HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-At-Home Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
In 1969, the Post Office Department (now Canada Post), issued a curling stamp as part of its Sports Series. The six-cent stamp featured four silhouetted men in the rings, but there’s more to that story.
Did you know an Ottawa woman also was featured in the release of that small rectangular postage? On the stamp’s First-Day Cover, there’s a photo of Granite Curling Club’s Jean Beardsley coming right at you, delivering a stone on the front of the envelope.
National postal officials made a solid choice when they selected Beardsley to be a cover girl for the First-Day Cover. The FDCs generally aren’t as visible as the actual stamps, but are popular items for people who have stamp collections.
Beardsley was 41 when the photo was taken for the First-Day Cover and her bright, lively eyes seemed to be focused on a certain takeout shot. She was one of Ottawa’s best and curled successfully for about 65 years.
On Feb. 26, Beardsley, a past president and honourary member of the Granite Curling Club, passed away at the Renfrew Hospice. She had celebrated her 94th birthday only 10 days earlier.
At 19, Beardsley was introduced to the sport, when the Horticultural Building at Lansdowne Park was a curling rink. In February 2020, she was in the same building for her Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Beardsley was the lovable skip of her curling teams, which won numerous trophies in the Ladies Curling Association bonspiels in Ottawa and two provincial titles. She also competed in three Canadian championships.
“She was very good at playing the game,” said Joyce Garinther, who was the lead for Beardsley’s senior team for about 20 years. “When she put the broom down, there was no question. You knew that shot would be made.”
As a senior team (50-plus), Beardsley’s rink of Garinther, second Dorothy Shaw and third Margaret Stewart was one of the most feared in Ottawa. They won several city titles, the 1991 Ontario title and went to Victoria for the Canadian championship.
“She never criticized a player. We had a good time and we did well because we had a good time together. She was so easy to curl with,” Garinther added.
In 1999, Beardsley took her 60-plus Granite team to the finals of the Ontario diamond seniors championship. Beardsley’s other Ontario seniors win came in 1979 with third Kay Moffatt, second Mary O’Callaghan and lead Kay Macintosh.
Over the years, Beardsley also captured three Bedoe trophies as the city and district champion, three Tweedsmuir double-rink trophies and many first-place honours in the Woods, Centennial, Victory, Snelling and Hope competitions.
Beardsley’s first major victory came when she lived in Kitchener and was part of Edna Teskey’s rink, which won the second Ontario women’s championship and qualified to represent the province at the 1947 Canadian championships.
Before joining the Granite Curling Club in the mid 1950s, Mrs. E.C. Beardsley was a member of the Glebe Curling Club and won the 1958 Ladies City Bonspiel with Mrs. W.L. Ball, Mrs. G.H. Gibson and Mrs A.F. Robinson.
“She was fantastic, a great friend,” Margaret Stewart said. “She cared and never criticized, when curling with her. She tried to help you make a better shot. She taught you… and encouraged you. She valued her players.”
In her last few years, Beardsley stepped down as skip and took over tossing lead rocks. When that position change didn’t work, she moved up to third. She felt more at home and in the game as a third.
“She played lead, but couldn’t make a shot,” Stewart said. “She was so used to throwing to a house with a lot of rocks. She couldn’t visualize throwing to an empty house.”
Beardsley, who spent many years with family and friends at a summer home in Norway Bay, also enjoyed her social times at the Granite Curling Club.
“I remembered she played a cheerleader, while in her 50s, in one of those Granite shows, and she looked like a teenager,” Wendy Murchison wrote in a tribute to Beardsley.
When Beardsley became an Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame member almost 13 months ago, she called it a wonderful experience.
“It has been a great life. If anybody doesn’t curl, they really should start – it keeps you young,” she encouraged.
After almost 65 years of calling the shots, making the hits and encouraging her teammates, Beardsley gave curling her stamp of approval just like the Post Office Department gave her its stamp of approval in 1969.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for over 47 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.