The curlers in the first draw of the Strathcona Cup competition in Russell were piped onto the ice by Piper Stewart James. Thompson Goddard Photo

RUSSELL – There was an air of excitement at the Russell Curling Club on Jan. 31 as Scottish curlers competed against curlers from Russell, Metcalfe, Navan, and Winchester as part of the 2023 Strathcona Cup competition.

This is one of the oldest international curling competitions and is held every five years alternating between Canada and Scotland. Information on the Strathcona Cup website noted 60 Scottish curlers, comprising three groups of five teams, will be competing in 350 games with 1,400 Canadian curlers this year.

East Tour Captain Douglas Reid explained there are three teams of curlers which have played across Canada, named the West Tour, Central Tour, and East Tour. He mentioned that curlers are only allowed to come and compete in the Strathcona Cup on one occasion. Members of all three curling tours will meet in Ottawa on Feb. 2. Each curling team will play one final game against Canadian curlers, with a banquet to be held and the winner of the Strathcona Cup announced. The East Tour teams have played in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Eastern Ontario.

The Strathcona Cup was commissioned by Sir Donald Smith, 1st Baron, Strathcona and Mount Royal for an international curling competition between Canadian and Scottish curlers. Scottish born Smith emigrated to Canada and played a pivotal role in Canadian history in political, social, economic, and philanthropic areas, serving as Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom before retiring to Scotland. Reid explained the cup was so valuable that it remains in a secure location at all times, and he understands the cup was first presented in 1902 when the competition began.

“The hospitality has been amazing,” commented Reid, who mentioned members of the East Tour teams were welcomed everywhere before noting the “competition had been tough but fair.” Chairman of the Strathcona Cup Curling Committee for the Russell Curling Club Jim Campbell explained in 2013, that the Russell Curling Club participated in the Strathcona Cup competitions. This year there will be two draws of four games each between Canadian and Scottish curlers.

Team members were piped into the curling rink by Piper Stewart James, with the Grade Six class from Russell Public School singing “Flower of Scotland”, the national anthem of Scotland followed by “O’Canada” the national anthem of this country. Following the ceremonial throwing of the first curling rock, and the Piper’s Toast, the teams began to play this sport. The first draw saw curlers from Russell playing the Scottish curling teams, with the second draw having curlers from Metcalfe, Navan, Russell and Winchester competing. There is an evening banquet planned for competitors and guests, that will end the 2023 Strathcona Cup Competition in Russell.