Yes, we've suffered our first glimpse of flurries, and that means one thing in Canada; it's time for otherwise sane people to purposively grab a broom and slide recklessly along long sheets of ice while pushing round, heavy rocks towards a bull's-eye inside a painted circle far off in the distance or failing that, at other rocks - with resounding thuds and much high-pitched screaming, yelling and groaning along the way.
In St. Catharines at the 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts at the Meridian Centre, you can watch in awe as Canada's elite women's curling teams compete February 18 to 26. It's the first time here for the Scotties, but our ice-makers are experienced, previously hosting both the Canadian Junior Men's and Women's Championships.
Mayor Walter Sendzik sounds up for the tournament, saying, "We look forward to welcoming curlers and their families from across Canada to St. Catharines, to experience our world-class sports facilities and cultural venues, right here in our hometown."
I myself have been practising by screaming, "Sweep! Sweep Hard!" at my spouse, but thus far she is neither impressed nor amused.
The Meridian Centre which opened in September, 2014, is home to the Ontario Hockey League's Niagara IceDogs and the Niagara River Lions pro basketball team. It seats approximately 5,300 for hockey, but you should be thinking far ahead as a pack of curling tickets co-hosted by the St. Catharines Golf and Country Club and Meridian Centre might make for a unique Christmas present.
Competition will be intense as the winning team represents Canada at the World Women's Championship in Beijing, China. And if the Canadian team wins a medal, it qualifies for the 2017 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings Canadian Curling Trials in Ottawa, the event that decides our men's and women's four-player teams for the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea where they may or may not encounter our pro hockey players.
St. Catharines curling marvel, Marilyn Bodogh, a two-time Scotties and world women's champion says, "When my sister and I were growing up, it was our dream to curl in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts...Now to see the biggest women's curling event in the world come to my hometown is an absolute thrill..."
Steve Chenier, Ontario Curling Association executive-director, says, "St. Catharines has produced some great curling champions, and has also hosted wonderful curling events in the past, so I'm confident that the 2017 Scotties will be no exception."
The price for the full-event package is $369 plus applicable fees, available at the Meridian Centre box office, online at
or by phone at 1-855-985-5000.
Volunteers are required for such a large event - in jobs from setting up and taking down equipment to facilitating interview requests for the media.
and become part of the team. In the interim, to get into the spirit, you can watch
Men with Brooms, the 2002 Canadian romantic comedy film, starring and directed by Calgary native Paul Gross.
And for those interested in the social scene, after the last rock is thrown each night, action shifts to the HeartStop Lounge, Curling Canada's post-game party zone, hopefully also attended by those trained by St. John Ambulance.