Memorable Manitobans: James Oddie “Jimmy” Welsh (1910-1988)
Born at Leith, Scotland on 10 February 1910 to Alexander Douglas Welsh (1885-1952) and Annabella “Anna” Muir (1879-1958), the family came to Canada in his early years, and he started to curl at the Deer Lodge Curling Club in St. James in 1925. He spent 49 years working for United Grain Growers.
His curling career in Winnipeg spanned more than three decades. He was a legend of the MacDonald Brier's early years. A three-time Manitoba Champion as a skip, he performed vice-skip duties for Johnny Douglas in 1933. Douglas passed away in 1933 and Jimmy took over skipping duties. He skipped Manitoba teams at the Brier in 1937 at Toronto, won the Canadian Men's Curling Championship in 1947 in St. John's, Newfoundland, and made his final trip to the Brier in Edmonton in 1954.
Welsh skipped a team of brother Alex Welsh (1907-1971), Jock Reid (1907-1965), and Harry Monk (1902-1979) for 15 straight seasons without one personnel alteration. His undefeated run at the 1947 Brier is one of only 11 such Brier feats. Veteran Manitoba observers claim he introduced the running game to competitive play, calling takeout shots with reckless abandon while all around him the opposition stuck to the draw game.
Welsh won the Grand Aggregate title in the MCA Bonspiel three times: 1937, 1949, and 1952. He won the premier Birk's trophy five times (1934, 1936, 1937, 1952, and 1953), and the Eaton trophy twice (1949 and 1952). He also served the administration of the sport. He was President of the Deer Lodge Curling Club (1941-1942) and President of the Manitoba Curling Association (1964-1965). He was made an Honourary Life Member of Deer Lodge (1963) and the Manitoba Curling Association (1966).
He was inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame (1983) and Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame (1988). His 1947 team received posthumous induction into the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame (1997) and Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (2019). In 1975, he was honoured by the Deer Lodge Curling Club for 50 years of continuous curling.
He died at Winnipeg on 24 October 1988 and was buried in the Chapel Lawn Memorial Gardens.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 27 October 1988, page 55.
Canadian Curling Hall of Fame
This page was prepared by Rick Mutton.
Page revised: 14 November 2022