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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

JACK MCCULLOCH

Inducted in 1960

Member Details

Date of Birth: August 15, 1872
Place of Birth: Perth, Ontario
Date of Passing: January 29, 1918
Sport: Speed Skating
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1893

Canadian amateur speed skating champion

1896

U.S. amateur speed skating champion

1897

World amateur speed skating champion

Honoured Member JACK MCCULLOCH
Inspire

Story

In an era when amateur sport was dominated by organizers and competitors from Montreal, Winnipeg's Jack McCulloch travelled east to prove that he was the fastest man on skates. Before his career was over, he had become one of Winnipeg's most prominent sportsmen. Born in Perth, Ontario, McCulloch moved to Winnipeg with his family when he was four. A talented all-around athlete, McCulloch competed in a variety of sports including roller skating, figure skating, canoeing, and gymnastics, and he was an accomplished cyclist recognized by the Canadian Wheelman's Association. In 1889 and 1890, McCulloch helped found the Winnipeg Victorias hockey club. He took part in the first scheduled game of organized hockey in Manitoba on December 20, 1890, and travelled east with the Victorias in 1893 as they toured Ontario and Quebec. McCulloch was one of the stars as the team won nine of eleven games, outscoring their opponents 76-36. But it was in the emerging sport of speed skating that McCulloch made his most indelible mark on Canadian sport. His amateur skating career lasted from 1890 to 1898, during which time he established himself as the dominant speed skater in Canada. In 1893, McCulloch travelled to Montreal, at the time the cradle of Canadian amateur sport, to compete in the Canadian national speed skating championships. McCulloch swept all the events, winning the furlong (just over 200 metres), ½-mile, mile, and five-mile races. In the winter of 1896, he journeyed to St. Paul, Minnesota for the U.S. national championships, which were contested on a much larger ice surface than he was used to skating on in Winnipeg. Nonetheless, after three weeks of training in St. Paul, McCulloch again swept aside the competition, winning the mile open, ten-mile open, ¼-mile amateur, and five-mile amateur events. This made McCulloch the only man ever to have held both the Canadian and American championship at every distance. His next major amateur competition was at the 1897 world championships which were held in Montreal and featured speed skaters from Canada, U.S., and Norway, including the famed Norwegian skater Alfred Nass. In the 1,500-metre race, he and Nass finished in a dead heat, forcing a second race. In front of a large crowd, McCulloch won the run-off by only two-fifths of a second. McCulloch also won the 5,000m race only to learn that officials had miscounted the laps. A day later, he won the event again. McCulloch finished the competition by winning the 10,000m to lay claim to being the world's undisputed speed skating champion. He turned professional in 1898 and barnstormed across Canada, taking on all challengers and performing exhibitions of speed, fancy skating, as well as jumping barrels and other obstacles. He also became an entrepreneur, involving himself in skate, bicycle, and eventually automobile sales. His Winnipeg establishment manufactured the McCulloch skate, one of the first tube skates used by hockey players and speed skaters.


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