page 6.
“Falcons spring big surprise,” Manitoba Free Press, 30 December 1913, page 6.
“Falcon hockeyists ready for season,” Manitoba Free Press, 9 November 1914, page 6.
“Arenas nose out Falcons in finals,” Manitoba Free Press, 8 July 1915, page 11.
“Wounded soldiers play cricket game,” Manitoba Free Press, 24 September 1915, page 7.
“Falcons down Pegs in Series B game,” Manitoba Free Press, 8 January 1916, page 8.
“Intermediate ball teams bump seniors,” Manitoba Free Press, 6 July 1915, page 6.
“Remarkable speed gives 223rd hockeyists victory,” Manitoba Free Press, 16 January 1917, page 11.
“Falcon boy wounded,” Manitoba Free Press, 21 October 1918, page 10.
“Falcon puck-chasers apply whitewash brush to Brandon,” Manitoba Free Press, 23 December 1919, page 20.
“Man fatally crushed father of hockeyists,” Manitoba Free Press, 7 January 1921, page 5.
“Hockey leader,” Manitoba Free Press, 7 January 1928, page 23.
Obituary [Rosa Johnson], Manitoba Free Press, 8 February 1923, page 5.
“Two Winnipeg policeman are now in the Navy,” Winnipeg Free Press, 18 February 1943, page 3.
“Macdonald shoe store's 28th anniversary!,” Winnipeg Free Press, 10 October 1953, page 2.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 10 December 1971, page 27.
Obituary [Gudrun Anna Benson], Winnipeg Free Press, 28 December 1974, page 29.
Obituary [Pearl Guertin], Winnipeg Free Press, 14 March 1990, page 40.
Brookside Cemetery Index, Winnipeg.ca
Henderson’s Winnipeg Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.
Byron and Doughty family tree, Ancestry.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 11 October 2014