In its early days, the Fergus Curling Club had some trappings of a secret society with a password and sign and a hand grip to be used by all members. It is the oldest continuous curling club in Ontario and one of the finest anywhere. The club was organized in 1834, within a year of the first house built in Fergus. The first game was played on the main street in front of Black’s Tavern, where the CIBC bank now stands. Later, the curlers moved to the “Washing Green” on the Grand River behind Melville United Church and then to the Beaver Meadow behind St. Andrews Presbyterian Church.
In 1870, the club resolved to erect an enclosed rink at the corner of Tower and Albert Streets where the new information centre and Chamber of Commerce building now stands. To raise money, they sold $5.00 shares and a lot of money was donated.
In 1896, an agreement was made to transfer the property to the Centre of Wellington Agricultural Society, on the condition that the club could use the building for curling. In 1901, the rink was enlarged.
Then, in 1926, a site on St. George St. W. was provided by the Town for a skating, hockey and curling rink. The new arena and curling club officially opened on January 20, 1928 in the midst of a blizzard. The curling was separate from the hockey, with two sheets of ice and a clubroom at the front with windows facing the ice.
In 1948, the club’s membership increased to a point where they needed three sheets of ice. The necessary land was acquired and in 1949 the third sheet was constructed and members dug out the area below the original clubrooms by hand to create a washroom and a social room, often referred to as “the snake pit”.
In 1950, artificial ice was installed. From the beginning in 1834, each member was responsible for his own stones. In 1956, the club purchased 24 pairs of matching curling stones. Until 1954, curling was mainly a man’s activity. In December, 1954, fourteen ladies met and organized a Ladies Curling Club. This quickly grew to 52 members in its second year. A top priority for the ladies was to obtain a kitchen and the money was raised for it by catering to bonspiels.
In 1976, the government of Ontario condemned many arenas in Ontario, including the Fergus Arena. The arena, and the curling club, which was attached to the east side of the arena, were allowed to operate that year but a new facility would have to be constructed for the next year. The town of Fergus decided to move the arena to a new location and tear down the old building. This afforded the curling club the opportunity to put up a new structure and expand the number of sheets to four. A planning committee was put together to plan the building, oversee the construction and fund the project.
With help from local organizations and the Trillium Fund, the new, steel building was in place for the January 1977 official opening.
The many trophies that the club members have won over the years adorn the walls of the “Library, formerly the Snake Pit”, and the showcase in the club room which includes some of the original “stanes” used by the club. Of particular pride is the OCA Banner awarded to Fergus for winning the Ontario Tankard in 1899, and the OCA District Cup, won by Fergus in 1929, 1930, 1931, and 1932.
As Emery Nelson, author of the club’s sesquicentennial history book states,
“the past, 1834-1934 is history. It will not change. The future is in the hands of this generation and future generations of curlers. They will add their own plans and accomplishments. May they honour the past – maintain curling as a sport and fun for all those who participate”.