Abbotsford Curling Club
Prior to the formation of the Abbotsford Curling Club in 1956 most of the curlers would travel to Mission to curl. On the way home from Mission in 1954 Max Spense, Dr. Jim Moran, Oscar Neufeld and Tony Pauls started the plans to build their own facility.
In the fall of 1955 they called a public meeting at Abbotsford Village hall, which was above the Abbotsford fire hall on South Fraserway and a hat was passed around; a collection was taken for the building fund. This location was just West of the Abbotsford Library at 5 corners.
The first president Tony Pauls (1956) was elected that night. Plans were started to build a three sheet curling club on McCallum road (it became the Seniors centre and is presently a narrow patch of green grass in between Jubliee Park and the parking lot).
… (Continued from above) …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. The volunteer building crew worked under 1 paid building contractor. The men who were instrumental in building the club eventually all became presidents of the Abbotsford club. Dr. Jim Moran 1957, Dr. Al Miller 1958, Dan Janzen 1959, Ray Boury 1960, Norris Hardy 1961, Jim Badgley 1962 and Fred Andrew 1963. Later the Ladies club was formed and the first president was Ruth Bryce. Other Ladies involved in the original 3 sheet club included 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, with only 1 man on the payroll; he was paid very little and was the iceman, janitor and manager of the club. Everyone knew Oscar Neufeld. Any time something needed to be done in the club, which cost money, the club always found a crew of laborers who would volunteer to help do the job. They were pulling pipes in the sand during the off months to improve the ice heaves, building new washrooms, painting, decorating and renovating; all these jobs were done by club members. During the Christmas school break the club was open for ice skating. The interest in curling as a recreational sport increased from 1958-1968 and the club needed to make plans to build a larger facility. With approximately 500 curlers using the facilities all draws were filled and a priority waiting list seemed a possibility.
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.
In 1975 plans were made 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 six 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.
Jim Gordon was the chairperson of the building committee with Daryl Kirton, Larry Weymouth, Glen Thomson, and Jack Buchanan. Once again volunteer labor was used to build the present facility. These members were known as the incredible 7: Jim Gordon, Daryl Kirton, Ray Boury, Fred Andrew, Bob Keith, Jack Bell, and Gordie Smith. President Soren Jensen credits 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.
Grand Opening of the present Abbotsford Curling Club was January 8th, 1977. The Abbotsford Curling Club cost $352,000 to build; the following year the parking lot was paved bringing the total cost to $440,000.
The present facility has now been open for 36 years. The Club has been operating in the community for 56 years.
Abbotsford Curling Club has continued to promote competitive events. The Abbotsford Curling Classic was successful for 30 years. We have hosted BC Mixed twice, the 1987 Senior Ladies Provincial and the Ladies 1994 Provincial Scott Tournament of Hearts, the National Canadian Mixed Championships 2003 and the Canadian Seniors, both men’s and women’s, in 2012. These events bring curlers to the community and revenue to the businesses. The classic held in 2002 needed more room and put curling in the arena at the Center Ice facility with 32 mens teams and 22 ladies teams – most from out of town and province.
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.
The Abbotsford Curling Club looks forward to hosting more incredible events, and continuing to provide a wonderful facility for the Abbotsford and area curlers.