It was 1956 when a group of Army, Navy, and Air Force veterans who had settled in Carleton Heights decided that curling would be an excellent winter sport to introduce to the area. These enthusiastic people canvassed the locale and found that there was sufficient interest to pursue their idea. The Ottawa Recreation Department granted permission to lay out two sheets of ice alongside the outdoor community hockey and skating rink. Stones were borrowed from the Rideau Club, the clubhouse was a pair of salvaged garages and, between snow banks and bundled in parkas and toques, curling got under way.
Despite sub-zero temperatures, snow, and thaws, these avid curlers made it through two winters. However, in 1957 it was proposed that if eighty people would be willing to purchase $100 bonds, an indoor two-sheet rink could be built. Carleton Heights Curling Club was officially incorporated on May 16, 1958. On June 6, 1958 the sod-turning took place and in December 1958, the official opening of the new facility, which was planned and built mainly by these hardy veterans, was a dream realized.
In order to carry on this dream, those same hard-working members now had to face having to make and maintain the ice. This entailed many very late nights and quite often, while the men were working on the ice, their wives would be there to serve coffee and goodies.
The first executive meeting was held in the clubhouse on January 11, 1959, with 76 people in attendance. The Club colours were declared to be Royal Blue and White. The members of the first executive were Morgan Park, Neil Duncan, Jack Willis, Bob Masson, Lyons Allen, Maynard Mulvagh, and Joyce Sherman.
Two new sets of rocks were ordered for the 1959-60 curling season. The Opening Dance took place at the Convention Hall, Lansdowne Park, at a cost of $5 per couple. In March 1960, the Club had four rinks entered in the City of Ottawa Bonspiel and since then Carleton Heights has never looked back. In 1961-62, it was necessary to limit active membership to bondholders and spouses only, in order to provide all members with two games per week. This same year, the area voted “WET” and two liquor permits were issued that season. The Men’s Smoker, which had previously been held at the RCASC Mess, was held at the Club for the first time.
Continued interest in curling led to the formation of the first Junior League in 1964, with George Caskey and Hugh Crawford at the helm. This program was undertaken by many dedicated members, including Al Magee, Bob Grant, Gerry Barnabe, Keith Gibbs, Joe Barthelette, Rob Dunn, and Barry Mersereau.
Curling was proving to be a popular winter sport. An ever-increasing membership led to the addition of two sheets of ice, a more spacious lounge, and more modern facilities in 1965. McDonald Tobacco provided four scoreboards, two more sets of rocks were purchased and, once again, curling was underway at Carleton Heights.
In 1976 it was incorporated into the constitution of the Club that a Permanent Property Committee be established to review and approve any proposals relating to alterations of any kind to the building. The committee consisted of Bill Whitman, George Caskey, and Don Ellis.
Also in 1976, as many of the original members were readying for retirement, a Seniors’ Afternoon League was formed and proved to be very popular among the male members. They also got together for their Annual Golf Tournament which always proven to be a fun event, and continued until late into the 2010s.
In 1977, a decision was made to insulate the ceiling in the rink area. This was partially financed by a Wintario grant, while the work was done by our working members. Also in 1977, the walls of the curling rink were insulated. This undertaking, which was completed by a number of members, became known as “THE WALLBANGER PROJECT” and was financed by special donations from the members.
During the summer of 1985, major renovations to the lounge, kitchen, bar, cloakroom, and locker rooms, as well as improved lighting on the ice surface took place. Once again this project, which was under the capable direction of Don Ellis, was made possible by grants through the federal government’s “Make Work” and the “New Horizons” programs, as well as cash donations by some members. Our expansion party on November 16, 1985 was a great success and, once again, Carleton Heights had taken a big step forward.
Carleton Heights is what it is today as a result of thousands of laborious hours contributed by our many dedicated members, both men and women, who have always been more than willing to volunteer their services. These services would range anywhere from such major tasks as replacing the ice headers, roof repair, installing suspended ceilings, cleaning, washing and painting the entire premises, to making soup and sandwiches, baking pies, cakes, and other goodies, as well as providing canteen service. On several occasions when the Club was experiencing financial difficulties, these same members always came through with monetary loans and donations in order that the Club could carry on.
Over the past fifty years, Carleton Heights has certainly been well represented by all sections of the Club, ranging from our Little Rocks and Juniors to our Seniors, at various bonspiels throughout Ottawa and the Valley. Our ladies have brought many championships to the Club, such as the Tweedsmuir winners in 1966 which were the teams of Jean Bassett, Betty Joiner, Hellon Geldart, Ethel Jackson, and Marion Caskey, Nan Stonehouse, Irene Watson and Pat Christie. In 1995 Linda Martin and her rink of Debbie McCreanor, Carol Ann Campbell and Chris Henry captured the Ladies Crystal Pebble Bonspiel.
In March of 1991, the team of Art Scobie, Del Tracy, Don Ellis and Howey Dash won the City of Ottawa Seniors’ Event and went on to win the first Seniors’ Grand Aggregate (Pappy Rigby) Trophy. Later that same month, the team of Pat Hamilton, Del Tracy, Len Baird, and Don Ellis brought accolades to the Club when they won the Provincial Masters pennant which is proudly displayed at the Club. Many City of Ottawa trophies have been won by our teams over the years. One that stands out was won by Harry Adams and his rink. The members were so thrilled to have one of our teams win a City of Ottawa Trophy that a party was immediately arranged and champagne was poured into the trophy and sipped by all those in attendance.
Junior curlers Emma and Hannah Wallingford represented CHCC at three junior provincial competitions and various bonspiels. Highlights included winning the 2016 Junior Superspiel and representing Ontario at the 2018 Canada Junior Championships.
Carleton Heights has always extended a warm welcome to our fellow curlers. In this vein, to name a few special occasions: Centennial year, 1967, saw us hosting the Nova Scotia Brier Rink; 1978, the Ontario Junior Girls’ Playdowns; 1979, the New Brunswick Brier Rink; 1986, the Scottish Ladies; 1990, the Saskatchewan Tournament of Hearts Team, and in 1993, the Manitoba Brier Rink.