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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Even James Cameron Could Not Find Them

In 1974 Mr. John W. Taylor wrote:  “In 1941…a lousy Boche sub sank the ship carrying our stones.  Somewhere in the deep Atlantic lie fifty sets of beautiful Ailsa Craigs.  …we had to wait until the following season for the replacements before we could curl with our new matched stones.”  With those words he launched a legend of a story.  Fact or fiction?  This myth-buster says ‘fiction’.

1)  Oct 1, 1942 The Scots Wha Hae reports:  “In the summer of 41, a syndicate of 37 members provided $1,833.33 to acquire 50 pairs of new matched stones.  These are the stones we played and enjoyed so much this last season” (1941-42).  Conclusion:  We did not wait a season to receive replacement stones.  If the original order was lost they would have gone down in 1941.

2)     Dec 6, 1941 the minutes of the Board of Directors meeting state:  “R. Pearce reported that the new stones were in Detroit and would have been delivered today except for some technicality which will be cleared up the first of the week.” 

3)     Dec 3, 1941 a Scots Wha Hae article states:   “the new stones have arrived in Canada”. 

4)   May 21, 1941 the minutes of the Board of Director meeting:  “Moved and seconded that Robert Pierce, Percy Power and Nate Cornwall be authorized to purchase the new stones.”

There are 26 weeks between the authorization to purchase and the arrival of the stones.  With no e-mail; no fax machines; trans-Atlantic phone service in its infancy…we have to assume it took a few weeks to get the order from Detroit through the dealer in Canada to the factory in Scotland.  It also took a few weeks to ship the stones from Scotland through Halifax and across Canada to Windsor via train.

That leaves about 21 weeks to process the order – 147 days.  In the 1930s and 1940s, according to multiple sources, it would take 2-1/2 man-days to produce one stone from a block of granite.  That means about 250 man-days to produce our order.  At two stones per day, then making 100 stones in less than 147 says is about right.  Our conclusion is that the stones were shipped from Scotland between Oct 15th and the 1st of November, 1941.

According to and there were 252 ships sunk by between June and November 1941, but only three ships travelling from the UK to Canada were sunk by German U-boats:

·       June 2, 1941 the Michael E.  Travelling from Belfast to Halifax.  Too early in our order process to be considered.
·     June 9, 1941 the Trevarrack.  Left Glasgow, stopped in Clyde on June 1st and was headed to Montreal.  Again, this was too early in our timeline.
·       October 1, 1941 the oil tanker San Florentino.  It was sailing from Glasgow to Halifax to Curacao.  This is the only sunken ship that could have been carrying our stones.  But, it carried no cargo!!  It was stopping in Halifax only for fuel to continue its trip to Curacao to load up with oil.
·         In November 1941 there were no lost ships heading to Canada from Great Britain.

Conclusion:  There are no curling stones setting on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean that could have belonged to The Detroit Curling Club.

On the other hand, it makes a great story to tell visitors, new members and especially reporters (they love to print it).  So, if you do not tell anyone that the story is a myth then I will not tell either.

Happy Scuba Diving, Angus


  1. Interesting, a similar story has floated around the Wausau Curling Club only that we lost stones destined for Wausau... maybe somebody lost some somewhere... but who?

    1. Please read the new posting: "What? More Curling Stones Lost in WWII".
      Posted January 7, 2015.

    page 19 of this history of Wausau Curling is the similar story of the ship sinking