Memorable Manitobans: Sigurdur Franklin “Frank” Fredrickson (1895-1979)
Athlete, coach, aviator, municipal official, musician.
Born in Winnipeg on 11 June 1895, son of John W. Frederickson (1867-1922) and Gudlaug Snjolflina Frederickson (1861-1928), he grew up at 739 Elgin Avenue and first took to skating at the age of five on the family’s backyard rink. He attended Wellington School, Kelvin Technical Institute, and the Central Collegiate before enrolling at the University of Manitoba Law School, where he captained their hockey team and played his violin in a dance orchestra to help finance his education. He also played for the Lutheran Sunday School hockey club within the Sunday School hockey league (1912) and was on the Central Collegiate team before joined the Winnipeg Falcons for the 1913-1914 season, captaining the team in the Independent Intermediate League through the 1915-1916 season.
In February 1916, he enlisted with the 196th Western Universities Battalion, and was transferred to to the 223rd Battalion, where he played with several Falcon teammates on the 223rd Battalion hockey squad in the Winnipeg’s Patriotic League prior to going overseas. Once deployed to England, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, and following a few months in England and France, he was deployed to the British Expeditionary Force at Ismailia, Egypt along with fellow Falcon teammate Konrad “Konnie” Johannesson. He saw training at Base Depot, Egypt (1918) and quickly became an acclaimed scout pilot. He was recalled to serve on the Western Front in Europe, but on the return voyage to Great Britain, the transport he was aboard was torpedoed. He spent the next subsequent days in a collapsible lifeboat afloat in the Mediterranean Sea along with his violin before being rescued and returned to Alexandria. He would later safely traveled to Great Britain and joined the Gosport Flying Circus as a test pilot and instructor, serving in this role until the end of the First World War. On his way back to Canada, he stopped in Iceland and, on 3 September 1919, he became the first pilot of Icelandic descent to take off from Icelandic soil.
Back in Winnipeg, he reunited with his old hockey friends, re-formed the Winnipeg Falcons and became team captain for the 1919-1920 season, during which they won the Allan Cup (1920), earning the right to represent Canada at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium. The team won the gold medal handily, becoming champions of the first international ice hockey tournament to also include North American teams. On his return from the Games he stopped at Iceland to engage in test flying for the Icelandic Aero Company, in the effort of establishing commercial flight feasibility to and from the island nation. He inked a five-year contract and flew with the company for several months. His contract was cut short when the company ceased being able to financially support operations. During this time and prior to his departure for Winnipeg, he was cajoled into participation in the national track and field meet, where he won the shot-put championship (1920). Back in Canada, he spent time taking further aviation training at Camp Borden in Ontario before returning to Winnipeg.
He received a lucrative offer from Lester Patrick which he could not refuse, leaving the Winnipeg Falcons to sign with the Victoria Aristocrats in the Pacific Coast Hockey League (later Western Hockey League) for the 1920-1921 season, and was joined by ex-Falcon Haldor “Hallie” “Slim” Halderson. The 1922-1923 season saw the team renamed the Victoria Cougars, and he remained with the organization through the 1925-1926 season, including their Stanley Cup championship season of 1924-1925, an unsuccessful Stanley Cup round debut the following year, and numerous First All Star appearances over his years in Victoria. After the 1925-1926 season, he and Lester divested their interests in the WHL, the Cougars franchise headed for Detroit, and Frank was sold to the Boston Bruins, but not before quietly signing a deal with Detroit for a further $2000 more than the Bruins paid. He weathered the uproar that followed, remaining with Detroit for the beginning of the season, but was shortly traded to Boston. His inaugural NHL campaign (1926-1927) saw him receive $6000 per season plus bonuses. He played with the Bruins into the 1928-1929 season, when he was again traded, this time to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He became the NHL’s first player-coach of the Pirates for the season 1929-1930 and signed a three-year contract for $8000 per season to continue in that role. That season, he suffered a torn-knee cartilage that required surgery, thus ceasing his on-ice play. Next season, the Pittsburgh franchise moved to Philadelphia, and Frank signed with the then-renamed Detroit Falcons for the 1930-1931. His comeback was limited by the injury sustained and he retired from professional athletic hockey at the season’s end.
