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Monday, October 31, 2016

The ice is IN! But, where?

In 1926 Thomas Williamson wrote in his history booklet (Curling in Detroit and Vicinity) that the curlers in Detroit played on the Detroit River.  In 1956 John Taylor in his history booklet (An Early History of Curling in Detroit) wrote that the games were played on a “sheltered spot on the Detroit River”.  Some have said near the foot of Jos. Campau.  Others have said near Atwater St.

Here is “the rest of the story”…

In 1860 the company of Campbell & Owen, a ship repair yard at the foot of Orleans St. and Atwater St.  constructed a 260 foot dry dock on the Detroit River.  Imagine this dry dock in the winter.  The ships are not moving due to the ice.  The dry dock is empty of ships.  They can control the depth of the water and add more when they want to resurface the ice.  Protected from the winter winds.  A perfect place to curl on a winter’s day.

The Detroit Dry Dock in 1870

The Detroit River in 2016

Today the old Dry Dock is still apparent.  It is near the east end of the Detroit Riverwalk and part of the Wm. G. Milliken State Park.  The old Engine Works & Foundry is now the DNR operated Outdoor Adventure Center.

Is this theory just speculation?  Just a guess?  Well, yes, in a way.  Then we discovered that James McMillan was a part owner of the Detroit Dry Dock Company and eventually company president.  He was also a prominent member of the old Detroit City Curling Club.  He later became a member of the current Detroit Curling Club and was elected an Honorary Member.

It was also uncovered that Thomas Fairburn Jr., Thomas Linn and William Barclay also worked for The Detroit Dry Dock Company and they were all members of the Detroit City Curling Club.

Speculation?  A wild guess?  You be the judge.

Good curling during the upcoming season.
Angus MacTavish

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