The Roots of Curling in Camrose
Shortly after the turn of the century, on November 27, 1911, the first meeting to organize a curling club in Camrose was held in the Canadian Club. A dozen officers were elected: Patron Frank Pike; Honorary President G.P. Smith, President R.L. Rushton, Vice-President G.E. Measom, Secretary Treasurer S.J. Boyd, Chaplain Rev. K.C. McLeod and Executive Committee – F.L. Farley, W.J. McKay, D.D. McLaren, W.G. Duggan and P.H. Forham.
P.L. Scramstad had built a covered skating rink next to the old bridge over Stoney Creek. An agreement was made with him to create two sheets of curling ice, one down either side of a central sheet of ice used for skating. The club rented this ice for $300 per curling season. And so began the game of curling in Camrose. Sixty-seven curlers enjoyed this first ice, paying an annual fee of $10 each. The club purchased two pairs of rocks, but it was the general custom at the time for each curler to have his own rocks, which he took along for out of town curling events.
When the idea of the first bonspiel was raised, Jas. Pike assured the curlers that the recollection of such an event would go “resounding down through the corridors of time”.
|By 1914, the club had grown to 84 members and rented the whole rink to hold
an open bonspiel in January. Today’s club still has the original program pictured above.
A heavy snowfall on Valentine’s Day, 1914 caused the sudden collapse of the rink roof. Luckily it happened an hour prior to a scheduled hockey game, when the building would have been full of people. With no curling facility, club members met to determine their fate.
|The original curling/skating rink built in 1911 came to an abrupt end when
the roof collapsed from heavy snow on Valentine’s Day, 1914.
|After considerable investigation, a joint stock company was formed and incorporated – Camrose Curlers Ltd. Shares were sold for $10 each and the company built a three-sheet rink on the northwest corner of Prospect Avenue and Niblock Street (now 49th Avenue and 46th Street). Ready for use by fall, the building was rented to the curling club for $325 per season. Ladies were given the use of one sheet for the morning and one for the afternoon for a fee of $5.|
A common discussion in the club minutes year after year during this time, was the need for more ice. In 1929, the stock company offered to sell the rink to the curling club for $2500. The estimate to build a new rink was $6000, or $3000 to enlarge the old. However, it was determined that there was no way the old rink could be enlarged. After renting the rink for nearly 20 years at a steadily declining fee, a crisis developed and the stock company sold the rink to the Bawlf community.
1936 brought the construction of a new five-sheet rink, considered one of the best in central Alberta, on the corner of 47th Street and 50th Avenue. The cost of $6000 was financed by the individual subscriptions of members and a loan. Curlers celebrated their first time on the ice Christmas day.
In 1942, with the rink clear of debt, disaster struck in the form of fire. It took firefighters an hour to get the blaze under control resulting in heavy loss, including 70 pairs of rocks stored along the south wall where the fire broke out. Left standing was the front part of the building containing the kitchen, waiting room and a badly charred portion of the main section. Undeterred by the loss, the club was able to construct a three-sheet rink, with the help of insurance and volunteers, in time for the 1942-43 curling season. A fourth sheet was added in 1944, a fifth in 1945 and a sixth after that.
1954 brought the first artificial ice to the Camrose curling rink. In 1958 a pictorial booklet of Camrose was published, including a photograph of the rink. The caption included, “Popular recreation centre for adults during the winter months – particularly for the 325 active local curlers – is the Camrose Curling Rink which is equipped with six sheets of ice, a large spectator room with lunch counter, and five club rooms in the basement…”
|Installation of pipes for artificial ice in 1954.|
|The official opening of the rink with artificial ice in 1954. Opening rock thrown by Mayor Robert Hume. Looking on are Maury Cohen and Dr. Mac Smith.|
Unfortunately, problems that developed with the rink led to its closure in 1965. For two years avid curlers drove to New Norway, Hay Lakes and Bawlf to carry on with the “roarin’ game”.
|Men’s curling in the 1950’s in Camrose at the arena on the corner of 47th Street and 50th Avenue|
|Curling rule book from the 1950’s|
In 1967, a new recreational complex called the CADRECA was built on the fairgrounds and included a large curling rink with room for nine sheets of ice. A new curling club emerged and was incorporated as the Rose City Curling Club. When the new facility first opened there were 6 sheets of ice for curling. The remaining 3 sheets were used as a figure skating practice area. In this new facility, curlers played with matching rocks and enjoyed two viewing areas and a large club room. Once all nine sheets were used for curling, the facility was one of the largest curling rinks in the Northern Alberta Curling Association.
Today, after more than a century of curling, the Rose City Curling Club is still active and busy promoting the game of curling to all ages and all levels of curling experience.
Come play at our house and be a part of the sport as it evolves and continues to grow for the next 100 years.
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 for the compilation.