Nestled on the corner of Cosburn and Gledhill Avenues, is a small club celebrating a big milestone.
The East York Curling Club has now been open for 50 years, giving residents a place to exercise, make new friends and enjoy a few drinks.
During their anniversary celebration on Oct. 2, the walls were filled with collages showing everything the last 50 years had to offer, from old pictures of the first sheets of ice to a video slideshow of members past and present.
“It’s a good start,” said club president Scott Murray. “And it’ll be here for another 50 years.”
If you listened closely to the conversations shared between long lost club members, you would quickly realize that the club has been not only an integral part of the East York community, but it has played host to some major events.
The inaugural world junior curling championship was hosted at the East York curling club in 1975 and it regularly hosts bonspiels and tournaments for men, women and children of all ages and abilities.
Gord Shepherd has been a member of the club since 1975 and was a key member of the anniversary committee. He says the success of this city-run club has a lot to do with the nature of the sport itself.
“Curling is a sport you can do all your life,” said Shepherd. “There are curlers who start at seven years old and we’ve got people here in our seniors section who are in their eighties and still curling.”
Shepherd and his organizing committee worked on the big event for more than a year and a half and said it seemed to plan itself.
“Once the word got out that we were going to do this, a lot of members came forward with old pictures and documents and whatever they had,” said Shepherd. “It was quite fun going through all that stuff and putting together displays and actually learning about the history of the club.”
For any club to celebrate their golden anniversary, it is a testament to the members who keep coming back. That’s what Murray remembers when he first became a member a decade ago.
“I came here not knowing anybody and got welcomed in by the people here,” he said. “I was placed on a team and the people helped bring me up to speed with curling. Obviously it has worked because I’m still here. To me, that’s one of the biggest things, the sense of community. It’s the camaraderie.”
Sandra Gabriel sits on the board at the club and is in charge of planning the social events. She has seen many a good party at the club, but her favourite event shows the true heart and soul of being a member at East York.
“This has nothing to do with curling, but I was here both times when the Blue Jays won the World Series,” she said. “I remember someone saying ‘Turn off the music, were not dancing. Get the awards over with, we’re sitting and watching’.
You were with your best friends to do something special. Even more so than the Jays winning, I was in a room with 100 of my closest friends.
“The people make any club. You can go into any club in Canada or any club in the world and say I’m a curler and sit down and have a coffee or play a game of cards and be welcomed. And East York is known for that. You walk in here and you’re going to be welcomed. Oh, you’re from out of town? You’re a curler? Come on in.”