Photograph | Donald Smith, later Lord Strathcona, Montreal, QC, 1871 | I-66959

Sir Donald Alexander Smith

1st Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal (1820-1914)


Strathcona Cup 100


Canadian men curlers tour Scotland

canada Celebrating over 100 years of friendly men's curling competition! scotland





Tour Historian's Notes


- by Bill Wesley



Tuesday, January 6th

In his first address to the 2009 Tour Team, Denny gave us quite an interesting inventory of purchases and acquisitions he had made over the last two and a half years.

600 V.I.P. pins

6000 Tour pins

75 banners with logos

41 Tour blazers

41 curling jackets

41 outer jackets

41 brushes

42 pairs of dress pants

164 turtlenecks/mocks

45 name tags

42 curling bags

A web site

Business cards for those who had asked

2 cell phones from Bell Canada


Wednesday, January 7th

Before the BMI aircraft set down in Glasgow a warm welcome was extended to the Canadian Curling team by our pilot Capt. Jackson.

There were no dissenting boos … as there may have been if we’d been a rugby or ffor inclusion there in!ootball team.

At precisely 9:55 AM the aircraft touched down on the Glasgow runway.

Shortly thereafter, having retrieved all our luggage (note Air Canada) successfully we were heartily welcomed by a large contingent of Scottish curlers who included:

Ainslie Smith, Past President of the RCCC

Donald Whyte, Past President of the RCCC & Capt. Of the East Tour 2003

Matt Murdoch, Active President of the RCCC & David’s father

Willie Young, member of the West Tour 2003; Courier for South Tour 2009

Malcolm Richardson, Past President of the RCCC

Alan Stanfield, member of the 2003 West Tour

Malcolm Patrick, Conveynor of the Incoming Tour

Glasgow was once the fourth most populous city in Europe behind only London, Paris and Berlin and was then renowned as the industrial and trading heart of the British Empire.

It remains Scotland’s Culture Capital; is home base for the Scottish Opera and Ballet Companies and has a Municipal Art Collection second only to London in the U.K.

Its people are renowned for being friendly and approachable.

The city’s earliest reference to curling dates back to ‘a curling challenge’ reported by John McQuhin to have occurred in nearby Paisley where incidentally just four years ago the World’s Ladies Championships were hosted.


Thursday, January 8th

Normandy Hotel, Renfrew was to be our home for the first four days in Scotland housing all 40 members of the tour.

Following breakfast we set out for the Lanarkshire Ice Rink, in Hamilton for our first taste of competition - a non-counting match against five 2003 Canadian Tour teams.

The Lanarkshire rink is the result of a vision, Tom Dickson founding chairman of the rink had following a trip to Canada, to build a modern rink to serve both curlers and skaters.

The 10 a.m. draw saw the North fall to the hosts 43-26, as a result of 1 win, 3 losses, and a tie.

The South was to fair a little better in the 3 p.m. draw, yet losing as well, but only by a difference of 35-29 while winning 2 games and losing 3.

The results of these games suggested we had our work cut out for us as our tour teams prepared to soon set out in their respective directions to wrestle the Strathcona Cup out of the grasp of the Scots.



Friday, January 9th

The Tour Itinerary suggested today would be a free day, and indeed it was free from curling, but otherwise filled beautifully by a guided sightseeing tour of Glasgow under the able direction of David Scott. The high points were a stroll through the older section of the city that included a closer inspection of “the Necropolis” as its name would imply that overlooks all else from its higher elevation, a visitation to the city’s most remarkable Glasgow Cathedral (early 13th Century), and an introduction to a pub meal that would give a good run to many of those in Canada.


Saturday, January 10th


More sightseeing for those of us on the North Tour as we awaited our afternoon’s first counting game against Glasgow Province at Braehead Ice Rink at 1:45.

Its highlight had to have been the couple hours spent at the Kelvingrove Museum which had opened first in 1901 just a few year’s preceding the Canadians first visit.

Aside from containing some of the finest paintings in Europe, it houses what is said to be the oldest and most complete set of armour in the world.

The museum showcases the works of the famous Glasgow boys paintings 1888-95; Salvador Dali’s “The Crucifiction”(1931) - no nails, no blood, no thorns; a strikingly beautiful 1889 George Lawson sculpture entitled “Motherless”; a full place-setting of one of MacIntosh’s first solo designs identified as Ladies Luncheon Room 1900; a display of glass produced by James Coupar & Sons (1888) called “At the City Glass Works”; and a handsome 1930’s Anderson Special Mark II Motor Car.

As for the curling in the afternoon, the Braehead curling rink is part of a facility that comprises one of the largest shopping centres (mall) in Scotland. It was there in 2000 that Canada’s Greg McAuley won the Ford Men’s World Curling Championship.

