Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Scottish Curlers Visit The Club – Part VI 1955

1955 marked the first RCCC Tour exclusively to the United States.  In 1952 a group of American curlers toured Scotland.

Twenty Scottish curlers arrived on Sunday January 30, 1955 at Willow Run airport from Chicago at 7 p.m.  They were immediately whisked away to Olympia Stadium to watch the Red Wings give the Montreal Canadiens a shellacking 7-1 before the largest crowd to date at the “Old Red Barn”.  Then onto the Hotel Fort Shelby.

Monday morning five 8-end games were played at The Club on Forest Ave.  The visitors won 50 to 48.  After the games they went to lunch at the Dearborn Inn followed by tours of the Ford plant, the Rotunda and Greenfield Village.  By 4 pm back to the hotel.  But, not for long - 6 p.m. dinner at the curling club followed by 8:30 curling.  The evening games were also won by the Scots:  90 – 78.

Tuesday morning and afternoon saw more games at the Detroit Curling Club followed by a dinner banquet at the Fort Shelby Hotel.  At 9:30 pm they were at Central Station boarding a private train car for Utica.

Whew!  Busy schedule.

The Scots brought along their old brooms explaining that, “although a brush sweeps clean, mony a mickle maks a muckle”.

When in Detroit the Scottish curling team was introduced to some of the DCC members who were to oppose them.  Chairman John McKinlay introduced them to Ken McLeod, Ian MacDonald, Stewart MacLaren, John MacFarlane, Mac MacGlashan, and A. MacTavish.  John Watson, captain of the Scottish visitors grinned:  “You have more Scots here in Detroit than we have in All of Scotland”.  He didn’t know then that he was also to compete against a Speerschneider, a L’Heurex, a Sweeney, a Slyziuk and a conglomeration of other names not quite so Scottish.

Failin’ means yur playin’,
Angus MacTavish

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Scottish Curlers Visit The Club – Part V 1949

The RCCC curlers arrived in Detroit from Chicago at the Brush Street Train Station at 7:50 a.m. Saturday January 29, 1949.  They were immediately escorted to the Statler Hotel for breakfast.  Saturday morning games were played against Chatham, Forrest, Thedford, Petrolia and Sarnia.  The Scots were defeated by the Ontario teams 51-50.   Saturday evening all the games featured Detroit curlers against the Scots. 


The Team was honored Sunday at the Detroit Athletic Club.  After the luncheon their departure was Sunday afternoon at 4:15 p.m. bound for Toronto.

As seen in the pictures above, the entire Scottish team used the curling brush.  The width of the brush is less than a foot; the brush itself is made of coconut fiber.  In some parts of Scotland at this time the brush was made of hair.  They agreed that either fiber or hair serves the same purpose for sweeping the ice, better than Canadian brooms, “which lose their straws and last nowhere nearly as long as ours”.

This was not the first appearance of the brush.  In Part III – 1923 we reported that a few players used the brush.  In Part IV – 1938 we reported that the entire team used the brush.  But, this visit in 1949 set off a chain reaction in the newspapers – especially the U.S. papers.  Here are some of the quotes:
·        … similar to a broom used by office building janitors
·        … a short-bristled affair
·        … brush-type house broom
·        … a garage push-broom
·        … deck brush scrubbing away
·        … long-handled brush-broom

The surprise in the U.S. is understandable - the previous Tour did not visit any U.S. clubs other than Detroit.  Even though some brushes were used in 1923 we have to assume that it was not many since they made no impact on the press writers.

The Scottish curlers maintained “that the brooms used this side of the Atlantic are apt to shed a straw now and then and slow up an already delinquent stone instead of adding distance.”  It seems to me that the brush did not become widely used in North America until the 1980s and for the same reasons that were stated nearly 60 years earlier.

Ma heid’s mince,
Angus MacTavish

Friday, December 16, 2016

Scottish Curlers Visit the Club – Part IV 1938

The Detroit Curling Club was the only U.S. stop on the Scots tour in 1938.   Detroit’s long time membership and participation in the Ontario Curling Association was the reason.
This was the first Scottish Tour that the team did not travel with their own curling stones.  Interestingly not much was written about the inconvenience of traveling with 48 curling stones on the previous tours.  Once again they did bring their push-brooms - this time the entire team used them – they claimed that this style of broom was better on artificial ice.  Speaking of which:  This was the first visit when most (if not all) of the curling clubs had artificial or compressor made ice rinks.

