Howard Cook didn’t start curling until he was 50 years old, but he’s made up for his late start by sticking with the sport for the past 40 years.
Leaside’s oldest curler, who will celebrate his 90th birthday in April and his 65th wedding anniversary in March, still curls every Monday and Friday morning at the Leaside Curling Club as part of the Senior Men’s Division. That division also curls Wednesday mornings, but Howard gives that a pass saying, “I have to conserve my energy.”
Why the late start?
He grew up in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, in northern England, where no one curled.
He and his family came to Canada in 1957.
The cold Canadian winters didn’t bother Cook and he became an avid cross-country skier. But one winter in the mid 1970s there was hardly any snow.
“A neighbour took me to the Avonlea Curling Club and I was just absolutely blown away by the sport and have loved it ever since. What interests me, apart from the exercise, is the camaraderie that I’ve always found. I’ve played at 33 different club locations in Ontario and the United States and curlers are always friendly.”
Cook curled in Thornhill for 17 years, then joined the Leaside Curling Club in 1994, and “some of these guys I’ve been playing with ever since”.
From 2003 until 2011 he served as the skip of the Leaside team in the Tarlton International Bonspiel, an annual tournament with 16 Canadian and 16 American teams. When it was held at Leaside in 2007, he chaired the event, at age 81.
“I introduced my grandson, Mackenzie Reid, to the game when he was seven years old here at Leaside,” says Cook proudly, “and last year his team won the silver medal at Canada Winter Games in BC, after winning gold at the Ontario championships the year before.
“Curling keeps me young, healthy and engaged,” he sums up, “and I have no plans to retire. I’ll die with my curling shoes on! My wife Pamela is in good health too and is fully supportive; she knows how important curling is to me.”