Sunday, November 27, 2016

More than a new book - it's a celebration of curling

Review by Bob Cowan

The World Curling Federation had its origins with the international committee of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club back in 1966. This soon became the International Curling Federation, and then the World Curling Federation. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary this year, the organisation commissioned a book, and that has now been published. Fifty Years of the World Curling Federation: A Celebration is a wonderful photo essay. It is a celebration, not just of the WCF, but of curling, and illustrates brilliantly how the sport has changed over such a short period.

Fifty years covers my own involvement in curling. In the mid-1960s, curling was already a huge part of my life. But as a student, I had little interest in 'curling politics'. However, I had the opportunity to witness the impact of the early days of international curling, when curling fans in Scotland were quite taken aback by the sliding deliveries and the takeout game brought to Scotland by the Ernie Richardson teams, in the early Canada v Scotland encounters of the Scotch Cup. Curling changed back then. The World Curling Federation was 'born' in 1966. The sport was evolving fast, as it still is today. Students of curling's history will love this new book, as I do, as it encapsulates the changing face of the sport over fifty years.

The cover photo says it all. It is an image from 1978, the closing ceremony of the Air Canada Silver Broom in Winnipeg, with the USA team of Bob Nichols, Bill Strum, Tom Locken and Bob Christman on the top step of the podium, the Americans having just defeated Kristian Soerum's Norwegians in the final. There is not a vacant seat in the arena!

The Silver Broom years were a great time in world curling. The late Doug Maxwell was the executive director of that competition from 1968 through to 1985. I note that the book contains many images credited to the 'Doug Maxwell Archive'.

The new book, appropriately perhaps, was the work of a four man team. Mike Haggerty was the skip, coming up with an innovative approach to presenting the WCF's story in nine chapters: 'From the beginning', 'Governance developments', 'Championship history', 'Rise of women', 'Technical developments', 'What makes international curling special?', 'Characters in the game', 'The Olympic and Paralympic journey' and 'A look to the future'. Mike writes well, confidently and entertainingly. And he has so much experience of covering major international curling events from his first foray to a championship in person back in 1991.

The book's managing editor was Cameron MacAllister, the WCF's Communications and Media Relations Manager. Richard Gray, who looks after the organisation's own photo archive, contributed many of his own images from recent years, as well as collating others from many sources. This was a huge job - there are more than 350 photos in the book! Much credit must go the the book's designer, Douglas Colquhoun. He lets the photographs tell the story. Some are quite small, some occupy a whole page. Older black and white images sit comfortably beside modern colour images. The former represent the days of film, that being developed in small rooms at championship venues, often by Michael Burns, the official Silver Broom photographer, whose images feature prominently throughout.

And Michael Burns is featured in the book, above. Note that this photo has a detailed caption, but that is not the rule in the book.

Here, for example, is a page with simply a montage of photos to illustrate 'The Spirit of Curling'. Not a caption in sight. As someone who so often preaches that a photograph is incomplete without a caption, I was surprised to find myself approving of the caption-less approach in many parts of the book. It really works!

Here's another example page, with a single image. Not stated is that it is Ron Anton, 3rd player for Team Canada in 1974, in the foreground, although that is irrelevant to the point that the image conveys.

The book documents all the main events and challenges that our sport has faced over the years, and this is done in an attractive way. Such an 'anniversary book' could so easily have turned into a dry tome. It is definitely not that! It is not a book of championship facts and figures, which in any case can be easily viewed on the WCF website, under 'Historical Results'.

I especially liked the chapter on 'What makes international curling special', including pages on how the sport has been covered by the media in the past and present. Of course the formation of World Curling TV in 2004 was such a significant development, and the visual coverage of our sport online these days, enjoyed by so many, is one of the WCF's greatest achievements.

This being a review, I searched hard to find something - anything - to criticise. I have only found a couple of minor slips. The text is tight and there are few typos that I can see. The first women's junior championship was in 1988, not 1998 as it says in error on page 29.

An important omission, in my opinion, is that there is no mention of the role of volunteers, especially in the organisation and staging of major international events.

I would also have liked to have seen at least one photo showing the delivery of a curling stone from a chair using the cue. The 'delivery stick' is what really makes wheelchair curling possible, as well as extending the curling lives of many social curlers.

