North Grenville Curling Club hosts Scottish Curlers


submitted by David Brown and Jim Dolan

On January 31, the North Grenville Curling Club (NGCC) had the honour of hosting five Central Tour teams from Scotland as part of the Strathcona Cup competition. Upon their arrival, the Scottish teams were piped into the curling club under the customary “Arch of the Brooms”, being held by members of the five NGCC hosting teams who would play them later in the day. Once in the club, they were welcomed by former NGCC President Brian Cassidy, current President Mitch Barsalou and North Grenville Deputy Mayor John Barclay.

This year officially marks 120 years of friendly competition since the event first started in 1902/03. Except for a couple of breaks for the world wars, the competition has been held every five years and alternates between Canada and Scotland. This year, Scottish teams played in Canada from January 11 to February 3. Canada will return to Scotland in 2028.

The origin of the event was the result of a decision that took place at the 1902 Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC) Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Scotland where it was decided that a team of 25 curlers would be selected to represent Scotland on a tour to travel to Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Winnipeg before crossing the border to play teams in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Chicago and New York.

In accordance with this decision, arrangements were made to play in Canada at the end of December 1902 and the beginning of January 1903.

The event was such a success that a decision was made at the RCCC AGM in July 1908 to invite a team of Canadians to Scotland to return the hospitality shown by Canada in 1902/03. As a result, a team of Canadians went to Scotland in January 1909.

North Grenville Curling Club

To commemorate the 1909 event, Lord Strathcona (Sir Donald Smith) had a “Challenge Cup” made upon which to inscribe the names of the winners. Canada won the coveted cup by 101 shots over their Scottish hosts. This cup continues to be played for today. Due to its rarity, the cup only comes out when the event is held in Scotland.

The sixty Scottish players who travelled to Canada were split into three tour groups of five teams each. The Eastern tour group played in the four Maritime provinces, plus parts of Quebec. The Western group played in the four western provinces. The Central group curled in Ontario and Montreal. When Canada plays in Scotland, the teams are divided into North and South contingents, but only 40 curlers will represent Canada in 2028.

Eighty-five different curling venues across Canada were involved this year. In total, 350 games were played, providing an opportunity for 1400 Canadian curlers to play against the Scots.

It should be noted, all the Scottish players have well accomplished curling resumes. This year, Scotland was represented in North Grenville by:

  • 2017 Scottish Senior Men’s Champion Ian Drysdale.
  • 1980 Scottish and European Champion Billy Henderson.
  • 2012 & 2015 National Masters Champion Willie Paterson.
  • 2017 & 2020 Scottish Senior Men’s Runner-up Neil Murray.
  • 2010-12 Scottish Double Rink Champion and Central Tour Captain, Alan Chalmers. 

After finishing a light lunch, players from both teams were piped onto the ice by piper Hugh Metcalfe and two flag bearers. The NGCC teams, skipped by Dave Brown, Rob Kluke, Harley Melnick, Dave Burgess and Ralph Tylor/Bill White, won three of the five games played, outscoring the Scots 36 to 26. After the games, teams enjoyed a few adult soda pops and an informal dinner, where stories of past accomplishments and tales of lore were shared by both sides of the event.

The overall winner between Canada and Scotland is determined by the total score for each country across all 350 games played. In the end, Canada outscored the Scots by a total of 137 points (2454 to 2317) to retain the cup. Canada won the West Tour by 5 points, the Central by 130 points and the East by a mere 2 points. Canada averaged 7.01 points per game and the Scots 6.62.  


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