Curling: A sport for all ages with a rich local history
By Amanda Tayles
While the town of Lindsay was established in 1857, it was less than 20 years later that the Lindsay Curling Club was formalized, after years of gathering for friendly outdoor matches on the Scugog River. The first rink was established on Russell Street before moving to its current home on Peel Street in 1893, where an expansion from four to six sheets of ice reflected the growth of the sport in the area. It was not only popular but incredibly successful, racking up more prizes than any other club in its first 30 years. Many of these antique trophies remain proudly on display.
Like all sports, it requires practice and commitment of its athletes, but it also has the complexity of the ice it’s played on. Curling Canada and the Ontario Curling Council have an established pathway to train technicians on the proper development and maintenance of the ice surface. This ensures the ice maintains the “pebble” that prevents the rocks from flying down the sheets. To achieve the desired friction, water droplets are sprayed across the ice which then freeze to the surface forming small bumps. The temperature of the water, the size of the droplet, and the manner in which they are sprayed all play into how fast or slow a rock curls. Lindsay has two technicians in place to curate their ice to the desired levels.
Today, the club is at 350 members, weathering the storm of the pandemic when indoor athletics saw participation plummet. It’s looking to continue to spread the love of the sport to the young and old with welcoming activities for all ages and skill levels. The club introduces kids as young as six, with shortened ends and a fun, casual approach. For the more seasoned or newcomer who may have reduced mobility, a delivery stick supports throwing the rocks, increasing the longevity of participation and the sport overall. The club’s age range is a testament to this, as the youngest member is six while the oldest is 94.
The season runs for 21 weeks, from mid-October to the end of March, with teams and events such as bonspiels (tournament) catering to all levels of play and abilities. There are teams from local schools including Fleming College, as well as Special Olympics programming. The club fosters a social, competitive and lifelong learning opportunity for the community. Club president Dave Nigh, a curler for close to 55 years, has seen curling be a generational pastime, where the love of the game is passed down through the family tree. For member Shannon Joyce that was very much the case. “I started curling when I was 12; coming to the club with my mom. My younger sister started even before then.” Now Shannon is hoping her daughter also joins in the sport in the next couple years.
Though curling didn’t become part of the Winter Olympics until 1998, its next showing will be in 2026 in Italy – leaving locals plenty of time to give it a go before cheering on Team Canada.