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Memorable Manitobans: Francis Alexander Lavens “Frank” Mathewson (1905-1994)

Physician, community activist.

Born at New Westminster, British Columbia on 1 February 1905, he completed an MD (1931) and BSc Medicine (1933) at the University of Manitoba. Following internship in Winnipeg and residency at the Vancouver General Hospital, he served in the Canadian Army (1934 to 1940) and the RCAF (1940 to 1945) during which he was deputy director of medical services and a member of the Associate Committee on Aviation Medical Research with the National Research Council. At the conclusion of the war, he initiated a 40-year study, known as the University of Manitoba Follow-Up Study, of heart disease in nearly 4,000 Second World War pilots.

He held appointments at the University of Manitoba Faculty of Medicine (1935), Medical Director of the Monarch Life Assurance Company (1939 to 1951), Medical Director of the Great West Life Assurance Company (1951 to 1970) and physician at the Winnipeg General Hospital (1935 to 1975). He was a founding member of the Canadian and Manitoba Heart Foundations, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada, a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and a Fellow of the Council of Clinical Cardiology of the American Heart Association. In 1985 he received the Distinguished Physicians’ Award of the Association of Life Insurance Medical Directors of America.

He was involved in the conception, development and operation of the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature (now the Manitoba Museum) and the Manitoba Centennial Corporation. As President of the Museum Association, he put together a Board of Directors from rural and urban Manitoba. He was named Chairman Emeritus of the Museum in 1980. He was a sportsman and hunter, wild flower photographer, historian and collector of Canadiana. He was a member of the St. Charles Country Club, the Lakewood Country Club, and the Manitoba Club (President, 1970-1971). He received the City of Winnipeg’s Community Service Award in 1969, a Manitoba Centennial Medal in 1970, the Manitoba Good Citizenship Award in 1973, the Distinguished Service Award of the Canadian Heart Foundation in 1974, and the City of Winnipeg Outstanding Achievement Award (1980). He was invested into the Order of Canada (1977) and the Order of the Buffalo Hunt (1980).

He died at Winnipeg on 6 January 1994 and was buried in the St. John’s Cathedral Cemetery.


“These Manitobans will help plan centennial,” Winnipeg Free Press, 13 September 1963, page 9.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 9 January 1994.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 21 January 2018

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society.

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