In one chapter, the book strays away from the '50 Year' story to the first Olympic curling in 1924 at the Chamonix International Winter Sports Week, retrospectively recognised as the first Olympic Winter Games. Being the pedant that I am, I should point out that the first international 'Curling Congress' was held on January 22, a few days before these Games were due to begin, rather than during the games as Mike writes in the book. This group, described in my article here, convened at the Hotel Majestic in Chamonix to decide, amongst other things, how that first Olympic curling competition should be run!

In the description of the events of 1924, on page 75, I found one photograph which should not have appeared in the book. It is described with the caption 'Curling at the first Olympic Games', which technically may be quite correct, but the included photograph has no relevance to the actual Olympic curling matches. It originates from the IOC archives, see here, where it is described as 'Curling in Chamonix - The Swedish and British teams. Chamonix 1924 - During the events. The Swedish team (SWE) 2nd and the team of Great Britain (GBR) 1st.' This description is in error.

The photo actually shows three of the British reserves, with four players from the Swedish squad, and a 'mystery woman'. No women took part in the Olympic curling in 1924. I wrote about this odd photo here. The evidence points to this being a fun game, which took place on the Chamonix rink, after the official matches had taken place. The mystery woman could be Karl Erik Wahlberg's wife or daughter, or Carl August Kronlund's daughter, who were among Swedish supporters who travelled to Chamonix. I was disappointed to see this photo included in the new book, after it had previously been debunked! Still, until the IOC corrects its description, it will no doubt continue to appear in sports' publications.

The photo that should have been included in the WCF book is this one, showing the winners of the first Olympic Gold Medals for curling. L-R: Willie Jackson (skip), Tom Murray (2nd), Laurence Jackson (lead) and Robin Welsh (3rd), representing GB.

Minor criticisms aside, this is a book which rates as a most significant contribution to the curling library! It will undoubtedly be seen in future years as a resource to be cherished. Books about curling's history are rare things. This is amongst the best ... ever!

The official description of the book, see here, has, appropriately, been put together by Jolene Latimer and Jeffrey Au, the latest competition winners of the WCF Sports Media Trainee Programme. This programme itself is just one example of the innovations that the WCF has brought to the sport in recent years, away from the organisation of international competitions.

There is a hard back edition, and a soft cover. It cannot be purchased from retailers. If you want to have the book for your own library or coffee table, you need to contact the WCF headquarters in Perth. Or you can download pdf files of the book, to peruse on your computer or tablet. Find these here.

Current WCF President, Kate Caithness OBE, hosted the book's launch at the WCF headquarters in Perth last week. Here she is with Roy Sinclair, a former President, 2000-2006.

L-R: Richard Gray, Douglas Colquhoun, and Mike Haggerty. A job well done!

Incidentally, this is the team that puts together the WCF's excellent Annual Review each year. The 2015-16 edition of this can be downloaded here.

On a personal note, in just a few days time it will be one year since David Smith died. I have continued this Curling History website in his memory. He had an extensive collection of curling books. He too, I'm sure, would have loved this new book.

Photos are by Bob, except that of the rogue IOC image, and that of the 1924 Gold Medallists, which is from the 1924-25 Annual of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. Other images from 1924 can be found in my articles about the Chamonix Games, here, here, here, here and here. Lars Ingels has been extremely helpful in trying to establish the identity of the 'mystery woman'.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The Women Curlers of Buxton

Since starting to write about curling's women pioneers at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, see here, here and here. I've been on the lookout for photographic evidence of when 'mixed' or 'open' curling became accepted. When did men and women begin to play together on curling rinks?

Such evidence can be found in the image above. There's a game in progress, with both men and women involved in the play. The venue? The rink is in the Pavilion Gardens in the Derbyshire town of Buxton, ENGLAND! Dating old photographs can be difficult, but when real photos have been printed as postcards, and these have been mailed, the postmark is helpful. The postcard from which the above image has been scanned was sent in April 1909, and so the action therein must date from before that date.

The photographer who took this image was Robert Forgie Hunter, who would have been twenty-seven or twenty-eight years old. Read about his life here, and here.

The Buxton Curling Club was formed in 1890 and became affiliated to the Royal Caledonian Curling Club in 1904. The club's first pond was in the policies of Wye House, the residence of their 'patron' FK Dickson. In the years that followed the Buxton Curling Club had two other deep-water ponds, before moving home in 1906 to the shallow-water, Cairnie-style pond shown in the image above.

