A GROUP of Canadian curlers has arrived in Renfrewshire to play a series of matches against local opposition.
Up to 50 players from across the Atlantic will take part in the annual Strathcona Cup Tour, which celebrates its Centenary this year.
The party flew into Glasgow Airport and will stay at the Normandy Hotel in Renfrew, before they play a series of matches at Greenacres Curling Club on Monday, January 19.
During their stay in Scotland the Canadians will play a number of games at venues such as Greenacres, Braehead, the Waterfront in Greenock, the Galleon in Kilmarnock and Murrayfield Ice Rink, but they’ll also have plenty of time for some sightseeing too.
David Robertson, president of the Renfrewshire 12th Province, explained the background to the Canadians’ visit.
He said: “The practice of touring between Scotland and Canada was established around 100 years ago and this particular tour will represent the Centenary event.
“The itinerary for the first tour was the team would travel in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg before crossing the border to Minneapolis and St Paul, Chicago and New York.
“From over 200 applicants a team of 25 curlers were selected to represent Scotland on the inaugural Canadian tour led by Rev John Kerr.
“The whole tour would take 40 days but allowing for ocean and railway travel it was anticipated that the team would be absent for about two months.
“But such was the success of this tour that the Royal Caledonian Curling Club decided in 1908 to invite a similar group to visit Scotland, once again to promote the friendship and camaraderie between the curlers on the two continents.”
And to add a little competitive edge, a cup was donated by Lord Strathcona to be played for between the competing groups.
Since then a team from Canada has visited Scotland to play for the Strathcona Cup and a team from Scotland has travelled across there to do likewise.
Mr Robertson said: “The regular invitation to tour was established, approximately every five years and 2009 will represent 100 years since the first tour to Canada and USA.
“Now we have a group of 48 curlers visiting Scotland where they will divide into north and south groups to play at most rinks in Scotland before rejoining on Wednesday, January 28 for the tour conclusion and return home.
“It will be our privilege to welcome the South tour to Greenacres Curling Club on Monday, January 19, when eight games will be played in total against local curlers, four each in the morning and afternoon.”
After the games are complete the party and look forward to some aftermatch entertainment at Greenacres which also includes a McGonagall Supper.
Renfrewshire Council are also understood to be hosting the Canadians at the Watermill Hotel on Monday, January 19 for a buffet lunch followed by a tour of the Abbey.