The Brier is the annual Canadian men’s curling championship. The Big Guy and I have attended it in Edmonton, Calgary (twice), Winnipeg, and Ottawa (twice), along with hockey-arenas-full of friendly strangers, calling out their province names.
These days, it’s the Tim Horton’s Brier — before that it was the Nokia Brier, the Labatt Brier, and the Macdonald Brier — but it’s just the Brier unless you’re in the sponsor’s marketing department, or the broadcaster with the TV rights.
It started in 1927 and took three years off during WWII, making this year’s event in St. John’s, Newfoundland (and Labrador) number 88 by my reckoning.
It’s had various formats over the years, from a straight round-robin of 14-end games, to the TV-friendly, play-off structure of 10-end games.
It’s had various numbers of participants, from 8 to 10 to the current 12 plus those who play in a qualifying round, and it will increase to 16 teams in 2018.
It’s been boycotted by curlers wanting to wear their sponsor logos and earn cash prizes.
It’s changed from amateur curlers smoking on the ice, to professional curlers who clearly work out to stay in (ahem) great shape.
And it’s been won 27 times each by Alberta and Manitoba, which leads to a certain healthy competition in this household.
It’s the Brier. It’s the best. As this is published, the 2017 version starts tomorrow. Check your local TV listings.
Looking for more?
Library and Archives Canada has additional material on the history of curling in Canada.
Soudog Curling has content on Brier history that will test your eyesight.
Curling Canada has a Hall of Fame.
CBC’s Quirks & Quarks looks at the physics of curling and provides other archived content including a 2-minute radio interview with competitors at the 1947 Brier.