Konrad Johannesson

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Konrad Johannesson
Konnie Johannesson, 1920 Olympics.jpg
Johannesson at the 1920 Olympics
Born Konrad Jonasson Johannesson
(1896-08-10)August 10, 1896
Glenboro, Manitoba, Canada
Died October 25, 1968(1968-10-25) (aged 72)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Cause of death Pneumonia
Resting place Brookside Cemetery
Nationality Icelandic
Other names "Konnie"
  • Airport manager
  • Flight instructor
Years active 1919–1965
Known for Aviator
Spouse(s) Freda Johannesson
  • Kenneth George Johannesson
  • Constance Lillian Appelby (Johannesson)
  • Lenore Williams (Johannesson)
  • Brian Johannesson
Konrad Johannesson
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 165 lb (75 kg; 11 st 11 lb)
Position Defence
Played for
National team  Canada
Playing career 1916–1929
Olympic medal record
Men's ice hockey
Representing  Canada
Gold medal – first place 1920 Antwerp Team competition

Konrad Jonasson "Konnie" Johannesson (August 10, 1896 – October 25, 1968) was a Canadian aviator and ice hockey player who competed in the 1920 Summer Olympics. As a pioneering aviator, he was instrumental in flight training as well as airport administration.

Early years[edit]

Konnie Johannesson was born in Glenboro, Manitoba, son of Jonas Johannesson and Rosa Einarsdottir. In 1897, the family moved to Winnipeg, where he attended Somerset and Kelvin schools. Along with other players of Icelandic descent, Johannesson began playing hockey with the Winnipeg Falcons in 1913.[1]

2nd Lieutenant Johannesson, c. 1918
(Left to right) Kent and Al Bocking, students of Konrad Johannesson at the Winnipeg Flying Club, c. 1932. [Note 1] [Note 2]
Johannesson Flying Service Cessna Crane at Brandon Avenue Seaplane Base in Winnipeg, c. 1946, with a Noorduyn Norseman and a De Havilland Dragonfly tied up along the shore.

First World War[edit]

Johannesson enlisted in the 223rd Overseas (XI Reserve) Battalion of the 2nd Brigade of the Canadian Army on March 8, 1916 in Winnipeg. From then until April 1917, he trained at Camp Hughes near Carberry, Manitoba. In April 1917 Johannesson went overseas to England. Transferring to the Royal Flying Corps in September 1917, Johannesson began pilot training. He became a flight instructor at the RFC airfield at El Khanka, Egypt. During the war, the Royal Flying Corps saw an urgent requirement for aviation training, primarily for pilots, and set up an extensive training system in Egypt. Initially, its trainees were from England, but as the home training facilities began keeping pace with demand, the Egyptian schools took in more local cadets, as well as some from South Africa.[3]

Johannesson trained pilots until December 1918, returning to Canada in May 1919. After his discharge from the military, he became a student at the University of Manitoba and rejoined the Winnipeg Falcons hockey team.[3]

Photogrsaph of the Gold Medal-winning Winnipeg Falcons taken en route to the 1920 Olympics (photograph includes an unidentified ships' officer and a female passenger)


In 1920, Johannesson, playing right defence for the Winnipeg Falcons, was described as a gifted "stick handler", dangerous rusher, known for his "terrific" shot, and was considered one of the "giants of the team".[4] After winning the Allan Cup Championship (1920), the Winnipeg Falcons won the right to represent Canada at the Olympic championship games played at Antwerp, Belgium, from April 23–April 29, 1920.[5][6]

During the nine-day ocean voyage to Antwerp, aboard the R.M.S. Melita, Johannesson and teammate Frank Fredrickson joined with another passenger to form a musical trio, "The Falcon Trio" that held concerts aboard the ship.[4][Note 3] After decisive victories over the United States, Czechoslovakia and Sweden, with Johannesson as one of the scorers, the Winnipeg Falcons won Canada’s first Olympic hockey gold medal.[8][Note 4]

