Article by Andrew Kerr
At the 1902 Royal Club AGM an invitation from the curlers of Canada was accepted and 25 curlers were selected to represent Scotland on a 40 day tour that would start in Halifax and end in Winnipeg.
In 1908 the hospitality was returned with a Canadian tour party visiting Scotland where, in the absence of frost, matches were played at Crossmyloof Ice Rink, the only indoor rink in Scotland at that time. The Canadians avenged their defeat in 1902 by winning the magnificent Strathcona Cup which had been presented by the President of the RCCC, Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, in recognition of the President's strong links with Canada where he had been instrumental in the building of the Canadian Pacific Railroad.
So started the series of tours, the latest of which is eagerly awaited with the 2018 Canadian tour party due to touch down at Glasgow Airport on 10th January.
The tour starts off with games at Hamilton against the last outgoing Scottish tour party before the Canadian party splits in two with 20 curlers heading north and 20 heading our way. The 20 heading south then have games at Braehead and the Waterfront before they reach Ayr on Thursday 18th.
This is actually an extra day for Ayr. The Canadians should have been heading to Greenacres at this point but they are coming to us instead to accommodate a clash with the National Masters Finals. We will play 4 games against them in the afternoon before taking them for a tour of Kay's factory at Mauchline and a curry at the Spice Route, Symington.
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The next day they are off to Hamilton and then Greenacres before coming back to us on Wednesday 24th January when we are schedule to play 4 games in the morning and a further 4 in the afternoon. That night the Ayr curlers will be home hosting our guests evening meal.
The following day they are back on the ice in the morning for another 4 games before heading off to the Whisky Experience at Kirkoswald whilst President Dave and the caterers get set up for the Burns Supper.
The Burns Supper promises to be something a bit special this year with it being the social highlight of the Canadian's time with us whilst not losing sight of the fact that it remains Ayr Curling Club's annual Burns Supper. We anticipate having well in excess of 100 present on the night and tickets are now available from Theresa in the office.
The Canadians have a website up and running strathconacup100.ca albeit it's still in its infancy. However, it does have bios of the curlers and it's fair to say that they will provide us with a stern test !
We needed 64 Ayrshire curlers to take on the Canadians and over 70 responded by putting their names on the list which was on the notice board. Unfortunately, some were unlucky and their names have had to go on a reserve list but the team list is now available for all to see in the lounge.
Everyone, whether playing or not, is encouraged to come in and watch the games and to socialise with our guests. The Canadians are only here every 10 years so it will be 2028 before we get another opportunity to take part in the Strathcona Cup here at Ayr.