Brief History, 1877 – 2006 (provided by Gordon Granchelli)
The Sydney Curling Club is now in its 129th year of operation. The Sydney C.C. began its operations in what was called the old Rosselyn Rink situated on Pitt Street in Sydney that was later taken over by the Sydney Foundry and Machine Company.
This structure was originally built as a hockey rink and was only used occasionally by curlers. Indeed prior to this building being available the stories of throwing curling stones on the Sydney Harbour or some body of natural ice probably are true.
The present facility on George Street in Sydney is actually the second structure according to historical notes and was constructed somewhere between 1909 and 1911. The exact date is unknown but we know for sure according to newspaper reports there definitely was curling in 1911.
Of course it was all natural ice in those days and the openings in the ice shed to allow the cold air to enter are still visible. That club also allowed for minimal overhead viewing at least for half of the ice surface and to see the circles at the other end of the ice required some double jointed manoevering. When the club was renovated in the late sixties this area for viewing was covered over. If you look above the glass in the interior of the ice shed you can still see the windows which allowed spectators to view the roaring game.
In 1936 it was decided to install a artificial ice surface and club members raised some $25,000 for that project. The amount of money to do the same thing today would cost well in excess of $150,000.
Very little improvements were made in the club until 1967 when a massive renovation project was started to expand the front of the building and upstairs. Although this was major contract work an unbelievable amount of volunteer man hours by members of the Sydney C.C. were contributed. The individual given credit for spearheading this project was President Jack Tweedie.
One event that often is forgotten is that during this period when renovations were being considered and the fact that basically a new structure was being built there was a contingent of individuals who wanted to join with the Lingan Golf and Country Club. There would be a joint facility. This was brought before an Annual Meeting of the Club at the time and the motion was defeated by what I am told one vote. (One of the sad aspects of the Sydney Curling Club history is that the minutes of meetings and records cannot be found.)
This was all possible at the time because of the dramatic increase in membership that saw the membership in the Sydney Curling to be in excess of 500 members, most of whom actually curled. Participation and interest in Provincial events was fierce and playdowns to get out of the club to participate on the Provincial was a major event drawing many spectators, a great number who were not members of the club.
This high membership posed a problem at the time. Would you believe there was a concern that if membership increased, consideration would have to be given to adding another sheet of ice. This was taken into account when the new ice plant was installed at the time as it was capable of handling six to eight sheets of ice.
Up to that time the Sydney Curling Club was basically a structure with four sheets of ice, enough room to have a drink (for the men) and a wood stove that allowed you to get some warmth after 12-14 ends of curling.(Remember up to 1956 games were 14 ends and reduced to 12 ends till 1976 when they voted at the Brier in Saskatchewan to do this for the benefit of TV coverage.)
I mentioned above "Drinks for the men" in the club. The ladies had their own club rooms with their own entrance which was located by the ice plant room and had a large window that allowed them to watch the curling. Although times have certainly changed that really was not too long ago.
In 1975 one of the major improvements was the installation of the cement floor. The money for this project ($25,000) was raised through loans from members and was all repaid within five years. This was due to the effort of the President George MacKay at the time.
It was not until the announcement of the Canada Winter Games in Cape Breton for 1987 that Sydney Curling Club saw any further renovations. Up to this time the Curling Sporting Event was always held in an ice arena and after some negotiation with" the powers to be" it was agreed to allow the event to be held in the Curling Club. It was a tight schedule but it worked.
As a result of this the Sydney Curling received approximately $450,000 in both renovations and equipment. This does not include the many volunteer hours by members of the club in doing these renovations between 1982-1987.The person responsible for this effort was Gordon Granchelli who served as Sports Director for Curling for the CWG and President of the Sydney Curling Club between 1983-86. It was because these efforts he was made an Honorary Member of the Sydney Curling Club in 1987. A plaque thanking the Sydney Curling Club for their participation in the Canada Winter Games hangs proudly in the clubrooms.
Work done to the club during the past few years has been the result of necessity due to the lack of financial resources and members. The major task before the Sydney Curling Club is to implement a marketing plan that will draw new members into the club.