History of the Shamrock
The following is a brief narrative of the history of the Shamrock Curling Club, with a special emphasis upon the early years of the club's formation.
The first meeting was held at Hart's Drug Store in January 1955 with an initial 12 people attending to discuss the possibility of forming a curling club. These people were instrumental in the future endeavors of the organization.
At subsequent meetings held in various locations (Bonnie Doon Community Hall, Strathearn Skating Rink and various basement rumpus rooms), it was decided that a membership drive and a district canvass was very encouraging, with about 110 people signing application forms. About 200 people attended the first membership meeting, held on April 19, 1955.
At this meeting the first Board of Directors was elected:
Ted Hart, Cliff Mallett, Harry Wickstrom, Syd Robson, Art Crossley, Herb Coxford, and Bud Patterson
Of this group, Ted Hart was named the first President of the the burgeoning curling society that would soon be named the Shamrock Curling Club.
Finance and building committees were formed and the ball started rolling, with the momentum picking up to the point where it looked like this may be a viable project. At subsequent meetings, a great deal of discussion was centered on finance. As a $100.00 per person membership was a bare minimum for working capital, it was moved by Bud Patterson that a $100.00 2% debenture be mandatory for all members. This, plus 320 shares, would give the club $64,000.00 working capital for the construction of a building.
After a very heated discussion, with 150 of the 200 or so present (whose finances were not that sound), reluctantly this motion was passed.
The club was able to secure a loan of $60,000.00 with the proviso that the members sign promissory notes for collateral. Construction was set to begin.
Naming the club:
A name was needed, and after many suggestions the names of Heather and Shamrock were voted on, and of course Shamrock was the choice.
Construction of the building
One of the first obstacles (after financing was arranged) was to procure land from the City of Edmonton. After several meetings with Commissioner Menzies, land was sought approximately where the Mormon Church is now situated (north end of the round-about at 85 Street and 90 Avenue), but was later re-negotiated to our present location.
Pat Campbell-Hope was appointed architect and, after much discussion about the type of structure, the decision for our present building estimate was for $90,000.00 (an astronomical figure at that time).
Tenders were let and Forest Construction was the successful bidder in the sum of $96,670.00. The Canadian Ice Machine Company supplied the ice plant for a further $25,000.00 and a purchase of curling rocks represented a further expenditure.
Former Mayors William Hawrelak of Edmonton and Don McKay of Calgary, officially opened the club on February 14, 1956. An invitational bonspiel was also held with 14 city rinks competing against 14 country rinks with some great names in curling participating - Billy Rose and Cliff Manahan among others.
All dignitaries were piped onto the ice in the traditional manner for the official ceremony, with the respective Mayors of Calgary and Edmonton throwing the first rocks. After the ceremonies and curling, a banquet was enjoyed by all attending.This event was a very rewarding and exciting conclusion to an extremely difficult period for all the hardworking executives and membership.
The men's curling club team membership was formed and a league organized, basically in the present format of a fixed draw and sections. This period also saw the Shamrock come into prominence in the curling scene with innovative bonspiels and events (e.g. The weekend 16's that became one of "the" spiels to compete in, "turkey shoots" and the competitive Sunday league).
The first five years were very challenging as finances were extremely tight, but with the guidance and wisdom of its leaders and perseverance of the general membership, we survived.
The Second Five Years
This era possibly was the beginning of "big time" curling to be hosted by a curling club. Events such as the Tournament of Champions and the ever popular Shotgun Spiel were conceived and became an instant success.The Tournament of Champions saw all the "name" curlers of Alberta and many Saskatchewan teams who were either Brier Champions or were of Brier calibre.
The Shotgun Spiel enjoyed great success and never had a problem getting entries. A committee was formed to study the feasibility of expanding the club to incorporate other activities such as a swimming pool, etc. This idea was later abandoned due to financial problems and being a marginal revenue producer.
The highlight of this era was the burning of our $60,000.00 mortgage in the short space of six years. "Operation Torch" ceremonies were held on November 17, 1961.
The Following Years
Once the major hurdles of the first 10 years were completed, the Shamrock settled down to a very smooth running, successful operation. These years saw the executives and membership improve the club and attract competitive curling and events. Renovation to the upstairs lounge was a major factor in its increased use; also the downstairs was "spruced up," making the Shamrock one the finest club in the area.
The World Open Tournament of Champions certainly put our club on the map, not only nationally but world wide. Our members have been very prominent in the formation and promotion of this event. Over the years, Shamrock members have served on various committees of the A.C.A. and N.A.C.A. and two members achieved the recognition of their fellow association members to serve as president - Art Crossley and Gene Sakowsky. Many others have served as chairmen of various committees.
The ladies of the Shamrock Curling Club have always been an integral part of our club's success. As early as March 1955 their presence was recorded in the minutes of the club. The ladies first meeting was May 10, 1955, held at the Bonnie Doon Community Hall with 126 ladies attending. Mrs. Joyce Stevenson was the first president, and presided at the ladies' official opening ceremonies, with Ted Hart (Club President) throwing the first official rock on March 2, 1956.
The Shamrock ladies were unique in that they organized their club with the same format as the men, Board of Directors and various committee "chairpersons". The Shamrock women's club was very active in the School Girl's League starting in 1960 and they had considerable success in the High School Girl's curling.
The Shamrock Today:
The Shamrock continues its success today as a premiere recreational curling facility in the city of Edmonton. We offer a wide variety of leagues to our members of all ages and skill levels along with very successful Corporate and School Bookings throughout the year. The Shamrock has a vibrant Sunday Junior program, and our "ice" area during the summer months is filled by an indoor hockey camp. The Club is buoyed by an enthusiastic and active membership who is looking forward to even greater years ahead.