The Prince Edward Island Curling Hall of Fame and Museum held its ninth annual induction ceremony on Monday October 19, 2015 at the Charlottetown Curling Complex.
The four inductees who were honoured for their achievements and contributions to the sport of curling were: Lt.-Col. Dan MacKinnon (Builder, posthumously), Barbara Roper (Builder, posthumously), Alan Smith (Curler), and Merrill Wigginton (Curler)
Each of the inductees has excelled in their own curling corner, with multi-sport athlete “Colonel Dan” MacKinnon being an early member and a president of the Charlottetown Curling Club, as well as the first president of the PEI Curling Association, and captain of the first curling team to represent PEI “off-Island”. Barbara Roper was a charter member and president of the Charlottetown Curling Club Ladies Branch, and President of the PEI Ladies Curling Association. Alan Smith won nine provincial curling championships in a dozen years, and garnered two third-place finishes at the MacDonald Brier, while his teammate for those national podium finishes, Merrill Wigginton, finished as runner-up at a national Mixed, and won four provincial men’s and three PEI mixed titles.
“Recognizing the accomplishments of curlers and builders who have dedicated much time and energy to the sport of curling is important, not only to them and their families and friends, but it is also an important component of our curling history”, says Jerry Muzika, Chair of the PEI Curling Hall of Fame and Museum, who invites everyone to come out and honour the inductees.
The main objectives of the Curling Hall of Fame and Museum are to recognize, honour and pay tribute to individuals or teams on the basis of playing ability, as an amateur or a professional (“Curler” category), and to individuals who have given distinguished service and have made major contributions to the development of curling on Prince Edward Island (“Builder” category).
Photo: Jerry Muzika, Paul Schurman
Host Paul H. Schurman started the evening by introducing Hall chair Jerry Muzika, followed by greetings from Mike Duffy, Deputy Mayor of Charlottetown, Curling Canada governor Shirley Osborne, Angela Hodgson, President, Curl PEI, and Phillip McInnis, President, Charlottetown Curling Complex.
Photo: Mike Duffy, Phillip McInnis
Photo: Shirley Osborne
Photo: Angela Hodgson
Osborne praised the Board for being one of only two curling Halls of Fame in Atlantic Canada, and for the fact that two inductees (MacKinnon and Roper), were being inducted into the Builder category, saying that more has to be done to honour the builders, as well as the players, of the sport.
The Induction of the four new members then began, with Hall of Fame Board member Arleen Harris presenting a certificate and a framed drawing by Summerside artist, and fellow Board member Wayne Wright, in honour of inductee Lt. Col. Daniel A. MacKinnon.
Photos: Harris (l), Wright (r)
Wright, who is also an amateur historian, accepted on behalf of MacKinnon, and talked about MacKinnon and his many accomplishments in the field of sports, and other areas, such as fox farming.
Lillian Roper accepted on behalf of her late mother, Barbara Roper, with Hall of Fame Board member Margaret Nowlan presenting the certificate and drawing. She said that it was her mother’s dream that one day women’s curling would have the same status as men’s in the curling world, and she was happy to see that her mother’s dream has come true.
Photos: Marg Nowlan (l), Lillian Roper (r)
The next two inductees were in the Curler category, and were present for the induction, with Alan Smith and several family members returning to the Island for the occasion. Board member Ken MacDonald presided over the presentations of the certificate and framed drawing.
Photos (l-r): Ken MacDonald, Alan Smith
Both Smith and the final inductee, Merrill Wigginton, former teammates, recounted their experiences curling at the provincial and national levels, talking about the camaraderie, and the helpfulness of the other curlers at the national events.
Photo: Merrill Wigginton
Photo (l-r): Hall of Fame Board member Al Ledgerwood, Merrill Wigginton
The evening concluded with a reception, and a photo of all the inductees or their representatives with their framed drawings.
Photo (L-R): Merrill Wigginton, Alan Smith, Lillian Roper, daughter of inductee Barbara Roper, Wayne Wright, accepting on behalf of inductee Col. Dan MacKinnon, posing with portraits done by Wayne Wright.
Photo: Col. Dan MacKinnon
His life seemed somehow as unlikely as a Horatio Alger story, and even more compelling. Born in tiny Highfield, PEI, on November 12, 1876, the son of Donald MacKinnon and Jemima Curtiss, young Dan was left an orphan at age ten, and had no further schooling. With the few dollars he earned from chores as a hired hand, or from running from house to house delivering the Guardian over his large paper route, Dan began a mail-order course in pharmacy, successfully writing his examinations to become, at age twenty, the first registered pharmacist on PEI.
Like so many other young men of a century and more ago, Dan became fascinated with athletics and the wheel of seasonal sports then in their infancy on the Island. Not only was he the Maritime titleholder running the mile race from 1896 through 1898, Dan and his Charlottetown firemen’s team, on Dominion Day 1901, would set the world record for the quarter-mile run with salvage-wagon in a time of 1:02.4 minutes. A knee injury suffered in an Abbies’ rugby game put an end to Dan’s brilliant track and field career, and soon the young man’s sights were set on yet another treasure from his own Scots heritage – the “Roaring Game” of curling.
