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Deep history brings Scots back to vie for cup

Curlers take part in national challenge

History, bragging rights and good fellowship combine to bring the “Grand Game” to Powell River on January 13 and 14, 2013, in the form of the Strathcona Cup.

Four Scottish teams will play four from Powell River for curling’s storied trophy named after a Scot, Donald Alexander Smith, the first Baron of Strathcona, who was one of the best known philanthropists in Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Smith (1820 to 1914) was once a commissioner of the Hudson’s Bay Company, helped quash Louis Riel’s rebellion and perhaps was most famous for financing and overseeing the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway. In fact he was the gentleman who drove the “last spike” in the railway in 1885 at Craigellachie, BC.

Curling teams from the two countries first competed for the cup in 1902 when a resolution passed at the annual general meeting of the Royal Caledonia Curling Club in Scotland supported sending 25 Scottish curlers to Canada for a friendly competition.

The tour was such a success that the Canadians made a return visit in 1909 and the ongoing battle for the Strathcona Cup which, because of its value stays in Scotland, began.

Canada is the defending champion, winning in Scotland in 2009, and leads the series 11-10.

From over 200 applicants, 61 curlers will depart Scotland on January 9 to split into three 20-man teams (five curling teams each) and attend opening ceremonies in Halifax, Ottawa and Vancouver.

The champion is determined based on the cumulative results of all the games played, in this case 434 games in over 100 clubs. More than 1,700 Canadians will participate as opposition and hosts for the Scots.

The Western tour is an ambitious one that begins in Vancouver, passes through the Sunshine Coast and ends on Vancouver Island.

Following the completion of the BC schedule, the five Scottish teams will immediately head to Alberta, then Saskatchewan and finally Manitoba before attending the closing ceremonies in Toronto.

Powell River Curling Club was asked to participate last year by BC curling representative Bruce Beveridge and he has been updated on the progress of the local event by club manager Roger Pagani.

A committee has been formed to organize a dinner reception on Sunday, January 13, at the curling club, which will also highlight entertainment from both sides of the curling showdown.

Due to the local interest, there will be a playdown to determine which teams will represent Powell River against the Scots.

Skips Ken Abbs, Dave Douglas, Ed Haggerty, Felix Massullo and Jim Schutz will play a double knockout on Saturday, December 15 with the top four teams making it through to play on January 14.

Curlers and interested parties, such as the Scottish community who wish to support their countrymen, can purchase tickets for $25. There is a reception at 7 pm with dinner at 8 pm on January 13.

On Monday, January 14, doors open at the curling club on Crown Avenue in Cranberry at 8 am with all four games to start at 8:30 am.

“It’s open to the public,” invited Pagani, “and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. There should be some good competition and a lot of fun on both sides.”