The plan was to hop on the ferry to Prince Edward Island and all of us were excited for the boat ride through the Northumberland Strait. However, Mother Nature wasn’t cooperating and we had to take the bridge. The eight mile fixed-link bridge is the longest over ice-covered water and the longest in Canada. It is officially known as the Confederation Bridge honoring the 1864 conference where the idea of Canada as a country was formed. Still, a pretty nice ride over the bridge.
Once in PEI, we met up with one of our PEI couriers, George Koke, and began at his home club, the Montague Curling Club. It was a four sheet club, so Team O’Connor had the draw off. Sacks of mussels stored in the ice shed distracted some of us from play, but we managed to split the games and came up plus five points for the draw to take our first (and to date only) lead of the event. We then got to fill our boots with all those mussels at dinner! This is also where we connected with Larry Richards, the main ice man for Montague and our second courier for the trip.
After the the match, we enjoyed local craft brew from Bogside Brewery and Copper Bottom Brewery. Excellent selection of beers within walking distance to our hotel and the curling club. Plus, we me the granddaughter of the first woman curler in PEI at one of the bars, so that was something.
The next morning we checked out and headed off to the Cornwall Curling Club, where we hit a metaphorical brick wall and dropped the lead again after four games. The evening draw found us in Charlottetown at a five sheet club with the most interesting wall murals that date back over 70 years! We only played four games thought, and Team Packard had the bye. After the draw, we were invited to the home of Alan from the club. There, we enjoyed some fine Irish whisky, curling stories, and a spaniel puppy. Later some folks headed off to the city center in search of libations and live music and had a time!
The following morning found us in easily the coldest curling club we played at. The ice shed was in the high twenties and you could see your breath! The Crapaud Curling club had a delightful frog logo, vintage wood paneling, and a great inspirational poster in the locker room. That inspiration was not enough as we split our games and dropped a couple points.
Our last club in PEI was at the Silver Fox Yacht and Curling Club—the only yacht and curling club in the world, apparently! This fancy facility featured some good players. There was a semi-competitive team who had been waiting for this game all week, chatting with us on instagram. One team featured members of the PEI curling hall of fame! We dropped a bunch of points, but got to enjoy a beautiful sunset. This is also where captain Steve McKee was interviewed for a local paper. Several of us finished the evening at the only open bar in town, “The Wing” at the local branch of the Royal Canadian Air Force Association. One brave soul may have gotten up on stage for some karaoke!
All in all, the hospitality on PEI was amazing. All the volunteers that keep these clubs running are impressive. One common concern though, was how to keep things going in perpetuity. Many clubs are aging and young folks aren’t always sticking around the club. Plus financial constraints and the sheer density of curling clubs in the area means many of these places are sustaining themselves, barely, with just a hundred and fifty members or so. With aging ice plants and deferred maintenance, some of these places might not be long for this world. Just a reminder to support your local clubs and be that volunteer to help keep things going!
This is the space to stay updated with the CanAm 2019 Tour Team. We'll post updates leading up to the event, as well as dispatches from Eastern Canada from Nov 8 through Nov 24.
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