Memorable Manitobans: Harry Lee Willson (1870-1950)
Born at Newmarket, Ontario on 20 September 1870, he was educated locally then, in 1887, began working as a clerk with the Barber-Ellis stationery firm in Toronto. He came to Winnipeg in 1900 and bought the Ford Stationery Company, a retail store on Main Street which was the modest beginning of his company, The Willson Stationery Company, incorporated in February 1904. Two years later, he founded The Western Municipal News. Before moving to Manitoba, he married Caroline Louise “Carrie” Dent (1870-1943) with whom he had two daughters, Helen Stokes Willson (1899-?, wife of Harold Keith Vogan) and Millicent Louise Willson (1905-?, wife of James Livingston Cartwright MacPherson). He was a member of the Carleton Club, Motor Country Club, and Augustine United Church. In 1934 he lived at 99 Wellington Crescent. Ill health forced Willson to relinquish direction of the company. He died at his Winnipeg home, 99 Wellington Crescent, on 21 October 1950 and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery.
1901 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.
Who’s Who in Western Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of Western Canada, Volume 1, edited by C. W. Parker, Vancouver: Canadian Press Association, 1911.
“Men of Winnipeg in Diamond Jubilee Sketches” Winnipeg Free Press, December 1934. [University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections, Winnipeg Elite Study, G. Friesen Fonds, Mss 154, Box 15, File 8]
“H. L. Willson, stationery firm founder, dies,” Winnipeg Free Press, 23 October 1950, page 6.
Obituary, Western Municipal News, November 1950, page 324.
Page revised: 22 May 2017
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