Venerables Vice-President Reg Pembleton watches over the play at the Tam Heather Curling Club

By Kathy McGrath

The snow and chilly temperatures arrived early this winter, which makes it tempting to burrow on the couch and hibernate. But unless you’re a bear, there may be a better way to cope with the long winters – and even enjoy them!

We are fortunate to have a large senior men’s curling club located close to Centennial and it’s currently looking for new members. The Venerables is a group of retired and semi-retired men who curl during the day at Tam Heather Curling and Tennis Club at 730 Military Trail near Morningside Road. “Give it a try,” advises Reg Pembleton, the club’s affable vice-president. “We run clinics every Friday where we teach guys how to play.” Apart from the health benefits, which include increased flexibility and muscle strengthening, curling with the Venerables provides players with a fun social experience.

“The social part is critical for these guys and we are a very friendly club,” said Pembleton. “Sometimes the guys arrive early just to shoot the breeze.” Common topics of conversation include sports, travel, dealing with aging parents and, of course, grandkids. “One thing we’re sensitive to is new widowers,” he said. “We find they tend to sit together and compare notes on things like shopping for themselves and cooking.”

Because the Venerables rent the ice five days a week and have four divisions, members can choose from a variety of scheduling options. They can play two times a week or as often as 11 times weekly from mid-October to April. Regular weekly play consists of a tag draw, which means curlers aren’t letting anyone down if they have a scheduling conflict or aren’t feeling well.

More experienced players, called board captains, create teams that balance the players’ skills and allow different guys to play together. After the games, the men gather for a drink and conversation. “The emphasis is on fun,” said Reg.

In addition to regular games, the Venerables run several internal bonspiels, which include lunch, as well as a couple of invitational bonspiels organized by other clubs. In the off-season, the Venerables organize various social events like a golf tournament, a Blue Jays game outing and pub night.

The Venerables name originates from a group of about thirty retired school teachers who rented ice from the Tam Heather Curling Club in the late 1970s. At the first formal meeting of the club in 1981 the name was confirmed, the constitution approved, the first 10 directors were elected and a submission for a government grant was made. The grant was duly received, not just for curling equipment but also for tables and chairs to promote social activities. In order to assure its members better price stability, the Venerables became a separate entity from the Tam Heather Curling Club in 2003 and entered year over year fixed contracts for ice time.

The size of the organization allows the Venerables to maintain reasonable membership fees. For more information about joining, visit