Avonlea curling club doors shuttered

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The rumours are sad but true: on Tuesday the official word came about the death of Ontario's last 16-sheet curling club, the storied Avonlea.

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This morning, the Toronto Curling Association issued a news release:

TORONTO – Avonlea Curling Club, the last of the 16-sheet curling facilities in Ontario, is closing its doors.
The owners, a private partnership, have sold the property on Railside Road in Don Mills, just steps from the Don Valley Parkway and Lawrence Avenue. The club will close on August 15, 2006.
Club Manager Dave Gardner said “The current owners received an offer they couldn’t refuse.” Gardner indicated that the club, which opened in 1961, was facing a number of repairs over the next few years, and “the current owners did not find it financially feasible to continue to operate it.”
Home to an estimated 1,500 curlers, Avonlea also enjoyed a championship pedigree. It was the home of the Dream Team, Ed "The Wrench" Werenich's Toronto squad which dominated curling in the 1980s, winning the Brier and World championship in 1983.
Team member Paul Savage said “This is a sad day because I have a lot of great memories. I threw thousands of hours of practice rocks at Avonlea.”
The club was doing well with membership and was especially popular with recreational and industrial leagues. “Avonlea had approximately 30 rental leagues with 1,500 curlers, many of the other local curling clubs are already full and don’t have room to accommodate them,” Gardner said.
Ron Tolhurst, President of the Toronto Curling Association, brushed off suggestions that the closure is a bad sign for metropolitan curling. “Curling couldn't be any stronger,” Tolhurst said. “Membership is exploding after the 2006 Olympics, and Hamilton is hosting the Brier in March. Growth is assured right up to Vancouver 2010. This is just part of the natural evolution of the sport in Toronto, which is unique to the country in its size and in competition for recreational dollars.”
The Toronto Curling Association (TCA) is a volunteer organization dedicated to the promotion of the sport of curling in the greater Toronto area. All 22 curling clubs in and around Toronto are members of the TCA.

And just like that, a major Toronto curling legacy is over. Let the anger, confusion and – finally – resignation spout forth.

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Team Law, minus their skipper, recently took part in the Four Foot Curling Camp in Mill Bay, and curling-crazed Blogger Patrick has been documenting his week at the camp online, in three parts (so far)...

• Still with Blogspots: this Blogger, impressed with Torino curling TV numbers, recalls his one and only brush with the sport... and we’re assuming this Swedish blogger is also discussing his (or her) first brush with the sport, but, er, can anyone read Swedish to confirm?...

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