Memorable Manitobans: Skuli Johnson (1888-1955)
Born in Iceland in 1888, son of Sveinn and Kristin Johnson, he came to Winnipeg with his parents at the age of 1 year. While attending Isbister School, he won numerous academic awards, including the Isbister awards in Latin, mathematics, English, and Greek. In 1905, as a result of exemplary studies at Wesley College, he received a Rhodes scholarship to study history, philosophy, and classics at Oxford University.
From 1914 to 1916, he taught Classics at St. John’s High School. Then, he lectured in Classics at Wesley College, becoming Professor of Classics in 1917. Three years later, he was appointed Dean of Arts for Wesley College. In January 1927, he joined the Classics Department of the University of Manitoba, rising to become Department Head. Adept at translation, he translated texts between Icelandic, Greek, and Latin, including Horaces’s Selected Odes, which had been thought untranslatable. He became Head of the Classics Department of the University of Manitoba. He was a member of the Humanities Research Council of Canada, a founder of the Humanities Association of Canada, honorary President of the Icelandic-Canadian Society, a member of the Icelandic Patriotic Society, and a Knight of the Order of the Falcon. In 1954, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
He died at Winnipeg on 1 June 1955 and was buried in the Garry Memorial Park. He was survived by his wife and two sons: Harold A. C. Johnson and Richard A. Johnson.
“Distinguished scholar, Prof. S. Johnson dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 2 June 1955, page 6.
We thank Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 9 April 2022