Back in 1898, Fort Saskatchewan’s only curling rink was the frozen-over North Saskatchewan River.
By 1908, curlers were playing their sport on the RCMP grounds. The town was home to a four-sheet rink in 1947, and a permanent facility was built on 101 St in 1966. On Saturday, the 52-year-old building was reopened to the public after undergoing a $5 million renovation.
Fort Saskatchewan Golf and Curling Club president Jeff Van Hecke shared the brief lesson in sports history with the small crowd gathered for the official grand opening of the updated building.

"Curling has always been an important part of this town,” he said, adding that he’d been playing the sport in the facility since he was a boy.
The clubhouse side of the building was completely redone during the renovations, which included new mechanical, ventilation, heating, lighting and flooring, along with a new kitchen and bar and larger viewing area.
“We've also added two golf simulators," Van Hecke said. “They allow us to play and practice. We can compete online with people from anywhere around the globe.”
Van Hecke hopes the simulators will help increase traffic through the building and draw more attention to curling, a sport that has seen declining participation rates in Fort Saskatchewan through the years.
“If we're getting people in playing golf and they're watching the curling, they're maybe more likely to try it. And vice versa," he said.
In her comments to the crowd mayor Gale Katchur said she might give the golf simulator a try. She also thanked the previous city council for “having the vision” to inject money into the project.
"It is the responsibility of council to work with their community groups to ensure that they've got facilities that are new, fresh, updated, up to code and can serve the people that are using them," she said, pointing out that she has seen people starting to get excited about curling again thanks to the recent renovations.
The province kicked in $3.5 million in funding for the project through its municipal sustainability initiative.
Van Hecke added that curling is a relatively low-impact, lifelong sport.
"I was watching on the news a few weeks ago and there was a lady that, I think she was 100 and still throwing rocks,” he said. "We've got long, cold, dark winters so here's a way to break it up a little bit."

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