Hall of Famers: 2008

Alex Brown Sr. • Ruth Crook • Janet Harvey
Jon Mead • Walter Payne • John Usackis
Burtnyk 1981 Team
• Johnson 1934 Team

Brown, Alex (Sandy) CURLER-BUILDER
Inducted 2008

Alex Brown

Alex Brown Sr. (1841 – 1922) was born in Scotland and was introduced to curling there at the age of 13. At an early age he immigrated to Ontario and moved to Winnipeg in 1872.

In Winnipeg, he was active in civic activities and was well known for his organizational abilities. He was instrumental in the formation of the Manitoba Curling Club and was active in the organizing of the Thistle Curling Club – serving a two-year term as its president in 1887-1888.

Alex Brown has the distinction of playing on a team in the first organized game of curling in Winnipeg in December of 1876! He was one of the skips.

Always an active curler, he participated in the MCA Bonspiel from 1894 – 1907. During that period of time he played on teams with other Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame members – Mac Braden, Robert Dunbar, Frank Cassidy and Bill Carson.

Alex won a total of 10 MCA Bonspiel trophies which included one Grand Aggregate trophy, five main event trophies and four minor event trophies. Alex Brown also won two City Curling Championships in 1899 and 1900. He is an Honourary Life Member of the MCA.

Alex Brown is recognized for his organizational skills and involvement in the initial years of development of the Granite and Thistle Curling Clubs in Winnipeg.  

Ruth Crook was born in Treherne, MB. and obtained her schooling there. She began her involvement with the Manitoba Ladies Curling Association in 1970. She was offered a part time job with an honorarium of $1,200.00.

At that time the MLCA had no office space so her home basement served as a meeting room, storage space and office combined. Her initial duties included preparation of reports, meeting minutes, bonspiel entry forms, and acquiring and recording data of all kinds pertaining to the MLCA. At the same time, she acted as accountant for this large Manitoba association of curlers.

In 1980, the MLCA moved into its first office and Ruth was tasked with the establishment of this new office, while handling all matters relating to the district playdowns, provincial championships and bonspiels. Ruth is an Honourary Life Member of the MLCA (1985).

In 1980 she prepared a directory for members of Council. This publication outlined the responsibilities of the various MLCA positions and playdown requirements. This MLCA Directory, often referred to as “the Bible”, served as the backbone of the MLCA until its amalgamation with the MCA in 2000. The format of this directory was later adopted for use by the former Canadian Ladies Curling Association.

Ruth was also a volunteer in the 1991 World Curling Championship in Winnipeg. She co-chaired the Banquets Committee with husband Dennis. As well Ruth was often prevailed upon to lead the singing of O Canada at many curling functions. She never refused to graciously accept this task.

Crook, Ruth
Inducted 2008

Ruth Crook

Harvey, Janet

Inducted 2008

Janet Harvey

Janet Harvey was born and raised in Winnipeg. She began curling at age 12 in the Assiniboine Memorial Junior Program.

Janet had a successful junior career where she appeared in six Provincial Junior Championships. In the first four she played on the front end for Darcy Kirkness. After losing finals in 1982 and 83 they were able to reach the pinnacle of junior women’s curling in Manitoba by winning the provincial Junior Championship. That year the Canadian Junior Women’s was held in Fort St. John, B.C. Their 9W – 2L record allowed them to claim the fourth Canadian Junior Women’s Championship for Manitoba. Janet was named the all-star second at the event. Two years later, with Janet skipping, she won her second Provincial Junior Championship. In Noranda, Quebec, an 8W – 3L record gave her a third-place finish.

Janet moved from the junior ranks to play with the Connie Laliberte team. In 1987, playing third for Connie Laliberte they lost the final of the Canadian Curling Trials leading to the 1988 Calgary Olympics, where curling was a demonstration sport.

She made her first of 17 appearances (prior to induction) in the provincial Women’s Championship in 1988. In 1990, she skipped a team to her first Women’s championship and represented the province at the national Scott Tournament of Hearts in Ottawa where she finished in seventh place. In 1995, she was a provincial finalist. In 1997 she won her second provincial Women’s championship. In Vancouver, B.C. she had a fifth place finish. In 2006, she won her third provincial women’s title. In London, Ontario she finished in eighth place. She was named the all-star third and skip at the provincial women’s in 2003 and 2006 respectively.