Results from our play today were encouraging as the last stone settled the score stood in our favour 44-28 having won 4 of our 5 games. Coupled with the South’s 34-27 victory in the morning, this leaves Canada with a 23 point advantage after the first day’s play.


Sunday, January 11th

This was the day that the Tour splits and the North Tour set out early this morning for Perth where in the afternoon we were looking forward to watching the finals of the Perth Masters that most certainly would have a Canadian representative.

Meanwhile along the way we visited a distillery, the Tullibardine Distillery in Blackford and sampled what would be the first of many single malt Scotch whisky along the northern trail. (Now you know why we chose the North.) This operation produces 2.7 million litres a year, a moderate amount compared to the big boys who come in around the 8 million litre mark.

We’re told the whisky distillery industry is the largest ‘milk cow’ source of revenue to the government netting about $200 a minute.

On to Perth, popularly called ‘The Fair City’ although it no longer is classified as a city where in deed we learn that Kevin Koe has advanced to the final against Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud. We’d like to think we somehow encouraged him by our appearance as he sent Ulsrud down to defeat. Afterwards, we were honoured to assemble for a picture with him and his rink raising the Championship trophy. Semi-finalist Kerry Burtnyk posed with our Manitoba contingent for a shot as well.

Queen’s Hotel, Perth was to be our headquarters for the next 3 days.


Monday, January 12th from Perth, Scotland

Regrettably, our Tour skip & historian, Bob Brigden, had to bow out of the tour and return home to attend to his wife who had grown ill. This was the fourth casualty to the original tour line-up, having already lost David Pye, Tunnel Town CC and F. Koe, NWT to illness and Jim Farguharson, PEI, who returned home for his father's funeral just two days ago.

Three of our team, Robert Dods, Roddie MacLean, and Bill Wesley, sampled 43-year-old McCallam Scotch Whiskey valued at more than $2000 a bottle while the team visited the Columba Cream Cafe about 15 miles NW of Perth, an establishment owned and operated by Ken & Jill MacKay.Renowned keen curler Chuck Hay, 5-time Scottish champ and 1967 World Champion, entertained Canadian curlers as the keynote speaker at the evening banquet at the Dewar Centre, alluding to among other things his having one time requested a baler to clean up all the debris left by Canadian corn brooms in an international match some years earlier. He regaled us with his humour, one joke punch line being - "Is the minister finished the sermon yet." "Aye, but, he hasn't stopped."

We were entertained by music out of the old Shetland hills, a cast of fiddlers primarily, called the Perth Strathspey Reel orchestra, punctuated by colorful sets of Scottish dance performed by the youthful Julie Young dancers.The evening closed with our taking to front stage ourselves, presenting a medley of tour tunes highlighted by our best rendition yet of our tour song, "We Have a Dream". There was some applause, actually.

P.S. I was asked to report that our North Tour Courier, George, impressed us all with his dance steps.

Tuesday, January 13

At morning classes this morning the Sherriff had to step up on request and fine Captain Bruce 1 pound for having his black turtleneck on backwards.

In the morning draw vs. Strathmore Province, although both teams recorded 2 victories each, Canada's were by a larger margin, resulting in an overall difference in our favour 34-24.

At 1:00 pm there was a Civic Reception at Perth's City Chamber hosted by Provost Dr. John Hulbert who not only welcomed us very warmly but gave a short address on the significance of this historic curling exchange between Scotland and Canada.

Afternoon games resumed at 3:00 pm, this time against Perth & District and Atholl Provinces where Canada again prevailed by 7 points advancing their net gain for the day to 17 points.

At 8:00 pm there was a reception and dinner at the Queen's Hotel where we stayed, and it may have been a mistake not to have had any Scottish women in attendance for our storytellers Jim Campbell, Jeff Mowat, and especially Miron Macyshyn really pushed the envelope to the limit in their tales and jokes.

Did you know....that Lord Atholl was sanctioned to have his own private army. When asked to be the patron of the Dunkeld Curling Club, he insisted on his colors being on their emblem, and so you see it on their club pin today.

Wednesday, January 14

We woke up today with a thick cover of frost, as we prepared to leave Perth. The morning edition of The Courier had an eye-catching colored photogragh of the touring Canadian Strathcona Cup team.

At morning classes the Drawmaster, Ken Grattan, announced some line-up changes "to better tune our team" and to provide necessary sweeping help to those teams taxed with injuries or fatigue.

On the way from Perth to Elgin the team took its lunch at the Johnston's Mill est. 1797 as a major manufacturer of tweeds of all sorts and an exporter of cashmere all over the world, but especially it seems to China. It was interesting to learn that unlike the wool from sheep it was not sheered, but rather combed from the goat. As they explained: one goat - one scarf.

On to the ice at 2:30 in Elgin in a match against Moray Province the result of which was another Canadian victory but the margin seems to get less (3 points today) each time out. Are we tiring? And, a word on our piper, Kenneth Norman MacDonald was a direct descendent of fancy this, Lord Strathcona himself.

