Looking for something fun and unique to do with friends and family in the winter time? Curling in Toronto is a great activity to plan with your friends in the winter. Thing is, most people like me don't have a whole lot of experience with curling so how do you actually go about booking a session at a one of the curling clubs in Toronto?
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Here's what we're covering:
- Curling clubs in Toronto that offer ice rental
- How to plan a curling event
- The Experience
- Final Thoughts
Curling clubs in Toronto that offer ice rental
Why don't we first start with all the curling clubs in Toronto and the GTA. The clubs are scattered across the city which is a good thing although not all of them are open to the public for rental. I've focused this list on the ones that allow ice rentals and helpful map at the bottom as well.
This is a city-owned curling club with 6 sheets of ice. They are the home to the University of Toronto Curling Club. They have annual memberships and leagues but they also offer ice rentals (2 hours at a time) where each sheet can hold a maximum of 8 people. The exception is Saturday where you have to book in half or full-day blocks.
This is one of the older clubs in the city with 5 sheets of ice. Fridays and Saturdays are more for new members and their club fees are quite affordable with the ability to borrow brooms until you buy your own. If you're looking to rent for an event with friends, group rentals are possible.
Located at Laird and Millwood, they have 8 sheets of ice. They have various leagues throughout the season and offer an annual membership. For rentals, there's a special page with contact information where you'll need to get a custom quote. For first timers, they recommend hiring a coach which will have to be factored into the rate.
This is a member owned and operated rink of 6 sheets. Again, this is membership only but you can rent sheets of ice on various weekdays and some Saturdays throughout the year. Equipment is supplied by the club but if you're beginners, you'll most likely need to hire a coach. Ice is rented in 2 hour slots and rates will depend on the day of the week.
This curling club is located along Main Street Unionville in Markham and is a great option for those in the north east part of of the GTA. They offer ice rentals between October to April.
This club is located between Elgin Mills and Yonge Street. Ice is available to rent with 8 people per sheet. Their rate includes an instructor but taxes are extra. For weekend rentals, a minimum of 4 sheets are required but if you require less, it will be based on availability and what's left after big groups have booked. For 2019/2020, their rate is $34.95 per person. Their rates include usage of their lounge space.
Located in Newmarket, this club is located further up north but has transparent rates on their website which you'll appreciate. For non-members, they offer full-day and half-day rentals. Rentals are only available on Saturdays and start from $700. Note that rentals don't include the use of their lounge space unless you pay extra.
Operating since 1955, this is the perfect curling club if you're in Mississauga. They have 6 sheets of ice and has curling ice available for rental throughout the year for individuals that want to rent their facility. There aren't a whole lot of details on their website so you'll have to contact them for more information about ice rentals.
A great curling club located in the historic downtown Oakville with 8 sheets. They offer ice rentals for groups where instruction and equipment is included. For more information, head to the ice & club rental page.
This is a 6 sheet rink in the winter and is run by the city of Brampton. You can rent a single sheet of ice all the way up to the entire building for hosting a special event. You'll need to contact the city for rental details.
How to plan a curling event
Step 1 – Poll your group and find out who's interested and what dates work
This might actually be the hardest part and it certainly was for me when I planned my curling group activity.
It's a bit of a chicken vs. egg problem because you need loose commitments from your group but at the same time you'll still need to do your research to find out what's available and whether it fits everyone's budget.Yes, you could start getting quotes from curling clubs first but you also need a general idea of dates and numbers and hence the conundrum.
How ever you want to do it, whether by Whatsapp, Facebook, Doodle, or e-mail, you don't need to get hard-commits but try to get an idea of who's interested and for when. This way, you know what to ask for when you head on to Step 2.
The biggest tip I have for you is to start planning early. Curling clubs surprisingly get booked out very early.
Things to think about:
- Most sheets are a minimum of 8 people.
- Clubs have different minimum number of sheet rentals.
- Time people are willing to come out for. Most clubs require a 2 hour minimum.
