The mood was light for Canadian and Scottish curlers just moments before they took to the ice at the High Park Club Wednesday, Jan. 23.
The two teams were about to compete for the Strathcona Cup, a 110-year-old grudge match between Canada and Scotland. The historic bonspiel is held once every five years – in alternate nations – and involves 61 curlers from the visiting country taking on curlers from various clubs in the host nation. This year, Canada played host, with 20 Scottish players heading west, 20 to the east and 20 staying in central Canada.
“You’re holding up well,” said High Park Club President Ross Turney, complimenting the opposing team on its success since arriving in Toronto, Jan. 9.
Since then, they have played at clubs in Lindsay, Scarborough and Milton, to name a few, and were heading to Mississauga Wednesday afternoon.
“Looks can be deceiving,” quipped one Scot.
The tournament fell two days before the Strathcona Cup would celebrate its 90th anniversary.
“We’re all looking good for 90,” joked another Scottish player as Turney welcomed the team and wished players “good sportsmanship and good curling.”
“Welcome to Canada,” he said.
Scottish Club President Mike Ferguson commended the High Park Club and the other clubs in Ontario who hosted for their friendly demeanor. Every club hosted a luncheon or dinner following the games.
“It’s been fantastic,” said Scot Richard MacKenzie, who’s been part of the Scottish club since 1992. “Our team’s been playing very well.”
The Scottish team arrived at the High Park Club on Indian Road, in the Parkside Drive and Queensway area, around 9:30 a.m. Four curling matches began at 10 a.m. Club members were invited to come out to enjoy some friendly competition while witnessing an important moment in the High Park Club’s century-long history.
The Strathcona Cup match originated through correspondence from Scottish natives who had immigrated to Toronto and wrote letters home, explained High Park Club historian Al White, who has been curling for more than 20 years.
“I was a hockey player, but I damaged my shoulder so I took up curling,” he said.
The High Park Club had two wins, one loss and one tie in Wednesday’s bonspiel.
The Scottish team continues its tour until Feb. 1.
For further details about the Strathcona Cup, visit www.strathconacuptour2013.co.uk