Canada's Sports Hall of Fame Canadian History and Society: Through the Lens of Sport Virtual Museum of Canada


In 1980 the Labatt Brewing company replaced the original title sponsor of the Brier. However, organizers continued to emphasize tradition, retaining the tournament's iconic name as it grew in popularity and profitability. Throughout the 1980's and 1990's, increased media exposure and commercial marketing expanded the Brier's audience and set new attendance records. In 1982 a groundbreaking 106, 394 people attended the tournament in Brandon, Manitoba. This same year the social space where curlers and spectators mingled between draws was first dubbed 'the Brier Patch', a name organizers continue to use today. In 1989 over 150,000 people attended the eight-day tournament in Saskatoon. Ticket and souvenir sales as well as the Brier Patch helped turn a record-setting profit that year, most of which was reinvested to promote curling within the community.

The Canadian Curling association ( CCA), who had risked holding the 1997 Brier in Calgary's 17,000 seat Saddledome arena were rewarded with another remarkable attendance record of 223, 322 people. The tournament's increasing commercial appeal did not eclipse its cultural significance as 'a vehicle for unity in Canada'. This was evident in 1996, when the Brier was held in Kamloops, B.C., in the aftermath of referendums held on sovereignty in Quebec. At the Brier Patch that year, Quebec's team took to the stage to sing O Canada to an emotional audience drawn from all across the country, proving the importance of the tournament was not limited to events on the ice alone.

copper Labatt Brier Trophy
When Labatt became the official sponsor for the Brier they introduced a new trophy featuring a large gold stein with the company's logo on front. It was officially retired in 2000 when Labatt ended its sponsorship and is still one of Canada's most iconic sport trophies.
Collection: Michael Burns Photography

broom with cotton head and label RINK RAT
The three-fingered broom, called a Rink Rat Broom was made of a cotton covering over springy pieces of plastic. These brooms did not remain in existence for very long because the more standard curling "brush" began to appear and was the preferable choice.
Collection: Crowsnest Pass Museum and Archives

brown toy bear with red shirt and curling broom
In 1981 the Halifax Organizing Committee for the Brier decided they needed a mascot and Brier Bear was born. The mascot's job is to keep things fun and lively during the times when there is a break in action. This well-loved mascot has been at every Brier for over 30 years.
Collection: Private Collection: Helena Deng

photograph of people on dance floor
The Brier Patch has become synonymous with promoting friendship and camaraderie among curlers and their fans. It is a place to rub elbows with the team players, trade pins and enjoy the atmosphere of the Brier.
Collection: Private Collection: Warren Hansen

Photograph volunteer team Victoria Brier 1984
The Brier could not be run without a dedicated team of volunteers. They do all kinds of jobs, from administration to cleanup and provide much of the atmosphere that makes each Brier unique.
Collection: Private Collection: Warren Hansen

miniature tankard trophy with Labatt Brier Champion
Each winning curler was presented with a miniature "Keeper" tankard to mark their Brier championship. The Brier years saw many top curlers win the coveted trophy, including Ed Lukowich who won in 1986. He went on to win a Bronze medal in the demonstration sport of curling at the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary. Curling became a full medal sport in 1998 at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games.
Collection: Private Collection: Warren Hansen

granite curling stone with yellow handle
Curling stones are made of granite from quarries in Scotland. Before the coloured handles were introduced, curlers marked their stones in a variety of ways, including pompoms on the handles. World Champion Russ Howard's signature is on this stone.
Collection: Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

purple and gold edged heart shaped crest which reads Labatt Brier Canadian Men's Curling Championship 1997
In 1980 Labatt tried to replace the historic purple heart with another crest. As quoted from Bob Weeks book, Curling Etcetera: A Whole Bunch of Stuff About the Roaring Game. Curlers refused to accept the new crest: "Every curler in Canada identifies with the Purple Heart; it is the symbol of excellence". Labatt conceded and the heart remained.
Collection: Private Collection: Warren Hansen

framed poster with stein and curling stone images
The poster for the 2000 Brier marked the end of the Labatt sponsorship. It featured the famous stein trophy. The Brier was held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The winning team from British Columbia were Greg McAulay, Brent Pierce, Bryan Miki and Jody Svelstrup.
Collection: Private Collection: Warren Hansen

Previous Next