The earliest curling reference we have found in the Traverse City area is from the Record Eagle dated February 4, 1949. The article indicated that so many people were attending the outdoor hockey games at Thirlby Field that the need for a civic auditorium was one of the community’s biggest needs. This indoor ice facility could also be used for curling since “a few curling enthusiasts were also looking for a rink”.
The two men initiating the attempt to bring curling to Traverse City were John Quigley and Lee Caldwell. Mr. Quigley was born November 23, 1876 at Grass Lake in Jackson County. He moved to Traverse City in 1901. For 22 years he operated a grocery store at 822 Cass Street. Mr. Caldwell was born in 1886; he was a farmer in Mapleton, MI. They were 73 and 63 respectively!!
In 1950 these curling wannabees travelled to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario to see the skating and curling accommodations at the new $800,000 municipal auditorium. Throughout the next three years these two gentlemen gave presentations to City, County and other organizations trying to generate interest in the sport.
Finally in January 1953 a curling club was organized as the Tam O’Shanter Curling Club. Lee Caldwell was named President. Quigley and Caldwell had joined forces with Bill Fleming and Gerald Williams, the city park department superintendent. The plans were in motion to utilize the dairy cattle barn at the Fairgrounds as a covered rink area for the sport.
Curling at the Fairgrounds was made possible through the loan of several sets of curling stones from the Wausau, Wisconsin Curling Club. During the winters of 1954 and 1955 in addition to the Tam O’Shanter CC the parks department promoted curling demonstrations and lessons to adults and high school students. Unfortunately, we have found no more information of curling at the fairgrounds after 1955.
Jump forward to December 1971 and it was announced that Northwestern Michigan College Physical Education Department would be offering several interesting and unusual winter sports activities: Snow-Shoeing and Curling were added to their other classes in Alpine and cross country skiing. These classes were open to students and community residents. In 1972 NMC held a weeklong Winter Carnival and a curling demonstration was part of the agenda each day.
In March 1976 members of the Lewiston Curling Club held a curling exhibition at the Glacier Dome on Barlow Street in Traverse City. Over one hundred people watched and participated in the demonstration.
Now we fast forward to 2014 when Organizer Don Piche and 55 curling enthusiasts held an organizational meeting to form The Traverse City Curling Club. The TC Curling Club has games all winter long and hosts a very large and well run Bonspiel in April at Centre Ice Arena. We highly recommend that you consider attending a TCCC Cherry Bombspiel in the future – you will not be disappointed. For more information go to www.tccurling.org.