The roaring game has changed in Cochrane

pg 34 A Peep into the Past Vol.1 Gordon and Belle Hall

The “roaring game” curling was known as. It took up the winter as a sport. The old rink was located the next lot south of where the senior centre or old post office is and in early years just north of the blacksmith shop. 

It was natural ice with water being hauled up from the creamery well by a tank wagon. With a sidewalk down between two sheets of ice. five barrels of water were placed about 15 feet apart, then filled with water and all turned over at once. This flow of water, about 225 or so gallons, levelled itself and froze. 

One amusing thing happened when I was working for Frank Fletcher, the carpenter, in 1930. We were sharpening saws in our shop, which was Bailey’s Old Bakery which stood where the senior centre stands. Seems the curlers had gotten tired of hauling water and were digging a well in or under the coal bin in the front part of the rink. Whoever was digging had struck a massive rock about the feet down, and they had hired Arthur Kirkland from Cochrane Lake area to cope with it. Arthur decided to blow it up with dynamite. Baron Cyvossey had a Tiger Moth airplane which he used to fly up the river from his home at Bow River Horse Ranch. Guess what. This day here comes the Baron about 200 feet up, and of course, everyone went outside to see the plane. 

He just got overhead when Arthur’s dynamite cut loose, Now Kirkland may have been a good well man, but he must have put enough powder into blow up half of Cochrane. Rocks and dirt and pieces of the roof of the shed went sky-high, and there wasn’t a world war vet who wasn’t laying in a ditch or wherever else they could find. Anyhow, Arthur got rid of the boulder, the rink got a well, and put a pump in and had their own water to make ice with. People found out later that the Baron wasn’t trying to bomb Cochrane after all. 

Chinook winds were hard on curling ice, the sheets of ice would become sheets of water until another cold snap came along, then curling resumed. It seemed every one of any importance curled, like the Chapman brothers, Bob and Andy, the Beynons, the Davis’s, F.L. Gainer from the station, Jim Maguire, Earl Whittle, Arthur Crawford, the Moores, Earl Gammon and many more. 

There were a few club rocks but a lot of curlers had their own, some large, up to 48 pounds down to 42 pounds. I remember a small pair of black granite rocks about 38 pounds that belonged to Father Hermus. The ladies were involved too: Mrs. Maguire, the McNamee’s, Elsie Camden, my own sister Doris Hall, Vi Hogarth and Mrs. Garson, to name a few.

Cochrane Curling Rink 1970s

The Simpson Cup was played for by the men. Banff Canmore and Cochrane, they played 16 ends. Whoever won took the cup home. Then there was always the McDonald Briar playdowns. The Banff Carnival was good for a week’s curling. Weather permitting, there would be one or two teams going to Banff. Our own bonspiel was a week long affair with two sheets of ice at the rink and then they would make another four or so on the skating rink, outside mind you. 

Visiting teams brought their own rocks, as did teams going to Banff or Calgary had to take rocks with them. There was usually coffee to be had at the clubhouse and somebody would be playing crib or king pedro which I haven’t seen played since. 

As the year’s passed, a new rink was built by the United Church, artificial ice was installed, the style of curling changed. We got the slide delivery which I think aims the rock instead of throwing it from the hack. Shirt sleeve curling, the rink was warmer, better lighting, and of course more money for dues. Now, we have gone to a fully modern rink with less curlers it seems, and I am sure they have no more fun than we had years ago playing the roaring game.

Curling Rink W Laidlaw (caretaker), Unknown, E Davies

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