Curling arrived on our Island with the arrival of the first Scottish settlers in the 1770s, wielding their rough-and-ready kettle-stones over the frozen waterways before the inevitable spring thaw. The Island’s first curling club, the Charlottetown Curling Club, soon to be adopted by MacKinnon, was already established by February 3, 1887, and its original ten members conducted their first indoor curling games at the City’s Excelsior Rink, until it burned down. Curling continued for a few years with rental ice, but the C.C.C. was rendered inactive by 1911. Dan and his fellow curlers were forced to play on Government Pond and other ice-patches around the City, as well as its windswept harbour.
In 1913 the Charlottetown Curling Club was re-organized, with the goal to build a dedicated open-air curling rink, some 140 feet by 45 feet, on Grafton Street [close to the City’s busy Fish Market]. Shares were sold in the rink at a princely $2 apiece, and in only a few months the game of curling was back on solid footing. Although the Charlottetown Curling Club held its first exhibition contest [against the New Caledonia Club from Pictou, NS] as early as 1889, it was not until 1918 that Island curlers ventured to the mainland – remarkably, it would be Dan MacKinnon who would be selected as the captain of this historic first curling team to represent the Island in mainland competition. In subsequent years, with the formation of new curling clubs in Summerside , Montague , and Alberton , the development of the sport was suddenly energized by spirited inter-club bonspiels.
In 1934, the Prince Edward Island Curling Association was formed and Daniel MacKinnon was its first president. Notably, it is his role as a founding administrator of the provincial curling body that earned Dan his automatic charter election in 1974 into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame.
In 1936, in yet another critical turning point for Island curling, and with Dan MacKinnon at the helm of the Charlottetown Curling Club as President, the venerable city club acquired the spacious Charles Coles property [at 32-36 Euston Street], providing for the very first time an Island facility designed solely for the sport.
Dan MacKinnon was a decorated soldier of the First World War, being awarded Great Britain’s Distinguished Service Order as well as receiving the Croix de Guerre from France for his overseas service. He also served as aide-de-camp to the Canadian Governor General, Lord Byng after the war.
He was a prosperous PEI businessman and an enthusiastic participant in many sports.
His lifelong involvement with harness racing as an owner, trainer and driver left an impressive record on PEI as did his accomplishments as a runner and as a marksman.
Dan is a member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the PEI Sports Hall of Fame, as well as the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame.
Although his curling laurels of a century ago, on-ice and off, have long since been forgotten, the Prince Edward Island Curling Hall of Fame is proud to honour Colonel Dan MacKinnon, one of the pioneering athletes and builders of Island curling, by induction, posthumously, into its ranks as a builder.
Photo: Barbara Roper
Barbara was well known to fellow curlers as a tireless worker in her home club, the Charlottetown Curling Club, as well as in curling circles across the Island and Canada.
She served as vice president of the Charlottetown Curling Club, Ladies Branch in 1954/55 and as their president in 1955/56. Barbara convened several annual fashion shows at the club and, although these events have become a thing of the past, the fashion shows were significant fund raising opportunities for the Ladies Branch of the club.
Barbara was a delegate to the Prince Edward Island Ladies Curling Association from 1955 until 1965. During this time, she served as the Association’s vice president in 1955/56, and as their president in 1956/57. She again took on the role of vice president in 1963/64, and served as president of the Prince Edward Island Ladies Curling Association in 1964/65.
Barbara was a delegate to the Eastern Canada Ladies Curling Association from 1956 to 1960 and served as their Secretary in 1958/59 and 1959/60.
In 1956/57, she was a delegate to the All Canada Council to discuss forming a Dominion Bonspiel for Ladies. Four years later, in February 1960, 21 representatives from nine provinces, including Barbara from the Island, met in Toronto at a history-making meeting and formed the Canadian Ladies’ Curling Association. Sponsored by Dominion Stores Limited, the first Dominion Ladies Curling Championship was held in 1960, in Ontario.
During the 1964 Canadian Men’s Curling Championship, held in Charlottetown, Barbara was the chairperson for the women’s activities associated with the week.
In 1972, even though seriously ill, she worked with the organizing committee as ceremonies chairperson for the 1973 Lassie, the Canadian Women’s Curling Championship, which was held in Charlottetown.
Barbara was a charter member of the Charlottetown Curling Club, Ladies Branch and was active in the club up to the time of her death in November 1972.
Barbara was also active in the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE) for more than 25 years, was a past regent of the Earl of Hillsborough chapter, held several offices in the provincial chapter and was on the provincial executive since its inception in 1962.
She was, as well, keenly interested in music and amateur theatre, and was a choir member and a director and actor in many local amateur shows.
Barbara was elected to the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame as a builder in February 1976.
Even after so much time has passed, it is fitting that Barbara Roper be inducted, posthumously, into the Prince Edward Island Curling Hall of Fame as a builder.
Photo: Alan Smith
Photo: Alan Smith
Alan Smith had a solid winning span of 12 years beginning in 1958, through to 1969, with three provincial school boy’s championships, five provincial men’s championships and a provincial mixed title during that time.
