After years of chilly conditions and leaky ceilings, the Otterburne Curling Club has undergone a remarkable transformation thanks to a series of grants and dedicated community effort. 

The old wooden building, that has been a hub for local curlers since 1949, recently received a much-needed facelift, addressing longstanding issues that hampered the enjoyment of the sport and made it more energy efficient. 

Albert Poirier, a longtime curling club member and on the Board of Directors, started curling at age five, enjoying the sport ever since, says that making sure the building is around for years to come meant, securing a lot of funds for the renovation project. 

After much work Poirier, together with the help of Martha Petrusevich, a dedicated fundraiser and project coordinator from the RM of De Salaberry, says they received several grants totaling over $200,000.

"We received $106,000 from the Manitoba Arts, Culture and Recreation Grant. $17,144 from Efficiency Manitoba. $20,000 from The Village Connection, a thrift store in St. Pierre-Jolys, and $31,000 from the RM of De Salaberry, where we put in another $31,000. So, yeah, funds came from all over the place." 

Poirier says the curling club is grateful for the funds and the building has needed upgrades for several years.

“We just had to do something, people were cold in there, and not comfortable, so you're not playing well, and the ice surface is frosty.”

Otterburne Curling Club volunteers removing old insulations (Photo credit: Albert Poirier)Otterburne Curling Club volunteers removing old insulations (Photo credit: Albert Poirier)

Poirier continues, "The insulation in the ceiling and walls was rated at about R5, which is very bad. Whenever the sun would shine on the building, water would start dripping from the ceiling, and that's not good when you're curling. They are bumps on the ice, and it wasn't good, but after the renovations and the newly installed spray-on insulation, we're sitting at R-24, which is amazing."

Now that the renovations are complete Poirier says, "It's been really nice curling in there. You're comfortable instead of cold or sweating. Yeah, it's great. It's awesome!"

Poirier points out that the project took a long time. "I think we're in our third year since I first started applying for grants. But it was after year one that the funds started coming in and the renovations began and took a full summer. But we curled on it last season. This spring we did the remaining work, but now we're all done. And it's night and day different, and it's a good accomplishment. We've been wanting to do this for many years, but we didn't have the money, so yeah, it's like night and day different."

Poirier adds that the improvements have not only enhanced the comforts of the club but may also extend the curling season. "It all depends on the volunteers. Everything we do is volunteer-based, so I can't really tell them what to do, but we can only hope to open earlier.”

Inside the Otterburne Curling Club with spray-foam insulation completed. (Photo credit: Albert Poirier)Inside the Otterburne Curling Club with spray-foam insulation completed. (Photo credit: Albert Poirier)

As the upcoming season approaches, Poirier says he is excited to welcome curlers from all over the southeast. "We get curlers from Steinbach, some from Niverville, Mitchell, Kleefeld, Otterburne, St. Pierre, and Dufrost. The whole area, from everywhere."

Poirier says that the newly renovated Otterburne Curling Club would not be possible without all the volunteers giving over 380 hours of their time.

"Thank you, you are so greatly appreciated. We couldn't do anything without them, and they give up a lot of their precious time to help us."

Looking forward to the start of the 2024 season, Poirier invites local curlers to join in the sport. "If anybody wants to curl, give us a call at the Curling Club and register for curling."

He adds the renovations at the Otterburne Curling Club are expected to have a lasting positive impact on the local community. Not only will they enhance the user experience, but they also align with broader energy efficiency goals, reflecting a commitment to sustainability.