Tuesday, February 07, 2006

St. Vincent Pastimes

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Once upon a time, curling was a big thing in St. Vincent.

My grandfather, Al Fitzpatrick, was a player and supporter of the local curling club.

The rink was located kitty-corner from my grandparents' home uptown. It was also right by the town pump*, which you can see in this photograph.

I did a bit of research on curling, and found out that around 1880, the same time period where there was a lot of homesteading in our region, that 'curling fever' swept (pun intended) across Canada and parts of the United States. Curling clubs sprung up all over. Many homesteaders to St. Vincent were from Prince Edward Island, which had a strong curling tradition. I'm sure that's a large part of why the rink was built.

Emerson, which is right across the border from St. Vincent, continues to have a thriving curling club. In fact, some of the best curlers in the world have come out of Manitoba (an attorney from Winnipeg made an amazing play some calling it the best play they've ever seen, at the end of a match not long ago...)

I just found out that the Mens' and Womens' U.S Olympic Curling Team is based out of Bemidji, Minnesota. They're right now at the 2006 Winter Olympics playing the best in the world.

It's interesting to read how curling was (and still is) a large part of communities, keeping neighbors close and giving them something positive to do during the long, cold, dark days and nights of a northern winter...

* My grandma showed me how to prime the pump, and then how to lift the arm up and down to get the water going; There were times when the water in the cisterns would run low, and she'd send me to fetch water down the street...