Alan won the first of his three Prince Edward Island School Boy (now Junior Men’s) Curling Championships in 1958, playing lead for skip Arthur Burke, with third Allison Saunders, and second Doug Bell. At the national championship, held in Charlottetown, their record was three wins and seven losses.
He won the second time in 1959, skipping his own team of Dick Matheson at third, second Ron Smith and lead Roger Michael. His record improved to six wins and four losses at the nationals in Calgary.
The following year, he again skipped his team to a win of the provincial school boy’s championship, this time with Doug Bell at third, and second Ron Smith and lead Roger Michael and went on to post a seven wins, three losses record in Noranda, Quebec.
Moving on to the men’s category, his first win of the Prince Edward Island Men’s Curling Championship came in 1962, playing third for skip Art Burke, with Bob Dillon at second position and lead Wayne Rhodenizer. At the Brier in Kitchener, their record was two wins and eight losses.
They won the PEI men’s curling championship again in 1964, with the same team, except for the lead position, with Stu Lavers filling that spot. This was a once in a lifetime event for the crew as the Brier was held in Charlottetown that year where they improved their record to five wins and five losses.
In 1965, Alan played third for Doug Cameron, when they won the Prince Edward Island Men’s Curling Championship. With second George Dillon and lead Bob Dillon, they went on to compete in the Brier, held in Saskatoon, and came away with four wins and six losses.
In 1968 and in 1969, Alan again won the provincial men’s championship, skipping the same team, both years, of third Doug Bell, second Bob Dillon, and lead Merrill Wigginton, doing very well both years at the national event.
At the 1968 MacDonald Brier in Kelowna, their Prince Edward Island team placed third behind the winner, Ron Northcott from Alberta, and runner-up Bob Pickering from Saskatchewan, with a 7-3 win-loss record.
At the MacDonald Brier in Oshawa in 1969, they tied for third place with Saskatchewan’s Bob Pickering, behind the winner Ron Northcott of Alberta, and runner-up Kevin Smale from British Columbia. Their record, again, was seven and three.
In 1966, Alan skipped his mixed team of Marie Toole, Bill MacGregor, and Pauline Johnston when they won the Prince Edward Island Mixed Curling Championship. The national mixed was held in Quebec City and their record was a split of five wins and five losses.
Although Alan left PEI soon after these curling achievements, we are pleased to welcome him back to the Island, and it is with pleasure that we induct him into the Prince Edward Island Curling Hall of Fame as a curler.
Photo: Merrill Wigginton
Merrill began his curling career at the Montague Curling Club in 1958 as a school boy curler. In 1959, he played third for skip Errol MacLure, with second John MacDonald and lead Billy Vaniderstine. They were the runner-up team in the provincial school boy championship.
Merrill’s first Prince Edward Island Men’s Curling Championship came in 1968 with skip Alan Smith, third Doug Bell, second Bob Dillon with Merrill at lead. They went on to the 1968 MacDonald Brier in Kelowna BC, and their team placed third, with a 7-3 win-loss record, behind the winner, Ron Northcott from Alberta, and runner-up Bob Pickering from Saskatchewan.
In the fall of 1968, Alan’s team, including Merrill, was invited to the CBC Championship Curling Tournament in Toronto. This single knockout tournament was recorded for viewing throughout the winter of 1968/69. The Smith team won its opening game against Chuck Hay from Scotland, but lost its next game against Alberta’s Northcott.
1969 saw the same team of Alan, Doug, Bob and Merrill represent Prince Edward Island at the MacDonald Brier in Oshawa, where they placed third, tied with Saskatchewan’s Bob Pickering, behind winner Northcott and runner-up Kevin Smale from British Columbia. Their record, again, was seven and three.
In 1973, Merrill played lead for skip Bob Dillon, third Doug Cameron and second John Fortier when they won the Prince Edward Island Men’s Curling Championship.
In the fall of 1973, Dillon’s team was invited to the CBC Curling Classic in Winnipeg. In this single knockout tournament, Dillon lost its opening game against Manitoba’s Orest Meleschuk.
The team make-up changed slightly in 1974, with John Fortier moving to third position and Jerry Muzika stepping in to fill the second’s role. Bob Dillon continued on as the skip and Merrill stayed as lead. Winning the provincial men’s championship sent them on to compete at the London Ontario Brier, where their record was three wins and eight losses. It is interesting to note that this was the first year the Territories were included as competitors at the national event.
Merrill won three Prince Edward Island Mixed Curling Championships. As provincial champions in 1975, skip Bob Dillon, third Cathy Dillon, second Merrill and lead Jean Court went on to the Seagram Canadian Mixed Curling Championship where they were runners-up to Alberta’s Les Rowland.
The same team of Bob, Cathy, Merrill and Jean won the Prince Edward Island Mixed Curling Championship in 1976 and again in 1978.
Over a period of twenty years, Merrill won four provincial men’s titles and three provincial mixed, as well as winning many tournaments and cashspiels locally and around the Maritimes.
It is with pleasure that we induct Merrill Wigginton into the Prince Edward Island Curling Hall of Fame as a curler.