Written by Warren Hanton


This story is of two Kenora boys, Frank & Lloyd Hanton, who have been my life-long heroes. In earlier years, I thought that my labelling of them as heroes was biased being that they were my uncles. But as years went by, upon sharing their stories with friends and acquaintances I realized that the title was valid. Having read the definition of the word hero, “a person admired for courage, outstanding achievements, and noble qualities”, I felt a strong family commitment to tell their stories.


The three Hanton brothers, Frank, Lloyd and Len, grew up in a house located where the 7th Avenue bridge connects to Third Avenue South. Frank, the eldest, told stories of when Laurensons Creek would freeze over, all the kids in the neighbourhood would grab whatever makeshift hockey equipment they could find and congregate on the frozen creek to play Canada’s National Game. Hockey sticks could be anything from tree branches, or homemade, by nailing scraps of lumber together; but it was rare to see a manufactured hockey stick. Hockey pucks on the other hand, were manufactured in Kenora in endless supply. Frozen pucks were found on a daily basis delivered to all neighbourhoods by the delivery horses. The consistency of the ”horse puck” was influenced by weather conditions; Uncle Frank thought that this was the main reason there were no slap shots allowed in those days.

Frank recalled his first pair of skates that were simply blades strapped to his boots. He said that they were extremely hard to use. At the age of five, he was fortunate in receiving his first real pair of skates, they were 3 sizes too big; however, by stuffing the toes with newspapers, he was able to use them for a few years. He was one of the first kids in the neighbourhood to get an official rubber hockey puck, which he had found at the Kenora Arena. One day while playing hockey on the creek with his pals, the puck slid over toward the outlet pipes that fed into the creek. Frank got down on to his belly and crawled across the thin ice to retrieve his puck. He broke through the ice and he told me, “I was in as well as up the creek when I got home to Mom”! The whole group of kids that observed him falling through the ice, followed him home (at a distance)! Once home, his Mother would not let him in the house because of the stench. She proceeded to strip him down to his underpants on the outdoor laundry stoop in full view of his pals, and poured four or five pails of water over him and his clothing. This became the talk of the neighbourhood! Uncle Frank said the worst part of the whole ordeal was that when he broke through the ice, the puck went with him and was never found.

Eventually a time came when Frank was fortunate enough to acquire a manufactured hockey stick. He said that once he had that stick, he did everything he could to make sure that it lasted forever. The endless hours of developing his hockey skills, by eluding checks while playing shinny on the creek, he eventually earned a position on the Kenora Thistles Junior Hockey Team of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

1939/40 Kenora Thistles

The Kenora Thistle Team were considered contenders by teams across Canada vying for the Canadian Junior Hockey Championship, “Memorial Cup”. The Thistles Roster that season ran deep with skilled players!

Charlie “Prince Charlie” Rayner

The Team Captain and goaltender was Charlie Rayner. Charlie’s skills and determination led him to a Hockey Hall of Fame career in the NHL. His induction in 1973, was due to his outstanding seasons with the New York Americans and then the New York Rangers of the NHL. Throughout Charlie’s career, his love for the Kenora area never faded; in fact, he and fellow NHL goaltender “Sugar” Jim Henry of Winnipeg went into business together investing in a tourist camp east of Kenora called “Hockey Haven”.

Another notable player on this team was Bill “The Beast” Juzda. Bill had a lengthy NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Rangers. He was also indicted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as he was an integral part of the Leafs’ two Stanley Cup Championships.

Bill “The Beast” Juzda

1939/1940 SEASON

In the 1939/1940 season, the Thistles won the Turnbull Cup as the Manitoba Junior Hockey League Champions. This advanced them to the Abbott Cup Finals, which is the Western Canadian Junior Hockey Championship. In that series, they faced the Edmonton Flyers. The Edmonton Flyer Organization, in an attempt to tilt the scales in their favour, scheduled the first game to begin only four hours after the Thistle Team had stepped off the train following a gruelling 29-hour train ride from Kenora. Frank told me that during the 29-hour train ride, Mr. Devine, the Trainer, put them through demanding physical exercise regimes. This included isometric muscle strengthening; as well as cardiovascular training achieved by running “wind sprints” as well as “starts and stops” in the train cars. Frank said that this practice provided entertainment for all the passengers on the train, especially the youngsters.


