Winter Fun Between the Sheets

Curling in Thunder Bay

If curling is your game, then there really is snowbetterplace to be than in Thunder Bay, Ontario this winter season. Come and experience the sheets at one of three storied curling clubs here in Northwest Ontario, all of which have fascinating histories dating back to the late 1800s.

The Port Arthur Curling Club was formed in 1888, while the Fort William Curling Club was formed in 1891. Interestingly enough, this was at a time when members were required to supply their own stones, which is hard to imagine given that today curling rocks weigh over 40 pounds! Of course the rich history of all three of these clubs, including the Kakabeka Falls Curling Club, can be seen easily from the banners, photos and trophies decorating their walls and display cases.


All three clubs host fun filled weekend spiels throughout the winter months, offering plenty of opportunities to get out on the ice for a game. Upon your visit you may even get a chance to rub shoulders with former world curling champions like Al Hackner, Rick Lang, Lorraine Lang, Heather Houston, Bob Nicol or Bruce Kennedy, all who are still actively throwing rocks for fun at some of these events throughout the city.

bonspiels hackner lang inhouse

The ice is now in at all three local clubs, meaning the curling season is in full swing (check out this great time lapse video of the ice instalment at the Fort William club).

A bonspiel is a great excuse to visit Thunder Bay this winter for many reasons: it offers a great opportunity to enjoy a sociable weekend with family and friends; it offers an opportunity to be a part of a historic Canadian winter sport; and it provides an opportunity to meet a lot of new and friendly faces (and remember, the new friends you meet may return the favour and pay a visit to your club for a spiel in your town).

bonspiels men sweeping

Travel Plans Made Easy

Getting to Thunder Bay for a weekend is easy whether you are driving or flying into Northwest Ontario's largest city. There are daily flights into Thunder Bay International Airport serviced by Porter Airlines, Westjet, Air Canada and regional airlines like Bearskin Airlines and Wasaya Airlines. And for American visitors in the USA curling hubs of Minnesota and Wisconsin, Thunder Bay is just a short 40-minute drive from the Ontario-Minnesota border at Grand Portage, about three and half hours north of Duluth.

If you live in the Northwest region, a weekend spiel is also a great reason to enjoy a full weekend of Thunder Bay entertainment and fun. Why not get in some shopping or take in a weekend show at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium or Magnus Theatre? Or you can just relax with a visit to the Thunder Bay OLG Casino or one of the many delicious dining options clustered in and around the Waterfront District!


Related: Curtain Call Please! On Stage at Magnus Theatre

Related: The 5 best lunch spots in the Waterfront District

bonspiels fwcc exterior

As a guest you will find plenty of options for hotel accommodations that are only a short distance from the curling club hosting your weekend bonspiel. Most hotel accommodations can be booked online. Ask your curling club hosts for suggestions on the best places to stay near the club of your choice!


Here are some great upcoming curling events that may make you consider coming to Thunder Bay this winter:

November 17-19, 2014
60 + Northwest Bonspiel
Port Arthur Curling Club
(60 + men's event for the Northwest region – Canada and USA)

November 27-30, 2014
Grey Cup Bonspiel
Port Arthur Curling Club
(open event around the hype of Grey Cup weekend)

January 16 - 19, 2015
Men's Invitational Skins Bonspiel
Kakabeka Falls Curling Club
(out-of-town teams welcome, ask for an invite)

January 29 – February 1, 2015
Super Bowl Bonspiel
Port Arthur Curling Club
(open event around the big NFL game – the Super Bowl)

February 2015
Bearskin Airlines Hope Classic
Fort William Curling Club
(long running women's fundraising spiel for breast cancer research)

February 27 – 28, 2015
Wine Mixed Bonspiel
Port Arthur Curling Club
(fun mixed event with wine tasting Friday night)

March 5-8, 2015
Hospitality Bonspiel
Port Arthur Curling Club
(a fun event for the recreational club curler)

March 27 - 29, 2015 
Last Blast Bonspiel
Fort William Curling Club
(a fun open event to wrap up the curling season)

March 28 -29, 2015
BBQ Windup Bonspiel
Kakabeka Falls Curling Club
(open event - always a fun time to close the season at KFCC)

April 10 - 12, 2015
Northern Ontario Native Mixed Bonspiel
Fort William Curling Club
(open spiel hosted by Al Hackner, (two Aboriginal curlers per team – one at skip or third)

bonspiels sarah lang delivery

So come and have some fun between the ice sheets this winter in Thunder Bay, Ontario, and find out why this city has such a great history for hosting great curling events. The giant curling rock in front of the Fort William Gardens near the Fort William Curling Club, truly speaks to how significant the curling tradition and culture is in Thunder Bay! See you on the ice!

bonspiels big rock Gardens

About Chelsea Cameron-Fikis

Chelsea Cameron-Fikis is a graduate of Lakehead University with a Master’s Degree in English and Women’s Studies.  

Chelsea enjoys hiking, travelling and creative writing in her spare time. In the future Chelsea  wishes to one day write and publish her own book.



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