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Lost Nelson curling trophy reappears

A Nelson curling trophy that vanished nearly 70 years ago has been returned to the local club after turning up in a California flea market.

The oddly-named Imperial Corectal Trophy, donated by Imperial Optical Co., was supposed to be handed out annually during the Midsummer Bonspiel.

However, it was only awarded twice: to a BC rink skipped by A.S. Hamilton in 1945, the bonspiel’s debut year, and to the W.B. White rink of Oshawa in 1946.

What happened to the trophy after that is a complete mystery until it resurfaced at the Santa Monica Antique Mart in 2012. Jarrell Carter, a collector of old sports trophies, found it there.

“I liked the solid look of the bonspiel trophy, its colour, and shape and here in Los Angeles curling is an esoteric pursuit (which is to say that I liked the novelty),” he said. “I bought a few things when I got the trophy and believe it was $80 or $90.”

Carter’s collection is otherwise made up of basketball, bowling, and golf trophies — plus a tug-of-war trophy from 1891. While watching curling coverage during the Sochi Olympics, he tried Googling “Nelson Midsummer Bonspiel.”

“When I saw that the first bonspiel was in 1945 I thought the club might like to get their trophy back,” he said. After exchanging emails with the club’s Alan May, he mailed it to them at his own expense and it arrived earlier this month.

It’s about ten inches high and six inches wide, has a black base, silver plaque, and two silver shields with the names of the winning rinks. It also has a brass figurine on top of a man in a Tam o’ Shanter about to throw a rock.

“It was in beautiful shape but the silver was pretty tarnished,” says Barry Marsh with the curling club. Ted Allen’s Jewellery cleaned it for free.

Where the trophy has been all these years and how it got to California defies explanation. Marsh says it’s unlikely winners would have been allowed to keep it.

Wiliiam Bertram (Bert) White, skip of the last team to claim it, started an insurance brokerage in Oshawa in 1929 that is still in business, run by his great grandson. A trophy in his name is also awarded by the Oshawa Curling Club.

Oddly, it's not the first time a lost Nelson curling trophy has shown up. A cup of similar vintage was left on a tractor outside Marsh’s business a couple of years ago — he never found out who put it there, but they must have known about his involvement with local curling.

That trophy, which had evidently been used as a planter, was for the Plugs vs. Colts championship, an annual showdown between juniors and seniors. It too was awarded only twice, with the Colts prevailing both times. In 1945, the winning rink was skipped by J.C. Muir.

Although Marsh hadn’t heard of either trophy, much less realized they were missing, he’s delighted to see them come home: “I think it’s awesome. There’s a lot of history in the Midsummer Bonspiel and in our curling club. It’s great to get some of it back.”

The antique hardware will find a place of honour in the club’s trophy cabinet.

The inscriptions

Imperial Corectal Trophy/Donated by the Imperial Optical Co./For Annual Competition/At the Nelson Mid-Summer Bonspiel

1945: W.B. Ward, J.L. Jenkins, C.A. Towriss, A.S. Hamilton, Skip

1946: L. Beaton, F. McCallum, F. Garrard, W.B. White, Skip, Oshawa, Ont.

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