Having stepped back from on-ice competition, he remained active within the sport, reorganizing the Falcon’s junior team (1932-1933) and fighting for their inclusion within the Senior Amateur Hockey League. He coached the Princeton University Varsity and freshmen hockey teams (1933-1934 and 1934-1935) before resigning in April 1935, whereupon he and his family moved to Victoria. He officiated and coached in the Western Canadian League, and went on to coach the University of British Columbia (UBC) Thunderbirds in 1939-1940. His coaching at UBC was interrupted after the first season with the onset of the Second World War, which saw him enlist in January 1941, return to the military as a Flying Officer, attaining rank of Flight Lieutenant (1943). He would also coach the St. Catherines Saints in the Senior Ontario Hockey Association (1942-1943) and the Royal Canadian Air Force hockey team in the Pacific Coast Senior Hockey League (1943-1944). He was stationed in St. Catharines, Ontario (1942), Calgary, Alberta (1943), and Boundary Bay, British Columbia (1944), serving as a flight school commanding officer prior to his discharge in 1945.
He returned to UBC as a volunteer coach in 1946-1947 though 1949-1950 and again for the 1952-1953 season, winning the Hamber Cup Championship (1950). In 2000, the 1948-1950 UBC Men’s hockey team he coached was inducted into the UBC Sports Hall of Fame. In Vancouver, he worked as an insurance company representative, served on the city’s school board (1943-?), was elected an Alderman of the City of Vancouver (1959-1963), including a short period as Acting Mayor of Vancouver in 1961. He played a large part in several fundraising initiatives, including that of the UBC Winter Sports Centre, home to the 1964 Canadian Olympic hockey team.
A prolific goal-scorer his entire hockey career, he would be inducted into the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame (1958) and was the 1920 Winnipeg Falcon’s team representative at the Canadian Olympic Association’s Olympic Torch awards (1972). He was posthumously inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (1981), the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame (1983), and the University of British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame (2009).
He also played other sports, including lacrosse and soccer, coaching the Argonauts of Winnipeg Indoor Lacrosse Association (1932) and officiating games. Outside of sports, he was a once an impresario for a Minneapolis opera company, a gifted storyteller, pianist, professional violist who played with a Winnipeg orchestra, an on-air ukulele player in Pittsburgh, as well as a recreational aviator and licensed transport pilot. He was a contributing columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press with a weekly “Inside Hockey” column (1932) and series of hockey stories and insights (1935). In 1970, he was honoured by the Government of Iceland, being granted the level of Knight in The Order of the Falcon for his contributions as a pioneer of Icelandic flight. He was a member of the Gyro Club of Winnipeg, Niakwa Country Club, and American Federation of Musicians. Having experienced ethnic discrimination, he was an outspoken advocate of fair play, inclusion, and being graceful in the face of a fair defeat.
On 10 August 1921, he married Beatrice Johanna Svein Ros Peterson (1899-1979) at Winnipeg, with whom he had three children: Frank Gordon Fredrickson (b 1925), Marilyn Patricia Fredrickson (1927-1998, wife of Frank Peppiatt), and John Murray Fredrickson. Through his career as a professional hockey player, the family home remained in Winnipeg; to which he returned in the off-seasons, as well as maintaining business interests in Winnipeg, including work for Monarch Life Assurance. The family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1935.
In his later years, he moved to Toronto, Ontario, where he died on 28 May 1979 at Riverdale Hospital.
1901 and 1911 Canada censes, Automated Genealogy.
Birth and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.
“Lutherans win finals,” Manitoba Free Press, 22 March 1912, page 6.
“Falcons down Pegs in Series B game,” Manitoba Free Press, 11 January 1916, page 8.
“Learning to fly in Base Depot, Egypt,” Manitoba Free Press, 2 January 1918, page 9.
