It’s a great time of year to be a curling fan. The Tim Horton’s Briar just finished up with Newfoundland and Labrador defeating Team Canada in the final game. The World Women’s Championship is currently underway in Beijing, and coming up in April, Edmonton will be hosting the Men’s World Championship where the winners of the Tim Horton’s Briar will have the chance to represent Canada on the world stage. St. Albert has a proud curling tradition, and we’ve sent some of our best players to the world championships and even to the Olympics, which you can read about here.
But it was a lot of hard work to build up this community of curlers, and there have been more than a few close calls over the years that have put the curling community here in St. Albert in danger of disappearing entirely.
St. Albert’s first dedicated curling rink opened to the public on Boxing Day of 1949, but people of St. Albert were curling here long before that. A small-but-dedicated group of men and women made up St. Albert’s Curling Club in the early days. They practiced where they could and travelled around the region to compete in different communities. Once our own rink opened though, more and more residents found themselves drawn to the sport, and the club soon expanded. A good thing too — the club ended up paying a little more for the rink than they expected and needed an extra $1,200 to pay off their debt. Thanks to the growing community interest in the sport, the funding issue was quickly settled.
After a decade of curling, the club had outgrown this simple rink, and a new, bigger rink was planned. It would cost the club $125,000, and once again, the building was completed before the money could be secured. This time it was one individual, prominent community member and public school board trustee Ron Harvey, who saved the day. Harvey made a donation to cover the club’s new debts and began to guide the club towards a more financially secure future.
The curling rinks we enjoy today were first constructed in 1997 (this time without financial difficulties attached), and the club is home to seven different leagues, a community space and more than a few championship trophies.
If you go visit the St. Albert Curling Club today, there is a good chance that one of the players that are training on the ice is on his or her way to becoming a national champion of the sport. It’s happened before, and it won’t be too long until it happens again.