Lieutenant Colonel H. Marino Hannesson
223rd (Canadian Scandinavians) Battalion
Col. Hannesson thinks we should have a Canadian flag. He sets forth the case for it in much the same way we have seen it stated with monotonous repetition over a course of several years. The agitation comes from the same small source but sustained as it has been by a clique that arrogates to Itself the shaping of Canada’s destiny, nothing comes of It. It is a babbling stream that never lengthens, never widens, never rises. The people of Canada, broadly speaking, have taken no interest in it.
(Winnipeg Tribune, 24 Jan 1928, 9)
Born in Iceland on 27 November 1884, Hannes Marino Hannesson immigrated with his family to Manitoba in 1886. A graduate of the University of Manitoba, Hannesson practiced law in Winnipeg and Selkirk at the outbreak of the First World War. A member of the 90th Winnipeg Rifles, he enlisted as an officer with Lieutenant Colonel Hans Albrechtsen’s 223rd Battalion in March 1916.
Recruited from across Canada, particularly British Columbia and Manitoba, the 223rd was a distinct unit composed of Norwegian, Swedish and Danish volunteers. The Vancouver Daily World praised the Scandinavians’ patriotism toward their adopted county, declaring, “…when the path of duty is clear the Norsemen are among the leaders of the way.”
In March 1917, Hannesson assumed command of the 223rd and took responsibility for recruitment efforts. After sailing for England in May 1917, Hannesson became the commanding officer of the 11th Reserve Battalion. He reverted in rank to serve with the 78th (Winnipeg Grenadiers) Battalion at the front.
Following demobilization, Hannesson acted as a promoter and executive of the Icelandic-Canadian hockey club, the Winnipeg Falcons. During the war, several members of the team had enlisted in the 223rd. In 1920, the Winning Falcons won the first ever Olympic hockey gold at the Antwerp Summer Olympics. In 1922, Hannesson became team president. In 1925, he was elected Conservative MP for Selkrik but was defeated in a rematch against Progressive candidate Leland Payson Bancroft the following year.
After an unsuccessful bid in provincial politics, Hannesson pursued private business interests but continued to comment on national issues. An advocate of “one hundred percent Canadianism,” he argued for greater autonomy while preserving a connection to the Empire.
He died at the Veteran’s Hospital in Victoria, British Columbia on 11 June 1958.
Image: Winnipeg Falcons, LAC, MIKAN no. 3657166
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