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Around The House: How curling clubs spent their summer vacation

Welcome to the second season of Around The House, a twice-monthly feature that offers glimpses into curling club life across Canada – both on and off the ice.

This season, Around The House goes in a new direction, with stories of curling facilities and the people who make them work: new clubs just starting out after years of effort by local curlers, older facilities celebrating anniversaries, and others taking innovative approaches or meeting challenges and thriving.

Let’s start the season off by taking a look at how some curling clubs spent the summer. Some had ice, of course, and for them it was game on. But across the country, in most cases ice-less, curling facilities large and small were in action in an astonishing variety of ways. A quick cruise through a summer’s worth of Google Alerts (“curling club”) turned up the following results.

Curlers Become Golfers

The author visiting Pictou, Nova Scotia's New Caledonian Curling Club, home of the Pictou County Weekend Market.

Naturally, when the club is actually two clubs – that is, curling and golf, and there are lots of them! – summer offers an opportunity to shelve the broom and reach for the driver.  The club room keeps hopping, though.

Part of the Community

Need a safe place to assemble when there’s a gas leak in town? The folks in Penetanguishene, Ontario, know. Off they went to the local curling club this August for news and the okay to return home. How about those fundraisers, like the “Hospital Hustle” flea market at the Yarmouth CC. The Pictou County Weekend Market finds a home from June to September in the New Caledonian Curling Club in Pictou, Nova Scotia. And if you’re running the grueling Overlander Sports Marathon in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, the curling club is the place to stop for water.

Getting Started and Getting Better

In Cobourg, Ontario, they’re transforming a hockey arena into a curling rink and making a new home for the West Northumberland Curling Club. Curlers in Moose Jaw are excited about trying out their new facility in the Downtown Event Centre.

Can you hear the hammering? That’s the sound of renovations – in many cases thanks to the generosity of provincial or municipal grants – taking place in clubs from Smithers, British Columbia, to Grande Prairie, Alberta, to Shelburne, Ontario, to Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador. At the Prince Edward Curling Club in Trenton, Ontario, they’ve invested in the future: their Trillium grant will go towards the purchase of 32 new rocks for their Little Rocks program.

And don’t forget the Sackville Curling Club, one of the winners on the Kraft Celebration Tour, featured on TSN in August, and the recipient of a $25000 prize to undertake improvements to its facility. (Stay tuned: we may visit the Sackville Curling Club later this season to hear about their TSN/Kraft adventure.)

Wild and Crazy

Roller derby? Really? You bet. Right there at the Callie (Caledonia) Club in Regina, Saskatchewan. And across town at the Tartan CC they hosted 35 dog teams for the largest Flyball Tournament in Western Canada. There was a rock climbing wall set up outside the curling club in Bancroft, Ontario, where the interest in rocks extends much further than granite sliding down the ice.  Where does the Campbellford Agricultural Fair set up its Homecraft exhibits and food booths? You guessed it: the local curling club.

Getting Ready for the Season

The notices have started to pop up online, reminding members to sign up for leagues and bonspiels, and encouraging newcomers to take the plunge this year and enroll in Learn-To-Curl sessions throughout the Fall.  An enterprising organizer in Winnipeg is using the online store Kijiji to advertise a request for men’s teams at the St. Vital Curling Club. While it was still summer, savvy club managers and league conveners were on the job, looking ahead to the new season.

And Around The House is looking forward to the season too. Does your club have a story to share? An unusual event? A wonderful volunteer? A tale worth telling? Let me know, and I’ll help you get your story out. You can contact me at jrmills (at) rogers (dot) com.