During the late 60s, the 70s, and the early 80s, the Berwick Curling Club was well respected locally and across the province for having strong, competitive teams. With the recruitment of Dr. Ron Thorpe, Tom Beattie, Dave Miller, and Bill Wilson, the Berwick Curling Club became even stronger. Looking more like NFL linebackers than curlers, these four men combined style, strength, strategy, size, agility, shot making, and tremendous “sweeping ability”. Back in the day before push brooms, these men drew raves from spectators for their sweeping efficiency, pounding in unison with corn brooms, rink rats, and mid westerns (with leather inserts). One Digby Hall-of-Famer, Hymie Webber, even checked their brooms one day for real vacuums!
All the practice and play would pay off. Most of the games played in the Berwick Curling Club were full of tension and excitement. All of the teams wanted so dearly to represent the club, especially at the provincial level. There was even the odd call to world champion Ernie Richardson for a bit of advice.
Holes-in-one in golf are rare, but eight enders in curling are extremely rare. In January 1971, the boys pounded Dr. Thorpe’s last rock all the way to the rings to score the first eight-ender in Berwick Curling Club history and to win the right to represent Berwick in the famous Johnson Cup, played in Halifax.
It was fun to watch Dr. Thorpe’s methodical approach to the game, Tom Beattie’s style of bringing the rock back to should height and finishing with a gentle delivery, and the shot making and sweeping of Dave Miller and Bill Wilson. Bill became known as “Double” Wilson for his ability to make double take-outs when needed the most. And they were hugely successful. They were runners-up four times in provincial play; the 1971 Johnson Cup, the 1972 Provincial Branch Junior, and the 1973 and 1975 British Consols (the provincial men’s championship now known as the Labatt Tankard). As Dave Miller said about the team, “We were pretty strong”.
One of the most prestigious events of the time was the Western Counties Bonspiel, which brought together the best curling teams from throughout the western part of the province, included several that went on to provincial championships. The individual members of the Ron Thorpe Curling Team, on various teams over three decades, won nine times. Bill Wilson was elected to the Western Counties Hall-of-Fame as a five time winner. Dave Miller won twice and Dr. Thorpe and Tom Beattie each won once.
Not only were these curlers great ambassadors of the game, but they also gave freely of their time to make the home club successful; holding office, working on committees, and running bonspiels. It would be interesting to put this team up against today’s teams.
The Berwick Sports Hall-of-Fame is proud to induct the curling team of Dr. Ron Thorpe, Tom Beattie, Dave Miller, and Bill Wilson.
Inducted June 2010