Tim Hortons Brier
|Tim Hortons Brier|
|2017 host city||St. John's, Newfoundland
|2017 arena||Mile One Centre|
|2017 champion||Newfoundland and Labrador (Brad Gushue)|
|2017 Tim Hortons Brier|
The Tim Hortons Brier, or simply (and more commonly) the Brier, is the annual Canadian men's curling championship, sanctioned by the Canadian Curling Association (CCA). The current event name refers to its main sponsor, the Tim Hortons coffee and doughnut shop chain. "Brier" originally referred to a brand of tobacco sold by the event's first sponsor, the Macdonald Tobacco Company.
The Brier has been held since 1927, traditionally during the month of March. The winner of the Brier goes on to represent Canada at the World Championships of the same year. The Brier is regarded by most curlers as the world's premier curling championship. Many Canadian teams feel it is more of a privilege to win the Brier than the World Championship. The Brier is by far the best supported curling competition in terms of paid attendance, attracting crowds far larger than even those for World Championships held in Canada.
- 1 History
- 2 Qualification and eligibility
- 3 Winners
- 4 Top 3 finishes table
- 5 Awards
- 6 Records
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
In 1924, George J. Cameron, the president of W. L. Mackenzie and Company of the Macdonald Tobacco Company pitched the idea of a national curling championship to Macdonald Tobacco and was accepted. However, at the time Canadian curling was divided between the use of granite and iron curling stones with the latter being used in Quebec and Eastern Ontario and the former being used everywhere else. The granite camp held the advantage, as Macdonald Tobacco President Walter Stewart brother, T. Howard Stewart (also of Macdonald Tobacco) supported the use of granites, and was able to influence the decision for the new national championship to use granite stones.
Before the creation of the Brier, Macdonald Tobacco would begin by sponsoring the 1925 Manitoba Bonspiel, the provincial championship. The winner of this tournament would be sent to Eastern Canada to compete in a number of exhibition games against local teams. In 1926, the winners of the Bonspiel were sent to play in the Quebec Bonspiel. This visit was deemed popular enough to spur on the idea of a national championship to be held the year following. The first Brier would be held at the Granite Club in Toronto. Eight teams would play in the first Brier, from across the country. One team would represent Western Canada, while one team would each represent the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, while an additional entry was given to Northern Ontario and one each for the cities of Toronto and Montreal. Games in the 1927 Brier would last 14 ends in length, and each team would play all the other teams in a 7-game round robin with no playoffs unless there was a tie for first. The first winning team would be from Nova Scotia, a rink skipped by Murray Macneill. The other four curlers on the team – Al MacInnes, Cliff Torey and Jim Donahue – were normally skips in their own right, but were added to the Macneill rink because the rest of his normal team could not make the trip.
By 1928, games were shortened to 12 ends in length and each of the three prairie provinces would get their own separate entries, bringing the number of teams up to 10. In 1932, the separate entries for Montreal and Toronto would be removed, but Northern Ontario – which is not a province – kept its entry, and still remains the only non provincial or territorial entry to this day. In 1936, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia were given entries followed by Newfoundland (later Newfoundland and Labrador) in 1951. Finally, the then-two Territories were given representation with a combined entry beginning in 1975. Two years later, in 1977, games were shortened to 10 ends, which is the current length for matches (there is a move to shorten games to 8 ends, much like they are in Grand Slam events). Up until 1973, games had to last the full 12 ends. After 1973, teams could concede defeat before the end of the match if they wished.
From its beginnings until 1940, the Brier would be played at the Granite Club in Toronto. After then, the event would travel around the country, and would be played in all 10 provinces. Also at this point, rocks were coloured differently for each team and were matched to be of equal size. Play was discontinued between 1943 and 1945 due to World War II. After World War II, the event became more of a popular sporting spectacle across the country thanks to Macdonald Tobacco enlisting media outlets to cover the event. In 1946, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation began covering the event live across the country on the radio. By the 1960s, the CBC began showing curling on television, at first giving daily half-hour reports. In 1962, the CBC showed the tie-breaking playoff match up. In 1973, they began regularly showing live coverage of the final draw of the event.
In 1977, Macdonald Tobacco announced it would no longer be sponsoring the Brier, and the 1979 Macdonald Brier would mark the final event to be sponsored by the event. A committee headed by the Canadian Curling Association was put in charge to find a new sponsor, which would end up being the Labatt Brewing Company. The event retained the "Brier" name, despite the word being the property of Macdonald Tobacco. However, with the sponsorship of the Labatt came some changes to the event, such as adding a new championship trophy and adding a TV-friendly playoff round after the round robin games. Labatt remained the title sponsor until 2001 when Nokia took over. That sponsorship only lasted four years before Tim Hortons took over. When the Labatt sponsorship ended, the original Brier trophy was brought back and the names of the winners during the Labatt era were engraved in it.
