Early Days of Ladies’ Curling


(Includes excerpts from a history written by Esther Rosland)

Mary Sjolie who started curling in 1928, with silver trays won in 1937 at Ponoka
where her Camrose team won the Grand Challenge.

I became a member of the Camrose Ladies Curling Club in 1952, when Ruby Steere introduced me to curling. By the time I joined, there were five sheets of ice with a small lobby and kitchen area that the ladies used for catering to bonspiels. The rinks took turns serving lunch on the days we curled.

We have unofficial record of ladies curling in Camrose as early as 1927. The earliest formal record of women’s curling in Camrose began in 1948 with the first set of recorded minutes. The Camrose Ladies Curling Club fee was $5. Club president was Jessie Burgess, Vice President Mrs. King and Treasurer Celia Feniak. Women curled on three or four sheets of ice.

In 1950 the ladies’ club earned the money to purchase matching rocks for the men’s club, by catering at a Roy Ward show. At this time club fees were raised to $6, with fees for bonspiel entries ranging from $3 to $4.

Early ladies curling team

In 1953 a sixth sheet of ice was added and the ladies were able to purchase a much needed set of rocks for $560.30. Curling was now scheduled twice a week. The temperature on the curling ice was the same as outdoors, which was disappointing on mild days when the ice turned slushy. These ice conditions usually meant that bonspiel draws would have to be scheduled at night.

In 1954 the men installed an artificial ice plant to extend the curling season from November to April. At that time ladies curling fees jumped to $20.00. The lobby was enlarged and Jessie Burgess presented plans for a new kitchen. The completion of the kitchen marked the start of the first concession, where rinks took turns operating it under the guidance of Adelle MacInnes.

On February 7 and 8, 1955, the ladies’ club hosted the T. Eaton Northern Alberta District Playdowns, with Peggy Smith acting as the zone convener.

 Mary Sjolie (left) and her team, winners of The Hudson Bay Trophy at the
Northern Alberta Ladies Bonspiel, January 1940

In April ,1955 the ladies club loaned the men’s club $800 with the stipulation that they tile the kitchen floor and viewing area by the next curling season. The women’s club later added venetian blinds and a $150 coke cooler to the facility. The concession was finally rented out to ease the burden on the ladies club participants. However, the men were in desperate need of funds, so the ladies hosted their first smorgasbord on February 16, 1957. The continued success of these kinds of events, hosted by the ladies, resulted in a yearly donation of $500 – $1000 to the men’s club.

In 1958, the Northern Alberta Ladies Curling Association (NALCA) dues were raised from $5 per club to $5.40 per member.

In November, 1959 the ladies’ club chose their first club sweater, black with red and white trim.

1960 brought a raise of bonspiel fees from $12 to $16 per rink. Plates and cutlery were increased to serve 300 people.

The Mrs. Fred Duggan rink of Camrose were 3 down going home and managed to land a rare 8-ender to win the Daysland Ladies Bonspiel.
Left to Right: Mrs. Al Zaph, Mrs. J. Young, Mrs. Dennis Twomey and Mrs. Fred Duggan.
  
Some of the ladies curling teams in the 1950’s and 60’s enjoyed dressing up in costume to add fun to events.

In those days we worked harder and endured a great deal of cold – all for the joy and fellowship of curling. But how much longer could a club carry on in a leaky building that needed extensive renovations? The answer came in 1966 when President Edna Pratt informed the club that the curling rink had been condemned. The Camrose ladies’ club still formed 6 rinks and kept their own identity with the NALCA, but played in New Norway from November 1965 to March 1967.

In November 1967, the Camrose Ladies Curling Club abandoned their name in favor of a new one – The Rose City Ladies Curling Club. This marked the start of a new era of women’s curling in Camrose in the new CADRECA building. The new building meant happy curling in a temperature controlled building – no more leaks or subzero temperatures to endure – just the fun and comradery that defines women’s curling.

In 2011 during our 100th year anniversary of curling in Camrose, we were proud to host the Alberta Scotties Provincial Tournament of Hearts. This event showcased the highest caliber of ladies’ curling our province has to offer with Cheryl Bernard (silver medalist from the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games), Valerie Sweeting (defending provincial champion), Shannon Kleibrink (bronze medalist from the 2006 Turin Olympic Games, skip of the 2004 Canadian Mixed Champions and 2008 Canadian Scotties finalist) and Heather Nedohin (1996 Canadian and World Junior Champion, 1998 and 2012 Canadian Scotties Champion and 2012 World Ladies’ bronze medalist).

Material for the history of curling in Camrose was researched in part from the Camrose Canadian archives. Material and information was also obtained from the Camrose Museum Society. Special thanks to Groundwater Communications.