DIGBY, N.S. – For the first time in its 63-year history, the 2018 Nova Scotia Police Curling Association Championships swept into Digby.
Eight teams made up of police and peace officers from across the province gathered at the Digby Curling Club from Jan. 11 to 14 to curl – but also to socialize and relax.
“It’s about the curling, but it’s also about the camaraderie,” said NSPCA official event chair, Joe Taplin.
And it was all for a good cause. All funds raised through the tournament go towards Tourette Canada and Rally Point Retreat, in Sable River, a retreat designed to support military and police officers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
RCMP Corporal Rob Lewis of the Digby detachment was the local event chair and he said he was pleased on Saturday with how the event turned out.
“It’s going excellent,” Lewis said. “I’m really pleased.”
The event included formal and informal occasions, with one of those being a pub night on the Friday night held at local microbrewery Roof Hound.
“They closed the place down for us so it was a private event,” Lewis said. “It was really nice – and the food was really great.”
Saturday saw a lunch sponsored by local Subway owner Mike Bartlett, who also dressed up as The Safety Bear for the noontime event. The Subway Monkey aka Donovan Henwood, a Subway employee, was also on hand. Bartlett says he’s owned the local Subway for 21 years and has been sponsoring curling events for at least three years.
“I enjoy getting out in the community and supporting great causes,” Bartlett said.
Bartlett handed out Subway travel mugs, backpacks and pens as prizes for the skills competition that was held at noon on Saturday.
The competing officers competed for best overall, through the port and draw to the button skills games. Jeremy Tipper took best overall, with John Elliott and Chuck Dyke as second and third respectively. Former Digby-based RCMP officer Angie Hawryluk won the hit and roll skills competition, while new curler, Stephanie Guzzwell, an RCMP officer based in Springhill, won the hit and stick competition.
Guzzwell said she was having a lot of fun at her first provincial competition.
“This is new for me,” she said, “but it’s really nice to be here and to meet a lot of new people.”
National Police Curling Association President and RCMP officer, Stuart Knockwood said he was happy to be in Digby for the weekend. Knockwood is now based in Millbrook, but spent his first seven years on the force in Digby.
“Digby is so great,” Knockwood said. “Coming here feels like coming home.”
After a round robin on Friday and Saturday it was the defending champs, John Elliott’s rink that beat Cyril House’s team 9-0 in the final on Sunday morning, winning the overall provincial championship for the fourth time in five years. Skip Elliott’s rink of Al Shepherd, Andrew Praught and Ward Beck out of Halifax were presented with the Alexander Keith’s Stu Ryder Cup and will be heading to Calgary to represent Nova Scotia at the Canadian Police Curling Association Championships in April.
Lewis from the Digby detachment, was presented Saturday night with the prestigious Richard (Dick) Seamone Sportsmanship Award. The award is presented to the police curler who demonstrates and exhibits an outstanding personality and sportsmanship towards fellow curlers. The recipient of the award is selected by other curlers during the event. Lewis was honoured during the Championship Banquet held Saturday night at the curling club and presented with his award.
“It’s a real honour,” Lewis said, when asked about winning the award.
Knockwood said Lewis won the award because he came to curl, but also to have fun.
“Rob demonstrated excellent sportsmanship all weekend. He didn’t care if he won or lost, he had a great time and he has the true heart of a curler.”
Lewis said that overall, the weekend was a huge success.
“We had a lot of community support and club support for this event and that was really nice to see,” Lewis said. “It makes you proud to be a part of such a great community.”
While the curlers encountered some issues with ice because of the warmer temperature outside, Knockwood said he was really impressed with the fact that the club brought the ice maker in early on the weekend and effectively managed the situation.
“From a curling perspective, the ice was beautiful,” Knockwood said. “We felt so welcomed in Digby and Rob and all of the volunteers just went over and above in organizing this event. That kind of dedication and welcome makes it easier for us to decide to come back here in the future.”
Knockwood said NSPCA is now working on a bid to host the national competition in Halifax in 2021. The weekend’s event raised $2,400. The association donated $100 to the Digby Girl Guides for their help at the Saturday night banquet and the remaining funds will support Tourette Canada and Rally Place Resort.
Tourette Canada is the only federally registered, non-profit organization that supports those with or affected by tourette syndrome and its associated disorders. Nova Scotia Police curlers work throughout the year with Tourette Canada, and especially with affected youth.
The Sable River-based retreat, Rally Point, is owned and operated by military veteran Bob Grundy and his wife Johan, who have opened up their home and property to fellow servicemen and women who suffer from PTSD with the hope they will recover by reconnecting with nature.
Polishing the trophy:
RCMP Corporal Rob Lewis and NSPCA President Stuart Backhouse polish the Alexander Keith’s Stu Ryder Cup in preparation for its presentation Sunday morning at the NSPCA final. Laura Redman Photo