Vince Leah, affectionately known as “Uncle Vince” to the many people whose lives he touched, was a famous newspaperman, author, and sportsman. Leah’s career as a journalist began when he became a copy boy at the Winnipeg Tribune in 1930. In addition to being a sportswriter, Leah became personally involved in the development of sport in Manitoba. His work began in the Sunday School sport programs in Winnipeg’s North End in the late 1920’s. Hockey, soccer, and basketball leagues grew out of Leah’s desire to see everyone have a chance to participate. In 1934, Leah formed the famous Excelsior Hockey Club which won thirteen provincial championships and graduated forty players to professional hockey.
Leah’s concern for young people led him to organize the Community Juvenile Hockey League in 1932, Tom Thumb Hockey in 1944, and the Red, White, and Blue Hockey Organization in 1949. Soccer was Leah’s passion and became the summer pastime for his winter teams; thus youngsters participated in sports on a year-round basis under the Excelsior name. Baseball, football, basketball, and lacrosse were also affected by his efforts. Little League Baseball found its way to Winnipeg through his determination. In football, Leah came up with the “Blue Bombers” name, acted as a volunteer high school referee for eighteen years, founded the Juvenile Football League, and served as secretary of the old Manitoba Football Union. Leah developed the Winnipeg Bantam Basketball League in 1949. As a referee, coach, and manager, Leah was the catalyst which brought lacrosse back into youth programs following the Second World War.
The Vince Leah Recreational Centre in West Kildonan was named in his honour. Leah was a member of the Order of Canada and the Manitoba Sports Federation selected him as the first recipient of the Outstanding Volunteer in Sport Award.
b. November 29, 1913
d. August 9, 1993