The Royal Caledonian Curling Club Annual for 1907-08 describes it in glowing terms, "The pond is the property of the Buxton Gardens Company, and is probably the highest pond in Great Britain, being situated in the lovely and famous Pavilion Gardens, 1029 feet above sea-level. Certainly if it is surpassed by any other pond in altitude, which is not probable, it can be surpassed by none in the beauty and charm of its surroundings, for it lies amidst twenty acres of gardens which are intersected by the windings of the Derbyshire Wye, whose source is within half a mile of the pond; while all round the gardens themselves lie the hills of The Peak, reaching in places the height of 2000 feet above sea-level.

The pond itself is lit by electricity, and will accommodate three rinks at present, an increase of two more rinks being in contemplation. The Gardens Company built it themselves, employing none but their own men, under the supervision of their curator, Mr George Taylor, late curator of Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, and a member of the club. It has been built on the same principle as have those of the Braids and Watsonian Clubs; and Mr Taylor received much information from the Watsonian Club, from Col Peter Forrest of Haremyres (Braids Club), and from WJ Ewart of the Edinburgh Northern Club. The pond has this winter given entire satisfaction."

At September 15, 1907, the club had 84 regular members. Buxton was one of 38 English curling clubs at that time, all affiliated to the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, within the First English Province. (A separate English Curling Association was formed in 1971.)

The following women were listed among Buxton CC's regular members in 1907: Mrs Graeme Dickson, Mrs CF Johnson, Mrs H Lancashire, Mrs RA Little, Mrs Arden (or Ayden), and Mrs P Shaw.

Mrs Dickson was the wife of the club's patron, and was the sole woman in the club's roster in 1906 before the move to the new pond in the Pavilion Gardens.

At September 15, 1908, a Mrs JH Harrison and a Miss Cookson can be found amongst the 'occasional members'.

I have listed these eight women as some of them are undoubtedly those who appear in the top photo, and that above, taken on the same occasion. It is again from a postcard, sent on December 31, 1909.

Here is a third, very clear image from a postcard sent on April 17, 1909, so dating before that time. It is not credited to Robert Hunter, so perhaps the curling women at Buxton caught the eye of other local photographers. The photo has been posed, and the circles recently scraped, perhaps prior to the beginning of a game.

Might it just be possible that someone can identify these women curlers? Of course, visitors to Buxton could become temporary members of the curling club for short periods, but I believe that those in the three photographs above are most likely to have been those listed in the club's returns in the Royal Club Annuals. As we know when the Pavilion Gardens pond was in use, and when the postcards were mailed, the photographs of the women curlers must have been taken in the winters of 1906-07, 1907-08, or 1908-09.

Here's an enhanced zoomed image of one of the players. Who is this woman?

Do the photographs tell us anything about the sport back then? The brooms are significant. One woman is holding her broom in an underhand grip, the other in an overhand grip.

And here's a closeup of the boots being worn by the woman on the right of the picture. I wonder what grip these gave on the ice!

There are two more curling photographs in the Annual for 1907-08, showing play on the Pavilion Gardens pond, and captioned as having been taken on Boxing Day 1906. One is credited to 'Hunter, Buxton'. It is not too clear, but it does look as if there is at least one woman playing with the men in one of these photographs.

Other images of curling at Buxton can be found online here and here, the latter captioned 'Curling at Buxton - A Ladies' Rink'.

More on early women's curling in a future article.

The top photo is a postcard by 'RF Hunter Photographer, 4 Station Approach, Buxton, Derbyshire'. The middle photo is annotated, 'Hunter Series 19. Copyright. Publishers WH Smith and Son and RF Hunter, Photo Specialist, Buxton'. The curling image is one of three winter activities shown in the postcard. The other photos are of cross country skiing and sledging. The bottom photo is also from a postcard but has no photographer credit.

ADDED LATER (July 2019): Here is another image of two women curlers on the Pavilion Gardens rink at Buxton which appeared in the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News of Saturday, February 13, 1909, found thanks to the British Newspaper Archive. Unfortunately the ladies are not named. Again, their footware, seen clearly on the curler on the left, is a far cry for that of today!

The photo is simply captioned, "Ladies curling at Buxton during the recent frost on the shallow pond in the Buxton gardens."

