Curling in Atlin 1968-90
I have been asked to give a little history of curling in Atlin and how it got started. Bill and I were not here at the time but by rumours we heard, it was something like this –
It seems Watson Lake and Teslin had curling rinks and they wanted some more small town competition.
Roy Smith happened to meet up with some of his old buddies in Whitehorse and the curling bug was planted. Bob Flemming with Ted and Cliff Geddes were the instigators from Teslin and Don Taylor, Ted Ball and Tom Proctor from Watson Lake.
Roy and Nora Smith had curling in Cantung and didn’t need much urging. They got together with Gordon and Edie Cru, Tom and Vera Kirkwood and Johnny and Win Bullen and in January 1968 The first Atlin Gold Nugget Bonspiel was held on the slough at the south end of town.
Oh! How can you curl when
You’re raring to go
With the wind from the north
And its twenty below
With your rink on the slough and the stars overhead
Curling all night so you can’t go to bed
But the worst thing of all was
There’s no place to go
So you head for the bush
And squat down in the snow!
Bill Roxbourough and Walter Sweet, both members of the 1st Atlin Curling Club somewhere in the early 1910’s, threw the 1st rocks with Norman Fisher and Ira Bennet looking on.
Ed and Dianne Smith, with the help of the Atlin School children, handled the refreshment booth on the ice, open around the clock. The moose hall was open for the curlers to congregate between draws, and sluice juice flowed down a miniature sluice box at 50 cents a drink.
Maurice Borassa catered to the curlers banquet, and the Twilighters supplied music for the dance.
I didn’t think it could be done but bonspiel they did and reverberations were felt all the way to Dease Lake. Bearing good tiding from outside clubs were Bob Flemming from Teslin, Don Taylor of Watson Lake, and Bob Campbell of Whitehorse.
Everyone said it was a distinct success and Atlin was launched on its 22 years of curling.
Then we got this idea that we’d
Build us a rink
With a forest full of trees
And insulation to chink
The whole town turned out
To do what they could
T saw up , tack down and smooth out the wood.
The rafters were sawed and
nailed into place.
The roofing was ordered
It sure was a race.
Manne Magnusson and his mill crew supplied the squared logs at cost and with Johnny Bullen building foreman and John Backlund head carpenter, things really started happening. I didn’t think it could be done.
Our bonspiel was scheduled for
The first of the year
We needed our rocks and
All of our gear.
Curling brooms, shoes and
Of course the knee pad
And a lot of good luck
To go with the bad
We needed the ice rinks
With all of the hacks
We needed good thinkers with
Strong arms and tough backs.
The one thing we were blessed with was a lot of dedicated helpers. People like the Roy Smiths, Gordy Crums, Tom Kirkwoods and Johnny Bullens and others. Ron and Gordon Odian, Ron Bowden, Ed Smith, Bob Fraser, Brian Denton, Dave and Carol Goodwin, John and Betty Thoma and Gary Thoma, John Backlund, Mann Magnusson and his crew, Ed Michayluk of the RCMP and many, many more that no doubt I have missed.
Well we all worked together
From morning til night
And we made us a curling rink
With 2 sheets of ice
We had buttons in houses
With fronts and with backs
We had score boards with markers and brushes and hacks
We had hog lines and t lines
Knee pads and good sliders
4 sets of curling rocks
With all kinds of prizes.
Prizes and trophies were donated by Whitehorse, Teslin, Watson Lake and Atlin Businesses and all through the years it has been the same.
We had a buffer and corn brooms
Ice brush and ice master
That thing that you measure with
To tell who has the counter.
We had guys who could pebble
And guys who could spray
Electricians and plumbers
And guys who could shave.
We had a miniature mining claim set off in one corner
With a water wheel hoist and
A windless for water.
The sluice juice that ran through
The boxes was fair
And if you sipped it too much
It could curl up your hair.
There were welding rod nuggets
That looked like pure gold
And even a backhouse that
Sat over a hole.
Roy Smith with the help of Ed and Dianne Smith put together this masterpiece which still maintains a place of honour in our museum. It was used at all of the early bonspiels for curlers sluice juice.
We were proud of our venture
All ship shape and real
We were proud of our curlers
And Gold Nugget Spiel
Atlin Residents dug up and donated all they could. Doors and windows, pots and pans, tableware and towels. A 45 cup coffee urn came in from somewhere and Cyril and Jessie James donated an oil range for the concession.
I’m not forgetting the ladies of our town although I know I’ll miss some. Blanche Odian, Dianne Smith, Winnie Bullen, Vera Kirkwood, Jessie James, Shirley Mckenzie, Carol Florence, Olive Odian, Irene Coleman, Dorothy Kirkwood, Norah Smith and many more. And all of the young people lent a hand at anything they could.
The school teachers, liquor vendor, government agent, RCMP and highways personnel all done their part.
Teslin gave us our 1st curling rocks and they were passed on to another fledgling club.
The Board of Trade loaned us our first much needed monies and then tore up the check that paid it back. With the President, Mac White saying “ I didn’t think it could be done”.
Atlin Residents backed our first bank loan and worked their hearts out to make sure the payments were made on time.
The Atlin Recreation Centre and curling rink were definitely a community endeavor and so it must continue to be.
With workers like Jack Green, Wayne Lewis, Dan Campbell, Charlie and Trudie Binnie, Gloria Abel, Leigh Davies, Wava and many more it cannot help but continue on as it has for 22 years.
My hat is off to the workers of today who have so willingly picked up where others left off and as for our old curling rink – it’s down with the old and up with the new and may the Altin Gold Nugget Bonspiel continue to be a Fun ‘Spiel.
Happy 50th Anniversary Atlin Curling Club!