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Thread: Curling in Buffalo

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Curling in Buffalo

    Through the late 1800s and early 1900s, Buffalo was one of the major centers for curling in the United States. The first international curling bonspiel was held in Buffalo in 1865, on the Black Rock Channel of the Erie Canal. From Curling in Canada and the United States (John Kerr, 1904):

    On January 26 1864 the Buffalo Caledonian Curling Club visited Toronto and played a three rink match with the Toronto club. A return match was played at Buffalo on February 19 of same year and the results were first the great International Bonspiel at Black Rock Buffalo in 1865 in which fifty rinks were engaged. On the side of the United States Curlers came from Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland Ohio, New York City, Paterson NJ, and Pittston Pa, and on the side of Canada in addition to those who took part in the bonspiel of 1859 there appeared curlers from Chatham, Kingston, Paris, Ayr, Port Hope and Cobourg. This grand event stirred the hearts of the people in both countries and may be said to have given the game an established position as the King of Games throughout the whole of North America and second it led to frequent friendly matches between the curling clubs of the United States and of Western Canada

    The Buffalo Caledonian Curling Club was located on Ellicott Street, but disbanded in the early 20th century. The site is now a parking lot for the Buffalo Hearing and Speech Center.


    In 1960, the Buffalo Curling Club was established on Sheridan Drive in suburban Amherst. The spacious and modern BCC facility housed six curling sheets, and was staffed with a full-time icemaker from Alberta who stayed in Buffalo during curling season. It was the largest curling facility in the northeastern United States.

    These images are from the March 1974 edition of Buffalo magazine. They're the only images of the Buffalo Curling Club on the Internet that I know of.








    The Buffalo Curling Club disbanded in 1982. The facility was town down, and replaced with upscale condominiums.

    Almost nothing remains of Buffalo's curling legacy. The obituaries of former BCC members appear with increasing regularity in the Buffalo News. I found a pewter BCC mug at a thrift store (1964-1965 Crone Bonspiel), there's the occasional pin that appears on eBay (I own one), and the club logo remains on the wall of the Mayfield Curling Club in South Euclid, Ohio, thanks to a rink that once won the Evergreen Bonspiel in 1972.

    Like so many other things, curling is increasingly everywhere but Buffalo, a winter city that borders Canada, where cable viewers watch bonspiels on CBC and CTV, locals drink Labatt Blue and Molson over Bud and Miller, and which has more ice rinks than one can count. In short, Buffalo is a city made for curling.

    There are large curling clubs on the Canadian side of the border in Niagara Falls, Welland, and St. Catharines. After 9-11, though, border crossing has gotten far more difficult, unless one has NEXUS clearance. I found it's actually easier to go back and forth across the Mexican border than the Canadian frontier.

    Buffalo is also a fairly compact city, and to locals a destination more than 15 or 20 minutes from their house might as well be in Rochester or Erie; it's one of the many cultural quirks of the region. Young adults, who are likely going to be the most interested in curling, more often live in the city itself; Elmwood Village, Allentown, North Buffalo, University Heights and downtown. Unfortunately, there's no curling club in Fort Erie, which is right across the Niagara River from the city. The Niagara Falls Curling Club is about 35 minutes away from Buffalo.

    Not including the clubs on the other side of the US/Canada border, there has been no curling in the Buffalo area in nearly 30 years. Even after previous Olympic games, there was no effort to form a club in the Buffalo area. There's the Amherst Curling Club, a "paper club" named for a Buffalo suburb that is recognized by the Grand National Curling Club, the regional curling union. However, it's supposedly just used by some curlers in Rochester, where there is already a club, to enter additional rinks in bonspiels. The Amherst Curling Club has made no effort to promote or reestablish curling in the Buffalo area.

    Curling enthusiasts in many other American cities have managed to start new curling clubs in the past decade or so. On the US side of the border, there are active curling clubs in Rochester, Utica, Albany, Cleveland, Scranton, and Pittsburgh, among about 150 other clubs. Ice rinks are everywhere in the Buffalo area, many municipally owned. The only thing that's needed are the rocks, hacks, dial and biter measurers, pebbling equipment, a venue that will allow hog lines and houses to coexist with hockey rink markings, and people. There's small vacant industrial buildings aplenty, many close to downtown, if there's the finances and will to play on dedicated ice.