- Numbers are critical to make this work or else you'll get burned. Try to get commitments from people or else you'll get stuck with the minimum charges that clubs charge.
- Some clubs operate all year round vs the winter.
- Don't forget to think about weekdays where the rates are typically more favourable Step 1 – Get quotes from local Toronto curling clubs
Step 2 – Get quotes from curling clubs
Now that you have a rough idea of what to ask for, pick a few curling clubs to get quotes. Start with the ones that are located close to you but don't be afraid to venture out. You might not have a choice because of availability.
Here's an example of the rates we were quoted in 2013 between two curling clubs and how we ended up deciding on Richmond Hill Curling Club.
Leaside Curling Club Quote
- 2 sheets for 2 hours = $257.07
- 1 instructor = $40/hour x2 (recommended 2)
- Total = $337.07
- Per person = $21
- 2 sheets for 2 hours = $260
- 1 Instructor = $50 (they said 1 was good enough)
- Subtotal = $310
- HST = $40.30
- Total = $350.30
- Per person = $21.89
Eventually we ended up choosing the Richmond Hill Curling Club (RHCC) just because they had the dates that worked for everyone. You'll find the prices are more or less the same across the board.
One thing I remember being a unique condition with RHCC was that they required a minimum of 4 sheets to be rented out that day for our rental to go through. Normally this isn't a problem but they made sure I understood that when I got my quote.
Step 3 – Getting friends and family to commit
As the organizer of this curling activity, you'll then need to go back to friends and family to get people to lock in for the date and price. Ideally, you get people to pay upfront so they're committed but that's up to you. You know your group the best.
What made it hard from my personal experience was that each sheet requires 8 to make a 4 on 4 team. I sent out a group email and got responses that tipped past 8 which meant that in order to accommodate everyone and make it work, we'd need to recruit 16. With that increase, that meant I now didn't have enough people for the activity and then had to go out to find more friends or friends of friends to join.
It took a bit of hustling but eventually I was able to get 16 to commit to curling at least 2 months in advanced. My original e-mail was February 6 and we didn't go until April 6. This just gives you an idea of how far ahead you need to book. Curling is definitely not the kind of thing where you can decide a few weeks before and make it happen.
Step 4 – Confirm and pay
This could happen before Step 3 is really completed but at some point, you're going to have to bite the bullet and just sign the contract and pay the deposit. In Richmond Hill Curling Club's case, the deposit was $250 for the 2 sheets.
In 2 words, hella fun!
There were only a few of us that had done it before so most of us were complete noobs. Our instructor started us off with a basic introduction to the game, sweeping technique and then throwing a rock.
Literally after that we split into teams of 4 and started playing a real game. The rest our time there was filled with rocks thrown too hard, too soft, slipping and falling on our ass and brushing that seemed to do nothing. Oh let me tell you curling is actually pretty damn hard. You have to finesse the rock down the sheet and then the sweeping is nothing like using a Swiffer. You have to put your whole body down on it and sweep like an insane robot gone berserk. Watching our instructor do it, I still had no idea by the end of it all how they were able to sweep with so much force and speed. My arms capped out at a certain speed and locked in.
Our instructor stayed with us the entire time and she must've recognized how terribly our team was playing because she helped us get some points on some plays.
TIP: Make sure you tell everyone to wear indoor shoes and comfortable pants. They get pretty anal about dirty shoes so bring those indoor gym shoes. You'll also be doing a lot of bending with sweeping and throwing so wear sweatpants. It could also get a bit cold so definitely bring gloves and a fleece layer or jacket.
As the event organizer, you'll have to do a bit of homework to make a curling activity happen with friends and family but it's worth it especially if you haven't done it before.
There are many curling clubs in Toronto and many allow ice sheet rentals so you shouldn't have trouble finding one but just remember to book early.
We all definitely had a blast through our trial and error. It's not something you get to play everyday and is actually a lot more challenging than you expect. That said, it allows for plenty of goofiness and accidental falls that you'll have an amazing time with your group.