Montreal-Ottawa-Kingston-Peterborough-Oshawa-Toronto-Barrie-Thornbury-Fergus-Kitchener-Stratford-Simcoe and Burlington

 As we landed at Glasgow airport after a gruelling four weeks curling in Canada we felt that this was the tour to end all tours – I am sure that the 29 tours that had been before us had felt the same. We had been treated to fellowship and hospitality that was second to none.


The tours have been happening since Rotarian Bob Mackintosh from Scotland travelled to Montreal on a business trip in February 1956. During his time in Canada he met Rotarian Aubrey Legge and they discovered that they were both keen curlers and that Aubrey an ambition to curl in Scotland. Bob invited Aubrey to bring a team over to Scotland in November 1956 and the following year Bob took a team to Canada thus beginning over 50 years of Rotary curling fellowship.

It takes a tremendous amount of organisation on both sides of the pond to set up for a tour and it starts as soon as one tour finishes.  Meetings for our tour were held in Perth, Stranraer, Stirling and Edinburgh, covering aspects such as uniforms, travel, curling gear, gifts and the budget required. Overseeing all this was our Team Captain, Matt Murdoch from the Lockerbie club.  The 22 team members were selected from the 3 Scottish Rotary Districts and use was made of the talents that had and some didn’t know they had as each was given a task. Associated with each meeting were social events to which our wives were invited so that they could get to know each other. We also had some curling matches to enable us to form teams for the task ahead. The social events helped in our training for the eating and drinking that we knew would be an important aspect in the 28 days of the tour.

The 2010 Canadian team, led by their Team Captain, John Dunsford were setting up the programme including venues, hosts and transport.  This involved new hosts and host from previous tours and a total of about 34 good fellowship and hospitality in Scotland in 2010. When they greeted us at the airport in Montreal, it was as if time stood still and acquaintances were soon rekindled.  It was a pleasure to see them Rotary clubs to co-ordinate - a massive task even with all the modern communication facilities. The team couldn’t wait to help in any way they could having received all again after a 2 year gap and it certainly made the tour seem a lot more real after talking about it for so long.

As we went from place to place we gained a sense of camaraderie as this disparate band of Scots knitted together into a team of curlers. We also marvelled at the hidden talents of our team mates that emerged at the various events ranging from poetry writing, singing or general entertainment and joke telling.  It is hard to put into words the effort that the Canadian Rotarians made to make our tour run seamlessly and our huge thanks go to the men and women who did so with little fuss on their part as no request seemed too much.

The real highlight of the tour was the fellowship and hospitality we received from our Canadian hosts ranging from small intimate parties where two or three hosts got together to parties where the whole team plus hosts and guests were in attendance. One time we were invited to a party for all tourists, hosts and guests in a funeral home run by Graham Giddy from the Fergus club. We were a little intrigued about this and on arriving at the front of the building we were greeted by rows of chairs for a small funeral party but upstairs there was a hospitality suite where a lively party ensued with lots of food and drink.  We were entertained here by Scott Woods who was the Canadian National Fiddle Champion whose special party piece was to play whilst performing a somersault. In Kitchener we attended an Oktoberfest night where we had the beer hall to ourselves and in Ottawa we were given a guided tour of the National Parliament with lunch in the senate dining room. We also visited Niagara Falls and had lunch in the Skylon Tower restaurant. In Simcoe the Canadians laid on a progressive dinner where the touring team were split into parties of four or five and taken by car from house to house. The hosts remained at the houses and this ensured that we met all the Simcoe hosts in a more intimate setting than a large party. This and other events invoke many more happy memories.

 The curling took place some of the best curling rinks Canada had to offer and the Scottish team built up a steady head of wins as we progressed through the tour giving an overall Scottish total of 645 shots to Canada’s 505 in the Bob Mackintosh Transatlantic Rotary Curling Quaich.  On the last day The Scottish team competed against the Canadian 2010 team for the Duddingston Trophy at the Burlington Golf and Country Club.  Again the Scottish team won by 42 shots to 23 and by winning the John Cutler Memorial Trophy before we went,  from the 2008 Scottish tour, we had a clean sweep of the board.  The trophies were then presented to us at the final banquet which was attended by over 120 people from all over Canada.

One important facet of the tour was raising money for Canadian charities. We chose two charities, the first was the Sandra Schmirler Foundation—Sandra was a three times world curling champion who sadly died of cancer in her early 30s.  Sandra   believed that Champions Start small and her foundation is in her memory to help premature and critically ill babies. The second was the Kids Ability Centre in Waterloo which was founded by local Rotarians in 1957 and now has a government budget of several millions per year and a staff of 200 full and part time who give day care and treatment to children with learning difficulties and speech therapy. We had a full tour of the facilities, we were never more proud to be Rotarians than we were that day.

The money was raised is through a system of small fines administered out by our Sergeant At Arms (Jean Lennie from the Penicuik club). These were given out for misdemeanours such as forgetting your kit, turning up wearing the wrong uniform and they applied equally to the tourists and the hosts. The Canadian were delighted by the sum raised which was approximately £2000.


In order to be considered for the tour you must have hosted a Canadian tourist on a previous tour. This will give you a small idea of what’s involved; the curling; the parties; the visits and the fellowship. It is amazing how close the hosts and guests can get in 2 to 3 days, some of whom will remain lifelong friends. You will also need stamina because after 7 or 8 days of a hedonistic lifestyle and visiting so many places and Rotary clubs you will lose track of dates and times and where you are.

If this sounds like the type of tour you would like to get involved in then please contact the sports officer in your area for more information.