The Funspiel and Tin Can Bonspiel are curling tournaments held every year for the students at Loreburn Central School.
“(It’s been going on) for quite a few generations,” said LCS principal Jill Long. “I’m not even sure how far back it goes, probably 60-70 years.”
The annual event features students decked out in costumes playing on the pebbled ice at the Strongfield Curling Rink, located roughly 13 km north on Highway 19.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic the ice wasn’t put into the rink, but, the school’s staff wasn’t going to let that derail the bonspiels. They got together and decided to create their own sheets of ice behind the school.
“About four weeks ago we started, we’ve had kind of a hose down our hall, and slow sprinkles of water,” Long said.
Long began by trying to use a manual snowblower herself to cut ice sheets out of the snowdrifts, but ended up needing the assistance of a bulldozer from nearby Nutrien.
When the temperatures heated up across the province a week before the tournament, the fire department came along and blasted the ice with water, ensuring the tournament could go on.
“I came to school one morning and Mrs. Long, our principal, was out here, all of this was done,” Grade 11 student Derek Griffin explained as he pointed to the ice.
“She was flooding the rink. I said, ‘What the heck are you doing,’ and she’s like, ‘We’re making a curling rink,’ I said, ‘Right on,'” he chuckled.
Due to the size of the outdoor rinks, the scoring system for the competition was changed to mirror that of shuffleboard.
It wasn’t the only difference, though: instead of rocks, they used frozen milk jugs.
Even with the changes, the students were happy to keep this longstanding tradition alive.
“It was such a refresher,” Grade 11 student Madison Hovland said. “Honestly, just getting to do the thing we do every year, yeah it was (awesome).”
“What I really like about this school is our teachers and our staff try to make this as normal as possible for us,” Griffin agreed. “So, doing things like this is just great that our staff really goes out, and above, and beyond.”
The students enjoyed both the thrills, and spills during their winter day on the wide-open prairies.
“Well yeah, I maybe did fall once or twice,” Hovland chuckled. “But yeah, it’s been really fun.”
“We’ve had lots of falls and good laughs,” Griffin added. “It’s been really good.”