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The Bonspiel

Curling;—a Scottish Game, at Central Park (1862) by John George Brown

Curling is Cool Day

Feb 23

Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day

Today's Musings, History & Folklore

"It’s the grand old game of curling
On a curling rink that’s keen
Our forefathers player it
And they played it good and clean.

It’s there you meet the best of men
With friendship as their aim
So here’s a help to everyone
Who plays the curling game."

~ The Curler's Song Andrew Murdison, 1965

Icy days? Ready for a "bonspiel"? A "bonspiel" is a curling tournament or competition! Originating in Scotland, the winter sport of curling dates as far back as 1511! Early games were played on frozen ponds and lochs with primitive curling stones made from different types of materials and rocks from the regions of Stirling and Perth. Curling's nickname, “The Roaring Game", refers to the rumbling sound a curling stone makes as it glides across the rough ice! It’s also a reference to the sound of brooms frantically sweeping away and melting ice to guide the stone past the "hog line" (10 m from the "hack") to the "button" (center) of the "house" (target)! With its own unique set of terminology, Curlers enjoy this winter sport all over the world. The energetic bonspiel reel has more wavy lines and reflection reels than the straight lines aspired to by real curlers, but reflect the back and forth of the stones from target to target. Might be fun to incorporate some brooms for a demonstration! "Hurry hard", curlers! 🥌 🥌 🥌 🧹

The Bonspiel

The Grand Caledonian Curling Club, established in 1838, was the first modern curling club in Scotland. Club members and committee were responsible for properly organizing the game and writing its first official rule book with standardized equipment and curling stones. The club later changed its name to the Royal Caledonian Curling Club when Queen Victoria granted it a royal charter in 1843, as the sport was becoming more and more popular in Europe and Canada in the late 19th century.


Good sportsmanship and politeness are an important part of the winter sport, known as the “Spirit of Curling.” Teams often congratulate opponents for good shots and smart strategy, while players are discouraged from taunting or trash-talking each other.  Winning teams are also known for buying the losing team a round of drinks after games, especially at the highest levels of competition.


Similar to other sports, Curling has had its share of scandals, the most high-profile of which was named “Broomgate.”

The introduction of new broom technology allowed the sweepers an unusual amount of control over a match. In its purest form, those throwing the stone need a high level of technique for it to land in its designated home. But the high-end icePad broom was so efficient, it could sand down the icy surface of the stretch in order to manipulate the stone much easier. For purists, this reliance on equipment over technique hurt the sanctity of the sport. The icePad broom was banned by the World Curling Federation for the 2015/2016 season, and new guidelines for brushes were introduced soon after.


Curling also has its share of superstars and characters!

After winning the World Junior Championships in 1976 and 1978, Calgary’s Paul Gowsell was dubbed the "rebel of the curling world" for his long hair and penchant for wearing plaid pants during games. During a tournament at the Regina Curling Club in 1980, he ordered a pizza in the middle of play and proceeded to eat slices on the ice with his teammates while his opponents were curling. That incident earned Gowsell yet another moniker: “Pizza Paul.”

If you're a fan of curling and familiar with its special jargon, you may enjoy the humourist's definition of curling stones - click the curling stones for a laugh.

The Bonspiel

Click the dance cribs or description below to link to a printable version of the dance!

The Bonspiel

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