St. Marys Curling

HISTORY

StMM49206

The 1st curling club in Canada was in 1807 in Montreal. The Scottish immigrants were the curling pioneers in southwestern Ontario. Many were stonemasons and made their own curling stones from granite boulders left behind by ice or removed from the fields as they were cleared for farming. A band of iron was then fastened around the middle to prevent splitting and to add some weight.

Games were played outdoors and gradually clubs built sheds to eliminate the need for snow removal. The first indoor rink was in 1838. Curling clubs were sprouting up around Ontario and competition between Quebec and Ontario curlers grew. With the coming of the Grand Trunk Railway curlers no longer needed to travel by horse and wagon to compete.

In 1866 in St. Marys there had been some curlers involved with other centres, and it is recorded the first official match was in Guelph against a team from Woodstock. The club facilities were a modest shack beside the River. In 1880 3 prosperous residents built an enclosed rink ($4000). This wood structure was shaped like a Quonset shed with round barnlike roof and was situated on Trout Creek roughly where the Sam’s Home Hardware is today. Its title was “The Barn”. It was natural ice pumped from Trout Creek into a holding tank. In 1884 St. Marys competed widely and captured the Ontario Tankard. In this era, they achieved a run of some 213 wins without being defeated. In 1943 the town inspection identified roof weakness as a severe danger which could lead to collapse under heavy snow. The building was condemned and the lot sold and the building torn down.

Curling shut down until 1963, when the Club rebounded when the St. Marys Golf Club worked with local citizens and developed a new facility to serve both golf & curling. Cost of changes was approx.. $95,000. The club celebrated the 100th anniversary at these facilities.

In 1997 the St. Marys Curling Club received notice that the current facility would no longer be available for curling. Members sensed a need of urgency to find another location before the next season so as to prevent the loss of members to other locations. They felt if members left even for one year they may not return. Ernie Vanderschot and Greg Thompson contacted Jamie Hahn the mayor at the time to see if the town could be of any help. They soon found out that the town was looking into a facility for swimming at the quarry. The town would offer up the land, and the facility would cost approximately $700,000. $200,000 was in the budget from the town and the remaining $500,000. would need to be raised. The cement plant was in the process of being sold and the owners were approached for a donation with the agreement of having naming rights. Subsequently a $300,000 donation came in from the Lind family and the facility now had a name.

The remaining $200,000. needed to be found in a hurry due to the fall deadline for a new facility. The club then approached the bank for a loan, but the loan needed to be guaranteed so 8 members offered to put up $25,000. guarantee each. The town then got 3 tenders and McLean/Taylor soon got underway building this current facility.In order to pay off the loan, members were approached to make a donation over 3 years with the promise of a very generous tax credit. They were able to raise $120,000. in the first year alone. Thanks to Greg Thompson, Ernie Vanderschot, Harry Weersink, Albert Weernink, John Goris, Tony Hooydonk, Peter Poel and Gerard Poel. We are happy to note that 2 of those 8 are still active members in our club today.

 

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