The Bala Curling Club has been hosting an annual Winespiel on the 2nd weekend of February for almost 50 years.

It attracts club curlers and out of town curlers alike for the two day event. After 2 days of curling, the event culminates in a wonderful dinner with prizes. Each curler gets to take home a specially labelled bottle of wine as a souvenir.

Our Winespiel hasn’t been coinciding with Curling Day in Canada in the past. So this year we moved our Winespiel so that the 2nd and final day happens on Curling Day in Canada. We have a special celebration planned for this year’s event including 2 learn to curl sessions.

I have been entering this bonspiel for 7 years, and I was lucky enough to be on the winning team once. Let’s curl!


What makes our club special?

What makes our club special? Our club is special that it typifies so much of what makes curling special.

We have an active junior program. We have an active learn to curl that brings in new members. We have several groups of multigenerational family members. We support charity. We are a warm place to hang out with good people on a cold night.

We are a small club that through active volunteerism and a sense of family and tradition, has created a safe place for people to come together and maintain a sense of fellowship.

This has been a commitment the club made since our founding and in a world where the sense of isolation is increasing, this is more important than ever.



Kim McDonald-Wilkes

I am writing to nominate the Special Olympics NL Exploits Hurricanes Competitive Curling Team. This curling team has been together only a short 4 years and during that time that have accomplished so much! At the 2019 Special Olympics NL Winter Games they won Gold in the Competitive division. Securing their place on the Provincial Team heading to the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games in Thunder Bay, Ontario on Feb 23rd, 2020. In 2018 they received Gold in the Competitive division at the Special Olympics NL Provincial Championships and again in 2017, a Gold medal at the same competition.

In 2019 the clubs home town of Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland and Labrador recognized this teams accomplishments and awarded them the 2018 Team of the Year for the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor at the Town’s annual Civic Awards. In 2019 Special Olympics NL awarded them with Team of the Year for the Province and then again in 2019 Special Olympics Canada awarded them Team of the Year for the entire country!!

This team has a diverse array of athletes, with both female and male competitors with ages ranging from 19 up to 63 years of age. The team is more like a family. Their dedication to not just the sport of Curling but to the Special Olympics movement is amazing. Team member Joshua Gardner was also recipient of Male Athlete of the year for Special Olympics NL and has given many speeches about Special Olympics and the impact it has had on him. Joshua is also involved at his local Curling Club, Exploits Regional Curling Club and enjoys assisting with making and maintaining the ice. Team member Margaret MacNeil just recently took part in Athlete Leadership Training and co-emceed’s the 2019 Special Olympics NL Provincial Winter Games. Team members Kim O’Neill and Gary Wicks being the two most seasoned athletes on the team have been in Special Olympics for over 20 years. Tony Kyritsis will be making his 6th appearance on the National Stage, previously he competed at National Games in Snow Shoeing.

This team has grown tremendously on and off the ice over the past 4 years. They have learned to both win and loss with grace. They encourage other athletes in their respective sport to do their best and work hard to accomplish goals. Within the community of Grand Falls-Windsor each team member is well known and respected. They are each involved in a number of activities outside of Special Olympics.

One team member is currently enrolled at the College of the North Atlantic working on a diploma in Community Studies. Two other teammates hold down full time jobs and the remaining two teammates are enjoying the retired life but still remain active and volunteer in the community whenever the chance is given.





The Sparwood Curling Club in the beautiful Rocky Mountains

The Sparwood Curling Club is located in the heart of Sparwood adjacent to the Elk River in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

This club originated after the old Michel Natal Curling Club was shut down and residents of the old coal mining communities of Michel and Natal were relocated to the new town of Sparwood.

The Sparwood Curling Club is part of a large recreational complex built in 1978 by the District of Sparwood. The Sparwood Curling Club leases the facility from the District of Sparwood for 5 months out of the year.

