Curling has always been a big part of the Canadian lifestyle, and in Eastend, curling came about almost as soon as the town did. Curling first took place during the winter of 1919-1920 in Eastend, usually next to a barn where ice had been constructed for that purpose. The ice, usually next to the Crawford or Jones barn, was one sheet, 40 feet short of regulation, so rules couldn’t always be followed.
In 1923, the curlers decided that they needed to have a rink. To that end, the Eastend Rink Company was formed, selling shares at $25 each, in order to raise money to build a regulation sized rink. The rink had two sheets of ice and a waiting room. The first bonspiel was held during the Christmas season, and Dave Rittinger was the first caretaker of the ice.
The club did very well and men would come from Shaunavon to take part in the bonspiels. The rink used natural ice, which made it very difficult to keep frozen when the weather was mild outside. As a result, the lanes often had to be repaired. The ice wasn’t always the best to curl on, but anyone who could help to maintain it would. The ladies would also come to the rink at bonspiel time to make coffee and serve doughnuts and sandwiches to everyone at the bonspiel.
During a snowstorm, the rink was quite cold, and the snow would have to be swept off the ice during the games.
In 1952, a total of 32 teams were entered into the local bonspiel and it became apparent that a third sheet of ice was needed. In 1957, it was decided that a new rink, with four sheets of ice, was needed. The rink was built in 1958, costing $11,000. In 1960, Wilbur Dovell took over as the curling rink caretaker, a position he would hold until 1975.
The four sheets of ice were natural ice, and a lot of work had to be done by Dovell to maintain it. Some years in the 1960s, the bonspiels would have as many as 52 teams. In 1965, an artificial ice plant was installed costing $15,000.
In 1982, the rink was torn down and a new one was built.
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