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Monday, October 31, 2016

History of the DCC – K-W Exchange

The 2016-2017 curling season marks the 100th Anniversary of the First DCC-KW Exchange.

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s Curling Exchanges (Home and Home games) were much more popular than Bonspiels.  Bonspiels (as today) were held over multiple days.  Many curling clubs from various towns are represented at a bonspiel.   The winner is typically the only undefeated team after some sort of elimination matrix of matches.
Exchanges were typically one day events pitting one club’s teams against another club’s teams.  The visiting team typically arrives the day before the event for a banquet presented by the host club.  The amount of teams per club can vary from 2 or 3 to 8 or 10.  The winning club is typically determined by totaling the scores of all the games played.  At some future date in the season the exchange is continued at the other club.  The club which scores the most points at both sites wins the competition for the year.

The Detroit CC was very active with home-and-home exchanges.  We have found reference to exchanges with curling clubs in Sarnia, Ridgetown, Thamesville, Petrolia, Chatham, London (City, Asylum & Thistles), St. Thomas, Brantford, Glencoe, Galt & Galt Granite, Niagara Falls, Pontiac, Grand Rapids, Battle Creek, Toledo and The Detroit Racquets & Curling Club.

Surprisingly, no reference has been found to a Detroit CC - Windsor CC exchange.  These two clubs played games at each other’s facility on a weekly basis throughout the winter.  They played for trophies, badges, dinners, Ontario Tankard qualifying and for charities.

According to legend and the K-W webpages:  “The K-W/Detroit Exchange began in 1917 when four gentlemen curlers (two from the old Waterloo Curling Club and two from Kitchener) travelled by horse-drawn cutter and train to curl in Detroit. It turned out to be a two-week trip because they made several side stops before ending up at the Detroit Curling Club.  We must assume that the first trip to Detroit was in January or February in 1917.  Natural ice for curling rarely occurred in December.  The event was such a success that the cross-border clubs reunited in Kitchener later in the year for another weekend of fellowship and curling.”

Or so the story goes.

But, we found references to Detroit-Waterloo games in 1913, 1914, 1915 and 1916.   In February 1913, 3 DCC teams travelled to the Galt Granite Club and two weeks later 3 or 4 rinks from Galt visited Detroit.  In February 1914 eight Detroiters were in Waterloo.  Then 20 men from Galt were in Detroit.  March of 1915 and January of 1916 each saw 12 Waterloo curlers in Detroit. 

So, how do we define the DCC – KW exchange?  When “any” curlers from the Waterloo area play against Detroit? 

The first 1917 reference found was published on January 26, 1917 in the Detroit Free Press when three DCC teams were in Waterloo – but – they were at the Galt CC and no mention of other curling clubs in attendance (Galt won 32-27).  The second reference found was in The Detroit Free Press (Feb 23, 1917) when 12 men from St Mary’s, 12 from the Galt CC and 12 curlers from Galt Granite CC visited DCC (the visitors won 108-85). 

Curiously a January 19, 1931 Detroit Free Press article stated that the January 3, 1931 games in Kitchener and the January 16, 1931 games in Detroit were “the fifteenth annual visit of Waterloo County curlers to Detroit”.  This supports the idea of 1917 being the first exchange year.  It is the oldest article found that states a number of years the exchange had taken place.  And by describing the Canadians as “Waterloo County curlers” we can include the curlers from all the Waterloo area clubs.  (But, wait…that would mean 1913 was the first event!!)

The first reference found that used the “Waterloo Curling Club” name was January 1919.  The first reference found for the “Kitchener Curling Club” was 1925.  All earlier references do not specifically state “club” but rather curlers from the Waterloo or Kitchener cities.  Therefore the actual clubs that these curlers came from in those years is in question.

We may never know when the first DCC-KW exchange took place, so 1917 is as good a starting point as any.

Let’s celebrate,

Angus MacTavish

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