Curling is one of the oldest sports in the world that is still currently played. It was first referenced both in writings and paintings in the mid 1500’s! It is exciting to think that this sport has captivated its players for almost 600 years across multiple continents.
It is agreed that curling was invented in Scotland and perhaps as early as 1511 but definitely by 1541. There was written mention of the sport found in a Scottish monastery with that year clearly mentioned. However, there has been a curling stone discovered at the bottom of a pond with the date of 1511 inscribed upon it. Either way, the game has definitely survived the march of time like few other sports.
Curling was originally played outdoors on frozen ponds. The curling stones that were used were flat-bottomed river stones that players collected from the surrounding area. As one could imagine, no two stones would be identical so the game would be inconsistent. Imagine trying to replicate an intricate shot with two rocks of different shape and weight on a craggy frozen pond!
The sport remained in Scotland for the first few hundred years of its existence, however in the late 1700’s or early 1800’s, Scottish emigrants brought the game with them to Canada. Canada proved to be another ideal spot for curling due to the long winters and plenty of frozen surfaces on which to play. The first curling club in Canada was established in 1807 in Montreal and it still exists today after over 200 years!
As for the United States, emigrants brought the game over at probably around the same time as Canada, but the first U.S. curling club was not established until 1831 near Detroit, MI. Similar to the first curling club in Canada, the Detroit Curling Club is still in existence to this day.
Today there are over 140 unique curling clubs in the United States alone, and much more than that in Canada. It has also spread to all of Europe, Japan, Australia, and even New Zealand. There are an estimated over 1.5 million active curlers around the world which is an impressive number that is sure to grow even more impressive as curling continues to capture the hearts of people worldwide.