Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Silver Broom has a home

In July last year, we asked (see here) if anyone knew the whereabouts of the Silver Broom, the trophy that was awarded to the winners of the Air Canada Silver Broom World Curling Championship, last played for in 1985. Nobody responded to our plea, but this week a sharp-eyed follower of this blog pointed us to an article in the Winnipeg Free Press, by Paul Wiecek.

The Silver Broom has been found, and has pride of place at the Winnipeg Granite Club! Here are extracts from Wiecek's story (the link is above, but just in case that disappears......)

Broom finds a home
Abandoned for years, curling's rescued trophy now sits in honour at the Granite
Paul Wiecek 6/12/200

It took the long way home. The very long way.

But 23 years after it was retired, one of curling's most iconic symbols -- the Air Canada Silver Broom trophy -- has finally found a dignified resting place right here in the city whose curlers won it three times.

The circuitous route that the trophy took to get here -- and the discovery of a fraternal twin in a tiny club in Switzerland -- is a story of a famous trophy forgotten then rediscovered, and the perseverance of one Winnipeg man in rescuing what was once the ultimate prize in all of curling.

"It had basically been sitting for about 14 years collecting dust in an Air Canada warehouse," says Jamie Hay, who used to work for the airline. "I figured that's no place for it... And so now it's here at the Granite (curling club), because I couldn't think of a better place than that."

Hay's long and twisting relationship with the Silver Broom begins in 1994. Some friends of his were playing in a bonspiel in Switzerland when they walked into the curling club's lounge and saw the Silver Broom trophy hanging on the wall.

They took a picture of their discovery and related the story to Hay, who filed it away in the back of his mind as a bit of an oddity.

And that's where the thought stayed until 1998, when an Air Canada vice-president told Hay that the company was thinking about starting a museum and was trying to reacquire its memorabilia. Hay told the VP of his friend's discovery in Switzerland and urged the airline to try and reacquire the trophy.

It was left at that until six months later, when the VP's assistant called Hay to inform him that the trophy had been discovered in a Montreal warehouse.

Hay wondered how the trophy somehow transported itself from Switzerland to Montreal. And he didn't hesitate to answer when the assistant asked Hay what she should do with the trophy, the museum plans apparently shelved. "Send it to me," Hay said.

A couple of days later, a huge crate arrived in Winnipeg. When Hay opened it, he was shocked to discover a massive wooden trophy with a silver broom attached, but which didn't look anything like the one in Switzerland that he'd seen the photo of.

It turns out that there were actually two Silver Broom trophies. Both had a silver broom that detached from its base, but the bases were different -- the one in Switzerland, which was awarded from 1968-78 was a plaque, but the one Hay was looking at, which was awarded from 1979-85 and was designed by a Canadian artist, was a massive piece of carved walnut.

(The trophy) has been to Calgary for the Canadian senior curling championships and it's been to an Air Canada bonspiel in Saskatoon. It spent a winter being displayed at the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame at the downtown Bay and it spent two winters at the Fort William Curling Club, home of the man who last won it in 1985 -- Al Hackner.

And then last spring, Hay, a former president of the Granite Curling Club, hatched a plan with some fellow club members to put the trophy on display at Canada's oldest curling club.

A beautiful oak case was built by club member Don Supeene and the trophy was put on display in the club's second-floor dining room, sharing space with the club's almost-as-famous massive fireplace.

Don Duguid, who won the Silver Broom in 1970 and 1971, says it's the perfect resting place for a piece of curling history. "Where else would you put it?" Duguid asks. "It's the Mother Club and that trophy belongs there. It's a great spot."

Orest Meleschuk, who made it three world championships in a row for Winnipeg by winning the Silver Broom in 1972, says Hay deserves full credit for rescuing the trophy before Air Canada got into financial trouble a few years ago. "If Jamie hadn't found it, it could have ended up anywhere. Who knows -- it might have ended up at auction."

In the long run, Hay has a more ambitious plan for the trophy. Two ambitious plans, actually. "My opinion is that this thing should be sitting in the Canadian curling hall of fame... or it could be used as the championship trophy again. But there isn't a Canadian hall, and they're using another trophy right now at the worlds.

"So what do we do with it? The Granite seemed like a good place until we figure that out."

The Winnipeg Free Press photo shows L-R Derek Hay, Eric Guy, Don Supeene and Jamie Hay with the Silver Broom.


Anonymous said...

What a phenomenal story. Who is the sharp-eyed blogally who deserves so much gratitude?

David Smith.

James Hay said...

The first silver broom was awarded from 68-76 and the second from 77-85.
All the world trophies were on display at the 2009 Moncton Worlds last week; the Scotch Cup, both Silver Brooms, the Hexagon trophy and the current Ford trophy. Large photos of the winning teams were on the wall behind the trophies. Very impressive display.
Rgds, Jamie Hay

James Hay said...

Could sombody please advise how I can post photos on this site?
I have some recent photos of all the world curling trophies. And yes, I'm the guy from the Free Press article.

Bob Cowan said...

Yes James

I know who you are. Please contact me by email at


Bob Cowan

Unknown said...

Any idea if there is an Albany, NY team on that trophy? I believe my dad and his team won the silver broom some years back. He's 88 now and would love to let him know if his name is on the trophy.

Unknown said...

the article says that the Granite Club in Winnipeg is Canada's oldest club, I thought the Royal Montreal Curling Club has that title?

Bob Cowan said...

I too thought that the Royal Montreal was Canada's oldest club. I don't know why Paul Wiecek would say that the Granite club was.