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Curling, Town of Truro both celebrate 140 years

Gladys Otterson is a dedicated Colchester Historeum worker. A former curler, she was not around in 1875 but she is very up to date as to what took place that year.

At Colchester Historeum, first row, from left, Doug Langille and Gladys Otterson. Second row, Greta Gatchell, Colleen Pinkney and Bill Gatchell.

"When I heard the Town of Truro was celebrating 140 years, it just clicked that the curling club started in 1875, the same year the town was incorporated," Otterson said. "I asked Elinor Maher, who is also involved at the museum, about having a curling showcase. The curling showcase has created quite a bit of interest."

Joining Otterson, Doug Langille, Bill Gatchell, Greta Gatchell and Colleen Pinkney at the museum, an enjoyable trip down curling's memory lane followed.

"I began curling 61 years ago in 1954," Langille, who recently turned 93, said. "Men from work took up curling and I decided to join in. I love the game - it got in my blood and I can't quit."

The Malagash native, now living in Valley, played hockey during his three-year career in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Also a baseball player, he patrolled the outfield for Rock Cliff Flyers - a Hull, Que., intermediate team. Curling came calling later and the outstanding skip would win the Truro Curling Club championship, the Thomas Shield Trophy and three Pictou County lobster championship bonspiels.

"When I started curling you picked the rock right up and released it without sliding out. Today it's different and you just kick out from the hack - there's very little backswing. The momentum basically comes from your hack leg. I don't slide all that far these days, I'm too old."

Bill Gatchell, 84, of Truro, a former hockey player and coach, began curling in Truro in 1957. The 35-year educator and Oxford native would leave his mark in coaching, as he ran a local junior curling program for more than 30 years. Overall, he coached curlers for 40-plus years. A Colchester County Sports Hall of Fame inductee, he coached the Canadian junior girls curling champions in 1980. The team was skipped by Kay Smith. Krista Gatchell, Bill's daughter, was mate, Kathy Caudle was second and Peggy Wilson was lead.

"Coaching young curlers was one of the best experiences anyone could have," Gatchell said. "Curling is special as the four members of the team have to get along well together. I have compared curling to a quartette. I think it is wonderful that the museum is displaying a curling showcase. It is truly a credit to a lot of people keeping the Truro Curling Club going 140 years. That's a long time."

Greta Gatchell added a lot to the around-the-table discussion and revisited ladies' curling beginning in Truro in 1960.

"We had to fight tooth and nail because it was the old boys club, Greta, a Bridgewater native and a charter member of the Truro day ladies' curling club, said. "The reason we did get in was through the support of our husbands. Men like Ted Henry, Riely Marshall, Bill Gatchell and others - they supported the women and our right to curl."

Otterson began curling with the Truro Business Ladies in 1968 and curled until the late 1990s.

"We curled late at night, finishing at 12 midnight. Then we went to the Ho-Ho Restaurant on Inglis Street for Chinese food. We'd get home at two in the morning and then have to go to work early the next morning. What a lot of fun."

Pinkney has an astounding record as a curler, skipping a team to the world senior women's curling championship in Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2010, winning a silver medal at the world seniors in Scotland in 2014 and accomplishing numerous Canadian feats.

"Curling has taught me so many life lessons," Pinkney said. "Our team and our many experiences, it has helped each of us to become better people."

The humble, much-travelled skip recalled going to a curling open house in 1984 when she was 26.

"When I slid after throwing a stone, Dave Valentine said ‘you are a natural.' I'm sure he was just encouraging me but his kindness drew me in. I decided to take up curling. I quickly fell in love with the game."

Before the group dismissed, wonderful curling names surfaced. The Burgess family, Gerry Glinz, Avard Mann, Frank and Vivian Hoar, Riely and Doris Marshall, Ted Henry and many others.

Lyle Carter's column appears every second Tuesday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a column idea, contact him at 673-2857.


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