Memorable Manitobans: David Emmett Lorne Ranson (1923-2005)
Born at Winnipeg on 5 February 1923, he displayed an aptitude for art at a young age and had his pre-teen artwork featured in the Winnipeg Free Press. When he was just a young man, someone threw bullets into a campfire he was watching, blinding him in one eye. In the subsequent operation and examination it was discovered not only was he blind in one eye, he was colour-blind in the other. He re-taught himself how to draw using his one remaining eye, and labelled his paints so he could use the right colour combinations.
Through the Second World War, his work was displayed on the Free Press political page. During the war, he was hired as the company artist at MacDonald Brothers Aircraft Limited, where his work consisted of drawing the various aircraft parts and where they all connected. A comic book was made of the drawings, and by following those comics, the workers who flooded the wartime factory, mostly women at the time, could instantly and correctly assemble an aircraft part.
It was at MacDonald Aircraft that he met Hilda Bjornsen (1924-2021), whom he subsequently married, and with whom he went on to have four children. When his right arm was smashed in a car accident, leaving his elbow with limited motion, he once again took up the challenge to re-teach himself how to paint. Even though he had pins in his drawing arm, he enjoyed a long and successful career as a commercial artist, working in and owning commercial art studios in Winnipeg, Montreal, and Toronto. Upon retirement, he started a second career as a freelance artist and painter, specializing in renderings of vintage airplanes. His work was displayed at Loch Galleries, Western Canada Aviation Museum, Manitoba Heritage Fund office, and Canadian Forces Base Winnipeg.
During his last years he was afflicted with tremors and could not hold a cup of coffee, yet was still able to produce beautiful oil paintings. When asked how he was able to continue painting, he said, “I get my shakes to fly in formation.” Those who knew him appreciated his wit, intelligence, and talent.
He died at Winnipeg on 14 July 2005.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 20 July 2005.
Obituary [Hilda Ranson], Dignity Memorial.
This page was prepared by Lois Braun.
Page revised: 24 August 2022