Benjamin, Leslie Gordon
CPR Telegrapher, Station Agent, Manager, Politician
Les Benjamin, Carol Wightman and an unidentified man standing in front of a picture of a group parachute jump. CORA-A-84
“Boxcar Benjamin” was one of Saskatchewan’s most able representatives in the House of Commons. During his 25 year tenure as a New Democratic Party Member of Parliament for various Regina ridings, Benjamin was on the Commons Transport Committee and was outspoken on the subject of grain transportation.
Leslie Gordon Benjamin was born on April 29, 1925 in Medicine Hat, Alberta. He enlisted in the Air Force during World War II, but the war was over before Benjamin’s training was completed. After his military service, he worked for the CPR as a telegrapher, station agent and manager. In 1951, he became involved with the political party then called the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. His early experiences working for the CPR inspired him to become a democratic socialist, he would later say. Benjamin made 2 unsuccessful runs for provincial office in the riding of Maple Creek, but his lack of initial political success did not dampen his enthusiasm.
By 1961 he had become the provincial secretary for the New Democratic Party, a position he held until 1968. That year, Benjamin ran for federal office in the riding of Regina – Lake Centre. He finally won, beginning a 25 year political career. Over those years, Benjamin represented Regina – Lake Centre, Regina West and Regina – Lumsden. These ridings were roughly analogous to the area represented provincially for many years by Allan Blakeney.
While in the House of Commons, Benjamin worked on the transportation committee. This was a perfect fit for Benjamin in so many ways: he was a former railroad employee himself who was representing a city that essentially would not have existed without the railroad, in a province that was heavily dependent on the railroad for grain transportation. He resigned from his seat in 1993.
Benjamin was married twice: in 1950 to Marjorie Kathleen McKinnon (Kay) and then to Constance Freisen in 1976. He had 3 children and 2 stepchildren. Les Benjamin lost his battle with cancer on June 16, 2003.
The City of Regina has honoured Leslie Gordon Benjamin by naming a street in his honour: Benjamin Crescent.