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cramp-bits, crampets, crampits, and tramps

My curling history research has taken me to many interesting places in the past year - sites of old curling ponds, curling huts, museums, art galleries, archive centres and libraries. It was a pleasure recently to return to my alma mater, and the library of the University of Glasgow, where I spent much time in the 1960s and 1970s. The University's Special Collections are housed in the top floor of the building. Of particular curling interest are copies of 'The Muses Threnodie', see here. What caught my eye in the Special Collections catalogue, when searching for 'curling', was 'Rules and regulations of the Jedburgh Curling Club, adopted at a general meeting held by them January 25, 1838'.

These few pages from 1838, printed by W Easton, are bound together with other items. Initially I did not see them as unusual, but then I came to Rule XIII: 'Each player to come furnished with two stones, crampets and a besom.'

Bringing one's own stones and a besom (broom) to play with is easy to understand. But 'crampets'? Confusion arises as this term nowadays refers to the flat metal sheets that supply a foothold on outside ice, see here for a picture. It makes no sense that Jedburgh members would all have been required to bring such crampets to the ice. The explanation is that 'crampet' has an earlier meaning. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, crampets were spikes that were attached to your boots or shoes to give a grip on the ice. Think of them as curling's 'crampons'!

Crampets were often spelled 'crampits'.

The earliest reference to crampets that I can find is in the Caledonian Mercury of Saturday, February 8, 1772, when a curling party's curling stones and 'crampits' were lost when the ice they were playing on was washed away.

Another early reference, from 1773, calls them 'cramp-bits'. This is in a poem by James Graeme which can be found online here. Here's part of it:

The goals are marked out; the centre each
Of a large random circle; distance scores
Are drawn between, the dread of weakly arms.
Firm on his cramp-bits stands the steady youth,
Who leads the game: Low o'er the weighty stone
He bends incumbent, and with nicest eye
Surveys the further goal, and in his mind
Measures the distance; careful to bestow
Just force enough: then, balanc'd in his hand,
He flings it on direct; it glides along
Hoarse murmuring, while, plying hard before,
Fail many a besom sweeps away the snow,
Or icicle, that might obstruct its course.

To add to the confusion on names, crampets were also referred to as 'tramps'.

This description of curling is from The Winter Season by James Fisher, written in 1810. This is available as a free ebook, here. On the page where the above appears, the author has added a footnote. This says, "For the information of our southern neighbours who may not be acquainted with the game of curling, so much practised in many parts of Scotland, it may not be amiss to observe, that the tramps are made of iron to go upon the feet, something after the form of stirrup irons, with sharp prominences at the bottom to prevent the curler from sliding while engaged in play."

We can find another description of what crampets were like in The Era, of Sunday March 1, 1840, within an article about curling. "The players formerly used to wear crampits, to enable them to stand steadily when they threw their stones: these were flat pieces of iron, with four spikes below, bound to the sole of the shoe with a strap and buckle."

Note that this article says 'formerly used to wear'.  By 1838, when the Jedburgh CC printed their rules, crampets were no longer in use in other parts of the country.

In An Account of the Game of Curling, published in 1811, John Ramsay writes that, at Duddingston, "The use of crampits is now very much laid aside."

In 1830, in Memorabilia Curliana Mabenensia, Richard Brown writes, "Curling, where it is considered to be practised upon improved principles, has laid aside the use of tramps." But Brown goes on to defend their use in certain circumstances, and it can be assumed from this that they were still in use by members of the Lochmaben Curling Society at that time. Indeed, Lynne Longmore's Minutes of Note, see here, based on the earliest minutes of the Lochmaben Curling Society, has an appendix with that club's rules at November, 1829. These include, "Every player, to come furnished with crampets and a besom, must be ready to play when his turn comes; nor take more than a reasonable time to throw his stone."

At Largs, things were different, and the use of crampets was not countenanced. Indeed, John Cairnie is disparaging of their use elsewhere in the country, writing in his Essay on Curling and Artificial Pond Making, published in 1833, "We are sorry to say, that the almost barbarous custom of wearing crampets on the feet, in many places is still continued."

Jedburgh, apparently, was one such place maintaining the 'barbarous custom'!

So, what were crampets like?

This sketch is from the Rev John Kerr's History of Curling, from 1890.

Kerr also refers to the painting, 'The Curlers', by Sir George Harvey, from 1835, where many of the players are wearing crampets. This painting is currently on display in the 'Playing for Scotland: The Making of Modern Sport' exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. Until recently you had to travel in person to Edinburgh to get close up to the painting. And I would encourage you still to do so, if you can!

