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Curling on Long (Kalamalka) Lake in 1918

Curling became popular in Eastern Canada in the early nineteenth century and as the West opened up, the game found a natural home – long cold winters and idle time for prairie farmers. Clubs were formed in Winnipeg, Calgary and other western cites in the 1880s.

The game became popular in the Okanagan at the turn of the century. The first recorded game was played on the Spallumcheen River in Enderby in 1893, the same year that a private rink was built beside the Vernon Hotel. The Vernon Curling Club was formed in 1908 and the club hosted the Okanagan’s first valley-wide bonspiel in 1909. In 1912 the Vernon Curling Club built a modern facility in Polson Park featuring six sheets of natural ice. Artificial ice was not introduced in Vernon until 1938.

Curling on Kalamalka Lake
Curling on Kalamalka Lake. The curlers are, left to right: Walter Rea,Henry Irvine, Charlie Moore and Rev. A. V. (Arthur Vandeleur) Despard. Click to enlarge.

This 1918 photo was taken of local curlers on Long (Kalamalka) Lake in front of the Rainsford Ranch owned by George Goulding. The curlers1 have not been identified. It is difficult to determine from this photograph how organized the sport was in Oyama. The stones are standardized, undoubtedly imported from the Isle of Ailsa Craig in Scotland, the source of virtually all curling stones to this day.

Other than that evidence of professionalism, the photograph captures a very informal gathering. The curlers’ clothing and footwear were not uniform, the brooms2 appear to be of the regular household variety, the curlers are not supported by any onlookers and there is no evidence of them having marked off a curling sheet on the ice. Perhaps they were just practising for the upcoming bonspiel in Vernon.

** If anyone can identify these curlers we would be pleased to hear from you.

1 February 12, 2016: These curlers have now been identified by Liz Ellison and Ken Ellison of the The Greater Vernon Museum & Archives. They are, left to right: Walter Rea,Henry Irvine, Charlie Moore and Rev. A. V. (Arthur Vandeleur) Despard.

2 Oyama pioneer Arnold Trewhitt remembers that these brooms were actual curling brooms, not the household variety of brooms.


  • The Vernon Museum also has this photo in its collection. The curlers left to right are as: Walter Rea; Henry Irvine; Charlie Moore; Rev. A.V. Despard.

    • Thanks so much, Liz. We are delighted to have the identifications of these men.

  • Rev A V Despard served in Gothenburg, Sweden between 1891-94 where he founded Swedens first golf club, the”Gothenburg Golf Club” whish unfortumately was dissolved in 1894 when he left Sweden.
    We are presently writing a book about the early Swedish golf and would like to publish the photo of Despard curling. If there is a high resolution picture available it would be much appreciated

    Kind regards
    Claes Olsson
    The historical committé of the present Gothenburg Golf Club (founded in 1902)

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