HISTORY OF THE SMITHERS CURLING CLUB
as taken from the 60th Anniversary Cook Book 1987
The Smithers Curling Club was born on Tuesday, October 25, 1927 when the Smithers Athletic Club voted to form a curling branch. Plans were made to construct a rink, 36 feet wide and 120 feet long containing 2 ice sheets. The estimated cost of the building was $850. It was located on the corner of King Street and First Avenue. The ice was first tried out on the evening of December 26, 1927 and the event was described in the Interior News as a “comedy that has no equal”. However, regular league play commenced in late January, 1928 with more dependable sub-zero weather to maintain the ice. Each curler bought their own pair of rocks for about $50. Ordinary kitchen brooms were used for sweeping and galoshes or rubbers were standard footwear. The first bonspiel, started on Friday February 21, 1930, was for men only and took two weeks to complete due to an early spring thaw that ruined the ice.
Local ladies were first introduced to the “Grand Old Game” in a social evening in 1938 and loved it! In 1939, they were invited to participate in a mixed league. A very successful mixed spiel was held at the end of that season. The Interior News reported that this bonspiel had done more than anything else could to boost interest in curling in Smithers. By 1944, the ladies were holding their own bonspiel which featured 4 rinks in round robin play. They also participated in the 12 team mixed league that year.
Following the Second World War, interest in curling in Smithers mushroomed so in 1949 construction began on a new 4 sheet rink on the corner of Columbia Street and First Avenue. By this time the club had grown to 125 members and although the proposed rink was going to cost $15,000, which they did not have, the club went forward with their plan. Originally, shares were sold to members to finance such essentials as cement, brick, roofing, nails, furnace etc.
The 180 by 62 foot rink was constructed entirely by volunteer labour. Lumber by the truckload, 75 thousand feet of it, was donated by various mills in the area and was sawn under the direction of the owner of a local mill by volunteers again. The ladies were very prominent in the money raising end, holding all kinds of sales and teas and keeping volunteers supplied with coffee, lunches and suppers. Most of the curlers who owned their rocks donated them to the club during this period and the balance required for 4 sheets was purchased from an out of town club.
In the early days curling depended on the graces of Mother Nature since both these original rinks had only natural ice. The curling season was short, usually late December, January and early February, as long as sub zero weather conditions lasted.
In the mid fifties, B.C. enjoyed a warming trend and many bonspiels were ruined by early spring thaws. In 1955 a drive was started to introduce an artificial ice plant to curling enthusiasts in Smithers. In 1958, a 40 H.P. ice plant capable of sustaining 6 sheets of ice was installed in the rink and a very successful year was enjoyed by 32 teams.
The 1960’s brought a new era to curling in Smithers. The Club was now successful in attracting large, important bonspiels and playdowns to their upgraded facilities. The curlers themselves were travelling to more and more outside events. Many firsts were recorded in the decade 1960 to 1969 and the club once again outgrew its rink.
In the 1970’s the members began to plan for a new and larger rink. Once again the undertaking required hours and hours of volunteer time and donations, but the Club succeeded in obtaining a large Government grant to assist the financing and the magnificent rink we now enjoy was officially opened in February, 1976.
Regular league games are played Monday through Friday evenings, October through March. There are also several afternoon leagues. Each season begins with a curling clinic designed to introduce new players to the “Grand Old Game”. Bonspiels are booked every weekend throughout our extended season.