A local curler will be throwing stones with the best of them in an international tournament between Canada and Scotland.
Jim Burgess will be joining 39 other Canadian curlers as they head to Scotland in January to compete in the Strathcona Cup, a curling tour that pits Canadians against Scots to see who has the best curlers.
“The cup is the oldest, continuous curling cup that’s still being played for,” said Burgess.
“The Canadians obviously want to win, but it’s a little more than just winning. To the players, the tournament is about meeting new people and seeing the country.”
The Strathcona Cup started in 1903 when the Scots came to Canada for the first annual general meeting of the Royal Curling Club. In that first game held in 1903, Canada beat Scotland.
Since then, the two countries have taken turns travelling between Canada and Scotland every few years to hold the month-long tournament.
For Burgess, being selected to participate in the tournament is an honour, and a great next step for his life-long career in curling.
“I’m 75 now, and I’ve been curling since I was 13,” he said.
“Curling has always been in the family. It started with my grandfather in the early ’50s, and all of my family continued to curl throughout the years, from my father and mother, down to my children and grandchildren today.”
Burgess has dedicated countless hours to the sport, promoting the game and coaching the junior curling program at the Truro Curling Club.
“Jim’s credentials are really as good, if not better, than any of the other candidates,” said Bill Wesley, a fellow curler and former participant in the Strathcona Cup.
“He’s given a lifetime of his spare time, even though it was his passion in the first place, to the game of curling. For more than 30 years, Jim has been at this club supporting curling and local curlers.”
Burgess and the rest of his team will head to Scotland Jan. 8, where they will break into two teams to cover both North and South Scotland, playing three to four games a week for the following month.
“Providing my body can handle it, I’ll be playing around 20 games,” chuckled Burgess.
The tournament runs until Feb. 3, and overall scores of each game will be added to see which team comes out on top and claims the Strathcona Cup.
“The winners do win the cup, but the Scots won’t let us take it home,” said Wesley.
“It’s such a valuable trophy in terms of pounds sterling, it’s too hard to insure. The insurance on it would be phenomenally high, and therefore it prohibits it from moving around.”
That’s fine with Burgess, though. The sport has never solely been about winning. It’s the experience.
“Competing is one of my favourite parts of the game, but also the fellowship of curling,” he said.
“It’s a very social game, it’s not a brass-knuckles game; you just shake hands before and after the game and enjoy the competition.
“What we’ll get out of the tournament is a lot of new friends, new experiences and new places to send letters and emails back and forth. It’s about being social and curling.”