Memorable Manitobans: James William “Jim” Ursel (1937-2021)
Born at Winnipeg on 22 January 1937, son of Pauline and Rudy Ursel, he was 11 years old when his home town of Glenella built a two-sheet curling rink. When he was 15, his family moved into Winnipeg and he became a junior at the Strathcona Curling Club.
He began a 34-year career with Air Canada at age 18. Work took him to Montreal and, in a seven-year period from 1974 to 1980, he helped to skip his team to Quebec championships six times. He won the first Macdonald Brier Canadian Men's Curling Championship for the Province of Quebec in 1977 in front of a hometown crowd, and finished second in the world championships at Karlstad, Sweden later that year. In 1974 and 1977, he was selected as the Brier All-Star skip, and received the Ross Harstone Sportsmanship award in 1977.
He was one of the few Manitobans to win provincial curling titles at three levels. He won a Provincial Junior Championship in 1954 playing lead for Gene Walker. He won a Manitoba Consols Provincial Championship playing third for Norm Houck in 1962. He skipped two rinks to Provincial Senior Championships in 1991 and 1992. By 1989, he had returned to Manitoba and turned his attention to the seniors stage, winning the Manitoba Senior Men's Provincial title in 1990 and 1991. In both years, his rink went on to win Canadian Senior Men's Championships. In spite of a competitive record, he received great satisfaction from coaching. From 1985 to 1992, he coached six teams at World Championships (four junior and two men’s), including the world championship run of his sons, Bob and Mike, in 1985.
He was inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame (1979), Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame (1995), Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (1997), Quebec Curling Hall of Fame (2017), and Governor Generals Curling Club (2018). His 1990 and 1991 Senior teams were also inducted into the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame (1997).
He died at Kelowna, British Columbia on 29 September 2021.
“Houck rink wears curling crown,” Winnipeg Free Press, 16 February 1962, page 39.
Obituary, Springfield Funeral Home.
Website, Canadian Curling Hall of Fame.
Website, Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame.
Website, Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.
This page was prepared by Rick Mutton.
Page revised: 14 March 2022