Distinguished careers

Bernard, Gavin, Proude, Weeks join P.E.I. Curling Hall of Fame and Museum

JASON SIMMONDS SPORTS EDITOR Jason.simmonds @theguardian.pe.ca @JpsportsJason



SaltWire Network



SUMMERSIDE – When the P.E.I. Curling Hall of Fame and Museum’s Class of 2022 reflect on their careers, camaraderie, teamwork, and friendship immediately come to mind. Mel Bernard (curler) of Summerside, Roger Gavin (builder) of Alberton, Earle Proude (curler) of Miscouche and Blair Weeks (builder) of Charlottetown were inducted during a recent ceremony at the Silver Fox Entertainment Complex in Summerside. “Games are often won and lost on a one-inch or twoinch margin or a one-shot miss or make,” said Bernard. “The team play was very important, getting along together, working together and spending time together… The people you do that with, you get a close bond with.” MEL BERNARD Bernard’s induction triggered several memories from half a lifetime of curling. “It kind of got a little bit overwhelming to be honest,” said Bernard. “Then you go to the Hall of Fame induction and see a lot of people you used to spend a lot of time with, it was pretty sweet.” Bernard won the P.E.I. senior men’s, masters, and Legion championships multiple times. Bernard skipped P.E.I. to the 2004 Dominion Command senior Legion championship and led two P.E.I. mixed Legion title-winning rinks. Bernard’s career highlight came in 2009 when he skipped the team of Blair Jay, Proude and Doug Simmons to a bronze medal in the senior nationals in Summerside. Bernard also curled in the 1986 Brier – the Canadian men’s championship – with Grant Somers, John MacWilliams, and Don Bourque. Bernard enjoyed the social aspect with other curlers after games. Bernard said curling provided an opportunity to travel across Canada. “When you do that, especially with the Legion curling, you go to small communities and get to know people and make friends,” said Bernard. “You get a sense for Canada, and it deepens your respect and pride for Canada.” ROGER GAVIN There is not much Roger Gavin hasn’t done in curling. Gavin started curling as a junior in 1979 and has built a lengthy resumé as a coach and administrator. “Somebody asked me to come along curling when I was young and I said, ‘OK’ and started and that was it,” said Gavin, who immediately fell in love with the sport. Gavin admitted he was “very surprised to get the phone call” informing him of his selection for the Hall of Fame. “Curling is a great sport, and you meet a lot of friends,” said Gavin. “For me, it also allowed me to do a lot of travelling. “We went to the national stick curling (championships) five or six times across the country. It’s great to go, meet people and see the country through curling.” Gavin said one highlight of his career was coaching Donald DeWolfe’s rink at the 2017 Canadian under-18 championships in Moncton, N.B. Gavin said his biggest rewards are seeing everybody improve, especially the development of junior curlers. “All the friends around you make at the curling club is the big thing,” added Gavin. EARLE PROUDE Proude never curled until his late 40s. After curling recreationally for a couple of years, a visit from Bernard in 2005 sparked his competitive career. Bernard was starting a new senior competitive team and wanted Proude to play lead. “I said, what, I have never played competitively in my life?,’” responded Proude. “’I know’, he said, but he said you are a good athlete, I know you will work hard at it, and like to analyze things and will do a good job.” Proude curled with Bernard for nine or 10 years that included multiple appearances at Canadian championships. “Mel was the reason I got into competitive curling. He helped me an awful lot. In my speech I said, ‘You couldn’t call me a self-made man, but you could call me a Mel-made man.” Overall, Proude has won 23 provincial championships over the last 17 years all with three skips – Bernard, Ted MacFadyen, and Lou Nowlan. “They are fine gentlemen, leaders and teachers of examples and I tried to learn from each one,” said Proude. “They never blamed you for anything and always encouraged you. It was a pleasure to play for them.” BLAIR WEEKS Weeks left his mark as a curler and administrator. Weeks participated in several Canadian championships while helping organize and promote tournaments. “My volunteer work in curling was helping everybody else out and trying to improve as a curler, too,” said Weeks. “I got to play in a lot of great curling events because of the work we did.” That included the Ultramar Cashspiel, in Charlottetown. “It just grew every year and got better every year, the field got better and bigger and more money,” said Weeks. “It was a great event for the 10 or 15 years it lasted.” Weeks said it was special wearing P.E.I.’s colours at national championships with longtime friends, family members and sometimes both. One highlight for Weeks came competing with Team P.E.I. at the 1989 Brier. Weeks recalled a 9-8 loss to Pat Ryan, who went on to win the 1989 world championship. “We could have won but we burned a rock late in the game and gave them a free point, so we would have had the lead coming home instead of them,” said Weeks. “We nearly beat Pat Ryan in his absolute peak, so that was big.”