By William Crooks
Local Journalism Initiative
An eight-man curling team from Cornwall faced eight from the North Hatley Curling Cub for the ‘Quebec Challenge Cup’ Oct. 20 in North Hatley. The cup is currently held by North Hatley; the team from Cornwall arrived around 6 p.m., shared a meal with North Hatley’s defenders, then both went at it for the bragging-rights of possessing the oldest competitive trophy in North America (since 1874).
Cornwall conceded in the eighth round, losing 8-14.
“It’s a big ladder tournament,” explained Marty Rourke, North Hatley Curling Club VP. Clubs that compete for the trophy can come from as far away as Deep River or Brockville, Ontario and Montreal – any team that is part of the Royal Canadian Branch. It can be five to seven years between the times a club can challenge for the Cup, if they lose.
There are about eight challenges a year. North Hatley’s turn came up last year in late November, travelling to Bedford to compete with the then current champions. The game came down to the last shot and North Hatley won – the first time in the history of their club.
“We win and there’s this massive excitement,” Rourke said. They successfully defended first against a team from St. Lambert, then Sutton, then Dalhousie Lake. Challenges occur about once a month.
The game played is 10 ends, with a break after five. The host is expected to “put on a little bit of a show”. When the game is done, everyone drinks a “rusty nail” out of the Cup, as is tradition. Since the pandemic, their procedure for this has changed – the booze is mixed in the Cup and then distributed among individual glasses.