Soldier Spotlight highlights veterans from the Archives’ online Soldiers’ Memorial. Each week, our volunteers select a remarkable individual to showcase in this new blog series. The Soldiers’ Memorial commemorates more than 1,100 WWI veterans and 2,300 WWII veterans from our region. Three dedicated volunteers have contributed over 1,200 hours to this project by researching and writing biographies. Our goal is to have all South Peace soldiers acknowledged for their service. If you know of someone who lived in the South Peace and should be listed on the Memorial, or would like to get involved by researching a local veteran, please contact the Archives.
Regimental Number: M45546
Date of Birth: 1 April 1921
Regiment: 29th Canadian Armoured Regiment
Enlisted in Grande Prairie, Alberta on 14 June 1940.
Francis Victor Tanner (known as Fran) was born in 1921 in Mazanod, Saskatchewan. In the late 1920s the family moved to Grande Prairie where his father prepared ice for the Grande Prairie Curling Club in the Wapiti Arena.This was his introduction to the world of sports. During the Depression, Fran and the local boys played hockey wherever a patch of ice could be found and cleared of snow. When World War II began, Fran enlisted in the South Alberta Regiment and served his country in A Squadron 29th Canadian Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment in NW Europe as a radio operator. He returned to Grande Prairie in 1945 and picked up his interest in sports again. During his first winter home, he was hired by Bill Bessent to help make ice and operate the arena. For a brief time Fran played hockey in the South Peace Hockey League, but he is remembered more as the sports broadcaster on CFGP. His career there began in 1952 as a transmitter operator but soon developed into almost 20 years of announcing hockey games’ play-by-play and providing game analysis and conducting interviews. The South Peace Hockey League recognized his popularity and contribution to hockey by awarding him The Most Valuable Player, and later he became the first media person to be recognized as a Grande Prairie Hockey Legend. Fran died in Grande Prairie March 27, 1984. Fran was a brother to Vera, wife of Jack Soars, who also became a CFGP radio personality.
Photograph: Don and Fran Tanner, 1943 (SPRA 364.01.03)