In preparation for a new season, ice technician Myles Trenholm sprays the ice surface at the Sackville curling club, while club president Ken Nicol, left, and assistant ice tech Gerry Goddard assist. A number of improvements have been made to the ice area in recent months. TOWER PHOTO
In former times it could be called a "barn raising" when men from a community would gather and in one day complete a barn for one of their friends. Well, the situation this past summer had its comparison when members of the Sackville Curling Club came together in unity to devote more than 650 hours of sweat equity, turning the club into one of the cleanest and brightest ice palace in the Maritimes.
The public has been invited to drop in for an inspection of the work conducted by upwards of 20 members, with usually six to eight meeting each Wednesday morning from 8 a.m. to noon. The result of all this effort has to be seen to be believed and was a continuation of the $180,000 upgrade carried out a year earlier and sparked by the $25,000 win in the annual Kraft competition.
The initial step was carried out by the Mike Hicks construction firm and consisted of installation of new windows, insulation of the entire building and air conditioning and work on the lounge, corridor and men's locker room.
In addition to the Kraft contribution, funds were obtained through a mortgage and sale of bonds to members. So this time much of the $25,000 spent on materials and some professional work came from that source.
The building was constructed in 1950 at a total cost of $55,000, and in 1974 a new two-story addition to the front of the building was erected at a cost of slightly more than $58,000. The first floor was rented to the Royal Bank as a temporary home, while their main building was rebuilt. Since then it has served many tenants and now it even hosts a barbershop.
Prior to the 1974 addition, the bar was located in the men's locker room and was not moved upstairs to the Chignecto Lounge until 1961.
Older members of the club agree that the overall structure is now probably in as good condition as it has ever been. With last year's major project and this year's volunteer efforts it has been turned into a modern facility on a par with what larger communities can offer.
The biggest project this time consisted of installation of a fire rated PVC product that is more commonly used in freezers and in dairy operations where there is excess moisture. These 12-foot panels, not unlike vinyl siding, are snapped together and screwed into place. The strapping of the old concrete block walls was done by a local contractor. The walkways on each side of the three lanes of ice were rebuilt and with a yellow puckboard to help eliminate mishaps. Later it's expected carpets will be added.
These improvements added to the ceiling installed five years along with the most modern lighting turns the ice shed in to the appearance of sunlight it is so bright. The dream list for the future includes heating of the ice area to make the games more comfortable for the participants.
Ice making for the upcoming season began on Oct. 5 along with registration, and president Ken Nicol says new members are not only welcome but will be offered an orientation period to the game. Nicol says the membership fee of $300 is about the lowest in the region.
An "open house" is being planned for some time next month when the doors will swing open to welcome the community. Those interested may view the game of curling from the observation area in a warm and comfortable environment.
A good number of bonspiels are on tap for the season with a Maritime-wide junior event for curlers 20 years and under will kick things off on Nov. 12 and will be followed by a master's spiel chaired by David Acton on Dec. 4-5. The Dominion playdowns will follow immediately while the huge Curl For Cancer is booked for Feb. 8.
The usual competitions will get underway shortly, with the morning men slated for Monday and Thursday mornings, the matching women's games on Tuesday and Friday, as well as evening matches for men and women and another night for mixed curling. Border League matches will take place on Wednesdays with rinks from Amherst and Sackville comprising the league. In addition, there will be times for the little rocks, the MacLellan Challenge and the Mount Allison intramural program. Most Sundays and Wednesdays are open and available for games as well as available for members to work on their weight.
As usual, there will be upwards of 200 members enjoying the facilities with registration being of the ongoing nature.
Nicol heads up the executive with Anna Acton and Lloyd Varner as treasurer, Elizabeth Portman as vice-president, Sara Poirier as secretary and directors Diane Michaud, Miki McMahon, Dan Fitzpatrick, Sharon MacIntyre and Duane McLellan.
McNicol, who has curled extensively elsewhere, says Sackville offers some of the finest ice in the east, thanks mainly to ice-maker Myles Trenholm who has worked with some of the world's experts in this field and who has taken several courses and has 13 years of experience under his belt.
So, it seems the Sackville Curling Club offers many opportunities – for the retired to the little rocks – at a minimum fee in ideal surroundings. Nicol and others are confident that the club is now in condition to last at least another 50 years with some gentle treatment.