National Brier finalists 1948
Success in competition is undoubtedly most rewarding when least expected. In 1948, a rink from the Galt Curling Club became the first, and to this day, the only team from this city to compete in the Brier, Canada’s national curling championship.
Skipped by Jack Patrick, with vice-skip Bill Meyer, second Walter MacGregor and lead Angus (Scotty) Oliver, the local press called them “Jack and the giant killers.”
The Galt team was the most successful quartest since the early Scottish pioneers had played the game on a frozen Altrieve Lake in the early 1800s.
Since then the game had been played by thousands of local men, and women, over the ensuing generations.
Competing against 128 other club champions for the Ontario championship, Patrick and his rink knew that just a single loss would end their dream.
Their nickname was deservedly earned when they won the division title defeating Bert Hall of Kitchener, a 1939 Brier champion and the holder of seven Ontario titles.
They curled for the Ontario championship in Hamilton where the newspaper said they were “not figuring to be much trouble.”
On Feb. 12, 1948, a convincing 12-7 victory over a Hamilton Thistle Club rink sent them on their way to the national event in Calgary.
Jack, Bill, Walter and Scotty travelled west by train for what Patrick called “a once in your lifetime” event. They finished tied for third but were forced to play two matches with only three players (no substitutes in those days) when Patrick was felled by the flu.
Against Nova Scotia the Galt rink almost scored the first shutout in Brier history, and on the final day they knocked previously unbeaten Manitoba out of the running. Indeed, Oliver was named to the Brier all-star team.
In 1972 they were awarded life memberships at the Galt Curling Club – the club celebrated its 150th anniversary in 1988, making it the fourth oldest continuously-operated rink in Ontario. The old rink (1877) was torn down in the late 1980s and re-established itself on Dunbar Road, but they still talk of the magical year when the 1948 team from Galt went to the Brier.