AN old silver trophy, donated to a sport by an English Lord, will be up for grabs this month in Canada with the North Shore hosting some of the competition.
No, it isn't Lord Stanley's Cup - who knows when that glorious hunk of metal will be presented again. This is the Strathcona Cup, awarded every five years or so in a friendly men's amateur curling showdown between Canada and Scotland that is being billed as the oldest international curling competition in the world.
The Strathcona Cup West tour will kick off on Thursday at the North Shore Winter Club with a round of games between Scottish visitors and their Canadian hosts starting at 2: 45 p.m. From Jan. 10 to 16 the West tour will hit 11 British Columbia curling clubs in total, including a second North Shore stop at the Hollyburn Country Club Jan. 13 for a round of games starting at 9 a.m. Similar tours will be held simultaneously in Central and Eastern Canada with the competition wrapping up with a final showdown in Toronto Jan. 31. The country that wins the most games over the entire tour will earn the Cup. All B.C. sessions are open to the public free of charge.
West Vancouver's Bruce Beveridge, a NSWC curler, is the chairman of the West tour and a competition veteran - he was a member of the Canadian team that traveled to Scotland in 2009 to claim the trophy. While the Canadians are keen to defend their title, they're equally enthusiastic about showing the old country visitors a good time.
"They treated us well and we intend to treat the Scots well when they're here," said Beveridge. "It's just the fellowship of the sport and (this competition) brings it out to its fullest."
You won't see current superstars like Glenn Howard or Brad Gushue in the event but the level of play will be fairly high, said Beveridge.
"It's not the elite curlers but obviously they're serious curlers because they're prepared to take that much time out of their lives and spend some money going across the country," he said. The competition, which was first held in 1903, has been amazingly equal over the years with Canada holding an 11-10 advantage after their win in 2009.
The trophy they're playing for is an impressive one, donated by Scottish-born Canadian Donald Smith who was a renowned businessman, politician and philanthropist who later became Lord Strathcona. The Cup was fashioned by silversmiths in Glasgow at the turn of the century and given to the Royal Caledonia Club by Lord Strathcona, who was then the High Commissioner of Canada
"It's a very imposing, large, sterling silver trophy," said Beveridge. It's also a bit of a hermit - the Scots won't allow the Cup out of the country because of its value. "They keep it locked away in a silversmith's vault most of the time."
That won't stop Canadians like Beveridge, a former champion of Quebec who played in the Brier in 1967, from trying to lay claim to it again. Regardless of who wins, the competition will maintain the bonds between two of the sport's most important countries.
"The nature of the sport is very social," said Beveridge. "You're out there with eight people on the ice and you come off and sit down together and have a drink or coffee or whatever. . . . You're all out there, six sheets or eight sheets, and you all start at the same time and finish at the same time and you mingle."
For more information visit strathconacup100.ca.