We were next treated to an after game tavern stop where Mike Watt related to interested Canadians a foolproof slow gin recipe he had long ago mastered. We're not letting the secret out, Mike. Oh, if only we could find "the berry from the black thorn bush".

And did you know, Moray Province is home to 49 distilleries, including many of the best known brands of Scotch Whiskey.

Finally the highlight of the day was when Rod MacLean, wearing a colorful Scottish bonnet,
(see photo) stepped forward at the evening banquet and toasted "the hagis" in grand style, certainly representing an apt closing to a jolly good time.


Thursday, January 15

The day didn't start out especially well for the historian as the Sherriff nailed him with a hefty fine at morning classes for having left his curling shoes in Perth.

Courier George updated us on our overall performance to date that saw us begin to break away from the Scots somewhat 403-294 (that's including the South's games too).

Following breakfast we were off to Inverness via Roadway A 86, halfway along the way stopping at Forres to both visit the Falconer Museum and to give witness to a metal plaque affixed a bridge crossing commemorating, Donald Smith's (Lord Strathcona) work in both Scotland and Canada . On through Nairn we traveled, a one time thriving fishing town that is more into beaches and tourism today.

We were greeted at the Inverness Ice Rink by Inverness Province Curling Club President Andy Wood and Alan Stanfield, West Team Captain of the Scots tour of Canada in '03. Allan was later in the evening to give us a most detailed account of the Canada-Scotland Strathcona Cup match played in Inverness in February 12, 1909. He had in his reseach, not only attained scores and playing rosters but also a beautiful picture (which he had copied and presented to Captain Bruce) showing all the players of the day in front of the Caledonian Hotel. The game was played on natural ice with the Canadians winning 105-83.

Our own game score for the day was a +5 following splitting four afternoon games.

We were warmly welcomed at an evening function by Provost Grey at the spacious and spectacular dining room at the Inverness Town House. The old paintings and Scottish flags blended perfectly with the large chandeliers.

After the usual speeches and toasts during which the Tour Team was recognized as Inverness's first group of distinguished visitors to the city in what has been declared as Homecoming Year 2009, Sheila Bruce provided tremendous support for the "Strathcona Cup Male Voice Choir" in rendering their best in bringing the evening to a close.


Friday, January 16th

At morning class today there was considerable discussion about the idea of a traveling trophy, something that could be moved about more easily and made available to show curlers and host clubs something tangible representing this competition. A lot of good opinions expressed, but along way from resolving.

Courier George took a few minutes to speak a bit more about Curlers  Court and particularly about  initiation expectations  warning us his best advice was for us  to do what you re told . Simple as that.

Played games at the Inverness Ice Rink today at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. with lunch literally sandwiched in between. Games were against Ross & Cromarty Provinces and Grampion & Sutherland Provinces; the former beating us 33-28, but the latter losing to us 40-16 giving us a difference on the day of +19 and overall in the North a difference of +61.

There was a great deal of fun and camaraderie exhibited particularly in the afternoon games as can be witnessed by this exclamation by Tony Watson, skip of Sutherland on being commended by his opposition on his remarkable final shot that came through a narrow port to out count 3 Canadian stones. Says Tony,  Even a blind pig can find an acorn in the woods occasionally.

At the evening dinner at the Kingsmills Hotel with a menu highlighted by main course choices from grilled fillet of Scottish salmon, roast leg of rosemary garlic lamb, warm Highland haggis  & we feasted heartily. The entertainment moved in gently with fiddler Doug Stuart performing many locally popular fiddle tunes, including one number with its origins in Cape Breton -  Memories of Father McDonnell .

Quiet, or rather gentle, it was no more for to the fore strode the immensely talented Hugh MacKay who captivated us with narrative recitals that concluded with  Death & Dr. Hornbrook  which had been written by a school teacher by the name of John Wilson.

In a more sombre tone, our own Bob MacGregor entertained all with a recitation of the Robert Service classic,  The Death of Dan McGrew .; followed by Donald Norville and his Scottish Delights and then to be concluded with our representative Jim Campbell saying a few words, including thanking our hosts and presenting a few appropriate gifts.

Only concluded it t was not quite as Hugh MacKay assumed the stage again for the final curtain call breaking us all up with a most amusing story about a traveling Bulgarian s futile efforts at attaining a good meal and overnight lodging in Inverness

Alex Barnet, Area 10 Rep of RCCC on behalf of the Scots asked that we give Lew Andrews their best as he regrettably had to return home in aid of his wife Denise who had fallen on ice resulting in a nasty multiple break of her ankle/leg.

Final Curling Results from Games played vs. Area 10


Saturday, January 17

Sherriff Neil Dufour has stepped up his activities resulting in fines now having surpassed 61 pounds.

There appeared in a local paper today a brilliant photogragh of Jim Campbell delivering a stone and aided by sweepers Jeff Mowat and Dave Parkes.

