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The Montreal Thistle Curling Club Fonds (P148)

P148/E1.1 Card sent by Captain K. R. Mackenzie. Extract from a scrapbook of The Montreal Thistle Curling Club (detail), 1939-1944. Gift of The Montreal Thistle Curling Club, The Montreal Thistle Curling Club Fonds P148, P148/E1.1 © McCord Museum

A cigarette a day keeps the doctor away

"I would like to express the sincere thanks of the Medical Section of the R.M.R. for the further shipment of cigarettes received from the Montreal Thistle Curling Club. They are always very much appreciated."

This card addressed to the members of the Montreal Thistle Curling Club was written by Captain K. R. Mackenzie, a Canadian soldier stationed on the European front from 1939 to 1944. In it, the author expresses his gratitude for the shipment of "always very much appreciated" cigarettes sent to the Medical Section of the Royal Montreal Regiment (R.M.R.).

Over a million Canadians served full-time in the Canadian Forces during the Second World War. Tobacco was very popular with soldiers and seen as a special treat that could raise troop morale. Consequently, it featured prominently in the many packages sent overseas by those at home. Evidence of a "golden age" for the tobacco industry, this document shows that doctors enjoyed smoking just as much as the other soldiers did.

Since then, conclusive evidence has established that smoking leads to numerous cancers and cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive diseases. Today, it is estimated that one out of two regular smokers will die as a result of their tobacco use, making cigarettes, cigarillos and other tobacco products even more dangerous than war.

P148 Montreal Thistle Curling Club Fonds. - 1843-1995. - 179.2 cm of textual records. - 7 drawings. - 136 photographs.

Administrative History

Originating in Scotland, the game of curling became very popular in the 19th century in Montreal and other Canadian cities. Growing interest in the sport inspired the founding of the Montreal Thistle Curling Club on December 19, 1843, by a small group of Montrealers made up of Messrs. D. McTavish, Robert Speirs, John Bethune, Richard Harrison, John Auld, John and William Greenshields, J. B. Torry, Robert Muir, J. Simpson and John Armour, Jr.

Club members initially played outdoors on the frozen St. Lawrence River and then two years later created a rink in an old flour shed near the Lachine Canal. The Montreal Thistle Curling Club began competing against other sports teams from Quebec and Ontario in 1845. The Club was incorporated in 1870 and inaugurated its new rink on St. Monique Street on December 24 of the same year. However, in 1911, the Canadian National Railway Company expropriated the association's land and property for an expansion project. The following year, the Montreal Thistle Curling Club established its new site at 1490 Fort Street. The 1930s were key years in the association's history as it gained recognition at numerous competitions. In 1933, the Club won five major trophies: the Jubilee Trophy, the Governor General's Trophy, the Holt Renfrew Cup, the Quebec City Cup and the Heather Bonspiel.

Interest in curling started to fade in the late 1970s and the Montreal Thistle Curling Club lost a significant number of members, causing its revenues drop even as its tax burden rose. One hundred and fifty-six years after its founding, financial difficulties forced the association to close its physical doors in the fall of 1999.

Source: The Gazette, December 18, 1943, Vol. CLXXII, No. 302, p. 16.

Scope and Content

The Montreal Thistle Curling Club Fonds chronicles the history of one of Canada's first sports clubs and documents the practice of curling in Quebec from the mid-19th to the late 20th century.

The fonds contains the governing documents (by-laws) of the Montreal Thistle Curling Club along with a book commemorating its 100th anniversary and a booklet listing the rules of curling. There are seven original drawings that illustrate the various designs proposed for the Club's official flag. In addition, the fonds includes administrative documents like meeting notices, agendas, minutes, business plans and reports presented at various Montreal Thistle Curling Club meetings. The fonds also holds a ledger listing property maintenance fees, human resource expenses and other related expenditures. A contract authorizing the Montreal Thistle Curling Club to use the Thistle Land Company's property is part of this collection as well.

The association's sports and social activities are reflected in member directories, forms, lists, press clippings, obituaries, floor plans, speeches, programs, advertising flyers, posters, scrapbooks and menus. Correspondence provides information on the application process, the status of members and the banquet held for the Montreal Thistle Curling Club's 150th anniversary. In addition, the fonds contains photographs of Club members on various occasions like luncheons, tournaments and awards ceremonies.

