“Let us throw and sweep until the heavens themselves drop their jaws in wonder and envy. If someone should ask what we were doing, we shall proclaim that we were curling!” – Homer Simpson
The Shawville Curling Club is empty on Lang Street for this particular day. The spot will become busier within the next couple months, as the curling season gears up. The Club was founded in 1921 by J.H Stewart, who was manager at the Bank of Nova Scotia Branch, which today is the Royal Bank on Main Street. Now, 93 years later, the sport is still being played in town.
Curling started on the natural ice of the skating rink at Ebert Richardson’s building. The ‘rocks’ that were thrown were called ‘irons’ and weighed about 65 pounds. The backboards – to stop the irons – were upturned benches. Imagine throwing that 65 pound iron with enough force to cut through slush, or sweeping with an ordinary house broom or having to change soaking socks and shoes during play. These were some recollections of chartered member, Hosmer Turner, in 1971.
The first official curling rink was built in 1926 and the following year, women were admitted to the club. There were 13 ladies names listed on the charter in 1927. In those days, the rink featured only two sheets of natural ice, but the membership eventually outgrew the ice and the club was demolished in 1968. This brings time to the current structure today with three sheets.
The Community Bonspiel, where teams compete for the famous Toilet Seat trophy will be celebrating 40 years of play, this winter. Many believe the event is one of the biggest curling bonspiels in North America to be played at one rink and in one community, as 72 teams have taken part in the past. Through the years, some have been even bold to say, it has been one of the biggest bonspiels in the world.
Records have also been set at the Community Bonspiel with the elusive eight-ender. Golf Digest estimates that an average player has 12,000-to-1-odds of making a hole-in-one. The U.S National Weather Service says the odds of being struck by lightning are 1 in 5,000. So, scoring eight rocks in one end of curling is considered so rare, that the odds weren’t even found.
In Shawville, the feat of the eight-ender in curling has only been recorded three times. From information found at the Pontiac Archives, the first was in 1998 at the Community Bonspiel with the team of June Gordon, Mel Gordon, Donald Lavallee and Hewitt McCredie. It happened again at the Bonspiel in 2002, for the team of Phyllis Wilson, Mary Lou Draper, Gloria Green and Elva Stark.
The other eight-ender was in 2000, but didn’t happen during the Bonspiel. This included the team of Stu Stark, Rene Latreille, Claude Labrosse and Elva Stark.
Activities over the years ranged from pay-as-you-curl, competitive, junior curling and a cash-spiel. Saturday nights featured a live band made up of club members. There had also been fashion shows, clothing sales, hall rentals and roast beef dinners.
Time will soon come for talk of pebbled ice, fast and slow rocks and plenty of shouts for sweeping.
“Let us curl. And afterwards, there will be beer and coco with marshmallows floating in the foam.” – Homer Simpson
By: Scott Campbell