Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Alfred William “Bill” Hanks (1894-1985)

Engineer, editor, municipal official.

Born at Wakefield, England on 13 July 1894, son of Alfred Nathan Hanks and Selina Hanks, he accompanied his family during their immigration to Canada in 1905, first residing at Toronto, Ontario. He became a surveyor prior to enlistment in the 44th Battalion with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in March 1915. He was wounded in France in 1916. Returning from the war, he took up residence at Walkerville, Ontario before resettling West to the Municipality of St. James where he married Geraldine Muriel Murphy (?-1981, sister of Harold E. R. Murphy) on 19 May 1923 at the Parkview Methodist Church (St. James United Church). The couple had two children: Warren Edwin Alfred Hanks (1930-2006) and Alice Winnifred Hanks (wife of George Robert Johnston). He worked as a civil engineer (Ontario 1925, Manitoba 1929) until 1933 when he took on the Murphy’s family newspaper, the St. James Leader, then working as both editor and business manager. He also founded the Springfield Leader newspaper.

His first foray into politics as a Liberal candidate for federal office, running against Gordon Churchill in 1953, was unsuccessful. He later served as Mayor of St. James (1960-1969) and Mayor of a newly unified St. James-Assiniboia (1970-1971), and was the local contact for the Manitoba Centennial Corporation. He was President of the Winnipeg Press Club (1948), Canadian Weekly Newspaper Association, Manitoba Weekly Newspaper Association, St. James Board of Trade (1940-1943, later St. James Chamber of Commerce), and Manitoba Chamber of Commerce (1950-1951). Other activities included Chairman of the St. James Industrial Advisory Commission (five years), St. James representative to the Industrial Development Board of Manitoba, Director of the St. James YMCA, Manitoba Red Cross Society, Manitoba Zoological Society, Manitoba Committee on Alcohol Education, Grace Hospital Board, and St. James Horticultural Society. A charter member of the St. James Airport Commission, he founded the St. James Air Cadet Squadron and also was active in the Boy Scouts Association. He served on the St. James Board of Parks and Recreation Committee. For his contributions to his community, he receive the Canada Centennial Medal (1967) and the Distinguished Citizen Award by the St James-Assiniboia Lions Club (1969, 1971)

He died at the Heritage Lodge Nursing Home in Winnipeg on 18 March 1985 and was buried in the Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens.


Attestation papers, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada.

Marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

“Hanks - Murphy,” Winnipeg Tribune, 23 May 1923, page 8.

“A. W. Hanks has been named as editor and business manager [...],” Winnipeg Tribune, 15 March 1933, page 3.

“A. W. Hanks President of St. James Board,” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 March 1941, page 13.

“A. W. Hanks again heads St. James Board of Trade,” Winnipeg Tribune, 11 April 1942, page 25.

“St. James Editor's work for community praised,” Winnipeg Tribune, 30 July 1943, page 9.

“Birthdays,” Winnipeg Free Press, 12 July 1947, page 15.

“Alice W. Hanks goes east as G. R. Johnston's bride,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 September 1949, page 14.

“To the electors of South Centre Riding,” Winnipeg Free Press, 20 February 1953, page 6.

“St. James Leader staff appointments,” Winnipeg Free Press, 18 February 1961, page 67.

“New first families for three suburbs,” Winnipeg Free Press, 27 October 1961, page 18.

“New leaders in profile,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 November 1961, page 19.

“Anniversaries,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 March 1973, page 25.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 20 March 1985 page 37.

Obituary [Warren Edwin Alfred Hanks], Winnipeg Free Press, 14 June 2006, page 37.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 9 October 2020

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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