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Curling club rallies to preserve legacy amid declining memberships


This summer, the Cookstown Curling Club found itself at a crossroads: find new players and sponsors or be prepared to turn off the lights for good.

So, its leadership got to work.

The club has been around for 67 years and faces its lowest membership count in a decade.

Its new interim president, Emily Hume-Powell, and her board said they quickly went on a recruiting mission to replenish the dwindling membership base after it dipped below 100 people.

At its peak, the club boasted about 200 members. It said, however, a recent generational gap and the pandemic changed the game, and it's now up to younger residents in the community to pick up their brooms and get into the sport.

"This curling club means everything to our community and the surrounding areas, so to have it in jeopardy was a big hit," said Hume-Powell. "We really just want to get everybody back out in the community. Come on out, and it's not just curling. In the summer, this is a great facility. We've got a whole banquet area. The ice itself can be used as a pickleball court."

Hume-Powell said the club has opened its doors to the community for decades and wants to broaden its reach by getting younger people into the building, like member Alec Fobert, who moved to Cookstown two years ago.

"Not only is the sport fun, but the social aspect as well. We might spend two hours out on the ice, but we're spending over two hours here," he said. "For me, as a son of curlers, I feel it's part of my responsibility to keep it going as it is uniquely Canadian."

Gary Laakso also recently joined the club and said he enjoyed being part of the club and the community that's welcomed him.

"It's amazing, really, when you go through any small town, there's a curling rink," said Laakso.

The club wants to fill the Cookstown rink again and seeks new sponsors, volunteers and fundraising opportunities. It hopes to get kids into the game by working with local schools to visit the club and introduce students to the sport.

The club said it is grateful for the continued support it's received from local businesses, including Home Hardware and the neighbouring shop Halliday House & Co., owned by Jennifer Halliday, who referred to the club as part of the town's fabric.

"To me, the curling club is just synonymous with Cookstown and activities here in town," Halliday said.

Hume-Powell noted plans to launch a family curling day on Sundays beginning in the new year.

"Come out, join us. Be part of the community, and we'll keep this good club going," said Hume-Powell.

Complete information on the Cookstown Curling Club is available online or on the club's Facebook page. Top Stories

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