Curling has been an integral part of the lives of the residents of the Mississippi Mills area for over 150 years. The Almonte Curling Club was established in 1855, and is the eighth oldest curling club in North America. The Pakenham Curling Club was officially established in 1939, yet the game was being played on the Mississippi River under the historic five span bridge in town as early as the 1860's.
Other sports in Almonte
Almonte Gazette - Saturday February 19, 1870
Bonspiel - Last Tuesday afternoon, a very interesting game was played between junior members of the Mississippi Club, with Messrs. S. L. Davis and P. McArthur acting as skips. An additional window being required in the rink, it was previously agreed by the skips that the losing side would pay the cost of putting one in. The sides stood as follows: J.L.Reed, A. Sinclair, F.A.W. Lister, Dr. Patterson, Wm. Templeman, S.L. Davis, skip - 7.
Scottish settlers introduced the game of curling to the area, and soon it was being played on frozen stretches of the Mississippi River and some creeks, including the Indian Creek where an annual bonspiel was held. A bonspiel is a curling tournament.
In the town of Almonte, the first home of the organized curling club was on the open expanse of the Mississippi River along Water Street, beside where the fairgrounds are now located. The club was often known as the Mississippi Curling Club. The club membership consisted of men up until the late 1890's when a women’s league was formed. After fifty years of roughing it outdoors, the Almonte Curling Club, (A.C.C.), finally had a building of its own , in 1902, a new addition was added onto the south end of the hockey rink on Coleman Island or simply "the Island." In 1941 the building was condemned, and the A.C.C. was left to look for a new home.
A handmade curling stone
The Mill of Kintail
The Mississippi Curling Rink Limited was formed in 1942 by members of the club who wanted to ensure the continuation of curling in Almonte. That same year the group financed the new, modern three sheet rink in the "Market" facing out onto Brae Street which they rented to the A.C.C.. The club celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 1955 with about eighty members. In 1969, the membership had nearly doubled to about 150 which now included men’s, women‘s, and children’s leagues.
Tragedy struck in the morning of February 18th, 1970. The club house in the front section of the building caught fire. The ice area and the rocks were fine, but the club house, its furnishings, and all of the trophies and records on site were destroyed. Both Pakenham and Carleton Place Curling Clubs offered ice time to the A.C.C. until the 1989 season.
After many attempts in the aftermath of the fire, Almonte once again was given a first class curling facility when a four sheet rink and club house were attached to the Almonte Community Centre on Bridge Street. On Sunday, October 22nd, 1989 the current home of the Almonte Curling Club was officially opened. The past thirteen years have been filled with regular league play for men’s, women’s, mixed, little rocks (ages 7 to12), bantams and juniors. The club hosts many bonspeils, and invitationals between clubs. Also, this past season the A.C.C. was one of the host clubs of the 2003 Elementary School Provincial Championships.
Cast iron curling stones
A box of curling stones
One of the newer granite stones. Note the decorative tassel.
The Almonte Curling Club Pin.
The Mill of Kintail
Pakenham Curling Club Pin.
The Pakenham Curling Club, (P.C.C.) also has a history dating back nearly as long as that of Almonte’s. After a while under the bridge, the rink in Pakenham was established upstream at the spot known as "Bulley’s Acre".
The first covered rink in Pakenham was built in 1892, on Victoria Street and it served the club well until 1927, when the building had to be demolished due to its deteriorating condition. The P.C.C. was back in action in 1939, with the support of the community and curling enthusiasts. A new curling club was erected on the corner of Jessie and Isabella Streets.
Innovation came to town when in 1958, the artificial ice plant was installed. This lead to a longer season and increased membership and the introduction of a school boy league to the existing men’s and women’s leagues. In 1976, the P.C.C. became incorporated.
In October 1982, the club’s ice area was condemned and had to be demolished. Club members pitched in and helped tear down the structure, and with professional help, rebuilt it. The second story of the clubhouse was extended over the ice surface at this time. The P.C.C. was opened to the public once again in November, 1983. The last major change to the club occurred in 1988, due to an accident. A truck rammed into the building where the men’s room is located. This resulted in a remodeling of the men’s room, and an extension being added to the front of the building.
The P.C.C celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 1989, and it still going strong in the new Millennium. Membership at both clubs has been steady and new curlers are continually coming in each season.