Dozens brave the weather as Great Canadian Pond Spiel takes over Island Lake

February 6, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

It’s an event several hundred years in the making.

The Great Canadian Pond Spiel, hosted by the Orangeville Curling Club, places curlers on the open ice at the Island Lake Conservation Area to play the game the same way it was originally played – out on a wind-swept sheet of ice.

While the ice conditions are not ideal for the sport, it makes for a fun day for curlers who come from clubs around the province to experience the game the old fashioned way.

With the wind whipping across the lake, curlers battle the elements by dressing appropriately and try to slide the rocks across a sheet of ice that is formed by a freezing lake complete with all the ripples, and bumps that come with it.

Curlers play two games on the ice then head indoors at the Curling Club for their third day. The winner is based on the scores from the combined three games. 

Volunteers from the Curling Club put a lot of work into preparing the ice for the day including shoveling off all the snow and setting up trees as a wind and snow break.

“This is the eleventh year we’ve done this,” explained Club volunteer Rob Derooy. “We do two games out here and one game at the club. There’s three full draws with 96 curlers. We’ve got a person here from Winnipeg and other clubs from all over. I see people from Brampton, Georgetown, Toronto. It was inspired by the thought of what can we do that’s fun, that’s different, and can introduce people to curling? This is actually quite different because this nothing like curling in the Club. You’ve got hills and bumps and perfect shot is luck. If you’re more skillful you’ve got a better chance but a bump can go the other way on you. Each draw will have a winner and there will be an over all champion.”

On the open ice, most curlers throw throw the rocks using an extension stick. It’s almost impossible to throw the rock in the traditional sense when bundled up in a parka and wearing winter boots.

The first games got underway at 8:00 a.m. with games wrapping up around 4:00 p.m. Volunteers were on site at 6:00 a.m. to get everything ready.

“We were here five weeks ago gathering trees, three weeks ago we put in the trees,” Mr. Derroy said. “We were supposed to be here last week but it was all slush.”

The ice is currently about nine inches thick on the lake.

Every year the conditions change. Some years the event is held in bitter cold, other years it is much milder. You never know what you’re going to get.

At the end of the day everyone had a story to tell about curling the old-fashioned way.

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