Rebels take home trophy from 95th Quebec International Bonspiel

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Photo: Jay Ouellet

The Rebels from Ontario took home the top trophy in this year’s Quebec International Bonspiel. From left to right: Chris Gale (Smiley), Brian Roberts (Shaky), Geoff Wood (Sarge), Scott Wilson (Stain), John Milne (Johnny Kamikaze) and Grant Shubert (Shu).

Ontario’s Rebels were flattered by the standing ovation when they were called to accept the Quebec International Bonspiel’s top trophy.

The bonspielers celebrated the 95th edition of the weeklong event, hosted at the Château Frontenac.

The Rebels, now combined with team La Terrace, is a bit of a father-and-son tradition.

Geoff Wood was adopted by the team, and is sponsored by Dr. Byrnes Shouldice. “He really took me under his wing the first year because I didn’t have a father [who curled],” explained Sarge – Wood’s nickname, earned during his role as skip.

He and some of his teammates celebrated their 10th bonspiel this year. At 52, Wood has been curling for 31 years, right out of university.

Coming to Quebec City each year is a special tradition. While he gets to practice his French, Wood’s favourite part of the tradition is the friendship. “We’ve met so many guys over the years; it’s fantastic. The best part is going back every year and seeing these guys from Quebec, curling against them, but, more importantly, spending time laughing and telling jokes, and being at the Château Frontenac; it’s just such a fabulous hotel. You don’t get any better! We do appreciate that the Château allows us to take over the hotel for one week in January. It’s been a great relationship.”

The tradition will likely continue. Wood has two sons, 18 and 12, whom he might bring into the fold some day. “They’re a ways away yet,” he said, “but at some point down the road I wouldn’t count that out.”

John Milne, known as Johnny Kamikaze - after the drink, also celebrated a decade of ‘bonspieling’ in Quebec City. He comes for “the camaraderie and the fraternal feelings for [his] fellow curlers. Every single person there is special for that week. Everyone has a big grin when they come back to the Château; you may not necessarily know their names, but you know their faces. It’s like a fraternity.

Having never been a part of one, I now know what it would feel like.”

Milne explained, “We’ve all been curling for 20-plus years. This would be my 20th year of curling.”

He began making the trek to Quebec City along with his father, who passed away in 2001. Milne senior kept coming back to the bonspiel up to the end, his son added. “There was no holding him back. Our team, Rebels, is associated with La Terrace, which was my father’s team. Brian Roberts’ father is on La Terrace; there was a father-son thing.”

The Quebec City competition, said Milne, “is truly a unique bonspiel because of the length. It does take unique individuals; most are cut from the same cloth; they are good, decent people.”

Milne runs his own business, which allows him to help finance his escape each year. His wife makes sure that everything is set for his week at the Château. “Because of my father, she knows that it is very important to me. [I’ve got] sort of a get out of jail free card.”

During the bonspiel, “there’s a commitment to attending the parties” as well as playing the games.

There is no purse to win, but, Milne said, “Everyone wants to win.”

This year, the Rebels did just that. “It was absolutely incredible,” he said. “It’s a bit of a pinnacle, something you aspire to do.”

It will make next year’s bonspiel a whole new experience.