The first curling rink in the town of St. Albert was built downtown in 1949 next to the skating rink , right across from The Bruin Inn. It was a cold, two sheet natural ice rink. Frank Hesse and other curling volunteers built the wooden building.
Curling in St. Albert was started by Stan Hauptman, Bert Sumner and Frank Ball. They were the only ones that knew how to play the game and Stan became our first President. The “founding fathers” raised the money to build the rink by taking up donations, everything was done by volunteers.
The official opening was December 26, 1949, and they still needed $1,200.00 to meet outstanding expenses.
Some curlers had their own set of curling rocks. A set cost $50.00 and weighed 34 to 44 pounds. The sets were not matched rocks, and many were left at the rink for others to use.
In 1958 the curlers started talking of a new bigger rink as the town was growing. It was decided to build a new six sheet artificial ice rink and a loan of $125,000.00 was needed. The Town granted the Curling Club a plot of land on Tache Street (present location) and $15,000.00 toward a new rink. The curling club raised $30,000.00 from the sale of shares and debentures and was negotiating for a loan of $125,000.00 to pay for the new rink. The facility was built in 1959, though the club failed to obtain the loan.
In December the 1959–60 curling season opened, but in 1960-1961 the club was still searching for a solution to their financial dilemma. Finally Ron Harvey, a St. Albert curler, and two other St. Albert residents, Fred Laird and Bill Penrose, obtained a $100,000.00 loan and they became the “Bankruptcy Trustees” of the St. Albert Curling Club. The contractor was paid and the 1960-61 curling season was operational in spite of the financial turmoil.
Ron Harvey’s group saved the club from bankruptcy and guided its reformation. The Town of St. Albert finally became owners of the land and building in 1965 and leased same back to the curling club under a long-term lease which expired in 1998.
THE NEXT PHASE
In 1969, after more fundraising, a new upstairs lounge was built and aptly named ‘The Friendly Giant Lounge’ in honour of St. Albert’s Hec Gervais.
The St. Albert Curling Club started producing some great champions. 1974 was the ‘triple threat’ year, when we celebrated three provincial champions. Hec Gervais in the Men’s, Marilyn Johnston in the Women’s, and Roger Comeau in the Mixed. The new upstairs was put to good use!
In 1997 the club reconstructed all but the front section of the building, cost of $724,000.00 funded by the St.Albert Curling Club. In 2005 the club installed a concrete floor in the ice area and in 2008 a new ice plant was installed. In 2010, 2.4 Million Dollars in funding was received from The City of St. Albert, The Province of Alberta, and the Federal Government and the front end of the building was taken down and totally rebuilt. The vision was to have an upstairs that could operate year round with summer rentals for weddings, etc.
The official Grand Opening of the upstairs was January of 2011. This was when the Wall of Fame was also unveiled, saluting club curlers like World Curling Champions Hec Gervais, Don McKenzie, Scott Pfeiffer, and Marc Kennedy. Canadian Champion Cathy King, and Provincial Champion Jackie Rae (Anderson) Greening.
St. Albert Curling Club Honourary Life Member recipients are Armand Donais, Casey Anderson, Hector Gervais, Wally Irwin, Art McCormack, Jim Flynn, Dave Berezan, Neil McKay, Jack Winter and Ray Rouault. The Ladies Club Honourary Life Members are Betty Anderson and Shirley Fisher. These dedicated people have each made significant contributions to the Club.
The St. Albert Ladies Curling Club was formed in 1962 and was an integral part of the curling club’s success. The Ladies Club hosted many club bonspiels, championships and events; worked bingos and casinos, coordinated the Junior Curling League, assisted with the school curling classes and ran their own leagues. In 2008, it was decided that the Ladies Club should dissolve and merge with the main club.
The St. Albert Senior Curling League got underway in 1978. This league is a very important component of the club as they volunteer for many of our events, bingo’s and casino’s, and they are integral to our school curling programs. In 2013, they officially changed their name to the St. Albert 50+ Mixed Curling League. Stick Curling also has become very popular at the Club.
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Many changes have taken place over the years. What has remained constant through out is the enthusiasm for the sport of curling, and the camaraderie of the curlers. This Club has been, and will continue to be, one of the best places to be associated with. It was built and operated by dedicated people, many of whom will never receive the recognition they so justly deserve. The Club has grown to meet the needs of an active curling community. The Club’s strong focus on the future of the sport will ensure this tradition continues.