Robert Dunbar Sr. • Dorothy McKenzie • Esther Poulton
Charlie Scrymgeour • Cec Watt • Mitchell 1983 Team
Dunbar, R.H. (Robert) Sr.
Robert Dunbar (1859 – 1937) came to Winnipeg from Nova Scotia in the late 1870’s and became probably the first of Manitoba’s great curling superstars. He paved the way for many greats, such as Braden, Cassidy and Rochon, to follow in his competitive footsteps. He excelled at many sports but appeared to start to concentrate on curling in 1890.
In a span between 1893 and 1920, he curled at the Thistle Curling Club and later at the St. Paul and Eveleth Clubs in Minnesota.
Records from the years before there was a provincial championship show his prowess at the game. He won the MCA Grand Aggregate title twice (1908 and 1915); the Grand Points Competition four times (1895, 1898, 1899, and 1900); Royal Caledonian Tankard three times (1898, 1907, and 1912); the Tuckett Trophy doubles event in 1893 and 1894; the Walkerville Trophy twice, the Tetley Tea Tankard; the Purity Flour Challenge Cup and the Jerry Robinson trophy in 1920.
Indeed an impressive record!
In 1920, the MCA made Robert Dunbar an Honourary Life Member in recognition of his great accomplishments.
A quote from the Allardyce-Mott curling history book, “Curling Capital” surely sums up his status as a great player and innovator of both technique and strategy – “By 1895, he was the best curler in the West, and by 1901 when he left Winnipeg for St. Paul, he was regarded by virtually all observers as the best shot maker in the sport. His visits to play in the MCA Bonspiel in the years after did little to diminish his stature. His style was copied later by curlers like Mac Braden and Frank Cassidy, who learned to employ the Dunbar mechanics of the sliding delivery and the take out game…”
In 2004, Robert Dunbar was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame.
Dorothy McKenzie (1927-2016) was one of a very small number of Manitoba curlers who won four consecutive championships.
Dorothy started curling in 1957 at the Victoria Curling Club. She credits her start to the encouragement of Molly Duguid. At the Victoria, she served on the executive for many years and was involved in mixed and ladies curling. In both 1967 and 1968 with Roy Wiebe’s team of herself, Brian Toews and Lorraine Guertin, they finished in runner-up positions.
In 1972, Dorothy moved to the Heather Curling Club and continued her winning ways. High point in her career came in 1977 when she won the Hudson Bay main event trophy, the Clay Law Aggregate Trophy and the Manitoba Women’s Championship. Her team consisted of Simone Rivard, ina Irvin, and Heather Helston. With no play-off at the national championship in 1977, she finished in third place with a 7W – 3L record and was voted by the media as the “Best All Around Sportsman”.
In 1978, 1979, and 1980, Dorothy and her senior teams won consecutive Senior Women’s Provincial titles and finished runner-up in all three appearances at the Canadians.
After moving to Alberta in 1980, Dorothy made one more appearance at the Canadian Senior Women’s Championship, playing third for Alberta in 1986.
Esther Poulton (1898-1997) enjoyed a long and successful a career. She was born in Morden, MB and started curling in her high school years in Roland, where she attended school. Moving to Winnipeg, she joined the Granite Kil Kare Club in 1930 and after its disbandment during the war years, she became an active member of the Fort Rouge Ladies Curling Club. She remained at that club, curling until age 85, after serving as its president in 1946 and receiving Honorary Life Membership in 1965.
Esther’s curling accomplishments, as a skip are numerous. In 1937, with Grace Mason, Mae Graham, and Lulu Brandon, she won the Birk’s Dingwall major event trophy in the MLCA Bonspiel.
She continued her winning ways for many years. In 46 appearances in the MLCA Bonspiel, she was a major event winner at least 5 times, Grand Aggregate winner in 1948, and winner of minor events many times.
As well as the MCA Bonspiel honours, Esther and her team won the city championship twice, in 1950 and 1958.
In 1958 at the peak of her career, Esther won the Provincial Women’s Title and represented Manitoba in the Western Canadian Championship in Calgary with her team of Mae Graham, Mary Chalmers and Dorothy Starr.
In spite of this impressive record, Esther was always unassuming and quick to praise her teams. Comments like – “I wasn’t good, but my teams were. All I had to do was put up guards!” – were typical. She exhibited the fine qualities of excellence and humility, combined in a competitive curler.
Charlie Scrymgeour (1914-2000) combined a successful competitive career with leadership of the sport.
