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Memorable Manitobans: Ernest Peter “Ernie” O’Dowda (1915-1985)

Community activist, athlete, historian, author.

Born at Winnipeg on 22 July 1915, son of Albert Frederick O’Dowda (1884-1941) and Amy Judd (c1892-?), he grew up at 226 Harbison Avenue and was educated at Lord Selkirk School and St. John’s High School. He worked for many years at the Canadian Wheat Board before retirement. He married Grace Isabel Maddin (1907-1993); the couple had no children. He worked with numerous community organizations and was a member of many committees. He was a founder of the Kildonan Place Sports Historical Society, Kelvin Community Club, Little Canadian Minor Baseball League, and Every Second Tuesday Breakfast Club, and was a long-standing citizen member of the Parks and Recreation Board.

Especially active in the promotion of lacrosse, he played and was a game official in the 1930s, and following the Second World War he was active in a city-wide revival of lacrosse. He was President of the Greater Winnipeg Lacrosse Association (1948-1949) and, around 1980, wrote Lacrosse in the Winnipeg School System, 1901-1928 (Winnipeg: Manitoba Lacrosse Association). He played a leading role in compiling a sports history of Elmwood, East Kildonan, North Kildonan, and Transcona and was involved with the Elmwood Pats and Elmwood Terriers. He was a life member of the Elmwood Curling Club and a local boxing promoter.

His contributions to the community were recognized by a Centennial Medal from the Manitoba Historical Society (1970), induction as a Builder into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (1987), and the naming of Ernie O’Dowda Memorial Park.

He died at Winnipeg on 25 June 1985. There is a private records collection at the Archives of Manitoba.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Ernie O’Dowda Memorial Park (Midwinter Avenue, Winnipeg)


Birth, marriage, and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

1911 Canada census, Automated Genealogy.

1916 Canada census, Library and Archives Canada.

“Ernie O’Dowda lacrosse leader,” Winnipeg Tribune, 28 April 1949, page 22.

“Elmwood sportsman Ernie O’Dowda dead,” by Vince Leah, Winnipeg Free Press, 26 June 1985, page 49.

Winnipeg Estate file PR85-01-01849, Ernest Peter O’Dowda, Archives of Manitoba.

“Stars of the past on display at Incinarena,” Winnipeg Free Press Weekly Northeast Edition, 6 September 1987, page 3.

“Congratulations are in order here,” Winnipeg Free Press Weekly Northeast Edition, 20 September 1987, page 5.

Obituary [Grace O’Dowda], Winnipeg Free Press, 4 March 1993, page C6.

Find a Grave, Ernest Peter O’Dowda

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 19 July 2019

Memorable Manitobans

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