The club has always been a volunteer base organization and its spirit comes from the hard working people associated with the coal mining which has been going on in the Elk Valley for the past 100+ years. Just as coal mining in the Elk Valley has suffered many boom and bust cycles over the years, so has the curling club. None were more devastating than the collapse of the coal mining industry in 1992 when Westar Mining went bankrupt throwing ~1,500 local residents out of work. The Sparwood Curling Club did not operate that season.

In 1993, a small group of approximately 40 residents resurrected the club and the leagues even though there was substantial debt owed to the District of Sparwood (~$20,000.00). Over the course of the next 27 years the club flourished. Hard work was the theme and a core group of dedicated volunteers brought the Club back to life and repaid the debt to the District. This was accomplished through club volunteers bartending extra community functions during the curling season and the off season, as well as numerous other fundraising activities.

What makes the Sparwood Curling Club so special is the welcoming spirit and friendly people participating in the mens, ladies, mixed and Junior leagues. Multigenerational participation in the club is common with parents playing with kids and grandkids, a truly family fun activity and memorable experience.

The club has a lounge and bar which is affectionately called Mum’s Pub in recognition of the long serving volunteer bartender, Irene Endicott who has served 18 years. At 89 years old she still happily serves drinks to patrons who all call her “mom”. Her great smile and welcoming demeanor is always a hit for new members coming into the club.

In 2017 the community of Fernie, 20 miles to the west of Sparwood, suffered a tragic incident at their recreational complex. As a result, the Fernie Curling Club was shut down for 2 years. The Sparwood Curling Club was approached to host the Fernie Seniors Curling Group and the Fernie Super League to give them a place to play. The Sparwood Curling Club welcomed the groups with open arms and gave true meaning to Curl Canada’s slogan: “ Our house is your house”. The ice maintenance volunteers took on the extra work and prepared the ice two to three extra times a week for the Fernie groups. The club volunteers put in more effort to help purchase a new ice scraper to decrease the volunteer hours needed to provide the great keen ice for all participants.

As the Sparwood Curling club had never operated a Senior Curling League in the afternoon it presented an opportunity for some Sparwood Senior curlers to join the Fernie group during this time frame. Great fun was had by all and bonds formed during this time frame were strong. With Fernie returning to their home club for the 2019/20 season some Sparwood Seniors have continued to travel to Fernie to enjoy the afternoon curling and socializing opportunity.

The Sparwood Curling Club would be thrilled to welcome the Tankard and demonstrate why we think we have the most welcoming and fun club in the country.





Niagara Falls, both sides of the border!!

Unique? Oh we are unique that is for sure. What other club can state its membership includes a 5 time Women’s national champion, and yet has never won a Scotties? Did I forget to mention 1/10 of our club members are willing to cross international borders just to join our fun including 5 time US national Women’s Champion Patti Lank?

Sure we have a number of bonspiels (The Honeymoon, The Festival of Lights, etc.) and participate in friendly bonspiels that cross that border again (with Buffalo and Rochester). We have a vibrant Recreational League that has a number of theme nights including ‘Reindeer Games’, ‘Soup-er bowl’ night and a ‘Chili night’. 87 year old Pearl Maves is a 30 year member, and we have a 50 year member, Donna Walters! As well as competitive and semi-competitive leagues, our youth curling program is a growing and vibrant part of our club and is pleased to see 8 year old Evelyn Fish competing at the Brier this year!

When the time comes to celebrate our game, what is more Canadiana than combining curling and Niagara Falls. On February 22nd we will be taking street curling to Niagara Falls where members of our club will join visitors to our city and visitors to our country when the ‘Roaring Game’ meets the ‘Roar of the Falls’!

We will be setting up our curling experience right in front of the falls for a day full of fun and celebration! Not only will we have constant pebbling from the mist me might be able to coax out a rainbow! We will also introduce curling to visitors who are coming to see the falls and will be able to add curling to their day. How’s that for a unique Canadian experience!

