M2000.38.97 | Curling stone
Iron and stone
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.
The stone is essential to the game. It must be hard enough to withstand collisions and must have a convex sliding surface to reduce friction and maximize distance travelled. The handle allows the curler to aim the stone. The best stones are made of extremely hard igneous rock, often granite.
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.