Saturday January 22nd the Royal Caledonian Curling Club’s Team arrived in Detroit from Kitchener, Ontario.  They immediately had morning games against Detroit, Sarnia, Chatham and London.  The Scots met defeat with an aggregate score of 52 – 37 even though the Scots won 3 of the five games. 

Lunch was served at The Club.  During the afternoon the visitors were taken on a tour of Ford Motor Co. and Greenfield Village.

After a dinner at The Club the evening matches saw 5 Detroit teams defeat the visitors with a score of 57 to 38.  It was estimated that 300 Detroiters were in attendance at the old club on Forest that night.

Sunday morning the team attended services at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church.  They laid a wreath at the foot of the Robert Burns statue in Cass Park.  The upcoming Tuesday would mark the anniversary of Burns’ birth.  A dinner was held at the Detroit Athletic Club and the team departed at 4:45 p.m. for Toronto.
Y’r ob’dn’t s’vn’t,
Angus MacTavish

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Scottish Curlers Visit The Club – Part III 1923

The Scottish Curlers were met at the railway station in Durand, MI at 9 a.m. Saturday February 17, 1923.  Two DCC members, D.B. Duffield & A.B.D VanZandt, had arranged breakfast at the station.  Since the train was over two hours late, the first item on the Detroit agenda had to be cancelled – a trip across the Detroit River and a tour of the Hiram Walker & Son’s Distillery.

At the Detroit station a large contingent of DCC members met The Team and escorted them to the Hotel Wolverine.  A luncheon was held at The Detroit Athletic Club.  During their stay the Scots were declared Honorary members of the DAC.  Then off to the curling club for six 12-end games against Detroit curlers.  The Scots won 58 to 56.

Dinner was served at The Club and the six evening games were won by Detroit 69 to 56.  During these evening games the weather turned extremely cold and many of the motor cars outside would not start so taxis were called to transport the visitors to the hotel.

Sunday morning February 18, 1923 was a much appreciated rest time for the Scotchmen.  Some toured sites in the city on their own.  In the afternoon the team was taken to Lake St. Clair to see ice-yachting as the 1912 Team had visited this spectacle as well.  Many were taken for rides.  The remaining portion of the day and evening was dedicated to rest and relaxation.

Monday morning the Scots were taken to Dearborn to see “the immense works of Henry Ford”.  They toured the car assembly line.  They drove back to Detroit for lunch at The Detroit Public Library. 

The afternoon saw games against the Ontario clubs of Sarnia, Petrolia and Chatham.  The Canadians won by a narrow margin 63 to 60.  An informal dinner was held at The Club.  It was reported that over 200 local curlers were present at The Club.  Six evening games were played against Detroit with the Scots winning 86 to 41.

After the games The Team was driven to the railway station for an 11:25 p.m. train to Niagara Falls, Ontario.  On this 1923 team were seven members who had been on the 1912 team and one member who had been on the 1903 and 1912 teams.

Trivia:  Many of the Scottish curlers used brushes or push-brooms.  This may have been the first time the brush was used in Canada and/or the U.S.  

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Where to Curl in Detroit and Michigan - UPDATE

This is an updated list of the places where curlers met in the Metro Detroit area.  The original article was posted on January 9, 2013.  click here  The added places are marked with an *

It all depends on WHEN...

