Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame Recognizes Historically Significant Teams

The Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame & Museum Inc. (MCHoF&M) has announced the induction of five “historically significant” teams into the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame.

W.H Burns 1932 Team
Manitoba’s First Olympians

The announcement was made December 3, 2021 in a virtual (Zoom) news conference.

“With the shutdown caused by the pandemic, we hope to induct the 2020 Class of Curling Hall of Fame honourees at a banquet in May of 2022,” says MCHoF&M President Peter Nicholls. “With the enforced delay in our normal routine, we have had an opportunity to go back and look at Manitoba’s curling history and we have identified five teams who we feel have historically significant accomplishments in our history.”

The normal Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame induction process is for new inductees to be announced and then celebrated at a formal induction ceremony. However, with this 2021 group of inductee teams, as the most recent of these accomplishments took place nearly 70 years ago, the teams have been announced and formally inducted into the Manitoba Curling Hall of at the same time.

Given that the attention of Canadian Curling was focussed all last week on the curlers chasing the Olympic curling dream, it is fitting that the group of “historically significant” teams includes the first Manitoba team to compete at the Olympics, the men’s and women’s teams which won the first competitive events under Manitoba Curling Association auspices in this province, the first team to win back-to-back MCA Bonspiel Aggregate awards, and the first women’s team to win at a level above a provincial championship level.

These five team accomplishments range across more than half a century of Manitoba curling from 1889 to 1955.

A brief summary of accomplishments follows. The complete story is available at the 2021 Hall of Famers page on the newly launched MCHoF&M website (mbcurlmuseum.com).

1889: The Sam Harstone team from Winnipeg’s new Granite Curling Club won the New York Life Challenge Cup – the FIRST championship of the Annual Bonspiel of the Manitoba Branch of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club (later the MCA Bonspiel). Representative of all of the teams who competed in that first bonspiel, helping to establish the 135+ year tradition of the MCA Bonspiel (now Manitoba Open).

The 1901 Hector McLean Team

1900-1901-1902: The Hector McLean teams from Holland were the first apparent ‘dynasty’ in Manitoba Men’s curling. They won the 1900 MCA Bonspiel championship (New York Life Challenge). In 1901 & 1902, they won the “Special Aggregate” in the first two years such an honour was presented.   

The McLean team’s MCA Bonspiel domination for the three year period was “winning at the highest possible level” as there was not yet a provincial championship and teams from far and wide acknowledged that the MCA bonspiel was effectively a world championship of the time.

1914-1915: In the style of the time, the record books show Mrs. F.R. Munro’s team from Strathcona Ladies CC were the winners of “The Ladies Competition” which was added to the MCA Bonspiel in 1914 and they won again in 1915.

The 1914 Munro Team

This pre-dated formation of the Manitoba Ladies Curling Association by about a decade and is believed to be the first formal competitive event for women curlers in Manitoba.

 (MCHoF&M acknowledges the standard of the time, recording the women’s names only as Mrs. __, as unacceptable today. Research continues to try to determine given names. However, we do not believe the absence of these names should preclude these women from a rightful place in the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame.)

1932: In 1924 and again in 1932, curling was a demonstration sport at the Olympics. In 1932, at Lake Placid, an international competition occurred involving four teams from Canada and four from USA. The four teams from each country played the four teams from the other country. Manitoba’s team, skipped by William H. Burns of Portage, was the only team to win all four games and hence was awarded the gold medals – Manitoba’s first Olympians.

The 1955 Wright Team

1955: The Ethel Wright team from Flin Flon was the first Manitoba team to win the Western Canadian Ladies Curling Championship. As the first Manitoba women’s team to win at a level above the provincial championship level, the Wright team helped create the competitive opportunity for the many champions who have followed.

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