Memorable Manitobans: Frederick George “Steamer” Maxwell (1890-1975)
Sports official, coach, athlete, businessman.
Born at Winnipeg on 19 May 1890, son of Thomas Humphrey Maxwell (c1856-1934) and Sarah Neil Newton (c1865-1904), he attended Somerset School. He owned F. G. Maxwell and Company, a sizable and lucrative building material supply company, and was a business partner with Charlie Gardiner. He ceased his business pursuits in 1967.
He played Rover for the Winnipeg Monarchs during the 1910-1911 and 1914-1915 seasons, winning two Manitoba Senior Hockey titles and the Allan Cup. His “Steamer” nickname was earned by his skating prowess, including All-Star Team recognition in his inaugural year. He repeatedly turned down opportunities and lucrative contracts to play, and later coach, in other leagues, including the Toronto Maple Leafs. He retired as a player on account of fellow amateur athletes taking money or gifts to play, but remained with the Monarchs as their coach for the next two years.
In 1919, he coached the Winnipeg Falcons to victory at the Allan Cup and the first Olympic ice hockey championship. Though business matters kept him from making the trip with the team to Antwerp, Belgium, he was credited with his role in the team’s victory. Other coaching credits included the Manitoba champion Winnipeg Rangers (1925-1926), Winnipeg Maroons (1926-1927) in the American Hockey Association, Junior and Senior Manitoba champions Elmwood Millionaires (1929-1930), runner-up in the Memorial Cup Winnipeg Monarchs (1931-1932), Manitoba champion Winnipeg Monarchs (1933-1934) that successfully represented Canada at the World Championships in Davos, Switzerland (1935), and the Selkirk Fishmen.
Well-known for his wit and sarcasm, he was a colourful referee in the City League from 1911 to 1934, and a staple at all professional exhibition games hosted by W. J. Holmes. In addition to hockey, he was also known to the Winnipeg baseball community, having established the Arena Baseball Club and served on Winnipeg Goldeyes advisory board. He was both General Manager and playing Manager with his club, winning eight City League senior championships between 1908 and 1923. Later, he founded the Senior Baseball League at the Old Wesley Park with Billy McDougall, James Morkin, and Joe Darlington. Ever the sports enthusiast, he was also known to curl, golf, bowl, and frequent football sporting events. Other hobbies included travel and photography. He was inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame, Hockey Hall of Fame (1962), and Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (1988).
He and wife Ann Cecilia Aker (1909-1996) had no children. They lived at 875 Wellington Crescent from around 1961 to 1975.
He died at the Health Sciences Centre on 10 September 1975.
1891 Canada census, Library and Archives of Canada.
Birth and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
Obituary [Sarah Neil Maxwell], Manitoba Free Press, 6 February 1904, page 8.
“Pioneer dies” [Thomas Humphrey Maxwell], Winnipeg Free Press, 27 March 1934, page 18.
“Time out with Maurice Smith,” Winnipeg Free Press, 14 March 1952, page 22.
“Time out with Maurice Smith,” Winnipeg Free Press, 6 June 1962, page 27.
“Steamer Maxwell the true amateur,” Regina Leader-Post, 3 January 1963, page 24.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 13 September 1975, page 46.
“No one quite like Steamer,” Winnipeg Free Press, 13 September 1975, page 69.
Henderson’s Winnipeg and Brandon Directories, Peel’s Prairie Provinces, University of Alberta Libraries.
Obituary [Ann Cecilia Maxwell], Winnipeg Free Press, 20 November 1996, page C8.
Players: The Ultimate A-Z Guide of Everyone Who Has Ever Played in the NHL by Andrew Podnieks, 2003, page 940.
This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.
Page revised: 17 November 2014
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