Trip down memory lane. Before setting off for Aberdeen we were taken just a five minute walk from our hotel to an outdoor pond that had been used for curling since 1898. Had we been here less than two weeks ago we could have participated here. We're told it's only operative a few days a year. Our timing was just off. The clubhouse, at the pond site, housed many artifacts from the past including old stones, photographs, etc.

A side trip followed taking us to Loch Ness, and while there were no monster sightings, we were able to visit Urquhart Castle overlooking the lake.

Then it was off to Fochabers where we visited Baxter's & Son's Ltd, a business first started by a husband and wife in 1868 which produces soups sought after throughout the whole UK. We sampled a few of the favourites and they were indeed delicious.

The topography along the route was both spectactular and varied resulting in a photographer's delight. And soon on the horizon there was our first sighting of Aberdeen, their airport which is famous in these parts for its heliform, home to some of the world's largest helicopters, some of which are said to make trips of up to 200 miles.

We were received for dinner at the Aberdeen curling facility, Curl Aberdeen, a beautiful, modern 6-rink facility that in December 2009 will host the Men's & Women's European Championships.

Another outstanding meal was presented us, featuring "spit roasted pig", creamed cauliflower, potatoes and carrots. It was topped off by a dessert known as Cranichan, that I can't say I've had before. It reminded me a bit of trifle, featuring a fine oatmeal moistened by Scotch whiskey, raspberry juice, and cream.

Rob Sinclair made a special presentation to Kay Gibb, Area 9 Rep of the RCCC. It was a "dream catcher" of native Indian legend which symbolizes a method to purify dreams. Its web is constructed to stop bad dreams outward from the center circle, while the center circle lets all the good dreams pass through.

The real fun was about to follow as we were to be entertained by a Ceilidh Band featuring Dennis and Ellie who not only played good music but instructed us on a variety of dances which we tried with varying degrees of success. I believe it was all part of one grand plot to put us off our game tomorrow, where the Scotch had failed.

Here's more from the ' Did you know? ' for today:


The folks in Aberdeen sport a language quite different from other parts we've visited. Here's some, with translation.
"Fit-like?" ...How are you?
"Neebad" ....Not bad.
A "loon" is a boy, and a "quine" is a girl, but to call a young woman such would gain you no favours.


Sunday, January 18

It was suggested this morning that the Grattan rink is really jelling for they have bailed us out on more than one or two occasions to date. However, their success has also resulted in their players expressing themselves more freely on how they feel about one another's performance. This was most evident yesterday when at precisely 16:04 Bob Dods was congratulated by teammates for having finally (10 days into the tour) made a rather nice take-out of an opponent's stone. Stand by on this one.

Courier George Rogerson who's quite adept at the microphone and steeped in knowledge of the area had the bus driver wind us through the streets of Aberdeen. He informed us about almost all the houses of Aberdeen being built using a ready source of black/grey granite found from a single vault of the stone measuring 100 yards wide and several hundred yards deep found only a 1/4 mile from the city. He described it as all coming from "a volcanic plug".

A sports note of note, that is if you were not happening to be a curling fan, the Celtics are in town to play Aberdeen FC. It may or may not be reflected in our gate receipts this afternoon.

About Aberdeen itself. It once was a ship building centre of quite some renown, then a thriving fishing port through the last century until the oil industry took hold here in the 1970's. It has a current population slightly over 200,000 .

Piper Jack Lockhart wants Ian MacDonald, Courier for the Scots Canada East Tour of
2003, to know he has followed up Ian's Christmas card request today of bidding hello and giving encouragement to three Maritime Canadian curlers; namely, Ken Grattan, Bob MacGregor and Bill Wesley as they passed through his city; and Jack now has a picture to prove it.

Finally, scores from today's two draws in Aberdeen.
12:45 Draw.....Canada 31 Scotland 25
4:45 Draw......Canada 31 Scotland 20
Therefore the Canadians, at least in the North, have cushioned their lead by another 17 points today, with only a 10:00 draw tomorrow remaining before traveling down to the Dundee area.


Monday, January 19

Checked out of our hotel on this rainy, windswept morning headed for Dundee. Some boys at the back of the bus were recounting their escapades of the night before that thrust them into the local culture – the Local Ballet, the Priory, and finally the Soul Bar & Grill only to find the latter was closing at 23:45. Was this a sign? In their own words, "We hope to compare cultures in Dundee and Edinburgh."

The Bruce Beveridge rink had the pleasure of curling against and dining with one of Scotland's more distinguished skips, Tom Brewster, who by now is on his way to Winnipeg to curl in a WCT Event there on Thursday. When asked about whether his team had a sponsor, he explained that in being ranked among the top three or four rinks in Europe, Sport Scotland contributed a fair bit of money to the team to compete abroad.