Subsequent to her induction, Janet skipped her team to Manitoba Scotties appearances every year from 2009 to 2016 and was the finalist and all-star skip in 2010.

In 25 appearances, Janet played 162 games in Women’s provincial championships and won 92 of them.

Her final provincial appearance was at the Senior Women’s in 2018 when the 1984 Canadian Junior champion team re-united for an attempt to win the seniors.

Janet also participated in 2 provincial Mixed Championships.

Jon Mead was born in Regina, SK and moved to Winnipeg at a young age. He began curling in the Assiniboine Memorial Junior program at the age of 13.

Jon competed in three Provincial Junior Championships. In 1986, he played third for Hugh McFayden. During that season they won the provincial junior crown with a 7W – 0L record. At the National Juniors in Red Deer, Alberta they won the Canadian Junior Championship with an unbeaten record of 12W – 0L. At that championship Jonathon was named the all-star third and won the Sportsmanship Award.

The Canadian champions did not compete at the World Junior’s until the following year. In Victoria, BC, in 1987, the McFayden team finished with a 9W – 2L record, losing the final to Scotland. Jonathan was named the all-star third and won another Sportsmanship Award.

Prior to his induction, Jon had played in thirteen Men’s Provincial Championships – the first in 1989. But it wasn’t until 10 years later in 1999, when curling with Jeff Stoughton that he found success at that level. In the six appearances he made with Jeff, they won three provincial championships in 1999, 2000 and 2006, and were finalists in 2004. In that time period, they established a 38W – 6L record. He was named the all-star third in 2004.

He had represented the province at the Brier on three occasions playing third for Jeff Stoughton. In 1999, at his first Brier in Edmonton, they won the Canadian Men’s Championship. The World Men’s was hosted in Saint John, New Brunswick and they lost the final to Scotland. In 2000, in Saskatoon, the team finished in fourth place with a 9W – 4L record. Jon was named the all-star third. His third appearance was in 2006 in Regina, when they had a fifth-place finish.

Subsequent to his induction, rejoining the Stoughton team, Jon won three more Manitoba men’s titles (2011, 2013, 2014) along with Brier and World championships in 2011.

Jonathan participated in Olympic Curling Trials in 1997, 2001 and 2005 with Team Stoughton. In 2005, the team were finalists to the eventual Olympic Gold medalist – Brad Gushue.

In the MCA Bonspiel he claimed the 1996 Grand Aggregate trophy (with Dave Smith), two main event and one minor event trophies.

Mead, Jonathan
Inducted 2008

Jon Mead

Payne, Walter F.
Inducted 2008

Walter Payne

Walter Payne (1863 – 1930) was born in Chatham, Ontario in 1863 and received his education there. In 1881, he moved to Winnipeg and immediately gained employment with the Manitoba Free Press in the printing trade.

He served just short of one-half century in the employ of the Free Press. During that time period his responsibilities included: foreman of the news composing room, director of the publication department, news editor for over 36 years and finally assistant managing editor of the paper special issues. When he died, flags at the Free Press were flown at half-mast.

He was a member of the Thistle Curling Club and served as their past president for a four-year period from 1893-1897. He was an HLM of the Thistle. He served in various capacities with the MCA for a total of 32 years, beginning in 1892. In 1894-95 he served as MCA President and in 1908 was awarded an Honourary Life Membership in the MCA.

Walter also founded the Free Press Curling Club and served as their President in 1906. He was a charter member of the Strathcona Curling Club (originally called the Strathcona-Free Press CC) with their formation in 1908 and served as the President of the Strathcona Curling Club in 1909-10.

In 1921 he was a member of the Scottish Tour. He was awarded an HLM of the Canadian Branch of the RCCC in 1930.

In 1925, he was historian of the first pre-Brier which was a goodwill tour of Western curlers to the Eastern provinces. He organized and published tabulated records on the Winnipeg bonspiel, so curling fans could follow the results.

Upon his passing the Free Press published a full page of tributes from many people that had known Walter Payne. One tribute relates many people’s thoughts about Walter. The tribute was written by a long time co-worker John J Conklin and read: “One less candle is burning at the altar. The fire of yesterday is grey today, but sweet incense will always gather around the memory of Walter Payne’s warm-hearted personality, his kindly thoughts and generous deeds.”

