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Guelph Curling Club

Guelph Civic Museum Archives

Curling club members at the Victoria Rink on Baker Street in 1938

Curling club history new museum exhibit

In honour of the 175th anniversary of the Guelph Curling Club, an exhibit of artifacts associated with the club is going on display at the Guelph Civic Museum.
The exhibit, titled Guelph Curling Club: Part of Guelph’s History for 175 Years, will be on display from Jan. 10 to March 2 on the museum’s first floor. The following is a brief history of the club, which has been operating in Guelph since the early 19th century:
1827: Guelph was founded by John Galt, a Scottish entrepreneur and novelist. A large influx of Scottish immigrants, the building of mills and their attendant ponds and long, cold winters led to the early establishment of curling clubs in this part of Ontario. Curling took place out of doors wherever ice was available. In Guelph, this was primarily on the Speed River.
1838: Eleven years after the founding of Guelph, the Union Curling Club was established.
1868: The first covered rink, used for both skating and curling, was a wooden structure located at the corner of Huskisson and Wellington Streets, very close to the Speed River.
1874: The Ontario Branch of the Royal Caledonia Curling Club (later the Ontario Curling Association) was formed with the Hon. Peter Gow (curler, businessman, mayor, MLA, cabinet member) of Guelph as chairman.
1888: A second club, the Royal City Curling Club, was founded in Guelph with brewer George Sleeman as its president.
1892: A new wooden building – the Victoria Rink – was built in the centre of town at the corner of Baker Street and Chapel Lane on land leased from the town. It was used by both curling clubs and local skaters. In addition, a local lawn bowling club used part of this leased land.
1914: The Victoria Rink was destroyed by fire and was immediately rebuilt.
Late 1920s/early ’30s: These were lean times for both clubs. In 1931, the Union Club had only 17 members, the Royal City Club only 15 members.
1936-1938: Led by William Hamilton (curler, entrepreneur, mayor, MLA), curling was revitalized in Guelph. Artificial ice was installed in 1936. The Guelph Ladies Curling Club was formed in 1937. In 1938, the two men’s clubs amalgamated to form the Guelph Curling Club.
1947: The Victoria Rink became member- owned. To qualify for membership, curlers had to purchase a share for $50. This is still the case for new members in 2013.
1968: An eight-sheeter was built on the present site on Highway 6 north of Guelph. Shortly thereafter, the club membership stood at over 1,000. (This compares with the present membership of about 750.)
1996: Murray MacGregor, curler extraordinaire, was elected to the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame.

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