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Those who curl regularly will likely receive a curling pin at some stage. Curlers who enter a bonspiel (curling tournament) normally receive a pin with the date and name of the curling event. Many curlers wear the pins on their jackets with pride. Some curlers are reluctant to wear pins on their jackets in case they fall off during the game and burn (touch) a stone, but generally it is easy to tell who the old-timers are at a bonspiel by the number of pins that they wear.
Most curling clubs have pins for curlers who win a draw during the season. Coaches and officials can also earn pins, normally given out by the Canadian Curling Association to those who have completed a prescribed program and to be worn only by those qualified to wear them.
Most curling clubs sell pins to club members as well as to those who might visit the club. These pins include regular curling pins from the club and also those that commemorate a special anniversary. Special pins are usually more expensive, elaborate and attractive. Many curlers have a combination of earned and purchased pins, but they do not wear them or store them in a systematic way. On occasion, one will find an old jacket with a few pins that will bring back fond memories of a bygone bonspiel.
Some curlers travel from event to event and systematically collect and trade pins -- many curlers have very large personal collections of pins. The Brier (men's championship), with its Brier patch, is a natural venue for collectors although summer bonspiels can also serve as a trading place. Collecting pins may be a means for people to develop friendships and share stories about their love of curling.
Institutions may get involved in collecting pins and putting them on display even during the off season. The Turner Curling Museum in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, is open year-round to visitors. It is Canada's first curling museum, displaying curling memorabilia from around the world, including 18,000 curling pins. Details about the museum can be found at Weyburn.net, (www.weyburn.net/attractions.html).
Curling Pin Links
The Canadian Curling Association (www1.curling.ca/store/index.asp) has an online store on its website. Click on "Pins" to find a variety of pins for sale including the popular Sandra Schmirler "Hand in Hand" pin. Proceeds from the sale of this pin are credited to the Sandra Schmirler Foundation.
Laurie Artiss Ltd., The Pin People® (www.thepinpeople.ca/) designs and sells pins around the world. This company partners with the Canadian Curling Association.
In 1935 the Scottish lassie wearing the Macdonald of Sleat tartan kilt became the distinctive trademark of Export cigarettes, a brand produced by the Macdonald Tobacco Company. The Scottish lassie appeared on cigarette packages and then on billboards in curling rinks as Macdonald Tobacco sponsored the Brier from 1927 until 1979, a span of over 50 years. The very name Brier was actually the name of a tobacco brand sold by Macdonald Tobacco.
Macdonald Tobacco sponsored the Canadian women's national championship in the 1970s and the championship was called the Lassie. The first Lassie was first played in 1972 and the arrangement lasted until 1979, when Macdonald Tobacco withdrew its support of the event.
The Scottish Lassie still remains a recognizable symbol to many curlers.
Curling, like golf, is a sport where etiquette and traditions are emphasized. In curling, players shake hands before the game and wish one another "good curling". At the end of the game they shake hands again and thank one another for the game. The players on the winning team buy the first drink for the losing team. The two teams sit together and socialize, discussing the curling game just played or any other topic that might come up.
Curling clubs often have printed rules of etiquette to foster a spirit of sportsmanship and good fun. One common rule is that curlers should congratulate teammates and opponents for good shots but that no curler should pass an adverse remark or gesture about a poor shot or smile at an opponent's misfortune. Another common rule is that players should not distract their opponents when they are delivering a stone and that they should stand still and not wander around the ice.
At the national level, the Canadian Curling Association has adopted a code of ethics as an official supplement to the rules of curling. Two sections of the rules, in particular, "The Curlers' Code of Ethics" and "Fair Play", show how much fair play and ethics are a part of curling. The rules of curling are available on the Canadian Curling Association's (www.curling.ca/content/GoCurling/rulesOfCurling.asp) website.
Warren Hansen, in Curling : The History, The Players, The Game, has a chapter entitled "Rules and Etiquette". In the chapter, he mentions that the code of ethics was adopted to ensure that all curlers are aware of their personal responsibilities. He writes that " to the dismay of many, officiating and rules enforcement made its first appearance at the 1981 brier." (p. 98) However, in most curling games played, curlers still police themselves.
Doug Maxwell, in Canada Curls: The Illustrated History of Curling in Canada has an interesting chapter entitled "Victoria's Influence: The Moral Imperative." He states that "in the case of curling, the central tenets of behaviour, both of yesterday and today, are derived from Victorian times." (p. 61) No true gentleman cheated at curling and that attitude still exists today. He writes that "obedience to the unenforceable" is a central tenet, the very foundation of curling.
Up until recent times, some churches in Canada favoured a particularly strict observance of Sunday. In fact, there was a federal act, called the Lord's Day Act of 1907, to help enforce observance of Sunday. The act prohibited sport, entertainment and almost all commerce on Sundays. There was similar strictness in some circles in Scotland. Curling and curlers were not exempt from these restrictions and there are instances in Scotland where curlers were criticized for curling on Sunday. The best known of these was Bishop Graham of Orkney -- in 1638 he was accused of curling on the Sabbath.
Scottish curling team touring Canada, Winnipeg, 1903
When Scottish curlers visited Canada and the United States in 1902-03, their trip through Canada went very well except for an incident in Toronto in January 1903. Rev. Dr. Milligan of Toronto criticized from the pulpit the Scottish curlers, and in particular, their captain, Rev. John Kerr, for visiting Niagara Falls on a Sunday. The Scottish curlers did not curl on Sunday, but had merely visited the well-known tourist site. Many Torontonians and others were embarrassed by this criticism and the fact that it was directed at visitors to the country.
John Kerr, on his return to Toronto, chose to respond to the criticism through a letter to the editor of The Globe. The cleverly worded letter shows Kerr's more relaxed attitude as he suggests that the Rev. Dr. Milligan show more tolerance. It is coincidental that the incident took place on Robbie Burns Day, January 25th. Burns would very likely have sided with the Scots who enjoyed their relaxing visit to the Falls.
Every sport has terms or expressions that are peculiar to that sport or words that are everyday words but have a special meaning when applied to that sport. In curling, "rock" is the North American term commonly used for the curling stone, although the rule books in Canada continue to use stone rather than rock. "Stone" is used in other countries. A helpful glossary of terms (www.curling.ca/content/GoCurling/glossary.asp) is found at the Canadian Curling Association website.