Planning Abbotsford’s first 3-sheet rink
Most Abbotsford curlers would travel to Mission to curl prior to the formation of the Abbotsford Curling Club. On the way home from Mission one day in 1954, Max Spense, Dr. Jim Moran, Oscar Neufeld and Tony Pauls started thinking about planning to build an Abbotsford facility.
In the fall of 1955, they called a public meeting at Abbotsford Village hall, which was above the Abbotsford fire hall on South Fraser Way. During the meeting, a hat was passed around to start a building fund.
Tony Pauls (1956) was elected as first president that night. Plans for a 3-sheet curling club on McCallum Road(1) were drawn up. The property was purchased and the first club was built for $55,000. Club memberships and debentures were sold to help raise funds to build the curling rink. Supplies purchased to build were paid for, half cash and half in debentures. Some businesses supported the efforts of the club members and took all payment for work and material with debentures. The interest on these was paid yearly until the club had the money to start to pay them off. Each year the holders of debentures had their name placed in a hat and the name pulled out would have their debenture bought out by the club.
A volunteer building crew worked under one paid building contractor. The men who were instrumental in building the club and who eventually all became presidents of the Abbotsford club included:
- Dr. Jim Moran 1957,
- Dr. Al Miller 1958,
- Dan Janzen 1959,
- Ray Boury 1960,
- Norris Hardy 1961,
- Jim Badgley 1962 and
- Fred Andrew 1963.
The ladies involved in the formation of the ladies club formed sometime later included:
- Ruth Bryce, first president
- Claire Callibeck,
- Claire Sherman,
- Irene Forbes,
- Lou Boury,
- Ruby Saxbee,
- Lydia Jansen,
- Kay Tuffland,
- Mary Durvin, and
- Maxine Andrew.
Abbotsford and District Curling Club opened in 1957. Oscar Neufeld was the only man on the payroll. Although paid very little, he acted as iceman, janitor and manager of the club! Everyone knew him.
A volunteer crew of laborers could always be found among club members to do the job needed to be done in the club. Jobs included:
- pulling pipes in the sand during the off months to reduce the ice heaves,
- building new washrooms,
- painting, decorating and renovating.
And yes, the club was open for ice skating during the Christmas school break!
The Challenge Cup was a yearly competition and social gathering between Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack clubs. The first competitive highlight occurred in 1964. The rink of Jake Block, Ray Boury, Fred Andrew and Al Cook made it to the final of the Pacific Coast Brier Playoff. This ignited many other local rinks to top competitive form in the years that followed.
In 1969 after 13 years of paying out debentures the club’s last debentures were paid off, and Al Cook as president had the pleasure of chairing the mortgage burning ceremony.
The interest in curling as a recreational sport increased from 1958-1968. Approximately 500 curlers were using the facilities. All draws were filled and a priority waiting list seemed a possibility. The club started plans to build a larger facility.
Our current facility
In 1975, plans were drawn up to construct a new 6-sheet club. The original arrangements with the Matsqui Municipal Council were to build a club next to MSA arena. Property was purchased, but later other stipulations were entered and the agreement was not completed.
A new building committee was formed and negotiations were entered into with the Abbotsford Municipal Council. Property was leased on McMillan Road and a new 6-sheet facility was built. The McCallum Road 3 sheet club was sold to the city, and the property next to the MSA arena was also sold. The club applied for a government recreational building fund grant.
Members of the building committee included:
- Jim Gordon (chairperson)
- Daryl Kirton,
- Larry Weymouth,
- Glen Thomson
Once again volunteer members was used to build the facility. These members were known as the incredible 7:
- Jim Gordon,
- Daryl Kirton,
- Ray Boury,
- Fred Andrew,
- Bob Keith,
- Jack Bell, and
- Gordie Smith.
Then-President Soren Jensen credited the hard work of all of the volunteer labor to make the dreams of a new club a reality.
Abbotsford businesses showed their support with donations:
- Block Brothers Construction donated $4,500 in labor,
- Four-Star Construction lent $5,000 worth of heavy equipment plus donated an acorn fireplace;
- GP Peterson Heating donated the fireplace chimney;
- D. Wright Plumbing – a water fountain;
- Fraser Valley Loader Sales lent a bobcat;
- Fraser Valley Building Supplies supplied lounge paneling;
- Wally Lukaniuk Carpets, meeting room carpet;
- Fraser Valley Refrigeration, a compressor for the lounge cooler.
The Abbotsford Curling Club cost $352,000 to build. Grand Opening of the present Abbotsford Curling Club was January 8th, 1977.
Abbotsford Curling Club has hosted a number of competitive events over the years, such as:
- The Abbotsford Curling Classic for over 30 years
- The 2002 classic had 32 mens’ and 22 ladies’ teams – most from out of town and province. The arena at the Center Ice facility was used to handle the overflow.
- BC Mixed championships
- 1987 Senior Ladies Provincial and
- Ladies 1994 Provincial Scott Tournament of Hearts,
- National Canadian Mixed Championships 2003
- Canadian Seniors, both men’s and women’s, in 2012
These events bring curlers to the community and revenue to the businesses.
Our club has supported the “Curl for Kids” fundraiser event, donating the ice rental to raise money for the Christmas Bureau. This was an annual event and had its 10th anniversary in 2003 raising over a total of $65,000 for kids in cash and new toys. All money and toys raised stay in the city of Abbotsford.
In 1995 the Abbotsford curling club was used as the wrestling venue for the Western Canada Summer Games at no cost to the city; the club supplied the staffing with volunteers and paid staff for the 10 days.
In 2016-17, the club celebrated 60 years of operating in the community, 40 years of which at its present facility. We were honoured to be able to host a number of high level curling events:
- World Curling Tour’s Abbotsford Curling Classic (Nov 25-28)
- BC Junior Tour Cash Spiel (Dec 9-11)
- CurlBC Women;s Open Playdown (Dec 16-18)
- Pacific Coast Masters Playdowns (Jan 27-29)
- BC Men’s Provincial Finals (Feb 6-12)
The Abbotsford Curling Club looks forward to hosting more incredible events, and continuing to provide a wonderful facility for the Abbotsford and area curlers.
Past Presidents and Life Members
(1) The location eventually became the Seniors Centre and is presently a narrow patch of green grass in between Jubilee Park and the parking lot.