Where to go curling in Toronto
Curling clubs in Toronto carry on a sporting tradition that has gone on for centuries. Though Montreal is credited as the first city to establish an official curling club in North America with the advent of its aptly named Montreal Curling Club in 1807, Toronto has too left its mark on curling history. The city bred the illustrious Red Jackets foursome, and has since played host to some renowned national bonspiels. But yeah--Long Bay, Ontario was the setting of the story for Men with Brooms so we can't win them all.
The Curling Clubs in Toronto range from country-club chic to city-owned casual. There are hundreds of different leagues and, luckily for the novice curler, several options for testing the ice--good news for all of those who don't know a hogged stone from a biter. And no, it's not what you're thinking.
Here's a list and breakdown of some of the curling clubs in Toronto:
Donalda Curling Club
The Donalda Curling Club at Don Mills and York Mills has four sheets of curling ice, and programs for men, women, Little Rocks (kids), Bantams (generally 12-16), and Juniors (generally 17-20). The club has teachers to walk beginners through the game, though you need to be interviewed by two people and the signature of a sponsor beforehand to be granted membership. Donalda does host some curling events open to the public, however such as its upcoming Inaugural Bantam Bonspeil, which costs $160 per team. The club's dress code does apply to visitors, so you might want to leave your "Frankie Says Relax" t-shirt at home.
East York Curling Club
The East York Curling Club at Woodbine and O'Connor plays host to the University of Toronto Curling Club, as well as other curlers aged six to 88. With six sheets of curling ice, the city-owned facility is the home of the World Juniors Curling Championships and the Annual Summer Spiel held in June, which is a big event for curlers in the GTA. Annual fees hover around $450 for men and women, but are significantly cheaper for daytime leagues and leagues for children and youth. The EYCC also offers an adult "Learn to Curl" program ($113) in October.
The Granite Club
The Granite Club on Bayview north of Lawrence first opened as a two-sheet curling and ice skating rink more than 130 years ago. Now it has eight curling sheets and the only third-floor curling rink in the world. If you join as a member (which will cost you somewhere in the five figures as an initiation fee, plus an annual fee thereafter) you'll be in the company of Sir John A. Macdonald, who was listed as a member in 1875. The Brier championships were also held at the Granite Club until the event was moved to Winnipeg in 1940.
High Park Club
The High Park Club near Parkside and Algonquin is home to a five-sheet curling rink where Friday and Saturday evenings are geared towards new members. It seems to offer a friendly environment for those interested in curling but not ready to make a full commitment. The yearly club fee ranges from $350 to $500 (plus some additional costs for food and prize funds) and you can even borrow their brooms until you're ready to buy your own. Like many other clubs in the city, High Park offers a variety of different leagues such as mixed, single-gender, competitive, and social.
Leaside Curling Club
The Leaside Curling Club at Laird and Millwood opened in 1963 as a response to neighborhood demand. (See kids? Curling is cool!) The city-owned facility has eight sheets of ice, as well as a spectator area from which to watch the games. Curling is available for those aged eight and up (well, its website says "8-98") and there are a variety of different leagues including mixed, daytime, and even Sunday pizza. Annual memberships start at about $420 for evening and weekend leagues, $270 for daytime, or you can opt to be a "social" member--just there for the friends, in other words--for $25.
Royal Canadian Curling Club
The Royal Canadian Curling Club on Broadview north of Queen is member owned and operated. It was originally built in 1906 by the Royal Canadian Bicycle Club and once hosted a variety of activities, but now it's strictly curling at RCCC on its six-sheet rink. Besides exempted groups such as seniors and students, curlers are expected to buy a General Membership ($600), which entitles them to perks including a vote at club meetings, a share of the profit if the club if ever sold, and their very own brooms. The fee can be paid over ten years at $65 annually. The RCCC is where Toronto's gay curling leagues play, and is known for its (licensed) events including the Turkey Spiel in December and Curling Night in Canada in February.
Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club
The Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club on Wilson between Bathurst and Yonge was originally an alliance formed from separate cricket and skating clubs until curling joined the ranks in 1957. Toronto Cricket has six sheets of curling ice and offers instructional clinics, as well as a four-week "Curling College" for curling beginners. There are leagues for the whole family, as well as social events and annual bonspiels. And if none of that appeals to you--well then you can head over to another rink at the club and watch retired figure skater Brian Orser, who is one of the skating consultants, teach double axels.