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Memorable Manitobans: John Hampson “Cactus Jack” Wells (1911-1999)

Sports broadcaster.

Born at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on 13 May 1911, son of Alfred and Annie Wells, brother of Eric J. H. Wells, he was educated locally. He began broadcasting hockey in Saskatoon in 1935. He moved to Winnipeg to CJRC radio in 1941, becoming known for his curling and football announcing. For many years he was the play-by-play announcer for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and he was Winnipeg CBC’s first sportscaster in 1954. In a 58-year broadcasting career in Winnipeg, he worked for CJRC, CJOB, CJAY (CKY), and CBC. Wells was notorious for his loud sports coats and his mispronunciation of names. He was made an Honorary Member of the Winnipeg Press Club and a committee member of the Manitoba Centennial Corporation. A member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame (1986), and Broadcasting Hall of Fame, he died at Winnipeg on 24 May 1999.

Sources:

“These Manitobans will help plan centennial,” Winnipeg Free Press, 13 September 1963, page 9.

Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 26 May 1999, page 36.

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.

Page revised: 5 June 2019

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

This is a collection of noteworthy Manitobans from the past, compiled by the Manitoba Historical Society. We acknowledge that the collection contains both reputable and disreputable people. All are worth remembering as a lesson to future generations.

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