Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Curling - A Scottish Olympic Game

We have had a lot of curling this week.  Monday, I was having lunch with my Grandson at Buffalo Wings and on their giant screen was the Olympic curling. At a table near us, people were discussing the game and one said "Canada should be good, it originated there."  Well, that is not quite correct.  Curling is a Scottish game.  There is written information about curling in 1541 and a curling stone has been found inscribed with the date of 1511.  Outdoor curling was very popular in Scotland between the 16th and 19th century and the International Body for Curling is presently located in Scotland.

Curling in Chicago started in 1860 when a meeting was announced for the purpose of forming a Curling Club.  All interested in this "simple, social, dexterous game" were invited to attend.  The first game was held January 18, 1861 on the Chicago river between the Lake and Wells street bridges.  It drew a large crown of on-lookers.  "The ice was rather rough, but there were some excellent players among our Scotch friends."

Another mention of curing occurred in the Chicago Tribune on January 28, 1861  "Some of our Scottish born citizens, have, as we have before stated, established a Curling Club, for the practice of one of their favorite national games.  They were busy at it on the ice in the river Saturday."  On February 21, 1861, a match game was played "on the ice on the Lake near the North Side Skating Pond."  Not sure where the skating pond was actually located.

 The annual meeting of the Curling Club was held December 14, 1861 at the Brigg's House and elections were held. The President was Robert Hervey.  Vice President, Peter MacFarlane.  Secretary and Treasurer William Clark .  Committee on arrangements:  George Wilson, Dr. John McAllister, John McGlashin, and Alexander White.  Skips were George Wilson and William Falconer.

Seven of those names I recognize from my study of Chicago history.  Robert Hervey and John McGlashin had served as President of the Illinois St. Andrew Society.  Dr. McAllister was the Society's physician for many years and cared for hundreds of Scottish immigrants, all without charge.  Peter MacFarlane was a liberal donor to the Society and friend of George Anderson.  The Falconer name has an honored place in our history and some descendants still live in the Chicago area.

The Curling Club was to hold their annual meeting on November 13, 1866, and it was announced that a new set of curling stones had been received from Canada.

The web site of the Illinois Curling Association shows 5 Illinois Curling Clubs:  Northbrook, Highland Park, Kankakee, Glenview and the Oak Park Curling Club which apparently plays at the Exmoor Club in Highland Park.

A Proquest search of the Chicago Tribune from 1860-1978 shows 13,038 references to curing.  I have only read the first 100.

More later.

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