Beginning in the 1990s, curling became more profitable, and the event would mostly be held in larger curling friendly markets (such as Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg and Saskatoon). At the same time, the World Curling Tour made the sport more lucrative, and curlers demanded cash prizes at the Brier, and the ability to display their sponsors on their jerseys. The CCA ignored their demands, and when the Grand Slam curling series was instituted in 2001, many of the top teams in the country boycotted the Brier in favour of playing in the Slams. Curlers' demands were eventually met and the boycott ended in 2003. The dominant Brier team of the era, the "Ferbey four" did not boycott the Brier, and won four of five Briers during the era, while other top teams such as Kevin Martin's boycotted the event.
For the first fifty years, the Brier was sponsored by Macdonald Tobacco (later RJR Tobacco Company and now part of JTI-Macdonald Corporation). The name "Brier", in fact, came from a brand of tobacco being manufactured by Macdonald at the time (a brier being a small shrub whose roots are commonly used to make tobacco pipes). Macdonald was also responsible for introducing both the Brier Tankard trophy (originally named the British Consols Trophy after a brand of cigarettes), and the now famous heart-shaped patches awarded to the tournament winners. The patches were modeled after a small tin heart pressed into the centre of Macdonald tobacco plugs, along with the slogan “The Heart of the Tobacco.” The same heart appeared on tins of Macdonald pipe tobacco. Later, when other national championships were developed, many took the heart as their identifying symbol as well.
|2005 to present||Tim Hortons (with Monsanto becoming an important sponsor from 2010 to 2011)|
Qualification and eligibility
The Brier is currently contested by 12 teams. Most provinces are represented by one team, with the exception of Ontario, which sends two teams (named Ontario and Northern Ontario). Through 2014 the territories sent one team, but starting in 2015 all three territories may compete individually. Teams qualify for the Brier through their respective provincial championships, which are held every year and are open to any Canadian men's curling team consisting of Canadian citizens. The formats for these championships vary from province to province, but most entail a series of club, municipal, district and/or regional playdowns prior to the provincial championship.
Until 2013, the champions of the Brier did not automatically qualify for the following year's Brier, and had to qualify again. However, beginning in 2014, following the precedent set by its women's counterpart, the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, champions now earn a bye representing Canada during the following year's Brier.
Starting in 2015, fifteen teams (ten provinces, three territories, Northern Ontario, and Team Canada) compete for twelve places in the Brier proper. The four lowest-ranked regions play a pre-qualifying tournament to open the Brier, with the winner advancing to the full round robin. In this format's first year Nunavut declined to send a team, and the round was between the winners of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and the Yukon.
Beginning with the 2018 Brier, the event will expand to a sixteen team field, with the ten provinces, three territories, Northern Ontario, and Team Canada being joined by the highest-ranked non-qualified team on the Canadian Team Ranking System standings. The teams will be separated into two pools of eight, each playing a round-robin, with the top four teams in each pool advancing to a second pool to determine the final four teams. The pools are tentatively slated to be determined by the CTRS standings as of December 31, 2017. 
|Year||Winning province||Winning team||Finalist province||Finalist team||Host|
|2001||Alberta||Randy Ferbey, David Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer, Marcel Rocque||Manitoba||Kerry Burtnyk, Jeff Ryan, Rob Meakin, Keith Fenton||Ottawa, Ontario (3)|
|2002||Alberta||Randy Ferbey, David Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer, Marcel Rocque||Ontario||John Morris, Joe Frans, Craig Savill, Brent Laing||Calgary, Alberta (5)|
|2003||Alberta||Randy Ferbey, David Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer, Marcel Rocque||Nova Scotia||Mark Dacey, Bruce Lohnes, Rob Harris, Andrew Gibson||Halifax, Nova Scotia (5)|
|2004||Nova Scotia||Mark Dacey, Bruce Lohnes, Rob Harris, Andrew Gibson||Alberta||Randy Ferbey, David Nedohin, Scott Pfeifer, Marcel Rocque||Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (5)|
Tim Hortons Brier
Top 3 finishes table
As of the 2017 Brier
Prior to the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier, there were no bronze medal games, so the third-place finishes listed in the table are for the teams that finished third in the tournament. Following the introduction of bronze medal games, which are played between the loser of the page 3 vs. 4 playoff game and the loser of the semifinal game, the third-place finishes listed are for the teams that won the bronze medal games in each Brier.
