Back to the Lakehead!
Thunder Bay to host 2025 Scotties Tournament of Hearts
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again — and Thunder Bay, Ont., will have that opportunity in 2025, it was announced today by Curling Canada.
After two previous pandemic-affected attempts to hold a full-scale championship, Thunder Bay will get its long-waited opportunity to host the Scotties Tournament of Hearts with fans in attendance at the venerable Fort William Gardens.
The 2025 Scotties, which will declare a the Canadian women’s curling champion, will be played Feb. 14-23.
“I can’t say enough about the support and dedication of the City of Thunder Bay and the Northern Ontario curling community, because there was never a question in their minds about making this happen,” said Danny Lamoureux, interim Chief Executive Officer of Curling Canada. “I know how deeply it affected them to have the events affected like they were in the pandemic, and I know they will pull out all the stops to make the 2025 Scotties a massive success.”
Thunder Bay was initially awarded the 2021 Scotties, but that event was shifted to the Calgary bubble in exchange for the right to host the 2022 Scotties.
But early in 2022, the sudden surge in cases due to the Omicron variant forced the event to be played with no fans in the building until the closing weekend when a few hundred volunteers, junior curlers and family members were admitted in to watch Team Canada, skipped by Kerri Einarson, win its third consecutive title by defeating Thunder Bay’s Team Krista McCarville in the gold-medal game.
“The City of Thunder is pleased Curling Canada has shown confidence in our local curling community to host this major national championship again in February 2025; this time with fans in the stands and with the anticipation of sold-out draws at the historic Fort William Gardens”, said Thunder Bay Mayor Ken Boshcoff. “We have a proud history hosting championship events and feel privileged Thunder Bay’s curling community and local businesses will get another chance to show what are city can offer for the thousand of visitors expected to travel here over the 10 days of this major event.”
It will be the sixth time the Canadian women’s curling championship has been hosted by the Northern Ontario Curling Association.
In addition to the 1969, 1996 and 2022 (won by Saskatchewan’s Joyce McKee, Ontario’s Marilyn Bodogh and Team Einarson respectively) championships in Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie was the location of the 1978 Canadian women’s championship (won by Manitoba’s Cathy Pidzarko) and the 2010 Scotties (won by Team Canada’s Jennifer Jones).
Heather Houston’s Thunder Bay team won back-to-back Scotties titles in 1988 and 1989 — still the only time a team representing the Northern Ontario Curling Association has won the Canadian women’s championship.
It will be the 44th edition of the Scotties Tournament of Hearts with title sponsorship by Kruger Products — the longest-standing sponsorship of women’s sports in Canada.
“Kruger Products is proud to be the longest-standing sponsor of women’s sports in Canada for over four decades!” said Susan Irving, Chief Marketing Officer at Kruger Products. “We are thrilled to be back in Thunder Bay, and we look forward to cheering on the country’s top curlers as they compete for the title of Team Canada. As the makers Canadian leading brands, Scotties facial tissue, Cashmere and Purex bathroom tissue, and SpongeTowels paper towels, we cherish the ability to continue our sponsorship for such an important event and to support Canadian women’s curling for the 44th year.”
There will be an abundance of prizes and opportunities that will go to the winning team in Thunder Bay.
The 2025 Scotties champion will go on to represent Canada at the 2025 World Women’s Championship (host city, dates, to be announced by the World Curling Federation at a later date).
With a top-six finish at the 2025 world championship, the 2025 Scotties winner also will qualify for the 2025 Canadian Curling Trials, where Canada’s four-player teams for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy will be decided.
As well, the 2025 Scotties winner will return in 2026 as the defending champion Team Canada.
“The opportunity to host the Scotties Tournament of Hearts for a second time is a testament to the quality of Thunder Bay’s winter sport tourism and event capacity,” said Jamie Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of the Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC). “This event brings over 3,000 visitors to our community with an estimated economic impact of over $7 million, proving to be a substantial return on investment. The CEDC Board of Directors of and CEDC Tourism Investment Committee unanimously approved the $400,000 hosting fee to once again secure the opportunity to host this prestigious championship and showcase a positive image for Thunder Bay on a national stage.”
“Sport tourism is a major economic and social contributor to Thunder Bay’s tourism sector and is a significant pillar within our tourism strategy to be a truly year around destination,” added Paul Pepe, Tourism Manager for the CEDC. “The return of the Scotties in 2025 is testament to our community’s stellar reputation for hosting world-class sport tourism events.”
Opened in 1951, the Fort William Gardens seats just over 3,300. The building’s main tenant is the Lakehead University Thunderwolves.
In addition to Team Bodogh’s 1996 Scotties victory, the 1960 Brier (won by Saskatchewan’s Ernie Richardson), the 1976 Canadian Junior Women’s Championship (won by Saskatchewan’s Colleen Rud), and the 1991 Canadian Mixed Championship (won by Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton) were played at the Gardens.
Thunder Bay also played host to the 1956 and 1968 Canadian Junior Men’s Championships (won by Saskatchewan’s Bob Hawkins and Ontario’s Bill Hope respectively), the 1969 Canadian Women’s Championship (won by Saskatchewan’s Joyce McKee), the 1998 World Junior Men’s and Women’s Championships (swept by Canada’s John Morris and Melissa McClure), and the 2006 Canadian Junior Men’s and Women’s Championships (won by Alberta’s Charley Thomas and Saskatchewan’s Mandy Selzer).
“It’s a testament to the passion and dedication of the Thunder Bay curling community, as well as the City of Thunder Bay and its Community Economic Development Commission, that Curling Canada expressed such confidence to bring the Scotties back in 2025,” said Laura Forget, Executive Director of the Northern Ontario Curling Association. “I can’t wait to be there and join curling fans from across the country at what should be a wonderful competition, on and off the ice.”
The first entry into the 2025 Scotties will be decided on Feb. 25 in Calgary, as the 2024 Scotties Tournament of Hearts winner is decided that day, and will play as Team Canada in Thunder Bay.
Ticket and volunteer information will be released in early 2024. Fans are encouraged to sign up on the Curling Canada Collective to receive updates.
TSN/RDS2 , the official broadcast partner of Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will televise all of the action from Thunder Bay.