Facilities

Beginnings

After a few false starts, Selkirk established its curling club in 1893.

On Christmas Eve 1893, the Manitoba Chapter of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club (the registry body for curling clubs in the province) met to discuss the creation of a curling club in Selkirk. They announced that; “D. Fromer, secretary of the Selkirk Curling Club, advises of the formation of the club of twenty-five members at Selkirk.”. The required membership fees and paperwork had been submitted for them to get a charter.

Though the meeting that set the curling club in motion was held on Christmas Eve, preparations to start the club began weeks before.

The November 7, 1893 Winnipeg Tribune reported on the creation of a curling club in Selkirk, stating;

“…the citizens of Selkirk, keeping abreast of the times, intend on going in for curling during the present winter,”, as well as;

“…Mr. R. Moncrieff was in town to tour the Granite and Thistle rinks with a view of adopting the best plan for a cheap and desirable building which he will erect for the curlers and skaters of Selkirk.”.

It was exciting news not just for Selkirk, but also for the surrounding regions to have new community to play against.

The curling rink that Moncrieff erected in November 1893 was believed to have been on Eveline Street near where the present-day Civic Office (200 Eaton Ave) building is. It was intended to have one sheet along the north side, with the rest of the space dedicated to a public skating rink. It was reported in early December that, since membership was increasing rapidly, a second curling sheet was built at the south end of the rink.

Major Wins and Milestones

It did not take long for the citizens of Selkirk to make their mark on Manitoba’s curling scene.

Two rinks from Winnipeg’s Thistle Curling Club travelled to Selkirk in December 1893 to play a friendly tournament again Selkirk’s lineup of Harry Nelson, skip; C. Stewart; G. Erskine; and R. Moncrieff.

Selkirk beat them both.

They did the same with a rink from the Granite Curling Club which also came out that month. In January 1894, it was the Selkirk’s turn to visit Winnipeg for a series of rematches. Once again, they left as victors.

By the 1895 season, the Selkirk Curling Club had between 40 and 50 members.

To prove that their victories were not a fluke, Selkirk was one of two Manitoba teams that attended the Northwestern Curling Association’s annual bonspiel held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in January 1895. Of the twelve games they played, they lost only one and defaulted the other. They placed as the runner’s up for the Jobbers Cup, one of the trophies up for grabs.

Tom Kelly of the Winnipeg rink said that the Selkirk team were favourites at the tournament and, not just for their play.

“During the whole of the games,” Kelly said, “at least 500 ladies were among the spectators and the majority of these were around Nelson’s rink wherever they might be playing. Nelson was the most popular man on the ice.”

He was likely ribbing Nelson, as an image of the team shows him to be an older gentleman.

The team returned to Selkirk to a hero’s welcome with a short parade, bonfire, and banquet.

A new high point for the club came in 1910 when a new rink opened. On September 13 of that year, there was a public meeting to introduce the Selkirk Curling Rink Co. that would build a $2,500, four-sheet rink on Fox Avenue.  The following week, the company chose an executive and tenders were called.

At the new rink, one of the four sheets was reserved exclusively for ‘lady curlers’, which brought about the creation of a Selkirk Ladies Curling Club. It was established on January 31, 1911, with Mrs. G. H. Fox as its first president and S. G. Lanton its secretary. The fee to join was either $1.00 or $2.00 for active players.

Other clubs in the region, such as the Granite and Thistle in Winnipeg, already had women’s curling clubs which allowed for friendly tournaments in both communities throughout the season.

Women’s curling became popular enough that in 1916, an annual bonspiel was held in Manitoba with the Fry’s Cocoa Cup going to the winner. In 1924, a formal Manitoba Ladies Curling Association (MLCA) was formed by nine clubs, though it’s unclear if Selkirk was one of them. The MLCA amalgamated with the men’s Manitoba Curling Association in 2000 to create a new Manitoba Curling Association that wasn’t gender exclusive.

The next milestone in the club’s history came from the April 16, 1937 meeting of the Selkirk Curling Club, when they decided it was time to build a new rink. This one would be located on Fox Avenue on the east side of Alexandria Rink (the land that is now home to Selkirk Rotary Manor).

Construction took place over the spring and summer of 1937, with a grand opening held on Friday, December 3 of that same year. Mayor Robert Smith; J. C. McLenaghen, MLA; and Robert Jacob, president of the Manitoba Curling Association, were on hand for the ceremony. At the event, the mayor was presented with an honourary life membership.

The Fox Avenue rink would serve the Selkirk community for nearly a quarter-century until it was once again time for a new facility.

