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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

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