The Guardian (Charlottetown)
A pioneer for P.E.I. women’s curling
Marie Toole remembered for her contributions to all aspects of the sport
Marie Toole’s influence on curling in Canada’s smallest province extended to all aspects of the sport.
Toole, who died in Charlottetown recently at the age of 94, is remembered for her success on the ice and a willingness to help grow the sport on Prince Edward Island.
“Everyone looked up to her,” said Gloria Large, who curled with and against Toole throughout her career.
A 2008 inductee into the Prince Edward Island Curling Hall of Fame, Toole enjoyed success provincially and nationally and helped put P.E.I. on the women’s curling map. Provincially, she won nine championships – six women’s titles and three mixed crowns – over nine years from 1966 to 1974 curling out of the Charlottetown Curling Club.
“That was impressive back then because when we had playdowns, there were 25, 30 teams starting in a competition,” said Cathy Dillon, a former teammate of Toole.
A highlight of Toole’s career was a second-place finish at the 1974 Canadian women’s curling championship in Victoria, B.C. It would be 36 years before a P.E.I. team – skipped by Kathy O’Rourke – matched that finish in 2010.
“Marie was a force and one that all woman curlers aspired to be like," said O'Rourke in a Twitter message. "Her team's second-place finish at the Canadian (women's) curling championship inspired the rest of us to believe we could compete despite coming from the smallest province."
O'Rourke noted the formats in 1974 and 2010 were quite different. O'Rourke said in 1974 the teams played a round-robin schedule only and there were no playoffs or championship game like there was in 2010 and today.
Large described Toole as the pre-eminent curler in the Maritimes at that time.
“They were always competitive," said Large. "If they had playoffs (at the Canadian women’s championship) like there are today, they definitely would have been in the playoffs every year because they played really well.”
Dillon played the second and third positions for Toole
for five years in the early 1970s and represented P.E.I. at the Canadian women’s championship four times during that span.
“Back in our time when we played, she was the top curler on the Island I would say, the top skip,” said Dillon. “She was extremely easy to curl with.
“She was very methodical and she may have gotten upset inside, but she never ever showed it. I found her extremely easy to curl for, and we were successful at the time.”
Large said Toole, who was born in South Melville and also became involved with the administration side of the sport at both the club and provincial levels, was “cool as
a cucumber” on the ice.
It was because of Toole’s personality on the ice that Toole tried to emulate her whenever she skipped.
Toole made an impact on Large early in her curling career. Large said Toole was very good with younger curlers starting, and she was one of the few people who taught her things on the ice.
“She would give you encouragement and tell you if you hit the broom and that sort of thing, whereas most of the ladies at the time just wanted to win their games and didn’t care,” said Large. “But there were few people like her, and I always remember her specifically because she was very kind to me when I first started curling.”