Spr Leo Schan, MM (Ret’d)

    • Spr Leo Schan, MM (Ret'd)
    • RCE GVIR Badge
    • Schan family memorial on Harbour Quay in Port Alberni, BC

    We regret to advise of the death of Sapper Leo Schan, MM (Ret’d) on 22 May 2003 at home in Port Alberni, BC at the age of 85 years.

    Leo was born on the first Remembrance Day in 1919 in Winifred, AB to Russian immigrants. He was one of 13 children born between 1905 and 1925 on the Prairies where the family relocated around the prairies before settling in Lethbridge. In Lethbridge Leo presaged his fighting spirit with a short but successful career in the ring where he boxed as a featherweight under the moniker "Alberta's Toy Bulldog."

    When the Second World War began, Leo and his sister Dorothy along with six of his brothers: James, Jack, John, Joe, Leonard, and Nick all enlisted in the Canadian Army.  Leo served in No 1 Mechanical Equipment Company along with James who was also a Sapper in that unit. Brothers Jack and Joe were also Sappers. James was killed in Germany during the Battle of the Hockwald Forest. During the war four brothers, including Leo, were wounded.

    Leo was awarded the Military Medal for his fearless courage and devotion to duty while operating an armoured bulldozer in support of 34 Tank Brigade. He received his Military Medal at Buckingham Palace.  

    After the war, four of the brothers:  Jack, Joe, Nick and Leo, settled in Port Alberni and found work as longshoremen on the docks.  The brothers quickly integrated into their new community and made an impact.  This impact was recognized when a retired Merchant Seaman, upon receiving his payout from the Canadian government, used his money to build a memorial to the family on the waterfront.  Under the title "The Fighting Schans," words on the tablet tell the story of the brothers starting with "They fought in streets, alleys and bars. fought for human rights and for union brothers' work rights."

    Leo retired in 1982 and then enjoyed boxing, fishing, travelling and his family.  A service will be held at the Somass Legion Branch #169 on 26 May at  2:00 p.m. where Leo was a Life Member. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Leo's memory to the Alberni Valley Hospice Society, 2649 2nd Avenue, Port Alberni, B.C., V9Y 1Z8 or the charity of their choice.