The first president of the Selkirk Curling Club

Harry Nelson was a stonemason from East Selkirk who is said to have crafted the first rocks used by the club. Nelson is often credited with being the first president of the Selkirk Curling Club. Though he had a huge impact during the formative years of curling in Selkirk, the honour of being the curling club’s first president likely goes to LaTouche Tupper.

Tupper was born in Ontario and came to Manitoba in the 1870s as part of a survey team. He stayed and became a sort of ‘fix-it man’ for various governments. He held numerous civil service positions, including an inspector for the City of Winnipeg and, in 1887 – 88, as chief of the Manitoba Provincial Police. In 1892, he was head of the newly established Dominion Fish Hatchery at Selkirk.
Nelson was most likely the second president of the curling club, not the first. So, why is Nelson considered first?   Clues come in a January 1952 Winnipeg Free Press article by Scotty Harper, who was in Selkirk to cover a tournament. Writing about the history of the club, he noted that the oldtimers he spoke to did not know who the first president was. He was referred to avid curler, Mayor Steve Oliver, who told Harper that he believed that the club’s earliest records had been destroyed years earlier and that he couldn’t shed any light.

Harper then noted,”but from another quarter, we learned that Harry Nelson was the first president.”.   Ever since, whenever the issue of the curling club’s history came up in a newspaper it seems that Harry Nelson is always mentioned as the first president.

The best evidence that it was Tupper, (without seeing the original curling association paperwork if it still exists), comes in a November 1894 article about the election of that year’s Selkirk Curling Club. The piece was carried in the Winnipeg Tribune, which was likely taken word-for-word from the Selkirk paper of the time. It noted that during the meeting: “A letter was read from LaTouche Tupper thanking the members of the club for the honour conferred on him last year by electing him, president.”.

The Selkirk Curling Club Executives Over the Years

YearPatronHon. PresidentPresidentExecutives
1893  LaTouche TupperSec: D. Fromer
*full list missing
1894Patron: Dr. Young
Patroness: Mrs Young
 Harry W. NelsonVP: D. F. Ried
Sec./Treas: C. C. Stewart
Chaplain: J. A. Sutherland
(elected Nov. 1894)
1895Patron: Dr. Young
Patroness: Mrs. Young
 H. W. Nelson1st VP: D. S. Ried
2nd VP: L. S. Vaughan
Sec./Treas: P. C. Steward
(elected Nov. 1895)
1898J. A. MacdonaldCapt. Wm. RobinsonL. S. Vaughan1st VP: F. C. Elliot
2nd VP: B. Smith
Sec: C. S. Stewart
Treas: T. L. Jones
(elected Dec. 1898)
1900M.P. ElectCapt. Wm. RobinsonJ. J. Erskine1st VP: M. Sutherland
2nd VP: W. S. Young
Sec: C. S. Stewart
Treas: T. L. Jones
(elected Dec. 1900)
 1901    
 1902Mayor Vaughan Capt. Wm. Robinson M. Sutherland 1st VP: T. J. Jones
2nd VP: R. Smith
Sec: C.C. Stewart
Treas: T. J. Jones
(Elected Oct 1902)
 1903 Mayor McKenzie Capt. Wm. Robinson T. J. Jones 1st VP: M. Moncreiff
2nd VP: W. S. Young
Sec: C. C. Stewart
Treas: T. J. Jones
Chaplain: Rev. F. R. Richardson
(Elected April 1903)
 1904    
 1905    
 1906    
 1907    
1908G. H. Bradbury, M.P.J. D. TomkinsW. A. Maynard1st VP: G. H. Fox
2nd VP: R. A. Kirkpatrick
Sec. / Treas: M. Moncrieff
Chaplain: Rev Thomas
(Elected Nov 1908)
1909Mr. Fox
1910G. H. Bradbury, M.P.
Dr. O. I. Grain, MLA
M. Sutherland1st VP: S. G. Langton
2nd VP: E. Millridge
Sec: M. Moncrieff
Treas: E. Hughes
Chaplain: Rev. W. L. Findlay
(Elected Nov 1910)
1911G. H. Bradbury, M.P.
Dr. O. I. Grain, MLA
Dr. H. C. Norquay1st VP: Edwin Millidge
2nd VP: J. Moody
Sec: C. Finkleman
Treas: Rev. W. E. Findlay
(Elected Oct 1911)
  • Note that executives were often elected late in the year, so the “1901 executive” was the executive for 1 month of 1900 and 11 months of 1901.
  • Note that Women’s curling, which was formally created in January 1911 after the new rink was built, was not covered as closely by Winnipeg newspapers especially in the early years.

To read part 2, click here.