Cambridge Bay plans curling rink transformation
The hamlet hopes to renovate the recently shuttered rink with the aim of serving the community’s youth
When there’s an unused room that’s 35 feet wide, 150 feet long and 24 feet high in a town with a huge lack of indoor public spaces, you start to think about what you can do with it.
That’s why the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay is eyeing the community’s now-idle curling rink.
For years, the rink hosted a popular curling club and bonspiel tournaments for teams with members of all ages.
But that club no longer exists due to waning interest. The rink, which has two ice sheets, was last used in 2014-15, a season that marked the end of curling in Cambridge Bay, a sport that started after the Cam Main Distance Early Warning Line opened in the 1950s.
First came the now-demolished Nanook Curling Club, a Quonset building that stood on the site of today’s Kullik Elementary School—and also boasted a bar for its members. That club was followed by a larger curling rink, which was incorporated into the former hamlet office building.
If you ask people around this community of roughly 1,700 now about curling, they do recall that curling was big in town even as recently as 10 years ago when even high school classes could rally enough teams for bonspiels.
The trophies handed out to Cambridge Bay’s curlers in those days, which bear many familiar names of people now in their 60s and others of who have left or died, are jumbled-up inside a broken glass cabinet in what was once the rink’s lounge area—and, until Oct. 30, the Elections Nunavut office.
The shiny, rounded granite rocks that curlers used to sweep along the ice sheets are still lined up against a wall. A broken stone keeps the door open.
The white covers laid down on the dirt floor of the sheets—which used to be coated with natural ice—display the emblem of the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay as well as its mascot, the muskox or ovayok, which was the final name of the curling club.
Recently the hamlet asked organizations serving youth and members of the public to help provide direction on the curling rink’s future.
That’s because it will be years before Cambridge Bay gets a multiplex recreation facility, like that in Yellowknife to the south, so the idea is to see how the curling rink can serve youth, particularly during the bitterly cold winter months.
At a meeting held Sept. 28 at the Luke Novoligak Community Hall, some suggestions included a shooting and archery range for cadets, an indoor play area and an emergency night shelter for children needing care.
The rink’s ceiling is so high that the space could be divided into two floors, one participant at the meeting pointed out.
Cambridge Bay’s recreation director, Fred Muise, wrote down everyone’s suggestions, which he plans to compile and introduce to the hamlet council. Then he’ll see where money can be found to bring those approved plans into reality.
A tender has already been issued for the basic renovation of the curling rink, which has no heat or floor.
Repurposing a curling rink is not a novel idea: Baker Lake also transformed its curling rink into an indoor playground in 2008.
Meanwhile, Iqaluit still has an active curling club—and there’s also a territorial association for curling, which has a Facebook page with about 200 members.