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HISTORY OF THE McINTYRE CURLING CLUB

Few curling clubs can boast such a diverse and exiting existence as can the grand old guy; the "Mac" His roots were planted many years before his birth by a hard working rascal with a dream, a purpose and a sense of humour which was passed on to the "Mac" by his paternal father, Sandy McIntyre, who as discoverer of the McIntyre Mine, needs no introduction.

OUR HUMBLE BEGINNING.

Many of us were not aware that curling was enjoyed in the Porcupine Camp West of Schumacher prior to the construction of the McIntyre Curling Club, but in fact the game was enjoyed by many in the Timmins Curling Club from 1926 to 1940. The structure still stands today and is now recognized as the Timmins Armories, since it was taken over by the Department of National Defense in 1940-41.

The first curling at the McIntyre complex did not take place in the McIntyre Curling Club, but rather in the hockey and skating rink in 1938 prior to the addition of the curling, bowling and restaurant portion of the complex.

Advocates of the roaring game embarked on a campaign to convince the manager of the McIntyre Mine and Vice President of the company Mr. R.J. Ennis that there existed a real need for a curling club to be included in the proposed expansion of the McIntyre complex.

Mr. Ennis, who was a "I'm from Missouri, I gotta be shown" kind of guy placed the onus on the McIntyre Athletic Association to prove that their members would support the game.

Prove they did, with the assistance of the Dome and Timmins Curling Clubs and the loan of instructors, curling rocks, score boards and expertise, a combined curling clinic and bonspiel, likely one of the largest in history, took place in 1939 involving about 400 would be curlers.

Construction of the expansion of the McIntyre complex which would include the bowling alley, restaurant, gymnasium and curling club began in 1939 and was ready for the official opening on December 20, 1939. The engineering and design was done by engineering staff of the McIntyre Mine. There was some anxiety prior to the opening as it was widely rumoured that the "Mac" rocks, enroute from Scotland, had gone down at sea with the sinking of the ill-fated ocean liner Anthenian in the Atlantic Ocean, but the good fortune with which the "Mac" has been blessed over the years saw the rocks delivered the morning of the grand opening.

The first rock was delivered by Mr. J.P. Bickell, President of the McIntyre Mine and honorary president of the curling club.

The membership of the curling club in the 1939-40 year consisted of 507 men. largest known membership of any individual curling club in the world.

The members were made up mostly of McIntyre Mine employees who paid the whopping sum of 25 cents monthly with an equal amount paid by the McIntyre Mine.

During the 1940-41 season the membership increased when many members of the Timmins Curling Club lured by the brand new surroundings changed clubs and because of their experience moved into the top positions of the teams, an occurrence that did not meet with everyone's approval. The competitions of the day were for trophies donated by R. J. Ennis, J.P. Bickell, R.S. McLaughlin, Lions' Club, McIntyre and the president's trophy donated by the first club president A.H. Cooke, and the teams were made up from the various departments of the McIntyre Mine who, because of the shift system at the mine curled almost around the clock. The magnificent trophies donated by Messers Bickell and Ennis are proudly displayed in the club's trophy case.

The executive of the club was made up of employees of the McIntyre Mine, a tradition which lasted well into the late 60's when members from the community began to exert an influence on the direction the club was to take in the oncoming years.

With the injection of new blood and ideas the club began to take on a leadership role among clubs in Northern Ontario, a role which still exists today.

Our first test as a host of a National Title came with the successful hosting of the l972 Junior Canadian Curling Championships chaired by Mike Feldman and his capable committee.

A number of intensive instructor clinics were held at the club producing a large nucleus of Curl Canada Instructors who for more than a decade during the late 70's early 80's traveled to most of the other clubs in the T.& N.O. Association to put on curling clinics in the various communities. Because of the involvement most clubs now have their own trained instructors.

Many of our spiels are second to none, the Mac Men's Cash Spiel (now re-names the Hugh Calverley Bonspiel) which was the result of much hard work and dedication from Past President Don Stewart and the wealth of talent in the club from which he could draw.

The T. & N.0. bonspiel which, on a rotational basis, is hosted by our club every seven years, enjoys the largest turnout of any club within the association.

The Fisherman's Bonspiel, which is the final spiel of the year, is well known for its fun and hospitality in many parts of the country and after many years it still draws the largest number of teams of any event in the area.

Events leading up to 1982 changed the complexion of the "Mac" forever; we were awarded the Seagram's National Mixed Championship and membership and community at large responded by hosting an event that was in the words of the Seagram's representatives the most successful championship they had ever witnessed in the history of the Seagram's competition.

A complete renovation of the club took place prior to the Seagram's Championship, Past President Joe Gubbels drew up the plans for a redesign which included turning a portion of the old bowling alley into men's and ladies locker rooms, enlarging the upstairs lounge by removing the locker rooms, moving the bar and office to the area which was formerly the men's locker room, changing the location of the entrance to the lounge and turning the old "Watering Hole" into a conference room.

The renovations were initially to be financed by 50-50 cost share between the curling club and Wintario with much of the clubs 50 per cent being made up of membership labour.

Much to our delight the City fathers stepped in and in conjunction with Wintario hired a contracting firm and did the renovations with the club members assisting with some of the cosmetic renovations.

We owe many thanks to the mayor of the day Mr. Vic Power and his council and particularly Mr. Ray Canie, the City Administrator, for expediting the arrangements between the City and Wintario to enable the renovations to be completed prior to the Seagram's Championships, and completed they were.

The dynamic spirit of the club which is instrumental for much of our successes did not happen by accident, much of it started to happen the day we hired Violet "Vi" Bradbury as our Secretary Treasurer in the mid 1970's.

Vi, whose title has been changed to the Manager of the Curling Club has been the driving force behind each and every club president through the countless hours she devotes to the club and the continuity she provides to the operation of the club, her gracious and charming mother, Mrs. Laura Jones, has had to come down to the club so she can spend time with her daughter.

Vi along with the ladies of the club provide the extra touch to our many functions that only a woman can do.

On the subject of women, they were not always part of the club, in fact their entry was quite by accident.

In 1950 the ladies had a spiel scheduled at the Dome Curling Club but troubles with the ice plant prevented them from using the Dome. The women approached the McIntyre executive and asked if they could use the Mac, the request met with much opposition but the men finally relented and the women, for the first time, curled at the Mac.

Hugh Calverley, the club president 1950-51, made a motion at the general meeting to allow the formation of a Ladies Section of the curling club. The motion was defeated that year but was passed the following year.

The formation of the Business Girls Club followed in 1955-56. Both clubs have been a welcome addition and have been instrumental in the success of the club.

The club has sent various teams to the provincial and national events, pictures of those teams can be seen on the "Wall of Fame" in the Club lounge.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY "MAC"

The McIntyre Curling Club is 60 years old this year and on behalf of the Board of Directors, we would like to thank all present and former members of the club for making this such a great place.

Some of the recent major events held at the "Mac" include: THE 1999 NOKIA CUP - see Archives The 2000 SCOTT TOURNAMENT OF HEARTS - See Archives

This article was origionally prepared for the silver anniversary celebrations of the club by the late Larry Hughes, Past President.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank Hugh Calverley for the historical data and input enabling us to compile this story.