During the 1880’s, Manitoba athletes first achieved national and international recognition and one of the most outstanding athletes of that era was J.K. (Jack) McCulloch. McCulloch became one of Winnipeg’s most prominent sportsmen. A multi-talented athlete, McCulloch excelled in many sports, among which were roller skating, track and field, rowing, canoeing, figure skating, and gymnastics. As a cyclist, McCulloch was dominant in the early 1890’s and held the fastest Canadian times at two distances in 1895. McCulloch was also an original member of the Winnipeg Victorias, founded in 1890 as the first hockey club on the prairies, that later challenged for the Stanley Cup. The Victorias won the Cup in 1896 and 1901, the only Manitoba teams to accomplish that feat.
McCulloch was most famous for his speed skating ability. A Manitoba champion in 1890, McCulloch won the Canadian amateur title in 1893 and the American amateur crown in 1896. That same year, he held the distinction of being the only man to have ever held both the Canadian and American championship at every distance. In 1897, McCulloch reached the pinnacle of his career as he won four events at the world amateur championship meet in Montreal, Quebec. After turning professional in 1898, McCulloch travelled across North America and gave exhibitions in trick skating or competed in speed and figure skating until 1907.
McCulloch’s knowledge of equipment led him to manufacture bicycles and skates and, by the turn of the century, his innovative tube skate gained widespread popularity among top hockey players in Canada and the United States. McCulloch and his business partner “Jimmy” Boswell were among Winnipeg’s first automobile enthusiasts and were involved in auto sales, repairs, and racing by 1904. McCulloch died in 1918 but his outstanding achievements as an athlete were still recognized with his induction into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1960.
b. August 15, 1872
d. January 1918