At the Prince Albert Golf and Curling Club senior curlers were teaching curling. Their students were unique. Unique, because many of them had never been on curling ice, or held a curling broom, or tried to throw a rock. They were also unique as they were teenagers on short term exchange from Japan. They were excited, very anxious, but full of fun. There were some very different shots. A young woman delivered her rock sliding down the ice on her backside, giggling all the way.
I am certain that the parents and grandparents back in Japan would have smiled and smiled if they had been there watching all the fun.
Another parent and grandparent would also smile and smile to see Prince Albert’s curling rink, to which he had been totally committed, add this experience to the lives of these visitors to our city.
He would have been thrilled, as his love of curling was second to none. He demonstrated that love in many ways. He served as president of the Prince Albert Club in 1955, president of the Saskatchewan Curling Association in 1964-65, and president of the Canadian Curling Association in 1971-72. He worked to bring Prince Albert its first sheets of artificial ice. He, along with three other dedicated curlers, put together a plan that led to the establishment of the present Prince Albert Golf And Curling Club site in 1968. His curling prowess and commitment led to him being named ‘Prince Albert’s Sportsman of the Year’ in 1972. He was inducted into The Canadian Curling Hall of Fame, and was made a member of the, “Exclusive Governor General’s Curling Club.” the highest recognition given for contributions to curling. In 1995, he was posthumously named to the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame for his work to foster the game he loved. As one Prince Albert Daily Herald article stated, “His involvement in curling was unparalleled.” The most prized curling trophy in Prince Albert is named after him.
Yes, mention curling in Prince Albert and his name comes up - T. Gordon Thompson.
Gordon Thompson, 1914- 1993, grew up in Manitoba, where he became a popular sportsman. Gordon was proficient in hockey and base ball, but it was curling that really caught his attention. He first learned to play the sport on the ice of a rural slough. When he moved to Prince Albert in 1952, it did not take long for Gordon to prove his curling savoir faire. On five occasions his team represented Prince Albert in the Northern Brier, where the Saskatoon Star Phoenix reported, “Thompson played brilliantly, at times 90% plus. It was a long way from a Manitoba slough to the Governor General’s Club. A long way from wooden rocks and ink borrowed from school to mark out a house.”
Those humble beginnings never left Gordon. At one recognition event he said, “Without the help of the Prince Albert Golf And Curling Club, and the city of Prince Albert, I could not have done it.”
When I began this series of articles about curling, I spoke of an exercise I assigned to a class - select a promising site for a factory. Soon they found out that the ‘quality of life’ in the community was as important to a business’s success as were economic factors such as market and resources. Gordon Thompson was a successful businessman in Prince Albert. He and fellow curler, Louis Moker, set up Moker and Thompson Equipment Ltd. They provided employment, and they provided excellent products and service. But, they also knew that quality of life was vital - a lifestyle that contributed to the community.
Curling, to Thompson and Moker, was not just a game; it was a great way to add positiveness to where they lived. They were determined to see their business succeed, and the game flourish as well.
T. Gordon Thompson was a great curler, a great shot maker, but above all he was a great Prince Albert citizen - one who would have smiled and smiled, given the chance, to watch Prince Albert’s newest curlers - curlers from Japan. Maybe one of them will become ‘a great curler - a great shot maker.’ T. Gordon Thompson would be more than pleased.
(Source: Gordon Thompson - grandson of T. Gordon Thompson.)