The first game ended in a 2-2 tie. It seems that by game #2, travel had caught up to the Thistles Team and they were defeated 7-1. The victory was overshadowed in the Edmonton paper by an article which stated “The fiercest game ever witnessed”. The Riot Squad of the Edmonton Police Department had to be called in to regain control of the mayhem that took place. There were fights on and off the ice. It was said that one Kenora Thistle had fought all but two of the Edmonton Flyers. This was Kenora’s Captain and Goaltender, Charlie Rayner. The impact of this ordeal affected every observer including Edmonton Flyer and future Hockey Hall of Famer Ken Reardon who was quoted “Kenora is not a team to fight with”. Once the dust had settled, both teams travelled to the Winnipeg Amphitheatre, where the remainder of the series would be played. The next two games were Kenora victories with the scores being 3-1 and 6-5 in our favour. In the fifth game, the Thistles had to mount a comeback in the 3rd period to tie the Flyers 2-2. This gave the Kenora Thistles the Abbott Cup and the title of Western Canadian Junior Hockey Champions. The Western Canadian Champions advanced to the Canadian Junior Championship Memorial Cup Finals. This put the small town of Kenora back on the hockey map, gaining hockey notoriety only surpassed by our 1907 Kenora Thistles Stanley Cup Champions!

Their opponent in the Memorial Cup, Canadian Junior Hockey Championship would be the reigning Memorial Cup Champion, Oshawa Generals. The Generals beat the Thistles 1-0 in game #1; Game #2, ended in a score of 4-2 in the Generals’ favour. Kenora won game 3, but fell short in game #4 losing by a score of 4-2, giving the Oshawa Generals their second Memorial Cup Championship in as many years.

This was the first time any team had won consecutive Memorial Cups.

The following season, three Kenora Thistle Players advanced from Junior to Professional Hockey; Charlie Rayner, Bill Juzda, and Frank Hanton!

Frank Hanton went to the International Hockey League’s, Hibbing Monarchs. He finished the season with 48 goals and 59 assists, accumulating 107 points. This gained him the International Hockey League’s Scoring Championship, in his Rookie year. This accomplishment in his first professional hockey season did not go unnoticed. The Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League stepped up first to acquire Frank’s proven scoring abilities. He received an invitation to the following season’s training camp. Like many other Canadian hockey players, Frank’s dream of playing professional hockey in the greatest League in the World was ended by World War II!

Frank said it was an easy decision for him! His priority was to volunteer his services to the Royal Canadian Air Force rather than attend Boston Bruins’ Training Camp. Frank became a fighter pilot with the 400 "City of Toronto" Squadron and was subsequently promoted to Squadron Leader. He now entered a new arena, that like hockey, required strategic thinking and teamwork to defeat his opponent. He participated in the Dieppe Raid, as well as D-Day Operations and many night raids and night reconnaissance missions. He would always say he came through it quite well, even considering the many close calls! The one close call foremost in my mind; while he was on patrol in his Mustang, his plane took heavy fire requiring him to eject over Normandy. Prior to ejecting, he was sprayed with oil from a leak in the cockpit and he caught fire. He said when he landed in a field of stones and boulders, that he had smashed his knee badly and injured his shoulder as well as receiving burns to his face and body. He felt extremely lucky to have been retrieved by allied forces and was taken immediately for medical treatment. He was one of many burn victims in World War II to receive experimental plastic surgery from a pioneering New Zealand Doctor Archibald McIndoe, whose dedication to skin grafting and plastic surgery techniques in World War II gained him worldwide notoriety. Uncle Frank and all of the Allied Forces burn victims who received treatment from Dr. McIndoe, formed a club they named The Guinea Pig Club. Frank said the name was appropriate as they were all guinea pigs in helping advance these new innovative procedures. The camaraderie in this club proved to be very strong, as they and their wives would reunite every year post war in Britain!

Frank, after receiving thirty days of treatment was told he could retire and return to Canada to become a Flight Instructor. He refused this offer and said he would return to Canada after the War was over. A month after being shot down and receiving medical treatment, Frank climbed back into the cockpit of a Mustang and returned to battle.

400 "City of Toronto" Squadron's Squadron Leader, Frank Hanton, went on to become the Allied Forces top scoring train buster in World War II. He was credited with the total destruction of 54 enemy munition and supply trains; as well as, 9 enemy aircraft. In recognition of his courage, valour and dedication to duty he was awarded the “Distinguished Flying Cross”!


