A 110-year-old, sterling silver trophy prized for its association with friendly competition and mutual heritage could be back in the hands of Vancouver curlers.
The Strathcona Cup — carved with images of the winter sport, the insignia of the Royal Caledonia Curling Club and the castles Edinburgh and Stirling — is the reason Scots and Canadians have been sweeping into each other’s houses for more than a century. The cup, however, no longer leaves Scotland. If the Canadians win on home soil, they will not be drinking from the chalice since it is too valuable to travel.
As well as being a glistening, two-foot-tall trophy with a 14-inch-wide bowl, the Strathcona Cup is a two-nation amateur men’s bonspiel that’s been played between the two countries roughly once every five years since 1903. On Jan. 11, the Vancouver Curling Club (VCC) hosts the Scots on their western tour of Canada, part of a massive multi-match competition held in three regions of the country.
The 20 Scots travelling to Vancouver will play roughly 27 games and visit at least 35 different clubs between Victoria, Powel River, Calgary and Lloydminster, said Bruce Beveridge, an organizer for the western tournament.
“It’s a continued fellowship,” he said. “There have been 22 competitions held either in Scotland or Canada in 110 years.”
2013 marks the 22nd Strathcona Cup, a competition the two countries have split down the middle since the first rock was thrown. Canada, which won the last contest in 2009, holds the edge with 11 wins over Scotland’s 10. The winner is determined by compiling the scores for all 200 to 400 matches held across the country.
The Cup stops at 11 B.C. curling clubs, including the VCC at the Hillcrest Community Centre, from Jan. 10 to 16. At the same time, two more teams of Scots will tour Central and Eastern Canada in the regions of Ottawa and Halifax before all players head to Toronto.
In 2009, to mark 100 years since they first played in Scotland for the Strathcona Cup, Canadians travelled to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Lockerbie and other locales.
Ron Avery was the only Vancouver curler among those competitors three years ago and this year is helping host at the VCC.
VCC manager Willa Thorpe said curling begins in the early afternoon Jan. 11 and all eight sheets of ice will see action.
“Four of eight sheets of ice will be used to play against the Scots and we will actually be filling up the whole rink,” said Thorpe.
A men’s draw of Vancouver teams will play alongside the Strathcona Cup players.
“The whole ice shed will be busy,” said Thorpe. “Rather than just having the Scots play the Canadians, we’ll have Canadians playing each other as well.”