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I-26036.1
© McCord Museum
Photograph
Curling group, Montreal, QC, 1867
William Notman (1826-1891)
1867, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on paper - Albumen process
12 x 17 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
I-26036.1
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

The spread of leisure in the 1840s raised its share of concerns. Recreation and exercise were vaunted as means of restoring the body and refreshing the mind in an increasingly fast-paced world, especially in the large cities. Yet at the same time, people feared that encouraging such pursuits would open the door to idleness, the root of all evil. With industrialization taking hold, there was a need to institute a new discipline among workers. How could values as different as leisure and work be advocated simultaneously?

Sports and other recreational activities served to promote values such as responsibility and discipline. Curling, for example, was not seen as an end in itself but rather as a means for developing desirable conduct. The way the game was played was more important than the result.

What:

Curling was one of the earliest sports to take hold in Canada. Initially, it was played without official rules.

Where:

The Montreal Curling Club, the first sporting club in North America, was founded in Montreal in 1807. A second club was formed in Quebec City in 1821.

When:

In the 19th century, curling was played exclusively by English speakers. French Canadians found the game's pleasures incomprehensible.

Who:

Wealthy Scottish merchants popularized curling, and their influence long determined the way the game was played.

© Musée McCord Museum