Quest in Roots:
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CURLING AT BROOKDALE
Curling would begin at Brookdale in 1908 or 1909. This was when a large rink was built at the east side of town. It was a skating rink with a sheet of curling ice down each side and a waiting room at the end. There must have been a good interest in curling in those days as there were teams going to the Winnipeg Bonspiel and others at that time.
The rink going to most of these bonspiels was Mr. Jack Vinthers, Mr. William (Scotch Bill) Davidson, Mr. Charlie Loader, and Mr. Frank Batchelor, and in those days you had to take along your own rocks, as the club sponsoring the spiel never had extra rocks.
Trophies were also in circulation between the towns of Oberon, Wellwood and Brookdale. It is noted that in 1916 on Wednesday and Thursday, Wellwood, Oberon and Brookdale played off the district games at the Brookdale rink. In the Caledonioan single rink competition, Oberon got the bye, Wellwood won from Brookdale in a 15 end game 13-12 and went on to defeat Oberon in the final 15-8. The skips in the single rink competition were Simpson- Wellwood, Hamilton-Brookdale, Mikkelson-Oberon.
The Tuckett was a two rink competition, and Wellwood got the bye, Oberon winning from Brookdale and then going on to defeat Wellwood in the second round. Skips for Oberon in the Tuckett were John and Frank May, Wellwood, A. Grant and L. Aikenhead, and Brookdale, John and William Davidson.
The train service on the Brookdale line was a little disorganized at the time of these games, and one of the Wellwood players walked home. It is rumoured he carried his rocks as far as Oberon, where they got too heavy. He left one rock there and lugged the other as far as the Kennedy schoolhouse, where he left it with instructions for Custodian Kennedy to take it to Wellwood the first time he went in.
Various open air rinks were used for skating until 1934when an open air one was built with walls supposed to be able to support a roof, and one sheet of curling ice to the north. There was a walk down the one side which was used for viewing hockey games by the opening of hinged doors.
Curling continued until it became hard to keep the ice straight because of roots of the spruce. Mr. Bert Reilly tore this down and hauled the lumber home for a barn. The new skating rink that was built in 1950, could be converted to four sheets of curling ice and was used for bonspiels every year, thus the interest in curling was kept up until a new one was built running east of the rink with two sheets of ice and using a common waiting room. Artificial ice was added in 1979.
Curling in the old rink with the one sheet of ice and poor lighting tested the skill of the skip and sweepers alike to judge the speed of the rock, it had natural light for the day time and gas lamps at night.
The gasoline lamps were hung at each end just over the house. These lamps had mantles and the gas was under pressure, if they were not well pumped up before the evening started they would grow dim before the games were over. Also the way they were situated one at each end there was a tunnel of semi darkness through the middle, so it was a difficult task judging the speed of the rock coming down the ice. This made for a lot of good excuses for the skip or sweepers for misjudging the speed of the rock.
The waiting room was quite small with a heater in one corner so you would cook on one side and freeze on the other.
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