Last weekend I went into my first bonspiel in some time. As I may have mentioned, I’ve been away from regularly playing the game until this year due to injuries and a hockey-playing son who required a chauffeur.
So our squad headed over to the Granite Club for the 53rd annual men’s invitational. That’s pretty darn impressive – 53 years. The event started in the old Granite Club, which was located at St. Clair and Yonge, and is now, of course at the new Granite Club.
Now the new Granite Club is easily, to me, the most impressive curling club in the world. There aren’t many places where you drive in and the parking lot attendant tells you: “The curling is on the third floor.” Heck, there aren’t many curling clubs that have a parking lot attendant.
But the Granite Club is about as swank as they get. It’s a massive fitness, figure skating, badminton, squash, swimming and tennis facility. I’ve probably left a few sports out too. There's also computer courses, a speaker's series, music lessons, wine-tasting and more. Just walking around the place is like being in an art gallery as there are some fabulous pieces on display.
The curling facility is on the third floor and there’s a lounge in the centre that looks out on the sheets on one side and then on other side, looks down on the figure skating ice a floor below. While we were there, the stars of Battle of the Blades were all training for the big finale.
I'm betting that a lot of the current members don't have a clue that the club's name comes from the material out of which curling rocks are made. They may not even know the grand history of the place.
Of course the Granite Club has an amazing history – it was the site of the first 13 Briers, from 1927-39 and then again in ’41, the last time it was held in Toronto. The club has done a good job at preserving that history. But the club goes back way before then. In fact, on the ice are numerous banners for winning provincial championships including one that stretches back to 1889 – wow!
The club put on a remarkable event – I think there were about five meals over three days, including a dinner-dance on Saturday night where you could bring your wife or girlfriend (but not both), lots of free drinks, and some curling. I’m not really sure how they did it all for the entry fee – good sponsors, I assume – but it was quite amazing.
Oh yes, we managed to keep our head above the water line long enough to grab the fifth event and win a nice bottle of scotch.