As the Nestor Falls Curling Club celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, a very important chapter in the club’s history took place back in 1986 when I was appointed president.
After the rest of the executive was nominated, new business brought a remark from the floor stating the club was deep in debt and it was the priority of the new board to get it back on its feet.
Talk about an instant pressure assignment. At the time, I recalled wishing I was anywhere else but up on that stage.
With this motion, I called a meeting for the very next evening and together planned on how we should go about restoring the club’s credibility.
After a lengthy evening, we came up with a concrete solution to solve this crisis. As we only had seven teams in 1985, this had to be increased considerably for the task in hand.
Canvassing the whole community, along with an invitation to Sabaskong First Nation to join our club, was a great breakthrough as we got enough teams to fill Monday-Friday with two draws each evening (7 and 9 p.m.), with Saturday and Sunday afternoon open for the children.
Now previously, curling did not start until after the New Year because of natural ice, so I volunteered to take care of getting the ice ready earlier.
With the temperature being more favourable at night, I packed a cot, sleeping bag, and alarm clock, along with a thermos of coffee and a sandwich to carry me through the night.
Then after the last flood, I would go home for the rest of the day.
It was in the midst of getting the curling ice finished that I had a difficult decision to make as Ontario Hydro brought employment to our area, which meant a job for the winter months.
But sticking to my commitment, I chose to help the club instead.
And yes, we started curling around the end of November and so had a full month more than in past years. As well, having extended curling for a month more gave us added income at the club’s concession stand.
The volunteers who worked the evening concession also donated their wares, including pies, cake, cookies, pizza, etc. There also was coffee, tea, hot chocolate, soft drinks, and chocolate bars bought wholesale by the club, which gave it the much-needed income throughout the season.
Throughout the winter, we would have our regular bonspiel and one for the children. The natives had their own bonspiel, too.
The prizes, trophies, and cups we got for the different occasions did not cost the club one cent as the committee canvassed for donations from the community, as well as the many businesses throughout the district.
As we did real well in our first year of operation, we were elected for a second term.
We started the second season by getting team sweaters—gold trimmed in black, with a large Nestor Falls logo on the back. We also got curling pins designed by yours truly and approved by all.
We purchased second-hand curling stones, but found they were not matched and different sizes, so we sent them back and put a down payment on a brand new set.
We also upgraded our ice-cleaning equipment, built a much-needed pump house, and later bought a new cooking range and heater.
We could not sell our old curling stones intact but surprisingly, in time, they were sold in pairs to individuals for souvenirs or doorstops, which gave the club added revenue for the cause.
After the curling season came to an end, the club building was shingled and painted outside and inside, which was our last commitment before ending our stay in office prior to the election of a new committee for 1988.
After the two years of dedicated commitment by our 1986/87 committee and community volunteers, the task of putting the club back on its feet was successful in paying off the debt, purchasing needed equipment, and restoring the building while putting roughly $4,000 back into the club’s bank account.
This committee, which also included Mille Schmidt, Irene Baranowski, Ron Valliant, Ralph Showalter, John Baranowski, don Schmidt, Phillis Dalseg, Marila Hanson, and Ev Cottam, proved to be a dedicated, hard-working group that made the task much easier than first thought.
Honourable mention was the donations canvassed by Ron Valliant, who hit almost everyone from Fort Frances to Rainy River, as well as Nestor Falls, Sioux Narrows, and Kenora.
Special thanks also to Irene Baranowski, for her involvement in regards to scheduling the concession stand volunteers, and Millie Schmidt for her constant help outside of her job as our secretary/treasurer.
All in all, though, you could say the whole community of Nestor Falls had a hand on making this a success story!