Scottish settlers brought the sport of curling to Canada. They made curling "rocks" from wooden blocks, and later shaped them from stones. At first the game was played out-of-doors, but as it grew in popularity, special indoor curling rinks were built.

Curlers slid the rock across the ice toward a bull's-eye target painted under the ice. The goal was to slide a rock fast enough so that it traveled across the ice, but slow enough that it stopped in the smallest circle of the target - the bull's eye. Sweepers who held brooms, swept furiously in front of the stone, smoothing the ice so that hopefully, the stone would reach the target.

Wooden Curling Stone

Curling Stone This mid-nineteenth century "stone" of smoothed burled wood is 26cm in diameter x 11.9cm high. On the top is a continuous ridge forming a 19.3cm diameter circle. A metal and wooden handle (12cm long) is attached to the top of the stone within the ridge. On the underside of the stone, there are 8 circles, 2.3cm in diameter, arranged around a 1.9cm square in the center. The circles may be the ends of metal plugs inserted in the wood to provide weight.

When the stone was donated to the Museum's collection, it was reported that the maker of this stone was a Scots immigrant to Ontario who may have made the stone in Ontario, or brought it with him from Scotland during the nineteenth century.

So great was the enthusiasm for curling in Canada that as early as 1870 a challenge was sent to Scotland inviting her to test the skill of her players against the curlers of the new world... Curling enjoyed a heyday during the 1880s and 1890s. Boroughs, hamlets, towns, and cities participated in the game, and many arranged bonspiels with attractive trophies and prizes which were avidly competed for. Howell, Sports & Games in Canadian Life, p. 87-88.


The Contemporary Game

The graphic above is of a centenary Curling Rink. As may be seen from the many national flags on the left of the picture, Curling is now played in many countries and is an Olympic Game. It is played on a rink such as the one pictured above and the game has elements of both lawn bowling and horseshoe pitching. It's a game for four persons (two on a team) who slide heavy stones (rocks) over smooth ice at a target at the end of the rink. To make the stone travel farther, a broom is used by one of the team to remove loose or melted ice particles from the ice during play. A detailed explanation of the play of the game may be found on the Web at

Last update March 2, 2010