has a colourful and dramatic history that can be compared to the Stanley
Cup or the Grey Cup. The first Brier was held in 1927 at Toronto's Granite
Club. There were eight rinks including foursomes from Toronto, Montreal,
and Saskatchewan, the only Western Canadian representative. In 1928, three
rinks from Western Canada competed, although one of them, Joe Heartwell's
rink from the Rosetown Curling Club in Saskatchewan, actually represented
Alberta. His team lost the Saskatchewan playoffs, but entered the Alberta
playdowns and won.
home was Toronto for the first 13 years. During that time Manitoba set
a record by winning five Briers in a row from 1928-32. Winnipeg's Gordon
Hudson became the first two-time and consecutive Brier winner with victories
in 1928 and 1929. He was also the first of 12 Brier-winning skips to go
undefeated, posting a 9-0 mark in 1929.
Island and British Columbia joined the Brier field in 1936.
went "national" in 1940 when it moved from Toronto to Winnipeg. It has
since been contested in 28 different cities, from Victoria to St. John's.
|The late 1940's
saw the first of a then-record ten Brier appearances by Garnet Campbell,
from the Avonlea Curling Club in Saskatchewan. Campbell made his debut
as a 16-year-old at the 1947 Brier in Saint John, New Brunswick. British
Columbia's Bernie Sparkes eclipsed that record in 1984 in Victoria, when
he made his 11th Brier appearance. He competed again in 1987 to finish
with 12 Brier appearances.
|At the 1949
Brier in Hamilton, Manitoba skip Ken Watson went undefeated at 9-0 to become
the first triple Brier winner. Watson had earlier captured the 1936 and
|In 1951, Newfoundland
joined the Brier, and although there were some lean years ahead for the
province, it astounded curling fans with a memorable 1976 Brier win in
Regina, under skip Jack MacDuff.
making a name for itself at the Brier in the fifties. Matt Baldwin, from
the Edmonton Granite Curling Club, skipped his rink to three triumphs in
1954, 1957 and 1958.
from the Calgary Curling Club kept things going in the sixties. He took
his rink to three Brier triumphs in 1966, 1968 and 1969.
Alberta adversary during that time was Hec Gervais, "The Friendly Giant"
from Edmonton. He skipped teams to Brier victories in 1961 and 1974.
(NWT) joined the Brier field in 1975 but have yet to crown a champion.
Quebec got its only win in 1977. Jim Ursel's St. Laurent rink sent the
hometown fans home happy at the Brier in Montreal.
|At the 1980
Brier in Calgary the current trophy, the Labatt Tankard was awarded for
the first time. It went to Rick Folk's Nutana Curling Club rink from Saskatoon.
|The 1981 Labatt
Brier in Halifax was a real nail biter. There were two tie-breakers one
of which went into an extra end. A semi-final that went to an extra end
and a dramatic last shot, come from behind win for Manitoba's Kerry Burtnyk.
He scored three in the final end to edge out Northern Ontario and give
Manitoba its 21st Brier victory. The 22-year-old Burtnyk became the Brier's
youngest winning skip, and his team of Mark Olson, 23, Jim Spencer, 22
and Ron Kammerlock, 21 became the youngest to capture a Brier with an average
age of 22.
coninued in 1985. The Brier in Moncton went to an extra end to determine
the champion. It was only the second time that a final went to extra ends,
and ironically the other time was also in Moncton, in 1956, when Billy
Walsh of Manitoba edged Alf Phillips Sr. of Ontario, 8-7. This time Northern
Ontario got the best of Alberta. Alberta's Pat Ryan was leading the final
5-3 after nine ends. But in the tenth, Northern Ontario's Al Hackner made
a dramatic double takeout to score two and send the game into an extra
end. Ryan let victory slip through his fingers when he failed to make a
draw to the four-foot giving Northern Ontario a steal of one and the title.
able to get back on the winning track the next year in Kitchener. Ed Lukowich
from Calgary beat Ontario 4-3 by counting one in the last end.
|In 1987 the
Brier came to Edmonton and was a sell out at the Northlands AgriCom. Alberta
was represented again by Pat Ryan. But there was no stopping Russ Howard
of Ontario. He captured the title in dramatic fashion by scoring five with
his last rock in the tenth to erase a 7-6 deficit and won 11-7.
|The 1988 Brier
in the twin cities of Chicoutimi-Jonquiere, Quebec gave Alberta's Pat Ryan
a chance for redemption. He had lost the final in a heart breaker three
years before and was a disappointment at the `87 Brier in his hometown
of Edmonton. This time, Ryan, like in 1985, led his team to an unbeaten
record of 11-0 in round robin play. Ryan had to stay unbeaten to finally
take home the Tankard. And he did it, but not without a heart stopping
finish. Ryan trailed 7-5 going into the final end, but was counting three
when Saskatchewan Skip Eugene Hritzuk threw his last rock. It didn't even
make it accross the hog line and Ryan had his first Brier win. It was also
the 15th title for Albertra.
|Pat Ryan made
it back the 1989 Labatt Brier in Saskatoon. He beat Rick Folk of British
Columbia 3-2 in the lowest scoring Brier final. The win gave Ryan back
to back championships. It was the first time a skip won consecutive titles
since Manitoba's Don Duguid did it in 1970 and `71.
|In 1991 Edmonton's
Kevin Martin won in Hamilton, capturing the first of his two Briers. In
the final, Martin trailed Saskatchewan's Randy Woytowich 3-2 after five
ends. But Martin scored four in the sixth end to move ahead for good.
|The 1994 Brier
saw the first use of the Free Guard Zone or Three rock rule. The rule change
was implemented in the hope of opening up the game, creating more shot-making
opportunities and leading to more scoring. The crowds in Red Deer saw Pat
Ryan win again. But this time he was playing third for Rick Folk of British
Columbia. BC easily beat Ontario in the final.
|In 1996 Edmonton's
Kevin Martin was back in the final at the Brier held in Kamloops, British
Columbia. But Martin couldn't solve Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton. The final
game was the third meeting of the two teams in Kamloops. Stoughton had
taken the first two and he made three with a steal of one in an extra end
to win the Brier. The win gave Manitoba it's 25th championship.
|The 1997 Labatt
Brier in Calgary set the mark for attendence. The crowds totalling 223,322
smashed the previous attendence record of 151,538, set in Saskatoon in
1989. Kevin Martin was back and this time he wouldn't be denied. In a real
barn burner Martin came from behind to beat Vic peters of Mantitoba 10-8
for his second Brier win.