M2000.38.100.1-2 | Curling brooms
Gift of The Montreal Thistle Curling Club
© McCord Museum
Keys to History
The equipment required for curling is very basic: a stone, a broom and an icy surface. The Scottish immigrants who brought curling to Canada found virtually ideal conditions for their sport in their adopted country: long, cold winters and plenty of lakes and rivers. The Montreal Curling Club, the city's first, was established in 1807. Others followed, including the Thistle Curling Club, founded in 1843.
Research: Josée Bergeron, under the supervision of Joanne Burgess, Ph.D, Laboratoire Laboratoire d'histoire et de patrimoine de Montréal & Canadian Forum for Public Research on Heritage, UQÀM.
It was initially thought that the broom served to shift the air from in front of the sliding stone, but studies have revealed that the real purpose of sweeping is to polish the icy surface.
Early on, games were played out of doors, on the natural ice of lakes and rivers. But clubs soon started setting up in abandoned warehouses and later moved into permanent facilities. The Thistle Curling Club provided its members with a covered rink in 1844, but its first real building wasn't erected until 1913.
Owing to a lack of suitable local rock, Canadian curlers made their own "stones" out of iron, wood or cast iron filled with concrete. Some clubs imported their stones from Scotland. In Quebec, the use of granite for stones did not become common until the 1950s.
In Canada, the household broom dominated until the mid-20th century, chiefly because of its width. The Scots used narrower brooms.