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the former Maple Leaf Curling Club - now home to the Zion Apostolic Church

By BERNIE BELLAN
Ed. note: The following is taken from a 1983 special supplement to The Jewish Post celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Maple Leaf Curling Club:
In the early 30’s two “Curling Buffs,” Dave and Harry Ditlove, cajoled enough friends to form two Jewish rinks - hoping against hope that enough spectators would become participants to organize a Curling Club. Their ambitions were soon rewarded as the originals - Max and Major Margolis, Louis Goldstein, Frank Atnikov. Jack Abrams and ‘Kelly’ Cohen were augmented by four additional rinks to formally launch the Maple Leaf Curling Club in the 1933-34 season. By 1941, they were renting ten sheets of ice at the St. Johns Curling Club; and by 1945 they had enrolled enough members to use fifteen sheets of ice.

 

 

 

 

 

interior of the old Maple Leaf club

When the St. John Curling Rink was placed for sale in 1946, there was such a growing pressure for participation that the Maple Leaf Curling Club could not help but take advantage of the opportunity. Consequently, the enthusiastic ‘New’ group of curlers found a permanent home, and became affiliated with the Manitoba Curling Association - they had made it!
Junior and Ladies Curling Leagues followed, as well as a Sunday Family League, and by 1950 the popular Novelty Bonspiel was inaugurated.
About the same time, the Executive felt that it could render a most valuable service by co-operating in the establishment of a bonspiel in which rinks from country points and other Western Canadian centres could participate and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow members of B’nai B’rith through the grand game of curling. This innovation has grown in popularity to the extent that this year Winnipeg will host the “Greatest Jewish Bonspiel in the World.”
Maple Leaf was also one of the first clubs in the province to install artificial ice in 1954.
By 1958, when the club celebrated its 25th Anniversary, rinks were already participating in ever increasing numbers in the M.C.A. and other recognized bonspiels, giving a good account of themselves and bringing credit to the club.
And so, the long road has been travelled. The club is now a centre of a healthful sport and companionship - in a game which symbolizes all that is best in the democratic way of life.

Postscript: We wondered when the Maple Leaf Curling Club actually folded. After consulting with various former members of the club, including Martin Buchwald and Ron Zimmerman, also Saul Greenberg who, while not a member of the Maple Leaf himself, was familiar with the club history, we found that the Maple Leaf left its home on Machray Avenue following the 1971 season. According to Ron Zimmerman, who is a former president of the club, the building had deteriorated to the point where it was no longer viable to continue operating as a club. The building was sold to a church group and it is now known as the Zion Apostolic Church.
For years after leaving the Machray building members of the Maple Leaf Curling Club continued to maintain an ongoing adult male league at various other clubs, beginning with the Granite, then the Highlander, Rossmere, and finally, the Grain Exchange Curling Club. According to Saul Greenberg, the final year of existence of a league was in the 2006-07 season, at the Grain Exchange (which itself was also demolished, in 2011).
From Harvey Rosen’s “Sporting Touch”, December 19, 1990
The MLCC closed its doors for the last time after the 1971 season. The members moved to the Highlander for two years; then to the Granite for a year; over to the Rossmere, and then back to the Highlander.
Some felt that the club’s demise was due to a Jewish population shift from the North End of the city to the south.
The building was in dire need of repair and the cost involved wouldn’t warrant the expenditure.

 

One more story about how Maple Leaf CC was formed

Source: The Maple Leaf Curling Roster 1945-46
The deep devotion to the game of curling by a young Jewish man Dave Ditlove, was entirely responsible for the large organization known as the Maple Leaf Curling Club today. Starting from a friendly contest, played at St. John’s Curling Rink one Sunday afternoon some eleven years ago, eight men in all, today we have approximately one hundred and fifty members turning out every Sunday afternoon for the grand old game.
It was in the Winter of 1935 that Dave and his brother, Harry decided to gather about half a dozen of their close friends and participate in a friendly game. The six were Major Margolis, Max Margolis, Louis Goldstein, Frank Atnikov, Jack Abrams, and Kelly Cohen. With Dave piloting one rink and Harry the other, a very pleasant game was enjoyed, so pleasant that they were engaging in games every Sunday thereafter.
Their enthusiasm in these friendly matches knew no bounds, and it was not long before others were hearing about some keen games taking place each weekend, and soon the original eight were drawing an audience that took a keen interest and decided that they, too, must participate in the game of curling. Thus the Maple Leaf Curling Club was founded.
The following Winter there were twenty-four fellows on hand desiring to curl, with the result that the organization was then officially formed, adopting the name of the Maple Leaf Curling Club, and a schedule of games was drafted…
In the fall of 1941, St. John’s Curling Club was able to provide the Maple Leaf Club with ten sheets of ice instead of five…in the summer of 1945 an arrangement was reached between the Maple Leaf Curling Club and St. John’s Curling Club whereby another five sheets of ice would be available, thereby allowing the Maple Leaf Club to operate three draws and increase its membership.
…Thus the Maple Leaf Curling Club finds itself today - the only all-Jewish curling club in the world, one of the largest curling clubs in Manitoba - the largest ice-renting organization in the city, and a highly respected organization in the community by both Jew and Gentile.
Thanks to Stan Carbone of the Jewish Heritage Centre for providing this information.

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