From then until his 1929 retirement, Johannesson played with several different teams across multiple leagues, never achieving the same success he enjoyed during his earlier days.[4] He played throughout Canada and parts of the United States, playing for the Winnipeg Maroons of the Central Hockey League, the Moose Jaw Warriors and Regina Capitals of the Pro Hockey League, and St. Paul and Winnipeg teams for the American Hockey Association.[10] Although Johannesson had left as a player in 1924, he did spend one season (1933–1934) as the head coach of the Winnipeg Falcons.[4]


After his return to Canada, Johannesson worked as a flying instructor and later, as airport manager. In 1927, Winnipeg hired him as the city’s first Airport Manager.[11] Under his supervision, following the construction of large hangar facilities by Canadian Airways Limited in 1931, Winnipeg’s Stevenson Field grew from a small airstrip to one of western Canada’s busiest air centres.[12]

From 1929 to 1932, Johannesson was a charter member, chief flying instructor and manager at the Winnipeg Flying Club.[13] One of his pupils was John A. Kent, a future Battle of Britain fighter pilot and test pilot.[14] Another of his students was frontiersman Tom Lamb, who had purchased a Stinson Reliant as well as flying lessons from Johannesson who was the Stinson Aircraft dealer for western Canada.[15] Lamb was later to form Lamb Air, the first northern Manitoba-based air carrier.[16] During his tenure, Johannesson earned the highest flight trainer rating in Canada, one of only six instructors with that rating.[17]

From 1932, in operating the Johannesson Flying Service, he was based in Winnipeg at both the Brandon Avenue Aerodrome and Stevenson Field. His operation transported approximately 150 passengers each year into central Manitoba with his two-seater de Havilland Cirrus Moth biplane, as well as offering flight instruction.[11]

Second World War[edit]

During the Second World War, Johannesson entered politics, seeking election unsuccessfully as a Liberal candidate in the 1942 Winnipeg North by-election.[Note 5] His main wartime activities centred on training pilots. While operating the Johannesson Flying Service, he taught Icelandic students to fly so they could then enlist in the RCAF. By war's end, when Johannesson wound up his career as a flight instructor, he had taught 231 pilots to fly.[18]


After the war, Johannesson established a flying service at Flin Flon, Manitoba. In 1947, he purchased a half-mile strip of land along the Red River in the Rural Municipality of West St. Paul with the intention of building an airstrip and floatplane facility. In 1951, Johannesson moved his Winnipeg operation to Rivercrest Airstrip and Seaplane Base at Middlechurch, north of Winnipeg.[1]

The Johannesson ruling[edit]

In 1952, after municipal and provincial judgments against Johannesson in the courts denying the approval for an airport at Rivercrest, he was successful in taking the case to the Supreme Court of Canada. At the conclusion of a three-year legal battle, the ruling from Johannesson v. the Municipality of West St. Paul established that federal jurisdiction applied to all matters pertaining to aviation.[18] This ruling is still a landmark case in Canadian aviation.[19]

Johannesson operated Rivercrest until his retirement in 1967.

Awards and honours[edit]

In 2014, along with other members of the Winnipeg Falcons, Johannesson was honoured in a new Heritage Minute segment. The segment recounts how the Falcons overcame discrimination and stayed together through the First World War on their way to the top of the hockey world. The Falcons segment premiered at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg on November 6, 2014, during the intermission of a game between the Winnipeg Jets and Pittsburgh Penguins.[20]

The Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame and Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum have permanent displays honouring the Falcons and their Olympic victory.

