Memorable Manitobans: R. James “Jim” Speers (1882-1955)
Born at Toronto, Ontario on 3 September 1882, son of James Speers and Frances Gardhouse, he moved to Battleford, Saskatchewan in 1908, and become a grain and livestock dealer. He gradually acquired race horses, and came to Winnipeg in 1920. He took over racing at River Park in St. Boniface in 1922, introducing parimutuel betting in 1923. He built the first of four racetracks associated with him at Whittier Park in 1924, then opened Polo Park in 1925. He entered the thoroughbred-breeding business in St. Boniface in 1925, and raced horses throughout the remainder of his life.
In 1907, he married Annie Ella Troughton of Brampton, Ontario. They had two daughters: Anna Meldred Speers and Fern Speers (wife of Carroll Fields). He was a member of the Manitoba Club, Carleton Club, and St. Charles Country Club. In 1934, he lived at 137 Kingsway, Winnipeg.
He died suddenly of a heart attack on 19 July 1955. He was inducted posthumously into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.
“Men of Winnipeg in Diamond Jubilee Sketches,” Winnipeg Free Press, December 1934. [Winnipeg Elite Study, G. Friesen Fonds, Mss 154, Box 15, File 8, University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections]
“Speers was the father of racing in Western Canada,” Winnipeg Free Press, 9 August 1986, page 10.
This page was prepared by Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 3 January 2015
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