Curling, “The Forgotten Fifteen”

Dear Editor,

As Manitoban’s, we have one of the crown jewels of the curling world, the Winnipeg Bonspiel, which preceded the Brier by 38 years. The New York Life trophy (winner) had been played for 16 years before Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces in 1905. Prior to 1909 the Manitoba Curling Association was the Manitoba branch of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club of Scotland. The 1903 annual (yearbook) shows 171 entries with affiliated clubs from Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Edmonton and Fort William (now Thunder Bay). 

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The Winnipeg bonspiel has come full circle. It started in 1889 with a single event (New York Life Trophy) declaring the winner until 1905. The trophy was lost in 1905. The bonspiel changed to a Grand Aggregate format with the rink earning the most wins in multiple events being the winner. The Charles N. Harris trophy was awarded to the bonspiel winners from 1906-1985. The Grand Aggregate format continued with the Labatt Grand Aggregate from 1986-2008. In 2009 the Bonspiel reverted back to a single event format. Today the team winning the Asham Curling Supplies trophy is declared winner. The bonspiel is well documented in annuals from 1889 to 2013. The Curl Manitoba website shows the Charles N. Harris trophy winners from 1906-1985 under “Retired Trophies”. If you search, you can find the forgotten fifteen disguised under the Canada Life trophy with no recognition of the New York Life trophy or the fact that these fifteen teams (two repeat winners) represent seventeen years of Winnipeg Bonspiel winners. These winners came from Lindsay, ON, Fort William, ON, Neepawa, Carberry, Holland as well as Winnipeg rinks from Assiniboine, Granite and Thistle clubs. The Labatt Grand Aggregate winners and trophy are not mentioned at all. I am not sure why Curl Manitoba will not recognize 132 years of bonspiel winners.

If you want to show your pride for Manitoba’s rich curling history and preserving our past before it is lost forever please e-mail Hall of Fame committee members Resby Coutts, Bill Biehl, Peter Nichol, Sharon Thiessen Woods, Carlene Strand, Debbie Schween, Jamie Snydal, Heather Helston, and Bev Harris, along with Curl Manitoba executive director Craig Baker

Les Ferris

Holland, MB


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