Dozens of curling teams are in Steinbach this week taking part in the 75th Anniversary Bonspiel.

Wilf Peters, who is the ice technician and caretaker of the Steinbach Curling Club, says they have 42 teams spread through six different divisions. Those divisions are Ladies, Men's, Mixed, Seniors, Stick and Juniors. 

Peters says this bonspiel offers a unique way to celebrate 75 years of curling in Steinbach. He notes bonspiels typically take place on weekends. However, with this one, it is running Monday through Saturday, meaning all of the club's regular leagues are shut down for this week, in order to make room for this event. 

He adds they are off to a terrific start.

"It's going great," says Peters. "It's a busy place."

As mentioned, the Steinbach Curling Club has been around since 1948, meaning this year marks its 75th anniversary. Peters has been making ice for more than half of the Club's existence. He started in 1978, taking over for his brother Vic who moved on to Rossmere. Back then, Peters was working out of the previous curling rink across the street. However, according to him, that was probably already the third curling rink in the history of Steinbach. The fourth rink is their current rink, which opened in 2014.

Peters says a lot has changed in the 45 years that he has been making ice. For one, he says the sport of curling was a much bigger deal decades ago in southern Manitoba, noting participation numbers have dropped over the years. 

Another noticeable difference is how much cleaner the ice is today. He recalls back in the day when players were allowed to smoke while curling. This meant the ice was littered with ashes. Back then, players used corn brooms, which also only added to the debris left behind on the ice. Not only that, but Peters says water purification has made the curling better over time.

"Rocks are much better these days as well," he says. "They have found which type of granite is the best for a running surface."

Peters refers to curling as a very social game. He notes there are few sports out there where you shake your opponent's hand not only before the match but after as well. And, he says it is not unusual to grab a bite to eat with your competitor, moments after battling it out on the ice.

Furthermore, he says stick curling has enabled avid curlers to enjoy the sport in their golden years and even gives those battling knee injuries the opportunity to stay in the game. 


With files from Michelle Sawatzky