A curling club that no longer exists except in the memory of older curlers will be back in the limelight on Nov. 2 at the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner.
Known as the "Home of Champions," the Strathcona was a five-sheet rink located on Furby Place, north of Portage Avenue between Furby and Langside streets. John T. Haig, who was one of the founders of the club in 1908, will be inducted into the Sports HOF as a builder. After serving two terms as Strathcona president, Haig headed the provincial association and in 1935 became the first president of the Dominion Curling Association.
Entering the HOF in the team category will be the three Strathcona teams skipped by Ken Watson that won the Macdonald Brier Tankard in 1936, 1942 and 1949. They will join Gordon Hudson’s teams from the Strath that won the Canadian championship in 1928 and 1929.
A curling innovator, author and administrator, who arguably had more impact on the sport than any individual, Watson himself was inducted into the provincial shrine in 1980. Bob Gourley, in 1931, and Leo Johnson, in 1934, also won the Brier for the club. Between 1928 and 1967, Strathcona teams captured 18 provincial men’s titles.
Gordon Hudson’s son Bruce, who won in 1964 and 1967 and served as both the Strathcona and MCA president, said a change in liquor laws led to the end of the club’s life on Furby Place.
There was no room for expansion so the property was sold and the club relocated to the Highlander on Ellice Avenue. He said the atmosphere wasn’t the same and interest fell, so the club disbanded in 1983.
Today the club name lives on through its sponsorship of the Strathcona senior men’s provincial championship. Hudson joins club presidents Jack Callum, Bruce Campbell and Art Bilodeau annually to talk about the club’s glory years.
Ken Little, who was the Strathcona president in 1966-67 and the second on Bruce Hudson’s two championship teams, died in Kelowna, B.C. on Sept 12.
There was little notice locally despite the fact that Little was one of our province’s greatest all-around athletes and among the five finalists for Manitoba male athlete of the 20th century.
Known for his speed on the track, the football field, the hockey ice and the baseball diamond, Little began curling after he hung up his hockey skates following the senior Winnipeg Maroons’ 1953-54 season.
"He called me up and said he was quitting hockey and wanted to try curling," said Hudson, who had played with Little on the Rosedales city juvenile and junior baseball championship teams and the senior champion St. Boniface Native Sons.
"He took to the game and by 1958 had reached the Consols final as a third for Marno Fredrickson."
The Sports HOF has a new curling exhibit titled The Roaring Game in its gallery at 145 Pacific Ave.
Wall of Champions photos honour the 73 teams from Manitoba that have won Canadian championships. Curling memorabilia is on display and videos herald the accomplishments of our province’s greatest curlers. The exhibit runs until Jan. 12, 2014.