From a beginning with the juniors at the Winnipeg – St. John’s Curling Club, he reached the pinnacle of competitive curling when he curled in and won the Macdonald Brier in 1942 as a member of Ken Watson’s team.
In 1943 the team repeated as Manitoba Champion but there was no Brier because the war was underway. So Charlie missed his return trip. He curled with Ken Watson from 1942 through 1946. They won five Manitoba Curling Association bonspiel Grand Aggregates and had main event wins three times in the Birks-Dingwall event and three times in the Eaton event.
In addition to on-ice success, Charlie’s contributions to the sport at the club, provincial, and national level were significant. He was a member of the St. John’s, Strathcona, Thistle, and Deer Lodge Curling Clubs and served as the President of the Thistle Curling Club in 1957-58, a decade after he had first been elected to serve on the Manitoba Curling Association’s Executive Council. From the early 60’s he was most closely identified with the Deer Lodge Curling Club, where he was an active volunteer. He is an Honourary Life Member of the Deer Lodge Curling Club and of the Manitoba Curling Association. He is also a member of the Governor General’s Curling Club.
As an Association Council member from 1947 – 1954, Charlie was actively involved in the Junior committee and the Ice and Draw committee. He served as draw master and committee member for the Manitoba Schools Bonspiel for nearly 40 years, beginning in the 1940’s. He served as Secretary of the Schoolboy Curling Championship and then as Secretary of the Dominion Curling Association, the predecessor of the Canadian Curling Association. In all, he spent about 25 years as a volunteer and later as an employee at the national level.
Charlie was honoured with Honourary Life Memberships in the Deer Lodge Curling Club and Manitoba Curling Association as well as being made a member of the Governor General’s Curling Club in 1967.
Cec Watt (1923-2006) was a dedicated and enthusiastic supporter of his club and of Manitoba curling.
Always a member of the Elmwood Curling Club, Cec joined the executive in 1947 and became President in 1956-57. A similar service pattern followed with the Manitoba Curling Association. He served for 14 years on the Executive Council, from 1958 to 1972, and as President in 1970-71.
At the national level, Cec distinguished himself on a number of Canadian Curling Association committees from 1973 to 1979, culminating as National President in 1980-81. From 1981 – 1983, he was the Canadian representative on the International Curling Federation.
Cec was a part of many of Winnipeg’s major national and international curling events, including the 1970 Brier (Chairman), 1978 Silver Broom (VP Accommodations and Entertainment), 1991 World Curling Championship (VP Hosting). From 1985 to1988 he chaired the committee preparing for the MCA 100th Anniversary Bonspiel, at 1,280 teams in the open competitions – the largest bonspiel ever held worldwide.
Cec was especially proud of his work with junior curlers, overseeing many changes in the junior program and serving in 1978 as Chairman of the Curl Canada Development Committee.
He was a Director of the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame for 12 years and a Founding Director of the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame.
Numerous honours followed his years of work. He was named an Honourary Life Member of the Elmwood Curling Club, the Manitoba Curling Association and the Canadian Curling Association. He was inducted into the Curling Hall of Fame of Canada in 1986 and the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.
The 1983 Canadian Senior Women’s Champions, skipped by Mabel Mitchell had a level of success between 1983 and 1987 that is rarely experienced by competitive curlers.
Representing Brandon’s Wheat City Curling Club, Mabel and her teammates appeared in four consecutive Manitoba finals. In that span, they won three Manitoba championships and one Canadian championship and finished as Canadian finalist on the other two occasions.
The winning string for the team actually started in 1982 when Mabel, Mary Adams, Mildred Murray and June Clark won a bonspiel berth to compete in the provincial Scott Tournament of Hearts. In fact, they had already had very successful careers prior to their move into senior competition.
When Mabel skipped the Manitoba Women’s Champions in 1968 and 1971, June Clark and Mildred Murray were both with her. Mary Adams had been a 1974 Manitoba Mixed Champion.
Their greatest accomplishment as a team came in 1983 when they captured the Manitoba Senior Women’s Championship and went on to become the first Manitoba team to win the Canadian Senior Women’s Title. It was also the first Canadian curling championship of any type won by a team representing a Brandon curling club.
In 1984, they repeated their Manitoba success but fell just short of repeating at the Canadian level, where they were runners-up.
In 1986, the Mitchell team was runner-up in the Manitoba Senior Women’s Championship. In 1987, they returned to the Canadian Championship where once again they fell just short, finishing in a tie for second place.
Mabel was inducted into the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame in 1987 in recognition of her individual accomplishments.
Mitchell 1983 TEAM