Hosting this year’s Tim Hortons Brier in London, Ont., is bringing exactly the kind of positive energy the city needs, according to local small business owners and Londoners who are curling enthusiasts.
“London has come alive big time,” said curling fan John Bain. “It’s fantastic that people who know nothing about curling are aware that its national championship is happening right here in town.”
As the Canadian men’s curling championship takes place in the city from March 3 -12 at Budweiser Gardens, spectators get to explore artisan pop-up shops, live entertainment and even meet with athletes at the Original 16 Patch at RBC Place London.
The Brier has boosted business and morale in the city after three years of a pandemic and lockdowns, said Lisa Dawson, owner of Four Elks, a country lifestyle brand that’s a pop-up shop at the Patch.
“Honestly it’s really great for tourism, I wish London would do more of this kind of stuff for the community. So far, I’ve loved being here and it’s been a pretty great experience,” Dawson said.
Artist Sheri Cowan was able to show off all the little pieces of London that customers could enjoy. The local painter created various print pieces that include landmarks like Victoria Park, The Covent Garden Market, Joe Kool’s, and Budweiser Gardens.
“There’s lots of local London stuff here, and it’s something to celebrate London. It’s nice to give people an opportunity to buy a little souvenir to take home,” Cowan said.
‘The whole country has come here’
Getting to meet people from different places within the province and country has been the best part about working at the Patch, said Dawson.
“There’s a lot of different crowds coming through than what we’re normally used to, not everyone is from London, so we’re getting a lot of people from outside Ontario, and it’s really nice to be able to engage with different people,” she said.
“It’s a feather in the cap for the city of London,” said Bain who has followed the sport for more than two decades.
“The whole country has come here. I look around, and I’m meeting people from every province and territory that have come here to be at the Brier,” he said. “Curling fans are like that. They want to go and support their team.”
Bain says he’s rooting for Brad Gushue who’s representing Team Canada, and he hopes to see him in the playoffs and finals. Although Bain found his love for curling a little later in life at the age 40, it’s the one sporting season he always looks forward to, he said.
“I curl three times a week for about 24 years now, and it’s my favourite sport,” he said. “I’ve played everything from hockey, basketball and golf, but curling season is what I look forward to all year long and I’m disappointed when it’s over.”
Entertainment events and activities will continue daily until March 12. A full schedule can be found on the Brier Patch’s website.
“The more events that we can get like this the better, because honestly London needs this kind of positive energy coming here,” Cowan added.