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A CLEAN SWEEP

Sharon Tkachuk

February 1, 2021

We are two sisters, Sharon Tkachuk (nee Wozny) and Marion Blake (nee Wozny).

Our curling story started with our dad, a curling rink, and a small town of 200 people along Highway 55 in Northern Saskatchewan.

Our father, Walter Wozny, was a farmer near a Hamlet called Janow Corners who decided to move his family to Meath Park some five miles North to be near a school for his four daughters of which we were the youngest.

This was 1951. Dad loved curling. We have a picture of dad and mom preparing to drive to Meath Park before they moved there, to curl. Curling sweaters and all. In the middle of winter in the 1940’s no small feat. Dad decided to assist our new community by being the ice maker: yes, natural ice in a two sheet wooden curling rink. Dad modelled his delivery after his heroes, Ken Watson and Ernie Richardson. He passed that knowledge to us.

Our family and social life revolved around the curling rink over the long cold winters. Our mom managed the concession.

We can still smell the fried onions and burgers that sustained us. After school we walked to the curling rink, helped dad and got curling lessons from him on a freshly pebbled sheet. We loved being with him and we grew to love curling.

Tragically, our dad died in a farming accident in the spring of 1963. This was a tremendous blow to our family, but we had to find a way to soldier on. Our Mom now ran the family farm.

Our high school curling team was formed that same year. Sharon, the stronger curler was the skip, with classmate Sylvia Feschuk playing third, Marion second and Judy MacKonka the lead. By plan or by accident better together than apart. Our High School Principal was our coach. There were few tournaments in those days and we practiced and played against women’s teams and the high school boys.

Dad taught the two of us different styles to suit our age and strength. Sharon was able to learn the backswing and slide out delivery and dad skillfully instructed Marion in a custom-style pusher delivery.

We began our journey in Prince Albert (District Playoffs) the first week in February 1964 in a single knockout competition. We won every game and were off to Biggar for the Northern Saskatchewan Playdowns. It was indeed bigger than any tournament we had ever played or walked into.

We were conscious of our small town quaintness and unorthodox deliveries. The lighthearted way the front end joked and sang between shots was a cover for the seriousness with which we took our responsibility of participating in this sport and representing our community and our school. We won five games in a row. Dad’s presence was palpable. That’s the thing about curling. It’s never a solo trip. You respect the lineage, respect the opposition and appreciate a good shot. We had won 8 straight games and now to the Provincial’s at Gull Lake and a three game series.

The Southern Champion from Moose Jaw was Dorenda Stirton (Schoenhals), the defending Provincial Champion. Playing against her would be our toughest test. We won two of three nail-biting games and proudly brought the trophy home to a jubilant celebration in a hometown that backed us from the very beginning.

We have lived in different provinces since University but we have attended many Scotties Tournament of Hearts, and continue to watch curling together, texting and armchair coaching.

Looking back all these years later, several things stand out. First of all, the lessons learned from mom and dad and being raised in a modest, rural village, have lasted a life time. The sense of family, community and fellowship from curling, the discipline and commitment it takes to compete and the integrity and sportsmanship of playing the game “the right way “. We learned from a father who left us to soon but whose presence and guiding hand never abandoned us.

A beautiful memory indeed.