1832 –   Pine Lake & Orchard Lake:  Orchard Lake Curling Club (wooden ‘stones’)
1843 –   Detroit River:  Detroit Curling Club (iron ‘stones’)
1845 –   Milwaukee Junction (near East Grand Blvd & St. Aubin):  Detroit & Mackinac Railway       employees.
*1860s – In The Detroit Dry Dock Company dry dock – Orleans St. and Atwater St.
*1862 -  On the Detroit River “above the city” (FREEP 13 Feb 1862).  Clubs unnamed.
*1863 – Woodward Avenue Skating Park.  Detroit (City) Curling Club. New park old Fair Grounds on Woodward.
1864 – Woodward Avenue Skating Rink: two unnamed Curling Clubs (iron ‘stones’)
*1864 – Union Skating Park.– Feb 8:  “The old Granite club was organized”.  Freep 1900 Feb 04, “The games this year were played on a sheet of ice in the Detroit & Milwaukee yards”.
*1867 – Jefferson Avenue Skating Rink.
*1868 – Feb 28th Whiting’s Park:  Thistle Club (at the end of the Jefferson Ave. Railroad Freep 11 Dec 1866)
1868 –   Woodward Skating Rink:  Granite CC (covered building) – On Erskine St. & Woodward.  Erected a building furnishing two rinks and a waiting room.
1868 –   Jefferson Avenue Skating Park (Whiting’s): Thistle CC (granite stones from Waterloo, Ont. replaced irons)
1870 –   Woodward Skating Rink hosted The Western National Curling Tournament:  Milwaukee City Club,     Buffalo Queen City Club, Detroit Thistle CC, Buffalo Caledonia CC, Orchard Lake CC, Detroit Granite CC,   Cleveland CC, and Hamilton CC.
*1872 – Detroit River near the dry docks.  Granite vs Cleveland.
*1873 – Detroit River near Brooks & Adams’ saw mills – 471 Woodbridge St (now Jefferson) near 14th Street – now a RR Yard.
1875 –   Peninsular Cricket Club (Woodward Ave original site of the Detroit Athletic Club):  Granite CC (covered building 160 x 35 feet)
1884 –   Detroit Zoo (Michigan Ave. Corktown):  Granite CC, Thistle CC
*1884 -   Recreation Park:  Granite CC and The St. Andrew’s Club
1885 -    The Granite Rink:  Granite CC
(NOTE:  Freep 13 Dec 1886:  “For many winters, the Granite, St. Andrews, Orchard Lake, Burns, St. George and  Detroit Curling Clubs being prominent clubs of the past.)
1887 –   Detroit Athletic Club (Woodward Ave.):  Detroit Curling Club
*1887 –  Ice Rink on Alexandrine Ave btw 2nd & 3rd.  Almost rented or bought by DCC in 1887.
1888 –   Forest & Gold:  Detroit CC
*1893 –   Bay City CC, Covered Rink built August 1893 on Tenth Street
1895 -    Forest & Fourth Ave:  Detroit CC
1898 –   Belle Isle:  Detroit CC (International Bonspiel)
1898 -    Pontiac (not sure where):  Pontiac Curling Club formed
1902 -    Detroit East Woodbridge St:  Detroit Racquet & Curling Club
1916 -    Grosse Pointe at the home of Horace E. Dodge on Lake St. Clair:   Detroit CC
1941 -    Ann Arbor (U of M Coliseum Ice Arena):  University of Michigan
1958 -    East Lansing:  Michigan State University (42 DCC members attended)
1970s – Birmingham Skating Rink:  Birmingham CC
1970s – Southfield (Beechwood Ice Arena):  unknown if a club existed
1980s – West Bloomfield (Drake Rd.):  Detroit CC
1980s -  Jackson:  Cascades CC
Present – Ferndale:  Detroit CC
Outside the greater Detroit area curling clubs have been or still are in:
Toledo (Freep 19 Feb 1896, 13 Mar 1897), Lansing, Flint, Midland, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lewiston, Sault Ste. Marie, Port Huron, Bay City (Freep 09 Jul 1893, 19 Feb 1896)

Can you name another place or two?  Please send us a message.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Scottish Curlers Visit The Club – Part II 1912

“Clansman, we gie ye the best o’ a’ Hielan’ welcome” said Detroit Mayor William Thompson to the arriving Royal Caledonian Curlers at the Canadian Pacific railway station on Friday February 2, 1912.  A parade was formed headed by a pipe band and a march made to city hall and then to St. Andrew’s Hall on Congress Street.  After a few speeches (none more than 3 minutes in length) and refreshments the parade reformed and the pipers led the Highlanders to the Hotel Cadillac where dinner was served.

Later at The Detroit Curling Club the visitors played six games (16 ends per game) against Detroit curlers.  Detroit was victorious with a total score of 89 to 85.

Saturday morning the visitors were taken on a trolley ride along the banks of the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair.  Upon arrival at the lake, ice boats were waiting and curlers given rides over the ice.  Then the group headed back to The Detroit Curling Club on Forest Avenue where curlers from Grand Rapids, Toledo, Petrolia, Sarnia, Chatham and Windsor were waiting.