Hockey Canada, in recognition of the Falcons' achievement, had the national junior team wear replicas of the famous old gold and black Falcons uniforms[21] for a World Junior Championship pre-tournament game in Winnipeg on December 20, 2004.[22]

In recognition of his community service, Johannesson was given a Golden Boy Award in 1965. He died at Winnipeg on October 25, 1968 and was buried in Brookside Cemetery in the military section.[11]



  1. ^ Both Kent and Bocking later became Group Captains in the Royal Air Force.
  2. ^ Alfred (Al) Bocking, another Winnipegger who was Johannesson's student, become a member of the RAF from 1935–1944 and a member of the RCAF from 1944–1965.[2]
  3. ^ Both Johannesson and Fredrickson played violins while a passenger from Vancouver joined them on a piano.[7]
  4. ^ The Falcons outscored their opponents 29–1.[9]
  5. ^ The by-election was won by Stanley Knowles (NDP).


  1. ^ a b Boyens 2007, p. 358.
  2. ^ "Bocking, Alfred." castanet.net, January 24, 2009. Retrieved: January 12, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Johannesson, Brian. "Rare aviation photos." rareaviationphotos.com. Retrieved: January 13, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d "Konnie Johannesson." Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved: January 13, 2017.
  5. ^ Taylor 2008, p. 8.
  6. ^ Brignall 2011, p. 109.
  7. ^ Zweig 2007, pp. 79–80.
  8. ^ O'Coughlin 2001, p. 49.
  9. ^ <Square 2007, pp. 156, 167, 170.
  10. ^ "Konrad Jonasson "Konnie" Johannesson." findagrave.com. Retrieved: January 13, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c "Konnie Johannesson: Golden Boy of Winnipeg." Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada, 2015. Retrieved: January 12, 2017.
  12. ^ Render 1999, p. 60.
  13. ^ Legg 1976, p. 7.
  14. ^ Kent 1971, p. 12.
  15. ^ Johannesson, Brian. "Stinson Factory and other scenes from 1935 to 1938." rareaviationphotos.com. Retrieved: January 14, 2017.
  16. ^ Stowe 1982, p. 137.
  17. ^ Legg 1976, p. 31.
  18. ^ a b Shilliday 2009, p. 94.
  19. ^ "Supreme Court judgments: Johannesson v. Municipality of West St. Paul." Judgments of the Supreme Court of Canada. Retrieved: January 10, 2017.
  20. ^ "Winnipeg Falcons subject of first-ever extended Heritage Minute." Winnipeg Free Press, November 7, 2014. Retrieved: January 12, 2017.
  21. ^ Johannesson, Brian. "Three Jerseys." winnipegfalcons.com, 2010. Retrieved: January 10, 2017.
  22. ^ "Hockey Canada and Nike Hockey Celebrate History." Hockey Canada. Retrieved: January 12, 2017.


  • Boyens, Ingeborg, ed. The Encyclopedia of Manitoba. Winnipeg, Manitoba: Great Plains Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-1-8942-8371-7.
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  • Legg, Thomas. Beyond the Fifth Decade: A Commemorative Publication of 50 years of Aviation Training by the Winnipeg Flying Club. Winnipeg, Manitoba: Winnipeg Flying Club, 1978.
  • O'Coughlin, Seamus. Squaw Valley Gold: American Hockey's Olympic Odyssey. Bloomington, Indiana: iUniverse LLC, 2001. ISBN 978-0-5952-0087-0.
  • Render, Shirley. Double Cross: The Inside Story of James A. Richardson and Canadian Airways. Vancouver, British Columbia: Douglas & McIntyre, 1999. ISBN 978-1-5505-4722-1.
  • Shilliday, Jim. A Memory of Sky: A Pilot's View of Canada's Century of Flight. Winnipeg, Manitoba: Great Plains Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-1-8942-8395-3.
  • Stowe, Leland. The Last Great Frontiersman: The Remarkable Adventures of Tom Lamb. Toronto, Ontario: Stoddart Publishing, 1982. ISBN 978-0-7737-6194-0.
  • Square, David. When Falcons Fly: The Story of the World's First Olympic Gold Hockey Team. Vancouver, British Columbia: Poppy Productions, 2007. ISBN 978-0-9782818-0-9.
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External links[edit]