Hurry Hard! Lethbridge Curling History

Unidentified curlers in front of Civic Ice Centre, 1949-50 .  Courtesy the Galt Museum & Archives: 19941051449B 

Unidentified curlers in front of Civic Ice Centre, 1949-50 .

Courtesy the Galt Museum & Archives: 19941051449B 

In honour of the Ford World Women's Curling Championship starting in Lethbridge this Saturday (March 17), I thought I would share a little Lethbridge curling history. This is also for my Mom who will be at as many of these games as possible and who wishes her kids loved curling as much as she does.

  • The 1st curling club in Alberta formed in Lethbridge in 1887. A group of sports enthusiasts -- Johnnie Bruce, Duncan Duff, R.C. McClure, Harry Bentley, Manfred Freeman, Tom Kirkham, Norrie McLeod and the Scott brothers -- met at T. Kirkham's store to get the club started.

  • At first the Alberta clubs were affiliated with the Manitoba branch of the Royal Caledonia Club of Scotland. In November 1895, Lethbridge applied for membership. There were 38 members.

  • Also in 1895 the curling rink opened near where Chapters is today. Prior to that games were played on local sloughs. This was the 1st enclosed rink with electric lights in the North West Territories. Early rinks were made with natural ice so Mother Nature decided the length of the season. Bonspiels also had to be times to be flexible because they were sometimes delayed by days or weeks as people traveled between communities.

  • In 1904 Alberta formed its own branch. Lethbridge officially registered with the Royal Caledonia Club Scotland in Calgary January 23, 1905.

  • In 1916, the Ladies Curling Club was organized.

  • Jack Patey claimed to have been the first person to ever colour the curling rings in and to have created the modern bonspiel design. In 1935 Patey was hired to paint the rings for the bonspiel. Up until that time the circles were indicated by narrow, black lines. Patey, who had painted the rings for the bonspiel the previous years, had found the process difficult, slow and tedious. So he got the idea to paint the rings in different colours -- which is still used today.

  • In 1937, artificial ice was brought in. It is believed that the 1940 Shirtsleeve Bonspiel in Lethbridge was the 1st Bonspiel on the prairies held on artificial ice.

You can help us with our local curling history. We have quite a number of photographs of curling teams in which the persons in the photographs are unidentified. If you have been active with the curling community in Lethbridge, please drop by and visit us and see if you can help us complete our records.

Happy curling everyone. I hope you all get swept away!