In the house and on the ice, former N.W.T. Speaker Paul Delorey remembered

Paul Delorey was first elected as the MLA for Hay River North in 1999 and was appointed Speaker in 2004, a position he held for more than seven years.

Former Speaker of the N.W.T. Legislative Assembly and competitive curler and coach has died

Paul Delorey was first elected as the MLA for Hay River North in 1999 and was appointed Speaker in 2004, a position he held for more than seven years. (Jared Monkman/CBC)

Paul Delorey, a former Speaker of the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly and competitive curler and curling coach, has died.

Delorey was first elected as the MLA for Hay River North in 1999 and was appointed Speaker in 2004 — a position he held for more than seven years. 

On Saturday, former coworkers and fellow curlers shared their memories of Delorey, paying tribute to his dedication to curling, to his family and to the territory. According to his Facebook profile, Delorey was 71 years old.

"He was a good man in the chair. He was a good representative for Hay River North, and he was a very good curler, an avid curler, and a teacher of curling," said Michael Miltenberger, who served alongside Delorey as the MLA for Thebacha. 

"There was lots of frank, high-temperature, high-emotion events in the house, and he was always a very, very good referee, and he protected the institution that he was sworn to serve."

A good referee

Delorey got along with his colleagues and his curling experience lent itself well to the role of Speaker, said Miltenberger. 

"He knew the rules and he came from a sporting background, where a good referee is a critical component of any kind of game — and politics, in many cases, is like a game," he said.

As Speaker, Delorey was fair and objective, said Miltenberger. He worked hard to maintain decorum and uphold the dignity of the Legislative Assembly. 

Delorey was also an active member of the N.W.T.'s curling community, as both a competitor and a coach. 

A 'fierce competitor'

"He was a very fierce competitor, oh my gosh, he was so serious when he was on the ice," said Janie Hobart, championship and officiating director of the NWT Curling Association. 

Over the years, said Hobart, Delorey coached many young players, as well as his own children. He himself continued curling into his senior years.

Hobart said her favourite memory of Delorey is from 2012, when he rigged up a system of pipes so that water leaking from the roof of Hay River, N.W.T.'s former arena wouldn't drip onto the ice.

"It sounded like one of those rainsticks you get. When water runs down pipes there's kind of a musical sound that comes from it, so there we are curling and there's this musical sound in the background," she said.

"That was his dedication to making sure that we had great ice to curl on." 

Paul Delorey coached the NWT Curling Association's women's team at the Canadian Curling Club Championships in Leduc, Alta., in 2019. (Submitted by Janie Hobart)

Delorey was an influential member of the Hay River Curling Club for more than 40 years, said club president Keith Dohey.

"Paul was a mentor to all of the younger generation of curlers in our club and a friend to all of the older ones," he said. "I don't think there's a member of our club that doesn't have full and total respect for Paul and the things he's done and just the way he carried himself."

Though Delorey didn't like to lose, said Dohey, when he did, he did so with class. 

"When it comes to curling in Hay River, you almost can't think about it without thinking of Paul," he said.

"Curling in Hay River, and by extension, the North, it just it wouldn't be what it is today without Paul's contributions, for sure."

In a Saturday Facebook post, the Hay River Curling Club says Delorey competed with Team NT, and with Team Canada at the Strathcona Cup in Scotland in 1998.

He also coached teams at the Arctic Winter Games and Canada Winter Games, among other competitions.

The post says Delorey is survived by his wife and four children, as well as grandchildren.