In the late 1950's, a group of enthusiastic and dedicated individuals commenced curling in the Coliseum located on the Agricultural Society Fairgrounds at the top of the 10th Street East Hill in our City. Names such as Claire Armstrong, Charlie Cameron, Helen Kruger, Ethel Henderson, Tom Stewart, Len Bye, Doug McCulloch, Elgin Hutchinson and of course the Graham families Archie, Neil, Hugh and Jim and some of their respective spouses were among the early curlers at this time. The club was known as the Owen Sound Coliseum Curling Club.
Due to an increase in the rental cost and the limited availability of ice time with the popularity of hockey and ice skating, these original curlers decided to move their curling activities over to the building know as the “Horse and Cattle Pavilion” located in the northwest area of the fairgrounds. Spring came early one year and of course the natural ice melted prior to the curlers being able to complete their schedule and/or the playoffs. The curlers decided that now was the time for change and to take action in purchasing a property of their own with the vision of constructing a proper curling facility.
At this particular point in time, the property located on the south west corner of 19th Street East and 7th Avenue East owned by George A. VanWyck was advertised for sale. The building was currently used to house the storage of block ice as well as a cold locker operation.
This group of motivated curlers took official action to form the original Blue Water Curling Club executive comprising of President Howard Henderson, Vice President, Doug McCulloch and fellow Board Members Jim Graham, Eric Showell, Bill Loney, Archie Graham, Louis Graham, Irvine Brown, Ray Logan, Wilbur Stonehouse, Hugh Graham, and Secretary-Treasurer, Helen Kruger. President Henderson arranged for a loan of $50,000 with Bob Archer, Manager, of The Bank of Nova Scotia to purchase the property and begin construction of a new curling rink.
The VanWyck property was purchased for $4,250.00. Under the executive’s direction, the construction of a new concrete block structure housing four sheets of curling ice and attached to the original building was awarded to Len Bailey Construction from Shallow Lake. The old ammonia refrigeration plant used to cool the ice house and cold locker portion needed to be replaced. Archie Graham & John Rudolph approached Harry Gardiner soliciting money to purchase and replace the old ammonia plant with an updated freon type ice making system. Mr. Gardner granted the loan to the curling club and in return took back a mortgage on the property for $13,500 with a verbal understanding that he was not at all interested in purchasing a curling business. This refrigeration project was completed by Canada Ice from Toronto for a cost of $13,000.00. George Ross supervised some of the refrigeration work and Louis Graham arranged with Dominion Electric to supply the electrical material required in the new building. The original contract for the arena structure was in the neighborhood of $35,000.
The original “ice”storage building would continue to serve as our club house and change rooms for several more years.
The Blue Water Curling Club was officially approved as a Non Profit Organization by the Province of Ontario on December 18, A.D. 1962 and was recorded on the 18th day of January A. D. 1963 as Number 38 in liber 1175. Our curling club was accepted as a member of the Ontario Curling Association on December 31, 1963. An official opening was held on Saturday, January 26, 1963 at 2:00 P.M. The first annual meeting of the organization was held on October 21, 1963.
At a shareholders meeting held on April 16, 1973, the members voted to demolish our club house building and erect the current facility according to a design and specifications produced by Henderson, Paddon and Associates. The estimated cost for this project was to be $48,000. The contract was awarded to Clarence Graham Construction. The structure comprised of a concrete block structure housing an entrance and clock room, 2nd floor men’s and ladies locker rooms, washrooms and the clubroom, kitchen and bar area on the first floor. During the summer of 1994, our club installed a complete new refrigeration plant under the direction of President Glen Boyd, Vice President Scott Wilson and our resident ice technician Scott McCrae. At this particular point in time, the directors also considered replacing the brine pipes at a cost of $19,400; but, decided it was too much financially for the club to take on. The contract for the replacement ice making machinery was awarded to CIMCO Refrigeration of Toronto at a cost of $69,400. Funds received from hosting the 1991 Blue Light Tankard were used to pay for this project.
In 2005, the members voted to renovate and update our present club rooms with the receipts from hosting the 2004 Ontario Men’s Curling Championship. These hall renovations were completed by the fall of 2005 by JA/Land Ltd. Upon completion of our interior club renovations, the Board of Directors decided to upgrade the arena portion of the curling club. The original sand and ammonia pipes were replaced, the arena walls were painted, new carpet was put down and a low emissivity (Low E) ceiling was installed over the ice surface. The removal of the sand and original pipes was completed by member volunteers under the supervision of Bill Hutchinson and Murray Cox. Both Bill and Murray dedicated a great deal of their volunteer time and effort to the completion of this project. CIMCO Refrigeration completed the installation of the plastic pipes and the replacement of the brine to our refrigeration system. This work was finished prior to the start up of the 2006 curling season.
The Blue Water Curling Club has served the residents of the City of Owen Sound and surrounding curling fraternity well. Currently, our active members curl at 7:00 P.M. from Monday to Friday. We provide daily ice rental time for several curling leagues during the season. The Farmer’s Curling League curls Monday at 12:00 Noon & 2:00 P.M., the Kemble Curling League curls on Friday at 1:00 P.M. and the Owen Sound Men’s Industrial Curling League occupy our facility for play on Saturdays from 11:45 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. We provide free ice time for the Owen Sound Special Olympic curlers on Tuesday afternoons and continue to provide a successful Junior Curling Program on Sundays at 1:30 P.M.
Several Owen Sound elementary and secondary schools make use of our facility for their student electives, team practices and interschool curling competitions. The club also offers for a minimal fee a fun “Pay As You Curl” to the general public on Wednesday mornings at 9:30 A.M. Everyone is welcome. The hall and/or ice are available for rent to outside groups during the winter months and our hall in the off season. Since our inception, we have been fortunate to maintain an active and steady membership within the club. We encourage new curlers to join without regard to his or her level of experience or playing ability.
The Blue Water Curling Club is proud and appreciative of our present and past members who have devoted many volunteer hours of their personal time and energy to the operation and/or maintenance of our curling club; thus, contributing to the continuing success of our club today. A sincere “Thank you” goes out to the many member volunteers for their work and dedication in making our curling club what we enjoy today.
The Blue Water Curling Club has been privileged and honoured over the years to host some of Ontario’s premier curling events:
The 1991 Men’s Ontario Labatt’s “Blue Light Tankard”
Chairperson – Fraser Wilson
The 1996-97 “Teranet” Junior Men’s and Junior Women’s
Provincial Curling Championship
Chairperson – Jane Keeling
The 2000-01 “Pepsi Cola” Ontario Bantam and Junior Mixed
Provincial Curling Championship
Chairperson – Mike Armstrong
The 2004 Ontario Men’s Curling Championship
Chairperson - Scott Wilson
Our members look forward to many more years of curling, fun and socializing. Perhaps, we may again have the opportunity to host another Ontario major curling competition in Owen Sound.