Amherst’s rich curling history unveiled at Cumberland museum

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Dave Mathieson
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AMHERST – Curling isn’t so much a physical sport as it is a social sport, and people in Amherst have been socializing while curling since 1895.

That rich social history is now on display at the Amherst Curling Club Exhibit, now showing at the Cumberland County Museum & Archives.

“A lot of people brought in their own personal curling collections and some of the items on display are from the curling club,” said Janice Amos, past president, and 30-year member of the Amherst Curling Club.

The museum approached the curling club to see if they would like to stage an exhibit at the museum and Amos, along with Natasha Richard, archive technician assistant at the museum, were putting the finishing touches on the exhibit on Wednesday.

Amos said curling has had some changes over the years.

“The broom has changed and the clothing has changed as well. Everything is becoming lighter and more efficient.”

But some things have stayed the same.

“Curling has always been about having fun,” said Amos. “The social part is fun and the competitive part is fun.

“It’s all about having fun, unless you’re going to the brier, but even then it’s fun,” she added. “It’s more of a social sport than anything.”

Amos points to a photo of curlers taken in 1907, and tells a story with the caveat that she’s not 100 per cent if it is true or not.

“Curlers used to go from town to town on a train,” said Amos. “Everybody had their own curling stones and, as the fun would begin, the joke would be to put your competitions rocks on the heater so they wouldn’t work as well on the ice.”

There is an abundance of photos on display at the Museum but not all the photographs have names on them.

“I would encourage people to come in and look at the pictures and if they don’t have names on them and know the names, then pass the names on to the museum.”

Besides photographs, many pins are on display.

Most curlers, including Amos, have a large collection of pins from other curling clubs, and it was the same in the 1800s.

“We have lots of pins on display here,” said Amos. “Some dating from the late 1800s.”

Also on display is an original copy of the deed for the present day facility, which is signed by King George V1.

The exhibit also features the Grey Cup. The first Maritime Bonspiel was held in Amherst in 1907 and Earl Grey, the governor General of Canada, presented the Amherst club a bonspiel trophy. Grey would, two year’s later, donate another Grey Cup to what would become the Canadian Football League.

The Amherst Curling Club has a rich history but it continues to evolve.

This fall the club received a delivery of junior rocks, which are lighter than the regular stones, and they now have a junior rocks program every Saturday morning.

“We also refurnished and repainted our lounge this spring,” said Amos.

Other changes in recent years include a new ceiling, a new compressor, “and we are now being hooked up to natural gas,” said Amos.

The exhibit runs until Christmas.

The Amherst Curling Club exhibit is now on display at the Cumberland County Museum & Archives, which is open Tuesday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

 

 

Organizations: Amherst Curling Club, Cumberland County Museum Archives, Cumberland museum Canadian Football League

Geographic location: Amherst, Canada

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