Bonspiels or Bloody Marys - Sutton Curling Club Delivers
By Manfried Helmuth Starhemberg
My friend Diane Owen, a long time member and officer of the Sutton Curling Club invited me to visit last Saturday. I had never set foot in a curling venue so this was all new to me. There is a tournament sized 146 foot rectangle of impeccably manicured ice, polished "sliders", the stones players will move about the ice as well as a great array of ice brooms. The facility has a banquet hall which can be rented for special occasions, with a free bartender available for the asking.Roomy and rustic, I can envision a birthday or anniversary party here with some good ice time available at a small extra cost.
Actually, Diane Owen is in charge of rentals of the ice. It costs only $ 200.- for four hours with all the sliders and brooms supplied. Thus, if a group has four skips, for that amount ,4 groups making up 16 people on the ice, the cost per person is $ 12.50. The club supplies everything else from ice maintenance to electricity. This sounds like the greatest sports bargain on the planet to me.
The club is one year older than I am, it was founded in January of 1947 and originally was curling on an outdoors hockey rink on the same site as today's facility. The first president was Mr. Ed Curley which struck me as hilarious. Obviously with the name "Curley" a soccer club was not on the radar. Curley's curling club built the building and got its first ice making machine in 1954 and the club has been operating from October to mid April ever since. It is registered as a not-for-profit organization.
Currently there are 40 members who are all volunteers. "Nobody gets any pay here" explains Diane. "Everything gets done by the volunteers, from ice maintenance to bartending and sometimes during a "Bonspiel" or when we have a Bloody Mary Breakfast, it can become quite hectic".
Bonspiel? I never heard that one but the word is in common use in curling and is of gaelic origin, meaning "the great game" which in normal language is called "tournament". Curling Sutton recently held a big Bonspiel with clubs from all over Quebec competing here.
An annual membership to the club costs $ 200.- and affords the members ice access Mondays through Wednesdays. Thursdays are reserved for rentals or other activities. To create funds for the club there is at least one big annual garage and yard sale. This I have been to and I was amazed at the quality of the goods supplied by the volunteers. Upstairs in my house, a 4 x 6 ft. antique mirror ($ 20.-) bears witness to that, as is a lovely set of decorative plateware ($12.-)
Diane Owen last summer suffered a crippling ankle injury and has just come off crutches but still has to do physiotherapy but it has not deterred her in her efforts for the club which is a second home to this energetic lady. Said one member: "Presidents come and go but we always have Diane around when it gets difficult". While earnestly contemplating a visit at the next "Bonspiel", I most certainly shall attend the next Bloody Mary Breakfast...