Ottawa Curling Club Through the Years
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
April 20, 2005:
Thanks to David Smith for the following interesting material:
Alan Gilmour was the founder of the Ottawa Curling Club along with his
nephews the Manuel family lived on Vittoria Street (the present site of the
Supreme Court of Canada.
I was at one time the president of the Ottawa Curling Club which originally
had as benefactors, the Gilmour and Manuel families.
I know very little about these people except that they were an intricate
part of the club donating at least three sites for a clubhouse.
The Ottawa Curling Club Through the Years
Curling begins on the Rideau Canal. The Bytown Curling Club is formed with
14 members and Colonel Allan Gilmour as founder and president. The first
curling club in Ottawa (by 37 years) and 19th-oldest club in Canada begins
over a century of play with "irons."
The Canadian Branch of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club is established, and
the Bytown Curling Club is the first club to be admitted.
Bytown changes its name to Ottawa on January 1. The Bytown Curling Club
becomes the Ottawa Curling Club.
A shed on Lisgar Street by the canal provides a single sheet of ice, with
water hauled from the canal.
Colonel Gilmour provides a lumber shed with one sheet at the corner of Kent
and Vittoria on the cliffs overlooking the Ottawa River, near the present
site of the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Club builds a frame rink of its own on Albert Street between Metcalfe
and O'Connor, providing two sheets in the year of Confederation.
The double-rink Governor General's Trophy is inaugurated by the Marquis of
Dufferin. The Ottawa Club has since claimed 30 Trophy victories in this
premiere Canadian Branch event, including holding 4 out of 5 Trophies gifted
by Lord Stanley, and one gifted by Earl Grey.
The Albert Street rink is moved to a new location on the south side of
Vittoria Street, just west of Kent Street, at a cost of $510.
Membership includes Sanford Fleming. Alexander Mackenzie, who was Canada's
second Prime Minister, is elected Honourary member year after year. He and
the Governor General, the Marquis of Lorne, are leads in a friendly match
against the Ottawa held on the ice at Rideau Hall.
Along with the Governor General's Trophy for 1889, Lord Stanley presents to
the Ottawa a Silver Medal dated 1888, the year he assumed office as Governor
The Royal Victoria Jubilee Trophy is gifted by the Royal Caledonian Curling
Club to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The Ottawa wins
the inaugural trophy, but does not win it again until 1939.
John Manuel, President of the Club since the death of his uncle Allan
Gilmour in 1895, erects at his own expense a modern three-story brick
building with three sheets of ice on the Vittoria site. Described as the
finest club quarters in Canada, it is officially opened by Governor General
Earl Grey, who throws the first stone. Opening day also features a match
between Ottawa and Arnprior for the Quebec Challenge Cup, which was
initiated in 1874 and is still being contested today.
The Ottawa and Rideau curling clubs compete 20 times for the Ottawa-Rideau
Trophy over the period 1909 to 1913. The challenge was revived in 1987 and
has been held annually since.
John Manuel dies and is succeeded by nephew and heir James Manuel, who was a
main force in the establishment of the Royal Ottawa Hospital. The Vittoria
site is expropriated by the federal government. A similar building is begun
by James Manuel at 440 O'Connor Street, with a bowling green alongside for
the Vittoria Bowling Club.
The new building on O'Connor is ready for full use, with four sheets of ice.
The Manuel family line ends with the death of Dr. William Manuel, a brother
of James. The Club property is turned over to a trust company for
Letters patent are granted under the Companies Act of Ontario, incorporating
The Ottawa Curling Club, Limited "to promote the games of curling and
bowling." The Club is acquired from the Manuel estate by mortgaging the
property and with proceeds from a stock issue (425 shares at $50 each).
Artificial ice is installed (the first Ottawa club to do so), and a fifth
sheet of ice is added.
A motion is adopted inviting lady curlers to join the Club and share all its
facilities, and Mrs. Hugh Carson is elected first President of the Ladies'
Curling Division. The Vittoria Bowling Club, which had been paying taxes and
rent on the OCC property it used, ceases operations during the Depression.
There is also a history of the club on their premises which you may be able
to get a look at.
The club had a historian for many many years.
I hope the helps a bit, The Gilmour's did a lot of lumbering in two areas
that I am aware of and that is at North Nation Mills on the Nation River and
of course up the Gatineau River near Maniwaki.
I hope this is of some use to you;
January 28, 2008:
For more sports history in the Ottawa area, see our Ottawa Sports History page.
February 4, 2008:
Thanks to Bruce Hurley for the following photograph by Topley of curling at Rockliffe Park.
Source: Library and Archives Canada, Digital Photograph Collection.
Note the width of the brooms !
July 31, 2008:
Photo Source: Hurling Down the Pine, page 46
Allan Gilmour, 1816-1895
February 11, 2010:
Rideau Curling Club, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, in 1908
Source: Our Times, A Pictorial Memoir of Ottawa's Past, page 73
Names for search engine: Boyd, Macpherson, Brittain, Haycock, Sir Sanford Fleming, McInnes, Jenkins, Sherwood, Sutherland. also temperance,
Governor General's Trophy
E-mail David Smith, Bruce Hurley and Al Lewis
Back to Bytown or Bust - History and Genealogy in the Ottawa area