Memorable Manitobans: William James “Billy” Walsh (1917-1971)
Born at Haileybury, Ontario on 20 January 1917, son of Marguerite McIntyre and Harry Walsh (1879-1947), he moved with his parents to Winnipeg later that year and attended Lord Roberts School and Kelvin High School. After graduation, he entered the Comptroller General’s Office of the Province of Manitoba and worked there all his life.
During the Second World War, he served in the Royal Winnipeg Rifles. He was in the Battle of Dieppe, was wounded at Caen, and was awarded the Oak Leaf and Croix de Guerre, one of the highest honours France could bestow on a foreign soldier.
He started curling at the Fort Rouge Curling Club in 1929. He joined its executive and served as President (1958-1960). He was a driving force in building a new rink in 1959. He was later made an Honourary Life Member by the club (1969). He was one of the leaders in organizing junior curling in Manitoba, served as President of the Manitoba Junior Curling Association in the mid 1930s and was a member of the Executive Council for the Manitoba Curling Association. He received MCA Honourary Life Membership in 1971.
On the ice, he skipped two Fort Rouge teams to Canadian Men’s Curling championships. In 1952, his team of Allan Langlois (1915-2005), Andy McWilliams (1916-1995), and John Watson (1915-1974) had an undefeated run through the Manitoba playdowns. The Brier was held in Winnipeg that year and again an undefeated record of 10-0 allowed him to claim his first championship. Four years later, with Cy White (1915-1979) replacing Watson, they again represented Manitoba at the Brier held in Moncton, New Brunswick where their 9-2 record was good enough to claim a second championship.
He died at Winnipeg on 7 October 1971 and was buried in the St. Mary's Cemetery.
He was inducted posthumously into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame (1975) and Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame (1989). His 1952 and 1956 teams received posthumous induction into the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame (2006) and Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (2009).
“Walsh unbeaten in title match,” Winnipeg Tribune, 8 March 1952, page 24.
“Million dollar shot wins for Walsh,” Winnipeg Tribune, 10 March 1956, page 20.
Obituary, Winnipeg Free Press, 9 October 1971, page 35.
Manitoba Curling Association, 1972 Yearbook, page 37.
Curling Hall of Fame, Curling Canada website.
Inductees in 1987, 2006, Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame website.
Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.
This page was prepared by Rick Mutton and Gordon Goldsborough.
Page revised: 14 November 2022