Fonds 15.013, 18.016 - Wesmen Athletics fonds

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Wesmen Athletics fonds

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  • Graphic material
  • Textual record
  • Moving images

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CA UWA 15.013, 18.016

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2.6 m of textual records
1.7 m of photographs
1.2 m of posters
9 videocasettes
6 objects

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Administrative history

The athletics program at the University of Winnipeg traces its roots to the intercollegiate sports leagues formed among Winnipeg’s schools starting in 1889. Both of the University’s forerunners Manitoba and Wesley College participated in these leagues, which included football, track, basketball, and hockey. Manitoba College included a gymnasium in the expansions to its building in 1894. Wesley College, in turn, had a small gym in the basement of its original 1896 building as well as the advantage of Wesley Park – the land stretching from behind the building to Ellice Avenue – for a field in the summer and a rink in the winter. Further gym facilities were included in the basement of Sparling Hall, opened in 1913. The Intercollegiate leagues engendered friendly competition and school spirit among Winnipeg’s early colleges, and the colleges included sport facilities for their students from the beginning.

In 1962, United College appointed its first professional Athletics Director, Blue Bomber player Raymond Jauch, in anticipation of its new Riddell Hall gymnasium that opened the following year. These changes allowed United College to take its athletics program more seriously. In 1966, as the reality of becoming an independent University began to take shape, the United College Student Council held a public competition and vote to name its sports team. The winning entry was Wesmen, a “pluralized” combination of Wesley and Manitoba. The new University of Winnipeg, with an Athletics Director, a good gym, and a brand for its sports team, was set to participate in the national University sports scene.

Shortly after the University of Winnipeg’s incorporation, the Wesmen began to compete with other University teams across Canada as a member of two sports governing bodies: the Western Intercollegiate Athletic Association (later Great Plains Athletic Conference, and Canada West Universities Athletic Association) and the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (later Canadian Interuniversity Sport, and U Sports). The main competitive sports of the Wesmen were basketball, volleyball, and hockey, although the latter discontinued after 1984. The University had both men’s and women’s teams in basketball and volleyball – the women’s teams are known as the Wesmenettes or the Lady Wesmen. In addition to the seasonal games of sports governing bodies, the Wesmen hosted invitational tournaments – most notably the Wesmen Classic (previously the Golden Boy Classic, 1967-1976) and others; and was invited to play in similar tournaments hosted by other institutions.

Having long since outgrown the Riddell Hall gym, the University opened its much-needed Athletics Centre in 1984. The facility gave the Wesmen the resources and space they needed to remain nationally competitive. That building has remained the cornerstone of Wesmen sports to the present day; in 1992, it was renamed to the Duckworth Centre in honour of the University’s past President Henry Duckworth, a proponent of athletics. 2008 saw an expansion to the building, the Bill Wedlake Fitness Centre, named after long-time basketball coach and retiring Athletics Director. Finally, in 2014, the building was complemented by the Axworthy Health and RecPlex, an adjoining fieldhouse for soccer and sports education.

The Athletic Directors at United College and the University of Winnipeg, to date, include: Raymond Jauch (1962-1964); Edward Vidruk (1964-1966); David Anderson (1966-1984, covered by Glen Conly during a leave of absence in 1973); Aubrey Ferris (1984-2000); Bill Wedlake (2000-2008); Doran Reid (2009-2015); and Dave Crook (2015-present).

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Administrative history

While nominally included in the 1877 incorporation of the University of Manitoba, Wesley College was officially founded in 1888 by the Methodist minister Rev. George Young. It was named for the 18th-century founder of Methodism, John Wesley. It taught its first year in Grace Church which stood on the corner of Ellice & Notre Dame with seven students, and Dr. W.J. Sparling was appointed the first instructor & Principal (although he did not arrive until the next year). In 1896 Wesley College opened the doors to its new college building on Portage Avenue. In 1913, due to their long co-operation and the proximity of their sites, Manitoba College entered into an experimental partnership with Wesley College called the United Colleges; however in 1914, they returned to independence and while Manitoba College surrendered the teaching of Arts to the University of Manitoba, Wesley College continued to teach both Arts and Theology. In 1938 the two colleges joined together as United College.

