Backyard hockey rink? Hold my beer says Alberta man, who built 2 curling sheets for bonspiel fundraiser

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Backyard hockey rink? Hold my beer says Alberta man, who built 2 curling sheets for bonspiel fundraiser

Build it and they will come, is the philosophy of a southern Alberta man who set out to construct two outdoor curling rinks on his aunt's farm for a bonspiel this weekend to raise funds for Calgary children.

"We just figured we'd throw it together in a week and see what happened," Jason Wilson told CBC News on Friday.

"We've already got eight teams which is more than enough to host a nice little short bonspiel."

Wilson's not messing around. The curling sheets he's put together near Gleichen, Alta., are high end, and the local curling club has helped out with tools and sponsoring some of the Sunday bonspiel prizes.

"They've lent the rocks, the scraper, the nipper, just a bunch of the equipment that is needed to make the event," Wilson explained.

"They are also sponsoring the event by paying the first two teams, the winners and second place which is really nice to see."

He says the goal is to bring people together and elevate the sport.

"It's definitely on the climb in the last few years with Olympics really pushing it and the mixed doubles coming up, but I think it's just really important, you got to find new ways to get people out into the sport. I want it to help Gleichen and other small clubs around, but it's the sport that I think is the most important."

The current cold snap in the province, however, has brought with it some challenges.

"It's really hard to have your ice freeze well. In a facility, you've got your plant temperature, your floor temperature, the humidity is controlled, everything is controlled in a good facility, whereas out here you have nothing," he said with a smile.

"The ice is probably –22 C, the air is minus –26 C. It's really hard to have the ice freeze well, not bubble up."

The entire hamlet, about 90 kilometres southeast of Calgary, has been invited to the bonspiel.

Funds raised are going to Kids Up Front, a Calgary charity that connects children experiencing poverty, abuse, illness and disability with tickets to hockey games, football games, concerts and plays.

"I'd say this is definitely one in a million," Wilson said.

"If you can get a good day, this will bring out a lot of people."

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With files from CBC's Monty Kruger and The Homestretch