A half-century of brooms and brews

By Geoff Lee

March 30, 2017 12:00 AM

ICE MAN Tom Fisher, founder of Hurricane Industries, was feted at the 50th Heavy Crude Open Bonspiel banquet for his 50 straight years of participating in the event as a curler, the only person to do so. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO

Fifty Oilmen’s bonspiels in 50 years.
That 50 in 50 record may not compare with the coveted NHL goal scoring standard of 50 goals in the first 50 games, but it’s a record that belongs solely to Tom Fisher.
No one else can break it either.
The Hurricane Industries founder was presented with a recognition plaque for his feat at the 50th Heavy Crude Open Bonspiel banquet at the Lloydminster Stockade Convention Centre on March 17.
The 74-year-old said the record was a piece of cake to set.
“It was easy, just get up every March and…book off that weekend and go curling,” he said.
As easy as 1-2-3.
As for any near misses due to illness or injury, Tom said he may have had the flu or something one year when he played, but it was smooth sailing every other year. 
Tom did, however, reveal his secret sauce at the Lloydminster Golf and Curling Centre.
“A little bit of Bud Lite and just think positive you’re going to curl another year,” he said, noting he plans to be back in the hack next year.
“I will curl a few more years; I don’t know if I want to resort to using the stick curling in the Oilmen’s; I’m not sure about that.”
Keith Collinge, 82, one of just two living curlers besides Tom from the 40 year club, thinks his pal will be back next year and he marvels at his longevity.
“I think it’s wonderful; I was in Grade 9 and he was in Grade 2 in a country school southeast of Lloydminster,” said Collinge, who no longer curls in the Oilmen’s.
“He was pretty good even then, because he curled regularly, you know.”
Tom’s wife, Myrna, said the Oilmen’s was something they always gave a priority to each year.
Other than that, she swears she hasn’t been feeding him anything special to keep him curling this long.
“He’s kept in good health, so he can still curl, he’s always been active,“she said.
She said the 50 years of curling has gone by fast.
“We’ve had good times at the bonspiel.”
Myrna rounded up her five kids and some of the in-laws for the banquet presentation,  just like when Tom was named Oilman of the Year in 2008.
“Our family all came home for that; we had a good time,” she said.
Tom’s son, Blake, who manages the business, curled with this dad this year to celebrate the 50 in 50 feat.
“It’s amazing throughout the years and all his commitments to other events he’s managed to make all 50 in a row,” he said.
“My hat’s off to my mother for looking after us five kids for all 50 years…when he was at the curling bonspiel.”
Blake let on his dad has the odd “sociable” that keeps him flexible while he’s curling.
Hurricane Industries operates air equipment, foam equipment, pressure trucks, vac trucks, hydrovacs for workovers and ground disturbance work.
“It’s a struggle the way the industry is now; there’s not a lot of work,” said Tom.
“If there is work, the rates are cut so bad that it’s hard to make a dollar.”
He said a stable oil price of $60 a barrel would make a huge difference and push up the number of curling teams, as there seems to be a correlation. This year, 44 teams played, up from 36 in 2016 thanks to stronger oil prices.
In Fisher’s first Oilmen’s, there were 24 teams rising to a peak of about 128 teams in the heyday of industry curling.
Each year, the bonspiel happens during spring breakup when guys are more available to go curling and relax.
Tom and his teams have never won a top A flight in 50 years of trying, but they have won some flights.
“In the top end, years ago, they would come out of the cities and even locally, they’d have teams that they’d handpick for the A event,” said Fisher, who curled in events all over Alberta and Saskatchewan.
He was in it for the fun.
“So we travelled around a big circle in the bonspiel world and that’s why I enjoyed it so much,” he said.
“That’s what it’s all about; it’s a pretty tight-knit industry.”

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