Jim Ursel was 11 years old when his home town of Glenella built a two-sheet curling rink. When he was 15, and his family moved into Winnipeg, he became a junior at the Strathcona Curling Club. “It was like attending a curling college. The Hudsons, Ken Watson, Leo Johnson and Roy Forsyth, so many greats curled at Strathcona,” he recalled. “You learned the skills, and how to behave on the ice and show respect for your opponents.”
Ursel was one of the few Manitobans to win provincial curling titles at three different levels. His first success came in 1954 as a Schoolboy Champion playing lead on Gene Walker’s team from Gordon Bell High School. In 1962, Ursel was Norm Houck’s third in winning the Manitoba Men’s Championship, advancing to the Brier in Kitchener. They tied in the round robin for the Canadian Title, but lost in a three-way playoff against World Champions Hec Gervais and Ernie Richardson.
Ursel moved to Montreal and, from 1974-80, he skipped his team to Quebec Championships six times. He won the Brier in 1977, and finished second to Sweden’s Ragnar Kamp in the World Championship. He was selected as the Brier’s All-Star skip in 1974 and ‘77, and received the Ross Harstone award for sportsmanship in 1977. After returning to Winnipeg, he captured two Provincial Senior Titles (1990 and 1991) and carried on to win the Canadian Senior both years. In 1992, he was the runner-up to Vic Peters in the Manitoba Labatt Tankard and in 1995, Ursel tied with Kerry Burtnyk for most victories in the MCA bonspiel.
In 1985, Ursel coached his sons Bobby and Mike to the World Junior Championship in Perth, Scotland. He also coached three other Canadian Junior and two men’s teams in the World Championships.
Also inducted into the Manitoba and Canadian Curling Halls of Fame, Jim Ursel has earned a special niche in curling history.
b. January 22, 1937