However, the National Galleries' new website allows you to zoom into the painting online, and Harvey's detail leaps out from your computer screen, phone, or tablet, see here.

Here, the crampets are attached to the player's shoes and galoshes with straps.
Here, the crampets appear to be attached with some sort of screw fitting, over well nailed shoes.

Do examine the painting for yourself, here, and see what the other players are wearing on their feet!

Another way to see what crampets were like, is to head to Tibbermore, near Perth, to look at this memorial on the church wall.

James Ritchie was a keen curler, see here. He died in 1840 and his memorial includes two decorated stones, a broom, and a pair of crampets, all carved in stone. One hundred and seventy-six years on, the monument may be a little weathered, but, remarkably, the spikes on the bottom of the crampets can still be seen.

Considering how common crampets must have been, few examples have survived. Indeed, I do not know of any museum or private collection which contains examples. If you know where any are preserved, please let me know. The image above is of a pair which at one point belonged to David Smith, but latterly were missing, having been lent for display abroad. They are described in his 'Curling: an illustrated history' as having originally come from Lochmaben.

This article began with the observation that Jedburgh curlers in 1838 were required to appear on the ice with their own crampets. That year saw the formation of the Grand Caledonian Curling Club, and the first rules of that body did not include such a requirement. Indeed, a completely different way of establishing a secure stance on the ice while delivering a stone was recommended - more about which in a future article. Jedburgh Curling Club was admitted to the Royal Caledonian Curling Club in 1845, and we can assume that their requirement that every member had to take to the ice with crampets had, by then, been laid aside.

Crampets caused considerable damage to the ice. It is hard now to imagine how you could sweep whilst wearing such things. But of course, the early regulations for play only allowed sweeping from the far hog towards the tee - and so the players would line up on either side of the ice and ply just a couple of strokes as the stones passed, without moving their feet!

Crampets had advantages when throwing your stone. If there were guards in play, you could easily just move to the side, to get a better view of the target. That this was considered to be cheating, and to be discouraged, can be seen by the inclusion in the first rules of the Grand Caledonian Curling Club in 1838, "Each player to place his feet in such a manner as that, in delivering his stone, he shall bring it over the tee. A player stepping aside to take a brittle (or wick), or other shot, shall forfeit his stone for that end."

More about other forms of curling footwear, as well as foot-boards, foot irons, trickers and hacks, will be the subject of a future article!

The image of 'The Curlers' is © National Galleries of Scotland. The details are screenshots from the zoomed image on the website, here. Other photos are by Bob. Images have been scanned from books in Bob's library. Thanks go to the helpful staff at the University of Glasgow library, and to Imogen Gibbon, at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, for discussions about 'The Curlers'.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

The Two Grannies

When writing about named curling stones recently, see here, I mentioned the 'Grannies from Meigle'. These distinctive stones from curling's 'boulder age' belonging to Andrew Henderson Bishop had been exhibited together at the 1911 Scottish Exhibition of National History, Art, and Industry at Kelvingrove, Glasgow, with many other curling artifacts. The above image shows part of the South Gallery and on close inspection a large number of curling stones can be seen on the left, at the foot of the north wall of the gallery. The Grannies will be amongst these.

Here are the catalogue entries, describing both stones.

I knew that one of these unusual stones had survived. It was presented to the Royal Caledonian Curling Club by Henderson Bishop in 1938, and in August, 1939, the Perthshire Advertiser recorded that it was among a collection of old stones that was to be exhibited at the Central Scotland Ice Rink in Perth, from the beginning of the 1939-40 season. The rink itself had opened in October 1936.

Henderson Bishop's gift of the Grannie and three other stones is recorded in the Royal Caledonian Curling Club Annual for 1939-40.

The old rink at Perth is certainly where I first saw it, in the 1960s, and where I had its photograph taken in 1980, above. More recently it was to be found at the Royal Club's former headquarters at Cairnie House, Ingliston, but now, with most of the Scottish Curling Trust's collection, it is in safe storage at Stirling.

I should point out that although the stone is catagorised as from the 'Boulder Age', it is not a naturally formed rock, having been hammer dressed to a triangular shape. 'Whirlies' like this would have been hard to dislodge during play, never mind its enormous weight!

