The St. Marys Curling association has an impressively long history in the community and on November 17th they celebrated a key milestone. It marked 25 years ago to the day that the Lind Sportsplex opened its doors to its first curlers. Over the years, the curling community has been drawn to this amazing facility where countless games, bonspiels and even Provincial level championships have been hosted. Members of the daytime drop in league and Thursday Night Mixed social leagues commemorated this special day with some photos on the ice surface and a toast in the lounge after the games.
In 1880, three prosperous residents built an enclosed rink for around $4,000. This wood structure was shaped like a Quonset shed with a round barn like roof and was situated on Trout Creek roughly where the Sam's Home Hardware is today. Its title was "The Barn" and the ice was made from natural water pumped from Trout Creek into a holding tank. In 1884, St. Marys competed widely and captured the Ontario Tankard. In this era, they achieved a run of some 213 wins without being defeated. In 1943, a town inspection identified a roof weakness as a severe danger which could lead to collapse under heavy snow. The building was subsequently condemned, the lot was sold and the building torn down.
Curling suspended in St Marys until 1963, when the St. Marys Golf Club worked with local citizens and developed a new facility to serve both golf and curling. The club celebrated the 100th anniversary at these facilities and it served the curling community well for many years.
In 1997, the St. Marys Curling Association received notice that the current facility would no longer be available for curling. Members sensed a need of urgency to find another location before the next season so as to prevent the loss of members to other locations. Ernie Vanderschot and Greg Thompson contacted Jamie Hahn, the mayor at the time, to see if the town could be of any help. They soon found out that the town was looking into a facility for swimming at the quarry. The town would offer up the land, and the facility would cost approximately $700,000. $200,000 was in the budget from the town and the remaining $500,000 would need to be raised. The cement plant was in the process of being sold and the owners were approached for a donation with the agreement of having naming rights. Subsequently, a $300,000 donation came in from the Lind family and the facility now had a name.
The remaining $200,000 needed to be found in a hurry due to the fall deadline for a new facility. The club then approached the bank for a loan, but the loan needed to be guaranteed so eight members offered to put up a $25,000 guarantee each. The town then got three tenders and McLean-Taylor soon got underway building this current facility. In order to pay off the loan, members were approached to make a donation over three years with the promise of a very generous tax credit. They were able to raise $120,000 in the first year alone.
"It was pretty remarkable how generous people were," said Ernie Vanderschot, who was one of those eight members that guaranteed the loan and who is still an active curler at the club. "It was not just our members either, but the golf course who donated all the refrigeration and icemaking equipment, the Town, the Lind family and the overall community. Everyone contributed something that allowed us to pull this off and we will be forever grateful for the support."
The executive would like to thank all the supporters, volunteers and curlers that have contributed to the Lind Sportsplex success over the years and they look forward to seeing what is to come for the next 25 years.