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Buttons, hacks and hogs: 60 years of camaraderie powers Maverick Curling Club

Long-time Maverick Curling Club member Larry Miskew said it was the most complete experience he’d ever had.

Miskew, who started in the Friday evening Calgary curling league back in 1960, just recently hung up the Ashams. He has a lifetime of treasured memories – including being a part of an eight-ender – in his nearly six decades in the league.

But what makes this club, now itself celebrating 60 years, special for Miskew, is the lifelong relationships he built. It was the cap to their work week they looked forward to as soon as they set foot in the office on Monday morning.

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“I was there for a long time and I really enjoyed it,” Miskew told LiveWire Calgary.

Maverick Curling Club: The early years

The Maverick Curling Club was first founded in 1959 as a result of the reorganization of the Petroleum Curling Club. A group of five (Bill Blakely, Ken Jackson, Earl Lawrence, Stan Williams and John Zedde) are believed to have struck out on their own, perhaps a factor in it being dubbed the Maverick Curling Club.

The first curlers were from Calgary’s burgeoning oil and gas industry at the time. Today, the makeup is still predominantly from the city’s energy industry, but now includes a wide-range of former energy workers that have moved on to different careers.

Miskew said the one constant through years of boom and bust in oil and gas was the Maverick Curling Club.

“To my knowledge the ups and downs never had an appreciable effect on the curling,” Miskew said, though noting that quite regularly teams were breaking up and rebuilding and replacing players that had moved on.  

“Maybe we were sheltered from it because we always looked forward to that Friday curling.”

Social aspect made the league stand out

While throwing rocks was why they were there, the social aspect is what set it apart from Miskew’s other activities. He said people would often show up early to catch up on the week and then throw a few ends and meet back for a cocktail.

“We’d have the cocktail hour or two or three after, depending on who it was,” Miskew chuckled.

In a brief history written up for the 60th anniversary of the club (with information from the 40th anniversary write up), there’s mention of the early socials.

“Before curling clubs obtained liquor licenses, many leagues ran their own bar in the basement of the rinks where the locker rooms were once housed.  Profits from the bar went to cover the costs of the wind-up party and to subsidize the annual curling dues.  Old-timers may consider those to be the good old days and some members were compelled to “sleep it off” in the basement before heading home the next day.”

Because of the camaraderie, Miskew said, it was always something players made their best effort to attend.

“You’d always make sure that you made it there – with traffic, with weather, that would quite often be a hinderance – but people tried their best to make it to the curling,” he said.

Camaraderie passed down over 60 years

Incoming league president Mike Langlois said the league pride and the commitment to building relationships is something that’s been passed down from prior generations.

He said it’s transcended the industry aspect.

“It’s more just the friendships,” Langlois said.

“The industry plays a part in it; I just don’t know if that’s the most important part.”

The Maverick Curling Club still has its format of 16 teams – with an A and B division, though all the teams play each other during the season. All but one season has been played at the Calgary Curling Club. Even the time (4:30 to 7 p.m.) has stayed virtually the same for 60 years.

Langlois, who has been curling in the Maverick Club for 26 years himself, said it’s hard to put your thumb on one reason why this league has stayed strong for 60 years. Like Miskew, he points to the social aspect.

“People just enjoy that Friday night, after a long week of work, it’s 4:30, go throw some rocks. Then afterwards, you sit upstairs in the lounge, you socialize, you talk about what’s going on current events or whatever,” he said.

“Then it’s like, ‘all right, it’s the start of the weekend.”

Langlois said they don’t have anything flashy planned to commemorate the anniversary. Just curling.

“Nothing really flamboyant or anything. We’ll just be like, ‘OK, let’s get together and do our usual thing.’”