I wondered what had happened to the other Grannie, which was recorded in the 1939-40 Annual as having been sent to Montreal. With some research, luck, and assistance from Canada, here is what I've uncovered.

The second Scottish Men's Tour to Canada and the USA took place in season 1911-12. Setting out from Glasgow, the thirty-one tourists took with them on board the Allan Line's Ionian their own curling stones, and four old stones which were to be a gift to the Montreal Curling Club, the oldest in Canada.

After a supper at the Montreal Club on January 11, 1912, with some seventy curlers in attendance, the old stones were handed over by the Scottish Team Captain, Colonel Robertson-Aikman, on behalf of Andrew Henderson Bishop, who was at that time Vice-President of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. The event was recorded by the Montreal Daily Witness where one of the stones was described as 'a massive white granite, triangular in shape, and not portable'. This description certainly fits the description of the Canadian Grannie.

The newspaper reported that Colonel Aikman said, "He had heard of the weight that the Montreal men could throw; he would like them to try their hands at the big white one."

"Mr A R Oughtred, accepting the stones on behalf of the Montreal Club, said he would put them where they would be safe, and he assured the gallant Colonel that they would not be used in any ordinary match."

It is safe to assume that Canadian Grannie remained with the Montreal Club for some years, but a recent request for information on her whereabouts did not elicit a response. That's when a little bit of luck led to the wonderful discovery that the other Grannie had indeed survived the intervening one hundred years.

Credit for the discovery must go to 'The Curling Librarian', and her blog post here. Lisa Shamchuk lives in Edmonton and had become involved with the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Canada's women's championship, when that event came to Red Deer in 2012. Her job, as a volunteer at the championship, was to write articles for the Canadian Curling Association (as it was called then) website. But she also recorded her experiences on her own blog. On Friday, February 23, 1912, she visited the HeartStop Lounge, and wrote that she had found the display of old rocks interesting. She posted a photo of a large triangular stone. I recognised it immediately!

When I contacted Lisa, she was able to find the original digital negative of the photo she had used in her blog post, plus another photo she took on the day, and gave me permission to reproduce these here.

Here is Canadian Grannie on display in 2012.

It looks as if Canadian Grannie has suffered some damage to one of its vertices, but perhaps this is not surprising. Your nose might be a bit bashed too if you were four hundred years old!

I suspected that the display of curling memorabilia at the Scotties had been put together by Curling Canada so I contacted a former curling media acquaintance, Al Cameron, who is now their Director, Communication and Media Relations. He confirmed that I was on the right track.

Danny Lamoureux, Curling Canada's Director, Curling Club Development and Championship Services, takes up the story, writing, "The stone was displayed at the Canadian Museum of Civilization as it was on a 25-year loan from us to them. About ten years ago, they returned it to us. We took it around the country to show people who attended our events. Unfortunately, we suspended our travelling road show about three years ago because of budgets."

Danny concludes, "The Canadian Grannie is well looked after in an secure environment here in Ottawa. Hopefully, one day, she will surface again for curlers to enjoy."

And hopefully too Scottish Grannie might also be put on show one day for Scottish curlers to see and appreciate. Would it not be wonderful if the long separated Grannies might even be united one day, even temporarily, perhaps as part of a historical exhibit at a World Championship event?

We may never know the full story of these unusual stones. From where had Henderson Bishop obtained them, who made them and when, and where they were played with? They are not water worn boulders obtained from a river. They have been hewn into a triangular form. Why were two of them made? Meigle is a village to the north east of Perth in Strathmore, and Andrew Henderson Bishop's notes associate the stones with Meigle. Is this significant? The Historical Curling Places website shows many curling ponds in the area from the nineteenth century, but the Grannies surely date from at least the century before that. Perhaps an expert geologist might be able to identify where the material of which they are made was found, or quarried. The mystery of the Grannies remains.

The top image is part of a photograph of the South Gallery of the Palace of History which was printed in the Catalogue of Exhibits, Volume 2, facing page 884. The extract describing the stones was scanned from page 889 of the Catalogue. The Perthshire Advertiser clipping is © Trinity Mirror, courtesy of the British Newspaper Archive. Photographs of the Canadian Grannie are courtesy of Lisa Shamchuk, and huge thanks to her. Thanks also go to Al Cameron and Danny Lamoureux of Curling Canada for their help.