    Is it possible to revive curling in Buffalo? I fear the entrenched blue-collar culture, and the dominance of hockey, football and skiing as cold weather sports, may not give curling the critical mass it needs to succeed. Curling on arena ice can be difficult and frustrating compared to dedicated ice, and it may be discouraging to those new to the sport. Amateur hockey is so popular in the Buffalo area, it may be impossible to find ice time at an existing arena during the winter. Curling rocks need to be kept cold when they're not used, and local ice rinks aren't built with such cold storage areas in mind. There may be a little bit of hope, though, given that the region also has a collective enthusiasm about oddball preppy sports such as lacrosse and rugby. Curling enthusiasts say that the sport make the winter go by much faster, something I can confirm from personal experience. Maybe, just maybe, curling can find its own niche in Buffalo.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Curling enthusiasts in other cities have managed to start new curling clubs in the past decade or so. Ice rinks are everywhere in the Buffalo area, many municipally owned. The only thing that's needed are the rocks, hacks, dial and biter measurers, pebbling equipment, a venue that will allow sheets and houses to be painted on top of the hockey markings, and people. There's small vacant industrial buildings aplenty, many close to downtown, if the finances and will to move to dedicated ice are there.

    Is it possible to revive curling in Buffalo?
    Based on the fact that other communities are starting new ones I'd be quite optimistic about the prospects of Buffalo RE-starting theirs. I actually think the local traditions would tend to promote its' success, if they could just give the sport a a bit of blue collar-ish spin. It's probably just a matter of finding the right people to promote it.

    Yeah, our local curling club is really starting to take off...and the sport doesn't seem to have any patrician overtones that might dissuade blue collars from joining.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    It kind of surprises me that Buffalo would not have a Curling Club. We have 4 sheets here at the DCC. A similar sport known as feather bowling is found at the Cadieux Cafe, a belgium bar.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Yeah, our local curling club is really starting to take off...and the sport doesn't seem to have any patrician overtones that might dissuade blue collars from joining.
    I thought about K'Zoo, Scranton, and other smaller cities where curling clubs have formed in recent years.

    I can't speak for all Buffalonians, but generally they like their team sports rough-and-tumble; thus, the popularity of hockey, football and lacrosse. An old-school blue-collar bowling scene continues to thrive in the region, especially in the eastern suburbs. Local sports reporters openly mock curling, while those in other cities are trying the sport out and telling readers about its charms.

    Thanks to Canadian television, Buffalonains have much more exposure to curling than those elsewhere in the country, yet even that hasn't served as enough of a spark to start a curling revival in the area.

    If I was going to stay in Buffalo -- and the odds of that happening aren't too likely -- I'd try to get a club started. Unfortunately, I don't think anyone else would make the effort. I hope I'm wrong. I'd certainly help other locals who might be interested in reestablishing an active curling club in the area.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    There are a few curling clubs in Illinois now, including one in my hometown. I think it's starting to take off more and more in the midwest. Our local ski club actually recently took a sojourn to one of the curling clubs in central Illinois to learn more about it.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

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    Curious

    Wonder how you knew about the Mayfield Curling Club. My wife and I along with Bill and Emily Frankenstein won the
    Evergreen Bonspiel in 1972,1973 and 1975.

  7. #7
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Pat C View post
    Wonder how you knew about the Mayfield Curling Club. My wife and I along with Bill and Emily Frankenstein won the
    Evergreen Bonspiel in 1972,1973 and 1975.
    I curled at Mayfield for several years when I lived in Cleveland. Granted, that was 30-plus years after you won the Evergreen.

    My house was three blocks away from the club.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Mayfield CC

    Did you know Jack and Jean Farner?

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    Buffalo curling club building sign

    I just recently helped clean out my in laws house in Amhearst NY and we came upon a sign that was from the Bufalo Curling Club. It was probably from the club that was torn down in the 1980s. In an effort to help family mmbers pay expenses I am going to sell it


    rstark@gdeb.com

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