While from the Roddie MacLean rink we learned that opposing team skip, Norman Scott, hadn't altogether made all his shots. His 89 year-old mother who had toured Western Canada as skip to a team in 1969 was heard to say following his defeat, "Oh, that's okay – he couldn't even read the ice today." Mrs. Smart was good enough to have her photo taken with the Canadian winning rink.

The Lew Andrews rink of Jim Mastine, Mo Williams, and Dave Parkes, following their last game vs. Aberdeen were treated to a tour of the pin exhibition which was on display around the Club rooms. The pins were part of 98 year-old Allan Johnston's extensive selection of pins. Allan, regarded in these parts as Mr. Curling and a former Past President of the RCCC, is an invaluable member of this curling community,

Before departing Aberdeen, the entire Canadian North team, along with organizers, assembled in front of the Curl Aberdeen facility for a group picture. With flags waving as we left, the bus soon turned onto Route A92 bound for Dundee.

En route we passed through several fishing villages/towns that looked out toward the North Sea until we arrived at Arboath, a town regarded as being the birthplace of Scotland having signed a treaty with the British here a few hundred years ago.

A little side trip to Carnoustie Golf Club served to awaken from their sleep those who had begun to nod off. We were actually able to enter the Club house, and make sundry purchases at the Pro Shop. A lot of photographs were taken.

And finally a little quiz question to end. Who can identify the Canadian skip making these words echo through visiting rinks – "Right up. Right up. Right up!" Is it Lew Andrews, Roddie MacLean, Bruce Beveridge, Ken Grattan or Hugh McCarrel?


Tuesday, January 20

Late news from last evening. Although not curling with each other on this tour, B.C. clubmates, Mo Williams and Bruce Beveridge, are reigning kings of Bridge having yet to lose to any of their opponents.

Awakened this morning to an overnight skiff of snow, so little one would measure it in millimeters, not centimeters.

The Dundee Ice Arena where we are to play is used for skating and ice hockey primarily while curlers are only able to access the ice on Monday afternoon through Tuesday evening. It is home to three hockey teams, and Miron Macyshyn wasn't long in spotting a Concordia University Stingers banner hanging in the bar. While we curled there was skating taking place beyond a temporary barrier at the far end.

We were hot today, winning all eight of our games against Dundee Province and in so doing adding a huge 65 points to our difference. If there was a downside it was having our P.E.I. skip, unmindful of international friendly game etiquette, "grannied" (shut out) an opposition team 14-0. The Sherriff will have to deal with this issue tomorrow.

We understand the "Right Up" man has been sweeping in front of the T-line again, and this time, believe it or not, he was caught on film. There could be serious consequences forthcoming.

The City of Dundee and its provost, Mr. Leftford, hosted the Canadian touring team to a Civic Reception held at the City Chambers. And here's another for the "Did you know?" column, "Did you know": should Provost Leftford fulfill his complete term of office, he'll have become the longest serving provost ever in Scottish history.

After the usual speeches, toasts, etc., we were treated to a hot buffet and presented with gifts from the city to take home. The accumulation of gifts in great abundance is presenting a problem weight wise for our luggage, resulting in the tourists eating and drinking into the acquired gifts supply.

Jeff Mowat, our team representative this evening, did a fine job in expressing our gratitude and complimenting the entire community on their hospitality.

Wednesday, January 21

No curling today but we have two very interesting tours planned and a much anticipated Robbie Burns Supper.

At 10:00 we visited the Discovery Museum situated right in downtown Dundee. The research ship, Discovery, was specifically designed for the Antarctic. It was made of reinforced wood to better cope with the ice. Its main mast (1 of 3) towered 140 feet from keel to top. Construction took place in Dundee from 1900-1901. The Discovery set sail in 1902 commanded by Capt. Robert Scott and was to travel south into Antarctic ice only to have become ice bound and immobile for two winters, before it was finally freed with what had become a frighteningly low food supply and fuel (coal) that might have lasted them another week. There were six scientists among the 47 on board. The Discovery was later sold to the Hudson Bay Company.

Following lunch it was off to Verdant Works which had been a thriving jute factory a century ago but has since been turned into a museum. Because it takes you through the whole process of raw material to finished product it serves as an invaluable training tool for employees as well, I'm told. It was interesting to learn that apart from its being a valuable commodity in the carpet business, jute was huge in the manufacturing of linoleum flooring. The social history of its boom years (late 19th century – early 20th) was also related to us when Dundee was rather at the center of the textile industry , at least in these parts, an industry that relied heavily on women and child labour. The source for jute used in this mill was, and is, from Bangladesh.

