Scots arrive in Port Elgin for the International Strathcona Cup

Twenty Scottish curlers arrived on Sunday morning, January 15th in Port Elgin.

The curlers were piped in to the Port Elgin Curling Club and, after appropriate ceremony including a “wee dram”, the teams took to the ice.

While the 20 Scots participated in Port Elgin, two other groups of twenty are also touring other parts of Canada and will come together in Ottawa in early February for a final celebration. Each of the tours visits approximately 24 clubs and the scores of all games will be accumulated to determine the winner.

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The Strathcona Cup, is the world’s oldest international curling competition with a rich history that began in 1903 when Scottish curlers visited Canada. Six years later, a Canadian team was assembled to visit Scotland in 1909.

The President of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC) in 1909 was Lord Strathcona (Sir Donald Smith), a Scot who emigrated to Canada in his late teens. He earned his fortune in Canada, was a Commissioner and Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, President of the Bank of Montreal, and twice a Member of Parliament. He was a good friend of Sir John A. Macdonald and was best known for financing the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway, a key achievement in MacDonald’s political success. He, in fact, is famously pictured hammering “the last spike” of the transcontinental railway at Craigellachie, B.C. on November 7th, 1885.

In his later years, Sir Smith returned to Scotland and in 1909, while President of the RCCC, he commissioned a trophy for competition between Canada and Scotland and the Strathcona Cup was born.  The Cup has scenes etched onto it from both Canada and Scotland.

Special Guests Sybil Mercer and Bill Streeter

Among the guests of honour who attended the event were Mayor Luke Charbonneau, William (Bill) Streeter and Sybil Mercer.

Streeter and Mercer, with Port Elgin Curling Club President Earl Anderson, were also part of the welcoming Committee as the Scottish teams arrived.  The visitors were piped into the Club by piper Steve Wolfe under an arch of curling brooms.



Bill Streeter, local historian said that, “The Strathcona Cup is a wonderful tradition, steeped in friendship between the two countries but also includes some pretty serious competition.”

Streeter officially started the game by delivering the first rock. Formerly an avid curler, he previously played with and was ‘courier’ for the Canadian team when it made a tour to Scotland as part of the Strathcona Cup. (The courier maintains schedules for the team ensuring events stay on time)

Sybil Mercer (2nd from left) photo 1990

Mercer was also a long-time curler and during the 1980s served as president of the Southampton Curling Club (SCC). She also coached the junior men’s team to the Ontario finals and served on the board of the Canadian Ladies Curling Association (CLCA). Mercer also travelled to Scotland in 1990 as part of the Canadian women’s team that included curlers from across Canada and again as part of the Canadian mixed-team.

Mayor Charbonneau welcomed the visitors and told them of the close kinship with Scottish heritage that exists in the region.  “With names like our own Bruce County and places like Kincardine, Arran, Culross and others, we have close ties to our Scottish history.”

The Scots were also treated to some of Port Elgin’s finest curlers who, on three of the four sheets, handily defeated the visitors.

Following the lunch of fresh pickerel fish prepared and served by Club volunteers, the Scottish curlers were back on the bus to head for London (ON).