Source of title proper: Title based on the content of the fonds.

Dates of creation: Several documents are undated.

Physical condition: The documents preserved in this fonds are in good condition. However, the annual golf tournament diary is damaged and shows traces of mildew. Some scrapbooks are also in fragile and/or unstable condition (torn binding, yellowed scotch tape, loose documents, brittle pages, dark rings, etc.).

Immediate source of acquisition: This fonds is the result of several separate donations to the McCord Museum by the Montreal Thistle Curling Club in 1984, 1985, 1990, 1996 and 2000 (M2000.38.X). The Lake St. Louis Historical Society also donated part of the fonds, which came from the archives of the Macdonald Tobacco Company, in 2009 (M2009.57.X) and in 2013 (M2013.48.X).

Language: The documents are in English and French, but primarily in English.

Finding aids: Lists providing an inventory of the contents of the various donations are preserved in the information files of the Textual Archives collection.

Related groups of records: Other records related to curling are preserved in the Royal Montreal Curling Club Fonds (P763) and the Rita Proulx Fonds (P696). Documents produced by the Montreal Thistle Curling Club are also preserved in the P763/H1 subseries.

General note: The McCord Museum's Decorative Arts collection includes several objects donated by the Montreal Thistle Curling Club (M977.78.1-34 and M2000.38.X). The Costume and Textiles collection also contains two jackets (M2000.38.92-93) and one tie (M2000.38.94) donated to the Museum by the Club in 2000.


The fonds is divided into the following series, subseries and files:

  • P148/A Governance

  • P148/B Meetings

  • P148/C Membership

  • P148/D Celebrations and Social Activities
    • P148/D1 150th Anniversary
      • P148/D1,1 Organization
      • P148/D1,2 Correspondence
      • P148/D1,3 Financial records
    • P148/D2 Trophies
    • P148/D3 Social events

  • P148/E Communications
    • P148/E1 Correspondence
        • P148/E1.1 Thistle Curling Club. Tobacco Fund Letters and Cards from our Boys Overseas [scrapbook]. - 1939-1944. - 1 textual record ; 38 x 26 cm.
          Digitized document
        • Scope and Content: This scrapbook illustrates Canada's war effort during the Second World War and the civil and military involvement of Canadian citizens. It contains cards and letters sent to the Montreal Thistle Curling Club by soldiers on the European front between 1939 and 1944.

          According to the correspondence, the Montreal club would send packs of cigarettes to Canadians serving in the armed forces. In return, the soldiers would write cards -- provided by the Macdonald Tobacco Company -- to express their gratitude and acknowledge receipt of the packages.

          Source of title proper: Based on the title of the document.

          Physical condition: The cards were pasted into the scrapbook with scotch tape that has now yellowed. Some scrapbook pages are stuck together and/or torn.

          Language: The documents are in English.

    • P148/E2 Speeches
    • P148/E3 Newsletters
    • P148/E4 Newspaper clippings and scrapbooks
        • P148/E4.1 Montreal Thistle Curling Club No. 1 [scrapbook]. - 1843-1881. - 1 textual record ; 45 x 30 cm.
          Digitized document
        • Scope and Content: This scrapbook is devoted primarily to the organization of one of Canada's first curling clubs and documents the vitality of this sport in Quebec during the mid-19th century.

          Covering the period from the founding of the Montreal Thistle Curling Club in 1843 to the year 1881, the scrapbook contains a number of records illustrating the association's sports and social activities. There are, for example, letters bearing the official seal of the Governor General of Canada that were sent with the gold and silver medals won by the Club in 1875 at the Governor General's Trophy competition. Press clippings report on the Montreal Thistle Curling Club's banquets and annual meetings as well as tournaments in which it played against other clubs. The fonds also includes telegrams, invitations, invoices, account statements, members lists, reports listing game results, copies of scorecards, regulations, menus and programs.

          Source of title proper: Based on the title of the document.

          Physical condition: The scrapbook is in good condition, but the pages are brittle and fragile. Several pages are stained with ink, due to capillary action.

          Language: The documents are in English.

  • P148/F Finance

  • P148/G Property

  • P148/H Photographs


Last update: August 30, 2017