And what about the Burn's Supper? Priceless. Scots in attendance remarked how lucky we were to have been at this particular one for it was acclaimed as the best they themselves had ever attended. It began with the haggis carried by the chef being piped into the dining area of the Forfar Golf Club. A "skean dhu" (small daggar) was drawn from its sheath, along with a still larger knife, to slice the sheep's stomach which held the principal ingredient to our meal. Once fed we were offered more than an hour's entertainment by way of toasts and replies, and highlighted by two remarkable recitations of the life and works of Robbie Burns entitled "Immortal Memory" (Gordon Withers) and "Tam O'Shanter" (Bob Kydd).

The evening concluded with the "The Canadian Curlers Male Voice Choir" doing several numbers and the entire room joining in for one final singsong session of Scottish Ballads, and particularly those of Robbie Burns.


Thursday, January 22

Much lighter day of extracurricular activity planned which is primarily a day of curling. However we do have, following supper at our hotel, some local musicians to join us in kind of a kitchen party I guess.

There has developed a competition within a competition as the days advance and scores from the South are learned. From the outset we've lagged behind them somewhat, but we believe at least now they're able to spot us in their rearview mirror. What this translates into is a difference of points scored favouring them at the moment by 22 points.

Following two successful draws with Forfar today we understand the difference between ourselves and Scotland has now reached 253 points, giving us a comfortable margin over our hosts. It doesn't seem to have deterred them from spoiling us in every way possible.

Folks in Forfar, incidentally, speak with a very strong dialect which isn't very easy to fathom at times. Their fellow rather Scots chuckle over it all for they themselves aren't always certain as to what the correct interpretation may be.

As a side note, Prairie farmers Jeff Mowat and Bob Siemens are receiving instruction on how to tie a double Windsor knot, with the former actually having to have written instruction and diagrams to assist. Congratulations Jeff, for your teachers are seeing progress slowly but surely.

After supper this evening at the Swallow Hotel with drams in hand Scots and Canadians alike settled in for some entertainment. In turn we heard some old favourites played by an accordion player including "Good Night Irene" and "Donald, Where's Your Trousers"; then, a song soloist dazzling us with among other tunes "Bridge Over River Fife" and "Oh, I Wish They'd Do It Now", and concluded with Bill MacDonald telling more stories and jokes and some glorious good old singsong.


Friday , January 23


At morning classes the Sherriff was particularly busy fining six who had fallen asleep during last night's entertainment; namely, Jeff Mowat, Bob Dods, Bob Siemens, Rob Sinclair, Brian Morin, and himself. Also believe this or not, Ken Grattan changed out of his curling shoes and into his street shoes and went out onto the ice to play Game N17. Fineable.

Robbie Scott, Area 8 Representative of the RCCC met us as we arrived at Pitlochry and took us on a distillery tour to the Edradour Distillery, Scotland's smallest. It is just a 3-man operation producing in a year what the bigger distilleries may produce in a week. Its name "Edradour" translated means "pond between two waters". Their showroom was remarkably well-organized. Many purchases were made.

In the afternoon we traveled to Atholl Estates & Blair Castle where we were to walk literally in the footsteps of Canada's first tour team of 1909. The press were all over us, as the team assembled on the front steps to replicate a picture taken a century ago. A videographer filmed 5 separate clips of interviews with Canadians, one of which was shown on local TV later in the evening.

Sarah – half-sister of the 10th Duke of Atholl, now deceased - read a letter of greeting signed from the current (11th) Duke residing in South Africa.

An archivist explained the 7th Duke was a keen supporter of curling and had invited the 1909 team to visit his castle. The castle was adorned with many fine paintings of family lineage and an extraordinary collection of weapons and armour. In the grand hall was exhibited a special collection of old curling stones from the 1800's and trophies and photographs of earlier competitions. Before we departed the site we walked up Hercules hill and observed the old Outdoor Curling Pond.



Saturday, January 24th

A very heavy frost overnight and an early morning start to Kinross (8:00AM) an hour's drive away. Morning class was on the bus, and as we drew nearer Kinross there was much anticipation of meeting our host families at the rink there today.

Allister McCabe gave us a short briefing on Curlers' Court and handed out a little brochure (more hype) to help us prepare for Monday night.

Kinross Curling Club is steeped in history for it was there, it is believed, that the first curling match in the world occurred as hardy Scots took to the ice on Loch Leven in the winter of 1668. To put that in perspective, it was at the time while Mary Queen of Scots was being held captive.

Games today were against Loch Leven Province and Cupar Province with a final total score of Canada 58, Scotland 38, a difference of 20. Very respectable for both sides. Late news out of the South suggests we just may have given lots of those points back.

After dinner this evening we were invited to the home of Ian Waugh whose father had been to Canada curling several times some years back. As he explained to us this evening, he just wanted to return a little of the hospitality his father had been extended over the years. An Ernie Richardson curling broom was one of his prized possessions. It had been given to his father when he had been a house guest of the Richardsons.


Sunday, January 25th

Bob Siemens and I were hosted by Willie and Marne Wilson and their two boys on a huge farm at the edge of Anstruther, Province of Fife. Fife just might be the largest province in Scotland.

