80 Years of Curling in Coldwater
This story has been told over & over again, but if the truth be known, the history of curling in Coldwater is still a bit of a mystery. We know that the sport of curling in Canada goes back over 200 years and can only imagine that the forefathers of Matchedash, Waubaushene, & Coldwater also partook of the game; outside on frozen ponds and rivers, where ice conditions would be governed by the weather. The Kingsborough Cup (circa 1927) is evidence of competitions between neighboring communities in the Coldwater area.
What we do know is that for years community curling enthusiasts played one night a week on the hockey ice in the local arena. During this period approximately one hundred and twenty people were members of the “Coldwater & District Curling Club”. This winter activity was thoroughly enjoyed by all, made for great exercise, enjoyable social interaction and was a great boost to community spirit. However, the hockey surface was not optimal for curling and during the late ’70’s, figure skating and minor hockey became so popular that there was no time available for curling.
Rather than abandon the sport, the members rented the ice at the Orillia Curling Club one night a week and the tradition continued. In 1984 The Coldwater & District Curling Club was incorporated with the stated goal of, “building and operating a curling facility.” When adversity struck with the condemning and tearing down of the Orillia facility in the late 1980’s, the Coldwater curlers were not deterred and ice time was rented in Midland to continue the weekly curlicue tradition. Each season of the recently incorporated club ended with a bonspiel, banquet and dance and a commitment to continue to push forward and achieve their goal of building a facility they could call home. In the fall of 1992, the Coldwater Curling Building Fundraising Association (a registered charity) was formed with the sole purpose, “to raise funds to enable the building of a four sheet, publically owned curling facility in the village of Coldwater.”
Led by a core group of dedicated curlers and volunteers money was raised through donations, bingos, car draws, dances, and lottery sales. The annual “Car Draw & Dance” during the 90’s was the “Kick Off” to the curling season in Coldwater. Tom Smith Ltd. provided cars to be raffled off at dances held in the Community Centre. A tremendous effort by all club members, selling tickets, working the bar, and cleaning up the aftermath guaranteed a financial success. It also kept the project of building a curling facility in Coldwater, forefront in the minds of the community.
By 1997 a total of $273,000 of the funds needed to build a facility had been raised. As the number of active members had now dwindled to less than 20, and curling had moved further away to Penetanguishene, the executive felt it was time to get serious, and in 1998 negotiations commenced with the Township of Severn regarding a suitable building location. A site behind the Community Centre including the former Public Works Garage was deemed the most appropriate and the Township was willing to sell the abandoned building to the club.
On July 17th, 1998 the sod-turning ceremonies were held on the site of the future Coldwater & District Curling Club with Russ Howard participating. He commented on “the grass root efforts of the Club and the positive effect it would have on the community and the future of the sport.” Fundraising continued in earnest after the sod-turning with the club successfully obtaining several grants and negotiating a long term contract with the Town for the use of the property. By the autumn of 1999 approx. $450,000 of the budgeted amount was raised and site preparation commenced, as well as renovations to the pre-existing works garage. Fundraising continued with generous donations from individuals (names of donors can be viewed on a plaque commemorating their donation at the club today). Without these donations the facility would not be debt free to-day and their dedication and support continues to be appreciated by members to this day.
Along with cash donations a number of businesses and individuals brought forward donations of materials and time. Local business generously donated building materials or supplied them at cost. To these un-named “partners” who continue to support us the Coldwater Curling Club owes a debt of gratitude. Additionally, numerous volunteers gave freely of their time during the summer of 2000 providing hundreds of hours of general labour as well as skill trade expertise, which greatly reduced the original budgeted amount.
On November 25, 2000 the Coldwater Curling Recreation Centre officially opened and it was an exciting day as Coldwater curlers finally had a rink to call home. The opening was celebrated with a two day 24 team bonspiel and was attended by dignitaries from all levels of government including members of the Canadian Curling Association and the Ontario Curling Association. It was noted that this was the first new (not replacement) curling facility built in Canada for a number of years.
In the first year an unprecedented 300 members signed up for curling; Thursday and Friday night social draws were both filled along with a full sheets on both mens and ladies nights. In addition, 72 children were enrolled in the Junior Rocks program. School children from Coldwater, Warminster, Victoria Harbour, Regent Park & Park Street Collegiate were given free ice time complete with lessons from 10 certified coaches. The Club’s goal was to provide an enjoyable experience by providing excellent ice conditions, proper equipment and informative instructions.
Who would have imagined that while watching a nationally televised sport one would see the name Coldwater & District Curling Club up on the big screen? In 2001 Sherry Middaugh and Glenn Howard chose Coldwater as their home club. Between them, these world class teams have won numerous Provincial championship banners which adorn the arena wall. In March 2007 the Brier Trophy visited the Coldwater Club as part of its cross country tour, prior to the Howard team winning it in Hamilton. On June 2 2007 there was a celebration at the Coldwater Curling Club. Vic Rauter of TSN introduced over 400 people gathered on the arena floor to the 2007 Men’s World Curling Champions Team Glenn Howard.
From playing on the Coldwater River (1927) to the World Championships (2007)… …that is the 80 year story of Curling in Coldwater.