It took the Scottish visitors some time to become accustomed to Detroit’s climate and ice conditions, but when they got the hang of it, they proved to be masters on the ice.  They played six matches and won with a total score of 84 to 58.  After an evening banquet the visitors returned to the train station for a night train to Chicago.  One of the visitors declared that “Detroit leads the World for hospitality and good fellowship.  We did not have a dull moment from first to last and that the entertainment was delightfully informal”.

The commemorative pin shown above was given to each of the visiting Scots.  I do not believe that any pins were given to the local curlers.  This is the only example that I have seen (either in person or online).  It was acquired on eBay from a pin collector in Japan – go figure.  The Detroit Curling Club’s pin used during this time period displayed the city of Detroit seal.  This commemorative pin displays the Coat of Arms of the State of Michigan.  Both were designed by DCC member John Kay and manufactured by Wright-Kay Jewelers.  The slogan “In Detroit Life Is Worth Living” is from a poem written in 1908 by Edgar A. Guest, Poet Laureate of Detroit.  The poem was used by the Detroit Convention and Tourist Bureau in 1911 for a visitors’ brochure promoting the city of Detroit.  The slogan was used on buttons and other souvenirs.  It has also been copied and reworded by countless cities, counties and states throughout the years.  

Good Curling,

Friday, November 25, 2016

Scottish Curlers Visit The Club – Part I 1903

The upcoming Scots visit on January 29, 2017 is the tenth visit to The Detroit Curling Club by the Royal Caledonian Curling Club teams that have toured Canada and the U.S.A.  The DCC may be the most visited curling club in the U.S.A.  Scottish Tours have curled at Detroit in 1903, 1912, 1923, 1938, 1949, 1955, 1967, 1987 and 2007.  The Detroit Curling Club was the only USA club visited by the 1938 tour.  The two missed tours were in 1977 and 1997.  During each of these years The Club was in the transition of moving to new facilities.

The idea of a visit to Canada and The United States by Scottish curlers goes as far back as 1858.  The invitation was not meant as a challenge but as friendly matches.  It was not until April of 1902 that a Tour was approved and a plan was put in place.

It must be pointed out that the Scots were accustomed to vastly different conditions.  Games in Scotland were played outdoors on natural ice which can be soft from the sunshine.  They threw the stone from a standing position on a crampit.  The average curler in Scotland was lucky to curl three or four games in a winter, not three or four games a week.  When they arrived in Canada they had to adjust to indoor conditions, man-made lighting, throwing from a hack and even playing against iron rocks in Quebec.  They conquered all these challenges and improved their skills at every stop along the route.

The Visitors landed in Halifax, played at many clubs through Nova Scotia, Quebec, Montreal and Toronto before arriving in Windsor, Ontario on January 30, 1903.   After a luncheon the games began at 4 o’clock, three rinks of the Scots playing against Windsor, Detroit and Sarnia.  In the evening three Scottish rinks engaged Windsor, Petrolia and Detroit.  Detroit won the first game 14 to 12 and lost the other 7 to 12.

Saturday January 31st the Scots crossed the river into Detroit, “the cleanest, brightest, neatest city in all the States” said one visitor.  After a tour of the city they curled at The Club.  The Detroit Free Press stated:  “Climatic conditions were more favorable to the touring Scots…they showed their brawn and muscle to advantage when it required more strength to place the stones on the sticky ice.”   Three eight-end games were played and Detroit lost with a combined score of 6 to 24.  Only in town for the day the visitors returned to Windsor for the night.  The next day they continued their travels heading to Winnipeg.

Sidebar:  A report by a member of the Scottish team stated:  “Detroit and Windsor are the happy homes for the indolent and unpunctual.  They have three times – Eastern Standard, Central Standard and Solar.  An hour divided the first two; the third comes halfway between.  It is indeed hard if an appointment cannot be kept according to one of the modes of reckoning.”

Ed. note:  Detroit kept local or sun time until 1900, when the City Council decreed that clocks should be put back 28 minutes to Central Standard Time. Half the city obeyed, while half refused. After considerable debate, the decision was rescinded and the city reverted to sun time (solar time; some called it God’s time).   A derisive offer to erect a sundial in front of the city hall was referred to the Committee on Sewers.  In 1905 Central Standard Time was adopted by a city wide vote.  Detroit switched to Eastern Standard Time in 1918.