Memorable Manitobans: William Stephenson (1897-1989)
Flying ace, spymaster, inventor, businessman.
Born William Samuel Clouston Stanger in Winnipeg on 23 January 1897, as a youth he resided with a family named Stephenson at 175 Syndicate Street in the Point Douglas area. During the First World War, he joined the Royal Flying Corps and subsequently received the Military Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross. In the Second World War, Winston Churchill selected him to oversee intelligence gathering and espionage efforts against Nazi Germany. From the New York City-based office of British Security Coordination, he acted as the liaison between Churchill and Roosevelt, and was instrumental in the formation of the forerunner to the US Central Intelligence Agency.
Canada honoured Stephenson with the Companion of the Order of Canada (our country’s highest civilian award), and in 1985 he received the Manitoba Order of the Buffalo Hunt, Chief Hunter (Manitoba’s highest award at that time). For his services to the British Empire, he was knighted into the order of the Knights Bachelor. The Americans awarded him their Presidential Medal for Merit, thus becoming the first non-American to receive this award. Numerous other awards and honours are in his resumé, including honorary degrees from the University of Winnipeg (1979) and the University of Manitoba (1980).
He is commemorated by a statue in Memorial Park and William Stephenson Way in Winnipeg, and he was inducted posthumously into the Winnipeg Citizens Hall of Fame (2012).
Birth registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
We thank David McDonald for providing additional information used here.
This page was prepared by Paul Armstrong, Bill Macdonald, and Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 2 November 2022