Kinuso renames curling rink in honour of Kirtio

The Kirtio family in front of the newly-named Kinuso curling rink to the Anton Kirtio Rink in memory of Anton Kirtio, longtime Kinuso curler and one of the reasons Kinuso was able to build the Kinuso Agricultural Complex: Hall and Curling Rink in the late 1970s.

Pearl Lorentzen
For South Peace News

People driving into Kinuso may notice a new sign on the curling rink!
It now says Anton Kirtio Rink. Kirtio was a long-time curler in Kinuso and instrumental in building the current rink in the late 1970s.
Anton’s father, Anton Sr., was born in Poland in 1899, says Sodbusters: A History of Kinuso and Swan River Settlement. He immigrated to Canada in 1928. After working in Kinuso for a while, he homesteaded in the area. His wife and older children arrived in 1929.
Anton Jr. (elsewhere referred to as Anton) was born in July 1936 in Kinuso. He took over the family farm.
The current curling rink is the second one built in Kinuso. After World War II, Kinuso built its first curling rink, says Sodbusters.
“This two-sheet, regulation ice rink was built entirely by volunteer labour.”
Construction started in March 1954, with 14 men going into the bush to fell enough trees to make the lumber for the rink, adds Sodbusters. This was made into lumber at Edgar Hill’s mill. The building was a Quonset-style and was finished January 1, 1955.
According to Sodbusters, “When the season opened only five persons in Kinuso had curled before, now there are 21 rinks (teams) or 84 people who are members and regular curlers.”
Included were four rinks in the junior high school category, adds Sodbusters.
Twenty years later, Kinuso was looking at replacing the old rink.
Anton’s widow, Judy, shares her late husband’s connection with the Kinuso curling rink.
“Anton, from his early years, had always been an avid curler, so after attending bonspiels elsewhere at rinks with artificial ice, it became his dream to have this kind of ice in Kinuso.”
The spring of 1976, Anton and other community members sawed 70,000 board feet of lumber.
However, in 1977 the plan changed.
According to the April 14, 1977 Slave Lake Lakeside Leader, Anton Kirtio, Josephine Samuelson, Nick Tana- suik, and Elvin Samuelson went to Elnora, AB that March to check out the metal curling rink. The Kinuso Ag Society voted to buy a metal building, to be a curling rink and hall.
The article adds the original idea was to build something big enough to house rec-rooms, a library, and craft rooms, as well as the curling rink.
The curling rink was built by the Central Slave Lake Agricultural Society. The Ag Society started in 1973, says Sodbusters. Anton was one of the organizers. He became president in 1976. When the book was published in 1979, he still held the position.
According to Judy, to fund the new curling rink and hall, it used grants from the Department of Agriculture, the Improvement District #17, the local Rec Board, and Swan River First Nation. It also sold the lumber the members had cut and held fundraising activities.
The building, which still stands in Kinuso today, was bought from Behlen-Whickes, says Judy.
“In the late Summer of 1977, community members of the Swan River First Nation band started laying the foundation,” says Judy. “The shell of the building was started late in the fall of 1977 and completed in the spring of 1978. After many hours of donated labour from so many in the community, the inside of the building was then completed. It housed three sheets of ice, a small kitchen, viewing area downstairs and up along with a bar and office.”
The first season of curling started in January of 1979.
At the unveiling of the new sign, a few other items of curling rink and hall history
came up. The first wedding was Tony and Gail Karpa. In 1987, the Kinuso School grad was too big for the school gym, so was held in the Ag Hall.
The Kinuso Curling Rink has a mixed league and bonspiels each year including a men’s, women’s, and mixed league, loggers, and ‘skeeters’ for children 14 and under.
There is also usually an after-school curling program.

Anton Kirtio’s widow, Judy, with a picture of Anton, a plaque made by a local artist when the curling rink and hall were built.
John Karpa, Anton Kirtio, Steve Prichk, Elvin Samuelson, Sloco McRee, Fred Tanghe pose with some of the lumber they were sawing for the community complex. The lumber ended up being sold to help pay for the current metal building. Photo from Sodbusters: A History of Kinuso and Swan River Settlement.

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