“Frederickson may play for Toronto Granites,” Manitoba Free Press, 23 November 1920, page 16.
“Lester Patrick wants Frank Fredrickson,” Manitoba Free Press, 11 December 1920, page 21.
“Deaths and Funerals” [John W. Frederickson], Manitoba Free Press, 7 September 1922, page 5.
“Deaths" [Gudlaug Frederickson], Manitoba Free Press, 22 May 1928, page 26.
“Pirates gain new life under Frank Frederickson,” The Pittsburgh Press, 24 November 1929, page 49.
“Ready for lacrosse opening,” Manitoba Free Press, 4 June 1930, page 11.
“Nothing done,” Manitoba Free Press, 11 October 1930, page 28.
“Let’s play hockey!” Winnipeg Free Press, 26 January 1932, page 7.
“Star Olympic hockeyist urges fair play in life,” Winnipeg Free Press, 13 February 1932, page 8.
“Indoor lacrosse loop officials are announced,” Winnipeg Free Press, 18 April 1932, page 16.
“Frank Fredrickson says Falcons will fight for admittance,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 October 1932, page 9.
“Going to Princeton,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 October 1933, page 10.
“Major league hockey by a past master,” Winnipeg Free Press, 20 March 1935, page 1.
“Frank Fredrickson,” Winnipeg Free Press, 1 May 1935, page 16.
“In the realm of sport with E.A. Armstrong,” Winnipeg Free Press, 27 August 1935, page 16.
“Winnipeg hockey star enlists,” Winnipeg Free Press, 20 January 1941, page 15.
“Fredrickson bobs up as Canadian airman,” The Montreal Gazette, 21 January 1941, page 14.
“Toronto Leafs defeat Fredrickson’s team,” Winnipeg Free Press, 28 October 1942, page 18.
“Falcon stars of 1920 are still flying,” Winnipeg Free Press, 20 November 1942, page 17.
“In the realm of sport with E. A. Armstrong,” Winnipeg Free Press, 24 April 1943, page 20.
“Fredrickson on Vancouver School Board,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 December 1943, page 13.
“Fredrickson raps air training,” Winnipeg Free Press, 29 September 1944, page 15.
“Two hockey oldtimers suggested for probe into boxing scandal,” The Montreal Gazette, 25 January 1947, page 16.
“Þegar íslenzka flugið var a bernskuskeiði,” Morgunblaðið, 5 August 1959, page 6.
“Frederickson Acting Mayor,” Lögberg-Heimskringla, 25 May 1961, page 8.
“Time out with Maurice Smith,” Winnipeg Free Press, 9 August 1961, page 25.
“Time out with Maurice Smith,” Winnipeg Free Press, 23 December 1964, page 17.
“In Iceland, they remember Frank for a 37-foot heave of the shot,” Winnipeg Free Press, 7 April 1970, page 41.
“Top Olympians to be honoured,” The Montreal Gazette, 22 May 1972, page 33.
“Rated star status as a centre,” Winnipeg Free Press, 29 May 1979, page 49.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 30 May 1979, page 69.
“Frank S. Fredrickson - látinn,” Lögberg-Heimskringla, 22 June 1979, pages 4 & 5.
Obituary [Beatrice Svein Ros Fredrickson], Winnipeg Free Press, 13 September 1979, page 50.
Obituary [Marilyn Patricia Peppiatt], Winnipeg Free Press, 8 November 1998, page C6.
Minningarrit íslenzkra hermanna 1914-1918 by Félagi Jón Sigurdsson, 1923.
Henderson’s Winnipeg Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.
University of British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame, Frank Fredrickson & 1948-1950 UBC Men’s hockey team
British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame, Frank Fredrickson
LegendsOfHockey.net, Frank Fredrickson
Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame, Frank Fredrickson
Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame, Frank Fredrickson
HockeyDB.com, Frank Frederickson
International Ice Hockey Federation, IIHF history timeline
We thank Helga Margrét Reinhardsdóttir at the National Archives of Iceland for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 14 July 2021