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Fort William Gardens Curling Rock

Fort William Gardens Curling Rock

Have you ever wondered where the curling rock at the front of the Fort William Gardens came from? It all started in 1960 when the communities of Fort William and Port Arthur hosted the Macdonald Brier Tankard, emblematic of Canadian men's curling supremacy.

The curling community did an outstanding job hosting this national championship starting off with a parade from the event headquarters at the Royal Edward Hotel to the Fort William Gardens on March 7, 1960. One of the most impressive floats in the parade was entered by the Fort William Curling and Athletic Club which carried eleven individuals symbolizing the 11 finalists and an item which would become a legacy of this national event - a curling rock reported at the time to weigh 5,000 pounds!

The rock had been built at the former Canadian Car plant in Thunder Bay and after the parade it was moved off of the float and placed in front of the Fort William Gardens welcoming the over 26,000 spectators who attended the Brier that week.

Following the championships the curling rock became the property of the Westfort Kiwanis Club whose president was a strong curling supporter. A decision was made to display the now famous rock at the Totem Pole Tourist Court on Highway 17, to let tourists know about the importance of curling to the community they were visiting.

The rock remained at that location until work began on the re-routing of Hwy. 17 which drew traffic away from the monument. Not wanting the rock to lose its usefulness as an attraction to tourists, members of the Northwestern Ontario Curling Association took up the challenge of finding a new home for the monument. Permission was received from the City of Thunder Bay to return the rock to the place it originally rested, in front of the Fort William Gardens.

Local curlers restored the rock and added a historic element to it by adding the names of curlers from Thunder Bay who had claimed national championships and the winners of national events held in Thunder Bay. The rock was officially re-dedicated in 1975 being christened with a bottle of Chivas Regal by the President of Scotland's Royal Caledonian Curling Club, Mr. Allan Johnston, who was in Thunder Bay at the time to participate in the Strathcona Cup Match #13.

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