***see attached photo for location of Curling at the Falls!

When we discussed submitting our story, we were met with any number of people who were more than willing to tell ‘their story’. Please find attached a small sampling of the wonderful stories that make up our club.

The Coull family has 3 generations of curlers that curl together. Lynne is a former Senior Women’s Canadian Champion, who has the opportunity to play with her son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter in our mixed doubles league.

A Sport for the Whole Family (Lynn Coull)

One of the great features of the wonderful sport of curling is that it cuts across many demographics, age, skill, and gender.

As a player for over 40 years, I was able to play in the Friday Night Mixed Doubles league with my son, daughter-in-law or granddaughter as my partner. My son can also play with his wife or daughter. We have a great mix and match available to us.

I am also going to enter a team in the Boys and Girls Club fundraising Bonspiel with my granddaughter and other friends. I will play skip and she will vice. We might even mix that up. Curling is a good sport that combines fun, fellowship and skill.

Patti Lank is 5 time US national Women’s Champion and US Senior Women’s Champion. She is also a former World Silver Medalist.

As a New York resident and a curler who has represented the United States I can’t tell you how privileged I feel to be able to practice and play at the Niagara Falls Curling Club. The ice staff has always gone above and beyond when my team has needed practice and ice time before a big event. The members are like family always following our teams endeavors and cheering us on even though we represent another country. I love being a part of Niagara Falls curling club! – Patti Lank

Sean Ford is long time member and coach at the curling club who clearly has had his life impacted by being a member of the Niagara Falls Curling Club. A Legacy of Success: Youth Curling At Niagara Falls Curling Club

In recent weeks I have had a chance to reflect on our curling club and its influence on not only my life, but those of my children and family members. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into a little over 10 years ago, when we brought our kids out to the club for Little Rocks.

The program was being run at the time by Mike and Paula Mann, longtime members at NFCC who had kids of their own in the program and had volunteered to run the program for years. The girls took to it right away, I’m sure in large part to the welcoming environment that Mike & Paula created on Sunday mornings.

As the skills started to develop, a competitive spark grew in the kids. Maybe a bonspiel outside the club to test ourselves…have a little fun..the hook was set. The girls were encouraged to to get out and experience the competitive side of curling from members and coaches alike. It was wonderful to see them out there on the ice enjoying the game. What made it even better was that my girls, Katie and Megan, were a team with their cousins; Mackenzie and Cassie, so it was great family bonding time.

About this time we hooked a gifted coach at the club (Murray Etherington) into having a look at them. He was busy with his Brock University teams but thought he could spare a few hours to work with them. Work with them he did, but what we hadn’t realized was that he was working on us as well. It started with little jobs; look at something, time some rocks, give me a hand on the ice. It wasn’t long before that turned into, “maybe you could take the coaching course that I’m delivering this week in Grimsby?”.

Curling had hooked our family curling team, and Murray had hooked me into coaching…all in a very subtle slow way. I must confess that I liked it, and I enjoyed spending time with my girls and their cousins. Curling events were excuses to pack the board games and card games (Dutch Blitz). We found time to have fun and get the curling job done at the same time, often playing the games in a common area of the hotel and invite other teams to join in, many of those teams, coaches, parents and players are fast friends to this day.

The girls found success on the ice through hard work and practice not only at OCA events but also with the high school. A.N.Myer has always had a curling program and some great teachers/coaches to support it. Back when I attended A.N. Myer, it was Dennis O’Connor and today it has continued with Patty Rodgers and newly retired Gwyn Jackson. They were always encouraged and supported by the community of the Niagara Falls Curling Club, with senior members often inquiring about tournaments and other happenings with the team.

Trips to Provincials often came with donations from the different sections of the clubs to the team to help offset expenses (without us approaching them). The leagues welcomed the team in, providing some great opportunities to test their curling skills and provided a great opportunity for the older members to see Junior curling at the club in action. All four were Ice Kids at the club; seen out on the sheets; pebbling, nipping, mopping, cleaning. The girls were popular on the spare list… I’m suspecting because they had great energy to sweep and could usually be counted on to make a shot or two.