On May 26, 1986, General D. McNaughton of the Canadian Armed Forces Air Command appointed Frank as the Honourary Aide-de-Camp to the Lt. Governor. In this capacity, he was appointed to escort Prince Charles and Princess Diana during their tour of Canada. He took great pride in that appointment.

In July, 1986, Chairman Sir Neil Cameron, Marshall of the Royal Air Force, along with the World Fighter Pilots Association, honoured Frank and commissioned the Wilkinson Sword Corporation to produce a Steel Commemorative Sword, named “Hawker Hurricane” with an 18 karat gold hasp, and had it suitably engraved along the blade as a tribute to Frank’s significant contribution to the Allied Forces Victory.

Two months before his 70th birthday, in the spring of 1989, Frank had recertified and flew in a Tutor Subsonic single turbo jet engine aircraft in tight formation in an “aerobatic flight pattern” successfully with the Canadian Snowbirds!

Hon. Col. Frank Hanton and Lt. Col Reinhart upon completion of successful aerobatic flight with “Canadian Snowbirds”

In March, 1919 the Ontario Hockey Association donated the Memorial Cup in honour of the many soldiers who paid the supreme sacrifice for Canada in World War I and was awarded to the Canadian Junior Hockey Champions. Many great Canadian hockey players, who despite having promising hockey careers, put the game they loved aside to defend their Country when its freedom was threatened.

Many of these young men never returned home!

In the spring of 2000, Colonel Frank Hanton was invited by the Dept. of National Defense to be their Honorary Guest to drop the puck to open the Memorial Cup Finals. This honour fanned the flames of Frank’s Kenora Thistle pride! He requested that I send him a Kenora Thistle jersey with the older crest.

This proved to be quite a task! Fortunately, Dave Mundy a teammate and friend of mine possessed an older jersey in great condition and I was able to fulfill my Uncle’s request.

Frank and the Dept. of National Defence had a “face-off” in regards to his apparel when dropping the official opening puck. Frank insisted on wearing the Kenora Thistle Jersey, as it was 60 years since he had played in the Memorial Cup Finals as a Kenora Thistle. The Dept. of National Defence insisted he wear his Colonel’s full military dress uniform. The Dept. of National Defence won that “face-off”; however, Frank’s Kenora Thistle pride was evident after completion of the festivities having taken place at centre ice. Frank was escorted off the ice surface, met by his wife Joyce, and she helped Frank pull the Thistle jersey over his Colonel’s uniform and he proudly wore the jersey to every game until the Memorial Cup was awarded to the Rimouski Oceanic after they defeated the Barrie Colts.


In 2017, Kenora was selected to be the host town for “Hockey Day in Canada” on Canada’s 150th birthday. I took this opportunity to tell Frank’s stories to the community of Kenora by composing a brief summary of his hockey and military achievements, which was published in the Kenora Daily Miner & News a few days prior to the Hockey Day in Canada broadcast. Being a member of the Kenora Thistle Alumni, I was fortunate in meeting Ron Maclean of Coaches Corner. Mr. Maclean having read the article told me he wanted to use Frank’s story as the feature in the nationally televised Coaches Corner taking place at the Kenora Arena. Mr. Maclean informed me prior to the telecast, that his crew was able to find the television broadcast of Frank dropping the puck at the 2000 Memorial Cup Finals and it would be included in the telecast. Both Ron Maclean and Don Cherry said that without a doubt, Frank was truly a Canadian Hero!

Colonel Frank Hanton drops puck at 2000 Memorial Cup

Go to 4:20 to watch section on Col Frank Hanton

Shortly after the airing of this broadcast, I received a phone call from Lt. Col. (Retired) Carl Mills of the 400 "City of Toronto" Squadron. Lt. Col. Mills informed me that the Airforce Heritage Foundation {the 400 Squadron Historical Society} had just completed seven original oil paintings depicting significant moments in the history of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Mr. Mills went on to tell me they had just completed a painting of my Uncle Frank in his Mustang, taking down a Messerschmitt, as this was the first enemy aircraft taken down by the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II. He also informed me that the identification tag on the tail end of the Mustang was Frank’s identification tag throughout World War II. He had found this tag number in Frank’s RCAF logbook, which was located in a War Museum in Victoria, BC (the above-mentioned painting ... shown below ...is on display at the Base Borden Military Museum).

