The Kelowna Curling Club announced on Saturday (Oct. 2) that local curling legend Jim Ursel has died from cancer at the age of 84.
Ursel was 11-years-old when a small, two-sheet curling club was built in his hometown of Glenella, Man. At 15, he joined the Strathcona Curling Club after his family moved to Winnipeg.
“It was like attending a curling college,” said Ursel. “So many greats curled at Strathcona. You learned the skills, and how to behave on the ice and show respect for your opponents.”
Ursel won provincial championships at four different levels — juniors, mens, seniors and masters — with his first success came in 1954 as a schoolboy champion.
In 1962, he and his team won the Manitoba Men’s Championship, advancing to the Tim Hortons Brier in Kitchener. The team finished in a three-way tie for first place with Hec Gervias and Ernie Richardson, before losing in a playoff.
As an employee of Air Canada, his work took him to Montreal, and in a seven-year period from 1974 to 1980, he helped skip his team to Quebec Championships six times. He won the Brier in 1977 in front of a hometown crowd, and finished second in the world championships later that year.
In 1974 and 1977, he was selected as the Brier All-Star skip, and received the Ross Harstone award for sportsmanship in 1977.
He would later return to Winnipeg, winning two provincial senior titles and the Canadian championship in 1990 and 1991.
He moved to Kelowna upon retirement, capturing a provincial title in the masters division, which consists of players aged 60-plus.
In 1985, he coached his sons, Bobby and Mike, to a world junior championship in Perth, Scotland, and his daughter Jill to a junior Canadian final. He also coached three other Canadian junior teams and two men’s teams in the world championships.
He has been inducted into Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame, the Quebec Curling Hall of Fame, the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame.
“Ursel’s achievements are many but you couldn’t find a more humble competitor,” said Jock Tyre, the general manager of the Kelowna Curling Club.
“Ursel was a true gentleman on and off the ice and was highly respected and admired by his peers.”