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Stubby’s winning curling stones donated to Fergus club

Donation - Left to right are Brandon Bryce, great grandson of Stubby; Joy Bryce; Dave Bryce, grandson of Stubby; Beth Henderson, grand-daughter; Ryan Bryce, great grandson; Fergus Curling Club president Avon Giddings; Bruce Hawkins and piper Mark Cripps.  Photo by Bill Longshaw

Stubby’s winning curling stones donated to Fergus club

by Bruce Hawkins and Bill Longshaw

FERGUS - The grand-daughter of legendary Fergus athlete John (Stubby) Graham has donated the stones he used to win the Ontario Tankard in 1899 to the Fergus Curling Club for posterity.

Beth Henderson called to club to arrange the donation of a number of pieces of memorabilia.

On March 27, president Avon Giddings, Bruce Hawkins, piper Mark Cripps and past member Bill Longshaw travelled to Varney, south of Durham, to collect the curling rocks.

They were used 120 years ago in the one and only Ontario Tankard ever won by Fergus. Graham belonged to the Fergus Curling Club and competed in many Ontario Tankards up to 1945.

He was an avid curler, lacrosse player, and champion speed skater in his lifetime.

He was born in Fergus in 1872. He began curling when he was 13 years old and curled until he was over 75.

In the early days of curling, curlers purchased their own rocks and carried them in a wooden box when they went to the club or a bonspiel.

Each of the two rocks weighed about 44 pounds, so with the box, it was about 100 pounds which they lugged from town to town on the train. The bonspiels in those days consisted of 16 ends, a real marathon of curling prowess.

In 1947 at the Toronto Curling Club, Stubby battled his way to the finals of the Ontario Silver Tankard at the age of 75, but unfortunately came out second.

This was the second year in a row he did this. In 1899 his team won the tankard with him playing second.

In 1888 he was quite an ice skater too. He defeated another gentleman in Collingwood in a five-mile match race and was crowned champion of Ontario at the age of 16 with a record that still stands.

He got into lacrosse and in 1893 played on the Fergus Thistle Lacrosse Team that won the district championship. He competed many times for the Ontario trophy and retired at the age of 51. He played on the Canadian National team.

Jim “Flick” Graham, Stubbys fifth son, was also a notable lacrosse player.

In 1945 Stubby was awarded a lifetime membership to the Fergus and Ontario Curling Association.

Ontario premier Leslie Frost visited the Fergus Club to present the club’s 125th anniversary pin to him.

He passed away in 1963 at the age of 91 and was inducted into the Fergus Sports Hall of Fame in 1986.

April 12, 2019


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