400 Squadron Painting


Lloyd George Hanton, my hero, my uncle that I had never met. Throughout my early years, I had been told stories by my Grandmother and Lloyd’s brothers of his sense of humour and clever wit that his best friends were love, laughter and life and they were with him every day of his short life. Lloyd volunteered at the age of 18 with the Royal Canadian Air Force. His sense of duty and patriotism meant he had to leave the only three loves he had known in his 18 years; his family, his girlfriend Phern and the life he had in his home town of Kenora.

Phern was always referred to as Auntie Phern by my brother, sister and I throughout her entire life. When my mother Celine was pregnant with me, my father Len rented a suite in Auntie Phern’s home. When I was born, her home was my first home. Mine is only an assumption as to the reason why she never married or had children of her own. The love we felt from Phern, confirmed that she truly was our aunt.


Lloyd left Kenora at the age of 18 to attend Crew Training in Manitoba. Upon successfully completing that training, he went on to McDonald #3 Bombing and Gunnery School in Brandon, Manitoba where he graduated July 9, 1943. He was dispatched overseas to Linton-on-Ouse, North Yorkshire, England on August 13, 1943. He assumed active duty as a mid-upper Air Gunner on a Lancaster Bomber with the Royal Canadian Air Force 408 Goose Squadron.

Although Frank and Lloyd were stationed at different air bases, Frank was able to get information on Lloyd’s sorties or missions by using his rank and position. On November 23, 1943, Lloyd and his crew did not return from the bombing raid in Berlin. Upon receiving this information, Frank without proper authorization, took his Mustang and searched for his brother and crew over the North Sea, where last communication was received. Frank returned to base unsuccessful and low on fuel. He also faced disciplinary hearings for his actions. Due to the circumstances, his superior officers felt disciplinary action was not required. Unfortunately, neither the Lancaster or it’s crew were ever recovered! The names of Lloyd and his crew were placed on a Memorial Plaque in Runnemede, located outside of London.


Since childhood, I’ve known that my Uncle Lloyd had no headstone in his hometown of Kenora at the Lake of the Woods Cemetery. In 2016, I intended to rectify this. The Dept. of National Defence and the Royal Canadian Air Force gave me authorization to purchase and engrave a military headstone for Lloyd’s memorial. I was fortunate in purchasing the gravesite next to his father, Frank Sr.

I scheduled Lloyd’s memorial to take place on the 74th anniversary of his death, Nov 23, 2017 at the Kenora 116th Field Battery Armories. I wanted my family and friends attending his memorial to hear about his experiences in his last days so I attempted to tell his story by writing and recording a song I titled “For Freedom-Lloyd’s Song”. I wrote in the first-person tense so that the listeners might feel the sense of fear and try to imagine how all young Canadians struggled to hang on to life each and every day in battle.

During my pursuit of information, I had been in contact with the 408 Goose Squadron (which are now a tactical helicopter squadron) and was assisted by Chief Warrant Officer Glenn Rowlandson. He requested that I send him a copy of the recording. Upon receiving his copy, he and the Commanding Officer as well as the Honorary Colonel of the 408 Squadron, asked to play the song during the inspection of the ranks on the Parade ground in the Battle of Britain Parade at the 408 Base in Edmonton. He told me the song was well received and that the Commanding Officer had authorized two HC146 Griffin Tactical Helicopters to fly to Kenora and provide a military flyby in honour of Sgt. Lloyd Hanton.

Four days prior to the Memorial Service, he contacted me and regretfully informed me the flyby would have to be cancelled due to the death of a 408 member. The 408 Squadron did however send Major Jim Shewchuk and Warrant Officer Mike Girod with a message honouring Lloyd.

On November 23rd, 2017, on the 74th anniversary of Sgt. Air Gunner Lloyd George Hanton’s ultimate sacrifice, a Memorial Service was held at Kenora’s 116th Field Battery in his honour. It was attended respectfully by Military and Police representatives, as well as his family and family friends.

L/R WO Mike Girod; Maj. Jim Shewchuk ; Warren Hanton, Celine Hanton (my Mother), Linda Hanton and Donald Hanton (my sister & brother)

Give a listen to this excellent and moving song!

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May we never forget our brave young Canadians, and their sacrifice !

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