Like so many in our sport, I come from a “curling family”. A fellowship of many, we have these indelible memories – of hours at the curling club waiting behind the glass for parents to finish their (10 end!) curling game.
My parents were members of a wonderful “Mad Men” era of curling in Vancouver in the 1960’s and ‘70s. A few weeks ago I made my last trip to the curling club where I grew up listening to curling lore and watching my dad make history as the Vancouver Curling Club’s only Brier and World Champion.
History was made again on April 29 when the final stone was thrown at the Vancouver Curling Club near downtown Vancouver. The Last Rock Ceremony reunited the surviving members of the 1964 Men’s World Curling Champions who were skipped by my father Lyall Dagg who passed at age 45 in 1975.
The move to the brand new legacy facility of the 2010 Olympics has been a long time coming. The Vancouver Curling Club has been in its current building for over 70 years. Charming in its own unique way, it is long past its prime, and while dear to those who love it, it’s time to move on. History and memories cling to the walls of the old building, and the current board and members are working diligently to preserve the special history contained within those walls and carry them across the field to the brand new rink.
I have so many memories as of a child of the 60s waiting downstairs while my parent lingered for “just ten more minutes”. The cigar smoke was thick and my sister and two brothers would sit on the chrome stools at the coffee shop counter and order fries and hot chocolate from the nice ladies who knew us all by name.
The Vancouver Curling Club is home to much of the Dagg family curling lore. I remember one much told tale in which my grandmother (Elsie, the Dagg family curling matriarch) watched my dad and my uncle play against each other in the old Evergreen Bonspiel, which was the most prestigious competition of its era in British Columbia. Apparently she was so nervous watching her sons play against each other, she never watched another curling game – until she finally folded and came to watch the next generation compete when I qualified for my first provincial championship.
Last year, it was the experience of a lifetime to be on the coaching staff at the Vancouver Olympics additionally punctuated by the fact that the Olympic Curling Venue was across the field from where I watched my dad compete so many years ago. Being able to share the experience with my family was an absolute highlite.
Very soon the old Vancouver Curling Club will be gone, ready to make way for the brand new eight sheet rink in the multi-purpose Hillcrest Community Centre – Vancouver’s most important legacy of the 2010 Olympics.
Home to 24 provincial Men’s champions, 5 Women’s champions, 4 Mixed champions, 5 Senior Men’s champions, 1 Junior Men’s and 1 Junior Women’s champion, and only one Brier and World Champion. Perhaps the new club will be home to many more.
It was a tremendously emotional visit to the old club for the last time. In reflection, growing up as a ‘rink rat’ paved the way for a lifetime of involvement in curling. I met my husband (a world junior champion) through the sport, my two adult kids are active in their own curling circles and I am now a professional curling coach.
Taking one last walk around the building I remembered the animated, passionate reliving of shots around the tables and the people I knew back then. But now curling is facing a whole new opportunity to grow so far beyond what my parents’ and their friends every dreamed of. Preserving the history is important but the future is where curling will shine even brighter. I can’t wait for the First Stone!