One of the joys of living in a small town like Okotoks are the type of small-town activities that the Prairie West is famous for. And one of those games, is curling. It’s a gentle yet competitive past-time that brings friends and enemies together for a few hours of fun on the ice and a few more hours of telling tall tales in the lounge afterward.
Imagine the dark, cold nights on the prairie when the one bright spot was meeting friends at the curling rink for a few ends. It was the Canadian’s answer to the British corner pub. It’s a tradition that remains true to this day in towns across the prairies.
Curling as a past time in the area goes back to when the Town of Okotoks was first settled. The Calgary Herald reports that curling in the area goes back to 1901 when a team from Fish Creek came south to play a team from Sheep Creek, which was what the settlement was first called. Things became more organized in 1912 when a facility at Northridge Drive and Elizabeth boasted two sheets of ice. A fire in 1918 put an end to that. Two years later, another was built on the same spot but a heavy snow in the winter of 1925 caused a partial collapse, wiping out the rink portion of this building. Curling survived in this location until 1929, at which time a new building was constructed at Centre Avenue and Riverside Drive West, on the south west corner. This is where the Okotoks Public Library now stands. The building housed a rink and three sheets of ice. It took 19 years of freezing winters and Chinook melts for the building operators to decide that the building should be insulated. By 1958, artificial ice had come along and by 1965, Okotoks finally enjoyed a full complement of matching curling rocks. The current curling rink with six sheets of ice was constructed in 1983.
Modern Curling in Okotoks
Located at 99 Okotoks Drive, the Okotoks Curling Club hosts a variety of bonspiels, curling leagues and learn-to-curl clinics.
In fact, there’s a clinic on Sept 24 and 25 and spots are still available. Complete the online form on the Okotoks Curling Club’s website for more information.
League Play in Okotoks
There are at least10 leagues which operate from fall through spring at the Okotoks Curling Club. They include:
- The ladies league goes every Monday starting at 9:30 am following a format in which teams are drawn at random to encourage community building. The first draw runs throughout the fall until Christmas and then a new draw occurs because of the number of Snow Birds that magically fly south in the coldest part of the season. It’s a fun league and not super-competitive. New curlers are always welcome.
- The Junior League goes Mondays from 4 pm to 5:30 pm for kids 8-years and older. It starts in mid-October and runs until March. It’s non-competitive and instructors teach the game from the round up. Registration is $140.
- A 24-team Monday League is open to all levels of skill with three competitive divisions. Draws go at 6:45 pm and again at 9:00 pm.
- The Men’s competitive league runs Tuesdays at 6:45 pm and 9:00 pm. There are 24-teams in three divisions.
- Seniors curl every Thursday and runs like the Monday Women’s league, with two sessions because of reduced participation post-Christmas.
- Another league for kids runs on Thursdays beginning at 4:00 pm and this one is competitive. Children 10-years and older with at least a year of curling under their belt are in this league. Curling etiquette is required.
- A mixed league runs Thursdays at 6:50 pm and 9:00 pm and all are welcome. There are three division and the teams are always looking for spares.