Memorable Manitobans: Allan Harvey Watson (1891-1978)
Born in a district known as the Scotch Block, south of Hamilton, Ontario on 27 September 1891, son of Jane and James Watson, he was transferred to Winnipeg in October 1913 after working as a junior clerk in the Standard Bank since 1909. Educated in Caledonia, Ontario, he served in all three prairie provinces during his banking career. Before the war, he was working as a discount clerk and became manager of the Ashern branch of the Standard Bank of Canada following his return. When this bank amalgamated with the Bank of Commerce in 1928, he was appointed manager of its Edmonton branch. He also worked in Medicine Hat, Calgary, Moose Jaw, and Windsor. Returning to Winnipeg in 1939, he eventually became the manager of the main branch of the Bank of Commerce in 1945. He retired in 1951.
In 1915, he enlisted in Winnipeg as a private with the 61st Battalion. By January 1916, he was serving overseas as a sergeant. Following his transfer to the Canadian Scottish, he saw action in France and Belgium participating in such battles as Somme and the third battle of Ypres. Wounded while attacking Regina Trench, he eventually returned to Winnipeg in 1919 as a lieutenant.
Reputedly “one of the city’s most active opponents of Communism,” he served as President of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce (1949-1951). A member of the board of the United College for three years, he was Chairman of its finance committee for two years. Additionally, he was Vice-Chairman of the Winnipeg Laymen’s Committee of the United Church, on the finance committee of the International Peace Gardens, a board member of the YMCA, as well as a member of the Manitoba Hydro Electric Board and the Board of Regents of United College. He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Winnipeg in 1969. On 4 September 1926, he married Ina Blanche Ball at London, Ontario. They had one child, Yvonne Watson. After the death of his wife, he married Alma Swain.
He died at Harlington, Texas on 22 March 1978. A memorial service in the Chapel of the University of Winnipeg was held for him.
1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
“City C of C recalls fights and triumphs,” Winnipeg Free Press, 3 February 1954, page 24.
“C. of C. president,” Winnipeg Tribune, 7 February 1949. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical scrapbook B10, page 82]
“British M.P. calls for resolution to trade crisis,” Winnipeg Free Press, 11 May 1949, page 3.
“Watson again head of C of C,” Winnipeg Free Press, 28 January 1950, page 3.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 4 April 1978, page 43.
We thank Kathy Tod and Nathan Kramer for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Sarah Ramsden and Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 28 June 2014