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Memorable Manitobans: William James “Billy” Holmes (1871-1951)

Click to enlargeContractor, skating rink operator.

Born at Ottawa, Ontario on 8 June 1871, son of William and Margaret Holmes, he was educated at Ontario public schools before coming to Winnipeg in 1880. He worked as a contractor and bridge builder as of 1891, also being in the saw mill business from 1906.

He was active in promoting skating and hockey. He became the proprietor of the McIntyre Skating Rink in 1889, the Citizens Rink on Logan Avenue in 1900, and the Winnipeg Skating Rink in 1908. During the First World War, he took over operation of the Auditorium Rink at York and Garry streets, acquiring it in 1918. He installed artificial ice in the Auditorium in 1922, making it the first Western Canadian rink to be so equipped, other than one in British Columbia. He sold the Auditorium in 1944 and retired.

On 19 February 1902, he married Sarah Matilda Bradshaw at Winnipeg. They had one son and one daughter. He was a member of the COF, AF & AM, and Presbyterian church. In 1911, he lived at 53 Isabel Street, Winnipeg.

He died at Winnipeg on 20 December 1951 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery.


Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Who’s Who in Western Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men and Women of Western Canada, Volume 1, edited by C. W. Parker, Vancouver: Canadian Press Association, 1911.

“City’s ‘Mr. Hockey’, W. J. Holmes, dies,” Winnipeg Tribune, 20 December 1951. [Manitoba Legislative Library, Biographical Scrapbook B10]

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 16 February 2014

Memorable Manitobans

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