John Usackis was born and raised in Lac du Bonnet, MB. He started curling in the school league at the age of 11 and played in his first Men’s Provincial Championship in 1962.

At the time of his induction, John had appeared in a total of 47 provincial championships, which included 30 men’s, 5 seniors, 6 masters and 6 mixed.

In 1977, he skipped a Lac du Bonnet team to his first Provincial Men’s Championship and advanced to the Macdonald Brier in Montreal, when their record was 6-5 and a fifth-place finish. In 1980, he joined the Orest Meleschuk team. playing third, he won his second men’s championship. That year the Labatt Brier was played in Saskatoon. They finished in fourth place with a 7W – 4L record.

In his six appearances at Provincial Mixed Championships his best finish was a finalist in 1979. He competed in five Senior Provincial Championships and finished as runner up in 1998.

In 2002, he won the Provincial Masters Championship.  In Medicine Hat, when Orest could not participate the team secured the services of Ken Grove and they were successful in winning the Canadian Open Masters Championship. In addition, he has been a provincial masters finalist on three occasions. John has also won the Grand Aggregate and main event trophies in the 1982 MCA Bonspiel. He has also won a minor event trophy.

Historically, John’s 30 provincial men’s appearances tie him for the lead with Orest Meleschuk. As of 2021, he is second in total games played in the history of all Manitoba Provincial Championships with 316 games, winning 175 of those games.

John has also given back to the game and has been active in the community. He is a Past President and Life Member of the Lac du Bonnet Curling Club. He oversaw the construction of the new curling club in 1999. He has worked on fundraising activities and coordinated and coached junior curling in the community.

Usackis, John
Inducted 2008

John Usackis

Burtnyk – 1981 TEAM Canadian Champions
Inducted 2008

(l-r) Kerry Burtnyk, Mark Olson, Jim Spencer, Ron Kammerlock

The 1981 Canadian Men’s Champions teamed skip Kerry Burtnyk with Mark Olson (third), Jim Spencer (second), and Ron Kammerlock (lead).

Representing the Assiniboine Memorial Curling Club, this team assembled in 1980 and played together for two years.

In 1980, their first Tankard appearance they lost in the straight knockout semi-final to eventual provincial winner Earl Morris.

In 1981, learning from the previous year they went through the Manitoba Provincial Championship unbeaten. That year, the Brier was held in Halifax and during the round robin the team finished in second place. They beat Saskatchewan in an extra end in the semi-final and advanced to play Al Hackner of Northern Ontario in the final. In that game, the Burtnyk team blanked ends 8 and 9 and trailed in the game 4-2 playing the tenth. The Burtnyk team scored a 3 in the final end to capture the 21st Canadian Men’s Championship for Manitoba. Mark Olson was named the all-star third at this Brier.

The Burtnyk team advanced to the Air Canada Silver Broom, which was held in London, Ontario. In the round robin they finished first with an 8W – 1L record. However, they lost the semi-final game to eventual champion Jurg Tanner of Switzerland and finished with a Bronze medal.

Kerry Burtnyk was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (2011) and previously into the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame in the curler category (2000), and in the team category with his 1995 World Champion team (1998).

The 1934 Canadian Men’s Champions included Johnson as skip with Lorne Stewart (third), Linc Johnson (second), and Marno Fredrickson (lead).

This team represented the Strathcona Curling Club from 1934 to 1940. In that period of time they qualified for the British Consols in six of the seven years.

In 1934, in their first year together, they won the British Consols with a 6W – 0L record. At the Macdonald Brier in Toronto, they were unbeaten with a 7W – 0L record and claimed the sixth Canadian Men’s Championship for Manitoba.

In their remaining years together, they could not repeat the success of their first year but they did reach the provincial semi-finals in 1938 and 1939. Overall, they had an 18W – 5L British Consols record.

The team won the Dingwall main event trophy in the 1936 MCA Bonspiel.

Leo Johnson is a member of the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame in the curler category.

Johnson – 1934 TEAM Canadian Champions
Inducted 2008

(l-r) Leo Johnson, Lorne Stewart, Lincoln Johnson, Marno Fredrickson

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