Historic St. Marys by Mary Smith
It is exciting that the St. Marys Curling Club is hosting the 2013 Mixed Provincial Championship this week. This is a high point in the long history of curling in this community but there have also been some lows. Hugely popular in the 19th century, participation fell off sharply in the early 20th century. In 1943, the 60-year-old curling building beside the Wellington Street Bridge was declared unsafe and was demolished. There seemed to be neither the will nor the resources to save it.
But interest in curling reawakened in more prosperous post-war years. In 1963, a new St. Marys Curling Club was formed and by April, a rink and clubhouse at the golf course was under construction. The facility opened in December of that year and was the home for local curlers for more than three decades.
The reintroduction of curling to St. Marys and area was greeted with enthusiasm, more so because women's curling was now an important component. The club had a full winter calendar: the regular schedule supplemented by bonspiels and many purely social occasions.
One popular mixed event sponsored by Smith Jewellers was held each February on the Saturday nearest Valentine Day. Gordon and Georgina Smith, always on hand to present the prizes, are shown in this week's photograph with the 1979 winning team. From the left are Lorna and Mike Weber, Marj Turner, the Smiths and team skip Greg Thompson holding the trophy.
Gord and Georgina Smith died quite recently - Georgina in July 2012, age 100, and Gord just a few months later in early January 2013. They had been married for 63 years. From the start, they were enthusiastic supporters of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum - anyone who took a tour of the Ball Hall with Georgina as a guide is unlikely to forget the experience.
But as this photograph shows, they supported a great deal more in the community. They made many generous donations to the St. Marys Museum including the beautiful regulator clock hanging in the hallway of the exhibit area. Georgina was a dedicated genealogist and about 15 years ago was reading so much microfilm that she decided to buy and donate a better microfilm reader. Gord is remembered with great affection as part of the steam crew and their popular demonstration of antique machinery every Canada Day.
For more information, visit the Museum and the current exhibit on curling history or see the excellent history section on the curling club's website: www.stmaryscurling.ca.