Do you happen to know what a "dove cot" is? Bob and I do now, having observed one today where pigeon eggs are regularly collected. To us it looked like a dilapidated old barn structure left half standing solitarily in an open field where pigeons were able to nest in the crevices left and lay eggs.

Anstruther is a former fishing community, turned into a grand marina area host to many pleasure boats and tourists during the summer. It's only a 15 – 20 minutes drive to golf's most celebrated course, Old St. Andrew's. Our red, black & white team jackets seemed to dominate the landscape there today shortly after noon. Fortunately it being Sunday, we were able to walk at will over the fairways of this storied course and begin to appreciate just how difficult it would be to hold one's score down through the finishing holes particularly. Some even had their pictures taken on the notorious bridge on the 18th hole.

The ruins of St. Andrew's Castle and the former St. Andrew's Cathedral site were also on the visitation schedule, the latter challenging us to climb its 156 steps to a viewing loft of the beautiful university city that lay below.

The evening was spent at a local pub (whose owner was a curler) where we were able to join other Canadians on tour and friends of our hosts. The most popular item on the menu that included many more alternatives was Fish & Chips. Does this suggest to you at all, that we might be a little bit homesick?


Monday, January 26th

Curling today takes us to Kirkcaldy, the largest town in the Fife region where we are to play games against West of Fife Province in the morning and then East of Fife Province in the afternoon.

Drawmaster Ken Grattan has had to of late really juggle his team line-ups, particularly on learning Neil Dufour may be out for a bit. Neil was off to the doctor this morning and learned he had a bad case of bronchitis and was told to take it easy for a couple of days. Meanwhile, the whole team is suffering through colds, are also growing fatigued and a couple of its players, Brian Morin and Mo Williams, are frightening close to having to sit out with injuries.

With scores now complete from today's competition, miraculously we've added another 23 points to our lead. (Score today Canada 64, Scotland 41) The afternoon play was highlighted by a 7th end angle raise takeout by Roddie MacLean allowing him to get back into a game that seemed to have been getting away from him. But, that's our Roddie, who just might have our best Win/Loss record since having to step in for Bob Brigden two weeks ago. Incidentally, Roddie won his game 5-4.

It was soon back to our hotel to prepare ourselves as best we could for Curlers' Court, an event the Scots had been prepping us for almost since the first day we landed. We have little information except to know that we should wear clean underwear and bring lots of small change to pay our fines. Into a vast dining hall we entered where there sat over 160 "made" curlers waiting in great amusement to see how we tourists clad in Maple Leaf tartan blazers would fare as, one by one, they were to be presented to My Lord to meet the challenges before them. I have to sign off at that, for the happenings in the Curlers' Court remain guarded and treasured.


Tuesday, January 27th

Brian Morin was fined today for having been the second to have left his shoes behind; and Mr. Grattan was before the Sherriff for falling on and nearly breaking teammate Bob Dods' stabilizer.

It was one game of curling only today at the Murrayfield Ice Rink against Area 5 which again resulted in a Canadian team victory of 33-19. Just friendly enough, but also importantly competitive enough to now extend our margin of difference overall to +327.

It was then off to the sites of the city, Stirling, once called "the city of strife" but now one of Scotland's most burgeoning cities with a population of 41,000 and a ridiculously low unemployment rate of 3%. The Prudential Insurance Company is one of its biggest employers.

Stirling Castle overlooks the city where for several centuries the Stuart monarchs called home. Its great hall was large enough to serve as the meeting place for the parliament, even.

Barely visible through a particularly heavy mist stood the shrouded figure of William Wallace, the monument at least. It was he who in 1297 took up the cause of the Scottish against proud Edward's army in the historic "Battle of Stanley Bridge" on the 11th of September and thus was to change the course of Scottish history. Many of you will remember seeing the motion picture account of this in Braveheart starring Mel Gibson. The monument is prominent even through the mist standing I'm told about 300 feet tall.

For many, the night's most interesting entertainment was to see two of our countrymen called to the front, asked to roll up their pants above their knees, and then were to be appropriately dressed in Scottish skirts and caps for a grand sword dance competition to determine whose clan should own the night. Bring on Jim Campbell and Roddie MacLean in the battle of the clans. To bagpipe music and the clapping of hands neither it seems could gain a sizeable difference and the competition was determined to be a draw.

More entertainment followed including a toast to the Canadian curlers from Dr. John Rankin who in so doing reveled us with stories and belly-aching humour.

Then the call went out for the accomplished Canadian Curlers Male Choir to perform. And they did, and got a resounding applause for what was their best performance to date.


Wednesday, January 28

Today was a travel and sightseeing day with the highlights being a visit to the National Museum of Flight, followed by another distillery tour, and finishing with a visit to a silversmith's shop.

