Our Club History
The Yorkton Curling Club was formed in 1897 and it's 16 members curled on one sheet of ice in the old market square at the coroner of Betts Avenue and Smith Street. The following year, the club affiliated with the Manitoba Branch of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. The affiliation only lasted a couple of years before the club floundered.
By 1905, Yorkton still had no rink for curling, hockey or skating and no prospect of public recreation in the long winter months. That August, plans began to be formed to build a rink which would accommodate all three sports. In December the skating area of the Crystal Skating and curling rink opened and the curling section opened on January 13, 1906. The building had one sheet of curling ice on each side of the skating arena, with two dressing rooms on the ground floor,and a bandstand and two rooms upstairs. Two years later, the Yorkton Curling Association Ltd. was set up with capital stock of $5,000. Established in March, the club began curling in its up - to - date, three-sheet facility on Agricultural Avenue on December 4, 1908. It had three waiting rooms downstairs and a gallery upstairs.
Eleven years later, another rink was built on south Front Street at Tupper Avenue for a cost of $17,400. A fire during a bonspiel damaged this rink in 1929. Five sheets in an attached hockey rink could not be used for the rest of the bonspiel leaving only the three sheets in the curling club section. This facility remained in use until 1948. The final bonspiel in that rink was notable for the ancient wooden rock thrown down the ice by Alderman Art McBurney (who became Saskatchewan Curling Association president in 1959-60) to open the 'speil. The rock was one of 16 made in 1907 by blacksmith, James Kerr. The long -forgotten stone had been washed up on shore of Anderson Lake at Saltcoats by heavy winds in May, 1947. Curlers from Saltcoats reclaimed it as a memento of those used by hardy curlers from that town who used to curl by lantern light on the windswept lake. Kerr had made the stones out of timber intended for use in building a bridge across the White Sand River. The blacksmith used his draw knife and rasp to shape the pilfered timber into stones. They were then covered with stove polish and polished so they would slide well on the ice.
Kerr, still alive in 1948, recalled that in 1909 curlers in Saltcoats were still curling with wooden rocks. That year they traveled to Yorkton and borrowed stone rocks to curl for the Russel Shield. The Saltcoats curlers managed to win the shield in an 18-end game despite their unfamiliarity with the stones.
Curling in Yorkton had languished during the 1930s due to both the Depression and the poor facilities for the sport. In 1937, the club was in able to function, but curlers still wanted to enjoy their game. The owner of the private rink was encouraged to flood the rink and assured that curlers would pay him 25 cents a game. It was an outstanding success and was the origin of what came to be knows as "two-bit curling."
By the end of the Second World War, Yorkton was booming, with the population growing from 5,000 to 8,000 residents and the number of homes and buildings doubling. Volunteer labor was used in 1947 to begin erecting a new rink. A hangar was purchased from the provincial government and a facility worth $70,000 was built at a cost of $35,000. A seven-sheet rink, entirely free of posts, officially opened December 7, 1948, lit with drop lights and the seating for 400 people.
That rink served Yorkton until 1977 when an eight-sheet curling rink was opened as part of the Parkland Agriplex. The $3.2 million recreational center has an arena, indoor swimming pool, curling rink, convention center, livestock sales auditorium, and a senior citizen's activity center. The curling rink coverts to open floor space in the summer to accommodate conventions and exhibits.
As this chapter has shown, many centers in Saskatchewan shared similar experiences as curling developed from the first settlement thought the 1940s. Most of these towns, situated on CPR lines, quickly moved from outdoor, make-shift rinks to more sophisticated, multi-purposed facilities. Many also suffered the devastation of fires, and most faced difficult times during the Depression when enthusiasm did not wane but finding money for memberships and materials for the facilities was not easy. Despite these difficult times, the tenacity of curlers prevailed, and through creative fundraising and much volunteer labour, most clubs emerged stronger by the late 1950s.
- Saskatchewan Curling Heartland Tradition 1882-1990 edition.