Smithers is home to Curl BC’s 2019 Volunteer of the Year.
This week, the sport’s provincial governing body announced David Mould, a Smithers Curling Club director, had received the honour.
The award puts a cap on Mould’s 59-year involvement in the game.
“I curled and I curled and I curled,” he said. “There was my family, there was my work and there was my curling, and that’s been my life.” He didn’t come to the sport early on, though.
Born in Burns Lake, Mould spent the first 10 years of his life in Rose Lake before moving to Kitwanga.
“Never heard of curling,” he recalled. “We were on the wrong side of the river, we played ball and soccer and all the other things.”
When he started high school in Terrace, he said, curling was available, but he pursued what he jokingly referred to as the “good sports,” basketball, volleyball and track and field.
At the age of 12, and already six-feet tall, Mould got a part-time job evenings and weekends with the Hudson Bay Company (HBC), which he would eventually turn into a four-decade career.
His first full-time posting was in Fort St. James. It was also his introduction to curling.
“At Fort St. James they had a curling rink and I had a fellow at the store, who was a good curler and he said, ‘you’re coming curling with me’,” he said. “So, we got a broom, in those days, and a pair of clean shoes and I curled that winter on a two-sheet, natural ice, no heat, but I was curling.”
The HBC bounced Mould around a lot in those early years, to Inuvik, Peace River, Hay River (twice), Yellowknife and Fairview (AB).
The common thread through it all was curling. In 1964, he gained a partner (Janet, nee Doll) both in life and in curling. The couple were living in Yellowknife at the time, but came home to Kitwanga to get married.
They not only curled, but Mould started getting heavily involved in the development and management of some of the clubs.
During his second posting in Hay River in the mid-sixties, his team built a new rink to replace the one lost in a flood in 1962.
“The four of us got together and we got a quonset hut from the Armed Forces,” Mould recalled. “We had it relocated to next to the Hay River and we pumped water from the Hay River with a firehose to build ice. We opened on boxing day in 1966, I think. The Hay River runs brown water all year, so our ice was brown.
“It was 40-below that day when we opened the place. We had two Herman Nelsons, one at each end for heat, and they were so noisy that you couldn’t hear, but we were curling.”
In 1972, Mould got his first long-term posting in Fort MacMurray, AB and his first shot at the big time.
“In Alberta we tried hard, but we never won the zone,” he said. “For years we won the club and away we’d go, but we never won the zone, so I never made the brier.”
Mould also had a couple of other brushes with glory.
“Never made the big time, came close, represented [Northern] B.C. in the Masters with Ed Maskiewich, but we lost out in the provincials in Vancouver,” he said.
“The first year I was eligible for the seniors, we won the right to represent the Yukon.”
There were other accomplishments, though, outside of competition.
“It was decided we needed a new sports complex and the oil company, Suncorp, was ready to put in some money,” he explained. “I was the representative of the curling club on this new complex that ended up with 12 sheets of ice, beautiful building, and it was full. We’d have 160 rinks come to the Oilmen’s spiel in the spring.”
In the Yukon, he was also instrumental in amalgamating the Whitehorse and Takhini curling clubs becoming president of the combined club and building a new facility there.
David and Janet retired to Smithers 20 years ago and have been involved in the Smithers club ever since.
In 2017, Mould had to hang up the slider, however.
“My balance just isn’t good anymore,” he explained.
He remains active in the club, though, as a director and running the bar, for which he received the Volunteer of the Year nod.
“David Mould is the face of Smithers Curling Club operations. He has single-handedly managed the operation of the club lounge from 2008 to the present day,” stated a press release from Curl BC.
“He completes a range of tasks including ensuring compliance with liquor licences, pro-shop sales and inventory, opening the club for rentals, collecting league fees and ensuring fire code compliance.
“Without David’s leadership and dedicated volunteer commitment, the Smithers Curling Club would not be able to survive. He was described in his nomination as being a “pivotal volunteer who is integral to the ongoing operation of our club.”
Former teammate Maskiewich said the award is well deserved.
“I think it’s very good,” he said. “I think he deserves it; he works very hard.”
The club itself, is not what it used to be, as is the case for so many rural clubs across the country.
“We did a few things last year,” Mould said. “We’ve got Janice Himech on our board now, who is a real go-getter, and we actually ended up with a few extra dollars, but unless there’s a real resurgence in curling we’re never going to be what we need to be.
“We can generate enough revenue through memberships and bar sales and few rentals at Christmastime to pay the light bill and the heat bill, but we have no additional money for M and R (maintenance and repair), so every year the building gets older and it just needs a lot of money to bring it back to a really good standard.”
There has, in fact, been a resurgence in Canadian curling since it became an Olympic sport in 1998, but it is concentrated in urban areas. In rural Canada, as in Smithers, however, it is a different story as youth are simply not picking up the game in any kind of numbers.
I used to say ‘I’ve been here 15 years and the only thing that really changed is that the curlers got 15 years older’,” Mould quipped.