June 19th, 2024

Lethbridge Curling Club rocks a milestone

By Dale Woodard on September 23, 2021.

The Lethbridge Curling Club has come a long way from playing outside on natural ice and not only owning their rocks, but making them as well with jam cans filled with cement.

In fact, it’s been 125 years since the start of those days.

Celebrating that milestone, the club on the west side threw open its doors Saturday for an anniversary extravaganza that included an official cake-cutting, members sharing war stories and even interested new curlers showing up to check out – and sign up – for a few programs.

While the past was celebrated, the future was looked to as well with a few of Saturday’s attendees signing up in a volunteer capacity for the upcoming 2022 Brier next March at the Enmax Centre.

As the Lethbridge Curling Club celebrated 125 years, long-time member Ed Granger has been around for 41 of those, joining the club back in 1980.

Back then the sport was – pun intended – rocking.

“Curling was pretty much at a peak in those days,” said Granger. “You had to line up to get into a league. You had to line up to get into a bonspiel. That was kind of a given at that time. Those times have changed and kind of moderated, but at the same time we’re still curling in a beautiful 10-sheet facility. So we’re pretty fortunate to have facilities like this.”

The Lethbridge Curling Club Bonspiel used to have 128 teams, said Granger.

“Today we’re at 48 teams, so that’s a huge change. But the calibre of curling has gotten better.”

Over his years with the Lethbridge Curling Club, Granger represented the locals at the Canadian Seniors in 2008 and the Canadian Masters 10 years later.

But the highlight, he said, was the Shirtsleeve Bonspiel every year.

“Everybody got to curl and we were curling with about 80 teams. I had one occasion in which our team won it. There have been a lot of highlights over the years,” said Granger, who now plays in the Seniors League in the afternoon and the Wednesday Open League in the evening.

The Cliff Forry Senior Open Curling Classic – slated for November – is another big bonspiel, heading into its 25th year.

“That’s a competitive bonspiel that teams come in from Calgary and Red Deer and into B.C. as well as Medicine Hat. That’s still one of the highlights we have,” said Granger.

Lethbridge Curling Club manager Kirk Mearns was not only impressed with Saturday’s turnout, but the number of new curlers expressing interest in hitting the hack.

“We’ve had people come out who wanted to try curling who had never tried it before. Kids are playing the Rocks In The Rings and everybody is signing up for Learn To Curl.

“We’ve signed up seven people to be a Brier volunteer and I know the 50-plus league has had people sign up. We’ve probably signed up at least eight people for the Learn To Curl. They just want to come out. They’ve never curled before, but they want to come out and learn how to curl. The message is getting out. People are tired of staying home and curling is a great way to spend the winter.”

Club members have agreed with that for over a century.

“You try and think back to 1896 when this all started happening and you’re trying to get your head around what curling was like back then and you look at it today, the science of making ice today and how many people play it,” said Mearns.

“It’s really something and it is sinking in, but it’s hard to explain how special it is when you’ve been here that long.”

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