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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.

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