Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: William Alexander Shannon (1883-?)

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William Alexander Shannon
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Educator, insurance underwriter.

Born in Ireland in January 1883, he graduated from the Royal University of Dublin (BA) then immigrated to Canada in 1903 where he met Jessie May Gillies (1882-?). The couple married at Winnipeg on 27 April 1907 and had at least five children: Ainslie Constance Shannon (1907-?), Jessie Eileen Shannon (1909-1985), George Roland Gillies Shannon (1911-1944), Robert Shannon (c1917-?), and Mary Shannon (c1919-?).

He began teaching around 1907 and was the Principal of Winnipegosis School (?-1909) and Baldur School (1909-1913) before being hired by the St. Boniface School Board. He served as Vice-Principal of Tache School (1913-1916) and Principal of King George V School (1916-1919). He resigned his position at a heated school board meeting on 21 August 1919. Within a month, he joined the Mutual Life Assurance Company of Canada and announced that he would run as a local school trustee.

He quickly gained a reputation as an underwriter, amassing over $100,000 in business in his first four months on the job. He qualified for the company’s Century Club, serving as its President (c1921-1922). Over the next two years, his sales totalled over $1 million. Around October 1922, he was named Provincial Manager for Manitoba for the The Ontario Equitable Life and Accident Insurance Company, based in the Lindsay Building. In August 1923, he refused an offer from the St. Boniface School Board to resume the position of Principal at Tache School. While living in the Norwood area, he was an officer of St. Philip’s Anglican Church.

By September 1925, he was promoted to the position of Agency Supervisor and moved to London, Ontario. His whereabouts after this time are unknown.


“Results of teachers’ examinations,” Manitoba Free Press, 30 July 1909, page 3.

“Personal and social [Mr. and Mrs. W. A. Shannon],” Manitoba Free Press, 28 December 1909, page 9.

Birth and marriage registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

1916 Canada census, Library and Archives Canada.

“Throws light on school trouble,” Manitoba Free Press, 2 August 1916, page 21.

“Teachers’ trouble at St. Boniface,” Manitoba Free Press, 25 August 1916, page 4.

“Shannon appointed to Principalship,” Manitoba Free Press, 22 December 1916, page 15.

“Prof. Shannon new Principal of King George Fifth School,” Winnipeg Tribune, 22 December 1916, page 3.

“The fine King George V. School band and orchestra [...],” Manitoba Free Press, 5 September 1918, page 9.

“Appointed engineer to Drainage Board [William Alexander Shannon, commissioner for affidavits],” Winnipeg Tribune, 26 April 1919, page 5.

“Music in St. Boniface schools is discussed,” Manitoba Free Press, 19 June 1919, page 9.

“Near settlement of school trouble,” Manitoba Free Press, 25 July 1919, page 7.

“Teacher in St. Boniface quits,” Winnipeg Tribune, 22 August 1919, page 9.

“Teacher joins staff of Mutual Life Co.,” Winnipeg Tribune, 25 August 1919, page 13.

“Teacher candidate for school trustee,” Winnipeg Tribune, 22 November 1919, page 14.

“3 St. Boniface nominations are unopposed,” Winnipeg Tribune, 2 December 1919, page 1.

“St. Phillip’s Church officers are chosen,” Winnipeg Tribune, 13 January 1920, page 6.

1921 Canada census, Ancestry.

“Vestries of Anglican Churches in session,” Manitoba Free Press, 10 January 1922, page 2.

“Provincial Manager for Equitable Life,” Winnipeg Tribune, 21 October 1922, page 18.

“Principal Tache School,” Manitoba Free Press, 29 August 1923, page 5.

“W. J.[sic] Shannon may take Tache Principalship,” Winnipeg Tribune, 29 August 1923, page 2.

“School trustees asked to explain Tache case,” Manitoba Free Press, 30 August 1923, page 5.

“The Ontario Equitable Life and Accident Insurance Company,” Winnipeg Tribune, 24 January 1925, page 11.

Service Files of the Second World War - War Dead, 1939-1947, George Roland Gillies Shannon, Library and Archives Canada.

Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery, George Roland Gillies Shannon, Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

E. M. Roberts family tree, Ancestry.

Annual Reports of the Manitoba Department of Education, Manitoba Legislative Library.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough and Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 19 March 2017

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