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Manitoba College was founded by the Presbytarian minister Dr. John Black in the Kildonan school, “Nisbet Hall,” on what is now the east side of Main Street just past Chief Peguis Trail, with seventeen students in its first year. It was one of the first three colleges to be incorporated in the University of Manitoba, including St. Boniface College and St. John's College, in 1877. Manitoba College taught Arts and Theology, and in 1882, opened the doors of its newly constructed college building on Ellice Avenue. In 1913, due to their long co-operation and the proximity of their sites, Manitoba College entered into an experimental partnership with Wesley College called the United Colleges; however in 1914 they returned to independence and Manitoba College gave up instruction in Arts. In 1931, due to financial constraints, they sold their building to St. John's and rented back space there and with Wesley College. Finally, in 1938, Manitoba College formally joined with Wesley College and became a single institution, United College.

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United College was formed in 1938 by an amalgamation between Wesley College and Manitoba College. The two colleges had enjoyed informal unity for two periods in the past, and a formal unity was convenient due to several causes: their physical proximity, their long co-operation in instruction, the sale of the Manitoba College building, and the formation of the United Church of Canada which incorporated the separating denominations of the colleges, Methodist and Presbytarian respectively.

United College took the site of Wesley College as its headquarters, and added several buildings to the campus over its existence: Bryce Hall in 1951, Manitoba and Ashdown Halls in 1959, and Graham and Riddell Halls in 1962. Eventually, United College sought incorporation as the University of Winnipeg in 1967.

Custodial history

The records in this fonds were gathered and stored by the Athletic Department and the Faculty of Kinesiology of the University of Winnipeg. In 2015 most of the records were assessed, boxed, and moved to the University of Winnipeg Archives to be accessioned (15.013); another accrual of records was donated by Athletics Director David Crook in 2018 (18.016).

Scope and content

This fonds consists of records related to the University of Winnipeg’s sports teams in men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball, the Wesmen; as well as the University of Winnipeg’s Athletic Department, facilities, and staff. Many of the records were generated by the University of Winnipeg, documenting its seasonal teams and games or invitational tournaments – photographs, programs, posters, booklets, brochures, media reports, correspondence, and video recordings. Other similar records were generated by the sports governing bodies, such as U Sports (previously Canadian Interuniversity Sport Association or Canadian Interuniversity Sport). The Athletic Department also collected newspaper or magazine articles related to the Wesmen or the University of Winnipeg from a variety of publications. The records are divided into eight series. The first is comprised of those newspaper clippings. The second relates to the Wesmen Classic, the iconic annual invitational tournament held in Winnipeg with teams from across Canada. The third relates to the annual activities of the Wesmen and the Athletic Department: primarily the seasonal teams and games through sports governing bodies, but including other invitational tournaments and the Athletic Department’s staff and facilities. The fourth series relates to the planning and execution of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport basketball championships, which were hosted by the University of Winnipeg in 2004 and 2005. The fifth series is comprised of a variety of photographs. The sixth series is comprised of posters produced by the University for its annual Wesmen teams and tournaments. The seventh series contains several video recordings of Wesmen games or interviews with Wesmen players and staff. Finally, the eighth series contains several miscellaneous objects related to the Wesmen or the University’s athletic history.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Records were transferred to the University of Winnipeg Archives from the Athletics Department office, October 1st 2015.


The series in this fonds reflect the organizational scheme of the records upon accession. However, they have been subject to archival intervention for the sake of coherence and to restore a compromised original order that may have been lost over time.

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Restrictions on access

Access to a small amount of material in the fonds, which contains financial and personal information, is restricted. This material falls under Series 4: CIS Women's Basketball 04-05.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Users must abide by copyright legislation. University of Winnipeg retains copyright on this material. University of Winnipeg waives copyright in most instances.

Finding aids

A file-level finding aid is available, either at the link at the top of this entry or through the University of Winnipeg Archives.

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Further accruals are expected.

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Finding aid and descriptions completed November 2017 -- Daniel Matthes
Finding aid and descriptions updated July 2018 -- Daniel Matthes

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