The girls have all moved on now, with the exception of the youngest Megan to University where they continue to curl with their school teams. Murray’s last hook was to convince me to help coach at Brock University as he was looking to exit competitive coaching and drift into retirement.

Most people think curling is a one night a week.. perhaps two, from Thanksgiving to the second week in April. My experience is somewhat different as a competitive coach. It starts on the ice in August and goes to May. It is 4 nights a week with weekend events and when you’re off the ice from May to August….you’re planning, organizing workouts, and prepping.

Murray and I would joke that our wives, Kathy and Michelle, were curling widows from August through April, and as he moves into retirement, I’m sure he has a little grin on his face knowing that his experiment worked 😉

I don’t know what curling will hold for me in the future, or my girls and their cousins. Perhaps they will succumb to school/career for a few years and need to step away from the game for a while. I hope that they have found that lifelong love of the game that was started in the Niagara Falls Curling Club. Perhaps their accomplishments and banners will inspire other young curlers in the club to pursue competitive curling? Our club has seen some of its Junior members continue on to compete in: The Brier, Canadian & US Nationals Championships, Provincial Championships, Ontario Winter Games, Gore School Boy/Girl Provincial Championships, SOSSA/OFSAA, and USPORT. In March we have a young lady named Evelyn Fish who will represent NFCC at the Hit, Tap, and Draw competition in Kingston at the 2020 Brier. I can’t help but wonder what the curling future holds for her, but I know that the Community of the Niagara Falls Curling Club will be there to support and encourage her! -Sean Ford





The Hogs & Hoppers, Holiday Spiel – North Hill CC in Calgary

Twenty years ago, our board of directors, were brainstorming on hosting a bonspiel prior to the Christmas season, raise sponsorship funds for our junior program and revitalize the participation at the club. The general manager and the Board at the time, decided to work with Big Rock Brewery to create a product promotion of Big Rock beer and incorporate it into the format of the spiel. This also was designed to raise funds for our elite junior team (Thomas Usselman, Darren Moulding, Ryan Inaba & Matt Taylor) completing at the 2000 Junior Provincial & Canadian championships.

In partnership with Big Rock Brewery, we formatted the overall event to align to two of their signature products, Warthog and Grasshopper beer. This created our spiel namesake, ‘The Hogs & Hoppers, Holiday Spiel’.

The uniqueness of this spiel is our format is similar to the Continental Cup. There are two competing sides: ‘Hogs’ vs. ‘Hoppers’ and each fielding 12 teams. Over 3 evenings a week prior to Christmas, we have a different curling format. For example, the first night, is called ‘Hey Curl Friend!’ After each end, each team moves over to another sheet for new introductions and continuing the game with current score on sheet.

The second evening’s format is, ‘Steal or Hammer’. Alternating between early draw and late, each side has an opportunity to have the hammer throughout the entire game and try to catch up to the team stealing. The catch is, the team stealing is spotted 6 points to start the game. The final night is a ‘Skins’ format. Overall, the side, Hogs or Hoppers with the most points, wins their entry fee back and bragging rights for the year.

We also incorporate free food/appetizers and a Santa gift for all participants. We were successful in creating a fun, open and family oriented event. A curling tidbit is, a 17 year old Darren Moulding was the facilitator of this event from inception and for the first 3 years.

Why are we submitting this story? This event is so successful, we normally sell-out within hours of registration opening. We feel this event epitomizes not only the social and family aspect of curling but our commitment in promoting and sustaining the future of curling.



Family Feud – curling’s version!

We organize many events for the members of our club. Just recently we held our version of the Family Feud with all the bells and whistles. A fun evening supplemented with fine food provided by the members (Potluck style). Lots of imagination, creativity and great fun – all the elements which curling clubs across Canada provide.