Nova Scotia·Photos

How to build an outdoor curling rink that will impress your neighbours

Few outdoor rinks can hold a hose to this 40-metre curling rink near New Germany, N.S., which has a roof, bleachers and even customized curling rocks.

Club puts finishing touches on 40-metre outdoor curling rink near New Germany, N.S.

Peter Wagner and his curling friends built an outdoor curling rink in his backyard near New Germany, N.S. (Emma Smith/CBC)

There are rinks. And then there are rinks.

But few can hold a hose to this outdoor display of ice-making excellence near New Germany, N.S.

The 40-metre outdoor curling rink is complete with a roof, bleachers and even customized curling rocks.

It was built by Hicks in the Hack Outdoor Curling Club, a group of neighbours who got together about eight years ago to collectively battle the winter blues. 

The 40-metre rink has a roof, bleachers and lights so players can compete long into the night. And they often do. (Emma Smith/CBC)

In its first year, members curled on a lake but when lugging the equipment back and forth became too tiresome, they moved the fun to Peter Wagner's property.

Now, as many as 60 people come out to the site to watch and compete in friendly games. 

The ice-making process begins by putting a liner on a layer of sawdust before it is flooded with a garden hose.

Gary Seamone put the finishing touches on the ice surface earlier this week. (Emma Smith/CBC)

Then, the curlers smooth the surface with a homemade Zamboni of sorts. Finally, a pressurized tank is used to spray water droplets that quickly freeze into pebbles.

It creates a playable surface, but one that isn't without its quirks.

This tank holds warm water that's spread evenly over the ice surface. (Emma Smith/CBC)

"It's not like a regular curling rink," said curler Peter Aucoin. Frost conditions can make a big difference, even during the game.

"[The rock] could be going down the left side at the first part of the game and the end of the game, it could be going down the right side. So you have to be really on your game to know what you're doing out there."

The club made its own curling rocks by pouring cement into a salad bowl mould. (Emma Smith/CBC)

Even the rink's curling rocks are homemade.

Salad bowls are used as moulds that are filled with cement, and a steel insert is placed in the bottom so it slides better across the ice.

After a few failed prototypes, the curlers created rocks that felt like the real thing and weighed about 18 kilograms.

When it's just too cold to curl, players escape to the nearby clubhouse to warm up. (Emma Smith/CBC)

When someone donated real curling rocks, they just didn't work as well and were quickly tossed aside, Wagner said. 

"It's sort of a great sense of pride when you can make something, and use it," he said.

About the Author

Emma Smith

Reporter

Emma Smith is a journalist from B.C. who has covered rural issues and Indigenous communities. Before joining CBC Nova Scotia in 2017, she worked as the editor of a community newspaper. Have a story idea to send her way? Email emma.smith@cbc.ca