|Province||1st||2nd||3rd||Top 3 finishes|
|Newfoundland and Labrador||2||2||2||6|
|Yukon/ Northwest Territories||0||1||0||1|
|Prince Edward Island||0||0||2||2|
Hec Gervais Playoff MVP Award
|2000||Bryan Miki||British Columbia|
|2002||David Nedohin (2)||Alberta|
|2003||David Nedohin (3)||Alberta|
|2004||Mark Dacey||Nova Scotia|
|2005||David Nedohin (4)||Alberta|
|2009||Kevin Martin (2)||Alberta|
|2013||Brad Jacobs||Northern Ontario|
|2016||Kevin Koe (2)||Alberta|
Ross Harstone Sportsmanship Award
Shot of the Week Award
|1999||Guy Hemmings (2)||Quebec|
|2003||Bruce Lohnes||Nova Scotia|
|2004||Jay Peachey||British Columbia|
|2005||David Nedohin (2)||Alberta|
|2006||Mark Dacey||Nova Scotia|
|2007||Dean Joanisse||British Columbia|
|2009||Glenn Howard (2)||Ontario|
|2012||Glenn Howard (3)||Ontario|
|2013||Brad Gushue||Newfoundland and Labrador|
Ford Hot Shots
Most Brier wins as skip
Three people have won the Brier four times as skip:
- Ernie Richardson (1959, 1960, 1962, 1963)
- Randy Ferbey (2001, 2002, 2003, 2005) - In addition, Ferbey won the 1988 and 1989 Briers playing third for Pat Ryan.
- Kevin Martin (1991, 1997, 2008, 2009)
Top Attendance Records
|1||2005||Rexall Place, Edmonton||281,985|
|2||2000||Saskatchewan Place, Saskatoon||248,793|
|3||2009||Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary||246,126|
|4||2002||Pengrowth Saddledome, Calgary||245,296|
|5||1999||Skyreach Centre, Edmonton||242,887|
|6||2004||Saskatchewan Place, Saskatoon||238,129|
|7||1997||Canadian Airlines Saddledome, Calgary||223,322|
|8||2013||Rexall Place, Edmonton||190,113|
|9||2012||Credit Union Centre, Saskatoon||177,226|
|10||2008||MTS Centre, Winnipeg||165,075|
|11||2003||Metro Centre, Halifax||158,414|
|12||2001||Civic Centre, Ottawa||154,136|
|13||2015||Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary||151,835|
|14||1989||Saskatchewan Place, Saskatoon||151,538|
|15||1998||Winnipeg Arena, Winnipeg||147,017|
|16||1994||Centrium, Red Deer||130,625|
|17||1993||Civic Centre, Ottawa||130,076|
|18||1996||Riverside Coliseum, Kamloops||127,746|
|19||2006||Brandt Centre, Regina||125,971|
|20||2017||Mile One Centre, St. John's||122,592|
|21||1995||Metro Centre, Halifax||121,896|
|23||2016||TD Place Arena, Ottawa||115,047|
|24||2011||John Labatt Centre, London||113,626|
|25||2010||Metro Centre, Halifax||107,242|
|26||2007||Copps Coliseum, Hamilton||107,199|
|27||1982||Keystone Centre, Brandon||106,394|
A perfect game in curling is one in which a player scores 100% on all their shots in a game. Statistics on shots have been kept since 1985.
Number of games played
As of the 2017 Brier
* Includes pre-qualifying games (2015–2017)
- Scottish Men's Curling Championship
- United States Men's Curling Championship
- World Curling Championships
- Scotties Tournament of Hearts (Canada)
- Scottish Women's Curling Championship
- "Canada Curls", by Doug Maxwell, pg 106
- "Canada Curls", by Doug Maxwell, pg 109
- "Canada Curls", by Doug Maxwell, pg 114
- "Canada Curls", by Doug Maxwell, pg 121
- "CBC Digital Archives: Curling at the 1947 Macdonald Brier". CBC.
- "The History of Curling". Canadian Curling Association.
- Mellor, Claire (12 March 2010). "Monsanto curls up with Brier organizers". Halifax, Nova Scotia: The Chronicle Herald.
- "Brier to follow Scotties in awarding a Team Canada bye to champion". Canadian Press. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "Regina to host 2018 Brier curling championship". CBC News. November 3, 2016. Retrieved November 5, 2016.
The Regina competition will be the first brier [sic] using an expanded 16-team format.
- Bonspiel! The History of Curling in Canada at Library and Archives Canada
- SOUDOG'S Curling History Site
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