The curling community and Manitoba said goodbye to Lois Fowler on a depressing Thursday. The 68-year-old curling legend from Brandon, Manitoba, left behind a legacy that went well beyond the rink’s icy lanes. Lois Fowler was a valued family member, a mentor, a builder, and an unflinching volunteer in her close-knit community in addition to being a champion on the curling ice.
Lois Fowler had a fiercely competitive nature that was unmatched. She approached life with a commitment to overcome every obstacle, whether it was overcoming her 2017 ovarian cancer diagnosis or succeeding in her chosen profession as a real estate agent. Her son, Rob, shared, “She proved that throughout this journey, but also throughout her professional career as a real estate agent, and no doubt she was often an underdog when she was curling. She proved that in all aspects of her life.”
Against the odds, Lois exceeded the initial prognosis of two to three years and enjoyed six remarkable years, staying strong and resilient until her final days, surrounded by her loving family.
Lois Fowler’s indomitable spirit and unwavering support were not confined to her personal battles. She extended the same dedication to her teammates throughout decades of competitive curling. Lori Manning, a fellow curler who won two provincial senior titles and national bronze medals alongside Fowler, shared her admiration: “She would give you the shirt off her back. She was just a real genuine person. She’d do anything for anyone. We had a lot of good times. She demanded the best of people. You work hard, and we were all for that.”
Lois Fowler’s journey in curling began through her husband, Brian, who secured the 1987 provincial men’s championship for Manitoba, representing the province at the Brier. As Lois raised her children, Rob and Rhonda, she gradually became more involved in competitive curling, and her passion for the sport grew. Rob fondly reminisced, “We basically grew up at the curling rink. When you grow up around something, it’s pretty hard to not want to take part in it.”
Notably, Rhonda followed in her mother’s footsteps and teamed up with Lois to win the provincial championship in 1993 at Brandon’s Keystone Centre during the Scott Tournament of Hearts. With Allyson Bell at second and Rhonda at lead, Lois played third for skip Maureen Bonar, guiding them to a national final where they narrowly lost to the late Saskatchewan star Sandra Schmirler in an extra end.
As the third for her son’s team, Lois Fowler continued to have success, winning three additional provincial women’s championships and going undefeated in the provincial mixed tournament in 1998. Though they went 6-5 at nationals, Rob cherished every moment of being on the same team as his mother, declaring, “She always had that optimism, and that optimism really rubbed off on her teammates. She just has a positive impact on people, whether that be away from the rink or on the ice.”
Lois Fowler’s remarkable journey came full circle when, twenty-one years after her first provincial title, she skipped her team of Maureen Bonar, Cathy Gauthier, and Allyson Stewart to a Canadian Senior Curling Championship gold medal. The journey didn’t stop there, as her squad ventured to Sochi, Russia, and emerged victorious in the playoffs. They convincingly defeated Sweden’s Gunilla Arfwidsson 11-2 in the semifinals and secured the world crown by defeating Italy’s Fiona Grace Simpson 6-2.
Rob emphasized the significance of this achievement, saying, “To break through … and have the opportunity to represent the country is a difficult task in itself. To go on and win couldn’t have been a better way for her to finish up her career.”
However, Lois Fowler wasn’t just a formidable competitor; she was also a tireless contributor to her curling community. Throughout her years as an elite curler, she dedicated herself to running major events in Brandon, volunteering in whatever capacity was needed. Shawn Taylor, past president of the Brandon Curling Club, remarked, “She’s been a huge, huge part of the curling community, not just in Brandon or even Westman, in Manitoba. She’s been a role model for a lot of players, and she has been a volunteer in a lot of different capacities.”
In 2015, Lois ended her career as a competitive curler, but her passion for the game never wavered. She enjoyed going to hockey games where Rob and Ericka’s sons, Carson and Aiden, played, as well as seeing her nephew Nolan skate for the Brandon Wheat Kings. She supported her family’s endeavours and enjoyed watching Quinn, Nolan’s sister, dance.
Lois Fowler kept up her competitive attitude even after she left the ice, playing in golf competitions every summer until 2022. She even qualified for the Tamarack golf tournament’s women’ scramble championship flight with colleague Laurie Hooke.
Lori Manning aptly summarized Lois Fowler’s spirit: “She’s had a tough battle, and she fought right to the end. That’s her. She was a fighter all the way, for anything.”
Lois Fowler’s legacy is one of championship spirit, unwavering dedication, and boundless love for her family and her community. Her name will forever be associated with the sport she loved and excelled in, a true pillar of Manitoba curling.