The Rideau Curling Club: 125 Years of Proud Curling Heritage
The 2014 Canadian Mixed Championship is a marquee event that will help the Rideau Curling Club (RCC) in Ottawa to celebrate a major milestone in its history: its 125th Anniversary.
The RCC was established on November 10, 1888, and has played a central role in the development of the sport of curling on a local, provincial and national scale ever since. Governor General Lord Stanley (yes, that Lord Stanley!) was its first Patron, and Sir Sandford Fleming its first President. The 120 members rented a building on Waller Street from the Rideau Skating and Curling Co., with three sheets of natural ice and sparse facilities. Annual dues were $10, and games of 21 ends were normal for major events (only 16 ends for club matches!). The weather was a constant worry in a facility with no refrigeration capabilities, and seasons were short. Ladies were invited to become members in the 1902-1903 season.
The Governor-General’s Curling Club was inaugurated by the Marquis of Dufferin in 1875, as a way for the keen curler to invite curling companions to participate on the sheet of ice installed at Government House. This vice-regal club of prominent Ottawa-area citizens evolved under Governor General Roland Michener into a membership of 100 (plus 25 emeritus members) with representation from across the country. The group continues to host the competition for the Governor General’s Trophy and the Lady Tweedsmuir Trophy, both premier Canadian Branch events. The RCC has regularly played host to the Governor General’s Curling Club, for both competition and social functions.
In 1916, the Waller Street premises were requisitioned for war purposes and the RCC rented its second home, also with three sheets of natural ice, at 96 Vittoria Street, at a location approximately where the Supreme Court of Canada now stands. In 1930, the federal government gave notice of appropriation, thus prompting an alliance of badminton players and curlers under the name Rideau Winter Club Ltd., and erection of a four-storey building (in 1931) at 277 Laurier Avenue West. This facility boasted four sheets of artificial ice, and was the envy of our sport in Ottawa. In 1949, this building was sold, and the RCC established its fourth and current location.
Construction of a one-storey building with five sheets of ice began at the corner of Percy and Cooper Streets in July 1949, replacing a coal yard and blacksmith shop on the block. In 1953-54 granite stones officially replaced irons. In 1965, a second-storey was added, including a kitchen, dining room, and meeting room. For the club’s centennial in 1988, the mezzanine was adorned with a complete series of portraits of RCC Presidents and the many Governors-General who have served as the Club’s only Patrons, as well as many other historic photographs. A unique display of over 100 tartans on the walls of the lobby recognizes the country of Scotland as the origin of our sport as well a special connection for many of our members.
Today, the RCC has a state-of-the-art ice-making plant and a newly-renovated club house. It enjoys a national reputation as home to a number of championship rinks, including the 2013 Canadian Masters Ladies Champions, 2006 Canadian Senior Women’s Champions (and World silver medalists) skipped by Joyce Potter; the 2013 Ontario Senior Men’s Champions (and Canadian silver medalists) skipped by Howard Rajala; and the 4-time Ontario Women’s championship rink of Anne Merklinger. We are proud to display our many championship banners on the walls of the ice shed.
RCC members play key volunteer roles in the organization of a wide range of events, from little rock bonspiels to national championships. In addition, the RCC continues to host important curling events. In addition to the Canadian Mixed, we have previously co-hosted the 2003 Canadian Junior Championships,hosted the 1993 TSN Skins Game, and numerous Ontario Women’s and Mixed championships. The membership is full and thriving, and there is a great sense of camaraderie among members who are diverse in age, skill, and social standing, but who share a love of the sport of curling.