Not more than 15 minutes away from our first destination, Steve, our bus driver pointed out a vehicle in the left lane ahead closely resembling our own - the boys on the South tour - and, naturally he saw that we soon passed them, catching them quite unawares as we waved and sped out of sight.

For the first time in weeks as a united team we were introduced to the Concorde. What a bird! Massive. There had been twenty of them built between 1965 and 1974, but were retired in 2003 when they had proved to be too uneconomical to continue. The Concordes flew at heights of 55,500 ft. at speeds up to 1380 mph using 25,629 L of fuel an hour at temperatures of -55C.

After being paraded through the Concorde we settled down to a hot drink and were taken through a Powerpoint presentation by David Affleck on the history of East Lothian Province generally and its curling history specifically. This area of the country was regarded as the territory of war during the 16th and 17th centuries with Douglas Castle playing a prominent role until it was finally destroyed by Oliver Cromwell's army. While Rev. John Ramsey was cited as a significant person in the curling history of the area for having written a lasting document on the "Origins of Curling" in 1811.

The latest in distillery tours was to follow at the Glenkinchie Distillery where a female employee escorted us with succinct commentary on the distilling process. Although their product was of high standard, Edradour seemed to have remained the consensus favourite among the touring Canadians.

Into Hamilton & Inches the team strode to get a view of not only the Strathcona Cup, but also the Championship trophy for the Grand Match. It was also here that we would get a chance to change into our No. 1's to be appropriately dressed for a civic reception this evening with Lord Provost George Grubb.

Hamilton & Inches were commissioned to do work for the Queen and government with several of their most recent pieces resting at No. 10 Downing Street.

Asked about the estimated time it may have taken to have made the Strathcona Cup, the owner replied somewhere about a year.

On our tour through the shop Miron Macyshyn met a young lady (he's somehow a magnet for young ladies) from Hudson, Quebec, whose family just happens to have a summer home near him in Lake Champlain Islands, Vermont. Fancy that.

Thursday, January 29

We knew this was coming. At morning classes today the Sheriff cut loose and levied heavy fines on those who had not been fined sufficiently in his estimation. He did this primarily to reach quota for tipping the bus drivers, Steve and Sandy.

After breakfast we were off to the Murrayfield Ice Rink where we were to play our last counting game against Area 5. After a bit of a sluggish start (no doubt influenced by the late night activities of the day before) good curling form and results were restored with Canada winning the day 35 - 25. With the added victory today, the North completed its twenty-two counting games with a record of 20 wins, and only 2 defeats; and held an overall differential of +248. This was complemented by the South's performance which when tallied together resulted in a +326 point victory over the Scots thus returning the Strathcona Cup to Canada. It is to be formally presented to us tomorrow evening at the closing banquet, but unlike other major sports trophies, this trophy never leaves Scotland preferring to be safely secured in a vault at Hamilton & Inches.

Had the pleasure of having curled against 83-year-old curling enthusiast Lauchlin MacLean today, who I'm told is famous in these parts for always being the first to speak at the Annual Meeting of the RCCC. He'll be among the first to speak tonight too, for he is slated to give the grace. This will be the first time we will have dined with our team-mates from the South since going our separate ways on January 11th. The dinner is scheduled to take place at the Watsonian Rugby Club and is sponsored by Area 5.

Roger Scott may have been the speaker that stood out most this evening as he rendered a very animated history of the Peebles CC.


Friday, January 30

Here we are the 25th and final day of our tour. Ordinarily the North would have had the morning off to do last minute shopping and to pack for the trip home, but it was a big day for the RCCC in Scotland for the First Minister was to visit the ice arena and make an announcement just preceding the first game between the Scots and Canada South. We were informed our presence would be especially appreciated, and we obliged. First Minister Alex Salmond addressed us first, remarking about a shared experience enjoyed now for more than a century. He put a plug in for us to consider returning sometime soon, with our wives and families and what better year than this, Scotland's Homecoming Year.

And to ensure Scottish curlers are better supported as they show their skills later this year on the world stage (Vancouver, Moncton, and in Korea) he announced his government was granting them (Men's, Women's, Junior's & wheel chair teams) 21,000 pounds.

Following the press conference and opening ceremonies the North contingent broke away with what little time still remained to shop or to pack before their afternoon match against the executive members of the RCCC. We won this match as anticipated 45-17.

At our hotel later this evening the RCCC executive and their wives, along with several former Scottish tour team members and their wives, and we Canadians assembled together for one final celebration - the closing banquet.

It was here that following the usual speeches and toasts that team captains Bruce Beveridge and Graham Harris were formally presented the Strathcona Cup emblematic of curling superiority between these two friendly rivals. This being the 21st meeting, Canada had now put some separation again between the number of victories each had scored (12-9). What will the next century bring?

The bar remained open for quite a bit longer this evening allowing an extended period for all to say their final good-byes for what we Canadians will always regard as "a trip of a lifetime".