Saying goodbye to Sylvan Lake Curling Club will be particularly difficult for people like Bev Jones, who have spent the better part of their lives curling in the soon-to-be-demolished facility.
“It’s been a good old girl down there,” said Jones. “It has served well.”
Jones was one of many Sylvan Lake curlers who gathered at the club last Friday for a farewell that included food, drinks and entertainment.
It marked the end of the facility, which is set to officially close on Mar. 28.
While its absence will soon be felt by curlers of all ages in Sylvan Lake and around the province, Jones assured that the memories created inside it will live on.
Her own date back to the 1950s, when she began curling as a high school student.
“It wasn’t just a curling rink, it was like a community centre,” she said. “In fact, I think they did call it the community centre at one time.”
Over the years, she’s seen curling grow and change along with the club.
After spending 1953 and 1954 curling in the then-new curling club, she moved to Lacombe, returning to Sylvan Lake in 1957.
She then soon took an extensive break from the sport, and didn’t participate again until her senior years, when she discovered “a whole new game”.
“They would use these funny little brushes, and there were some people that had these funny things on their shoes and they could slide halfway up the ice,” she said.
During that time, the club also underwent a number of major changes.
“When they got the artificial ice plant, it was altogether different, because you could make the ice and keep the ice, and you didn’t have to worry about what the temperature got to be,” said Jones.
A number of other upgrades took place in years following. Current manager Joel Powlesland’s eventual arrival saw the place “spruced up”, according to Jones.
Yet, Jones has been aware that the club’s facility would need to be upgraded at some point, and she has mixed feelings about its pending demolition.
“I realize it’s showing its age,” she said. “Progress is progress, and if they can get this new facility together and get going on it, I think it will be a real asset to our community.”
In the meantime, she’ll continue to curl in surrounding municipalities such as Red Deer and Edmonton.
Youths, she fears, will suffer most from the lack of a curling facility in town.
“We, as seniors, are fortunate because we don’t work anymore, and can go wherever (to curl), but the younger people and families can’t do that,” she said. “Our youth curlers, we need them. We really need them, and I’m hoping that they’ll be able to have a facility somewhere that they can use.”
Nonetheless, she’s grateful that she and other curlers of her generation have had many great years of their own at the facility.
“We’ve had a good run,” she said. “We really have.”
At press time, Powlesland said he wasn’t sure when demolition would take place, but he was already packing and clearing the building in preparation.