William Gemmill

Curlers in Canada circa 1900-1905.

William Gemmill, former President of Gladsmuir Curling Club, played a significant role in the preparations for the first tour of Scottish Curlers to Canada in 1902/03. He was Vice President of the Royal Caledonian Curling and chaired the committee appointed to select the players to go to Canada in 1902-03 for this new tour. He was a farmer at Greendykes and first appears in the minutes of the Gladsmuir Club in October 1889.

In his talk as President of the club in March 1900, he spoke about his long experience of curling. It extended back to before the severe winters of the Crimean War, beginning in the notable parish of Fenwick where the Fenwick Twist or turning the handle was thoroughly studied and brought to perfection in practice. After giving advice on the importance of having a team playing together as long as they possible can, he reminded the club about the importance of sweeping and not putting your hands in your pockets or looking at what is going on in the next rink. He ended his talk with the advice that however keen you may be for your side to win, however energetically you may work to that end, and however enthusiastically you may test your lungs over a good shot, never forget to treat your opponents courteously and part whether winners or losers in such ways that both sides should be looking forward to a similar tussle at the first opportunity.

He had two sons. Both were keen curlers. Matthew, his second son died in 1904. William Gemmill Snr himself died in 1905. His eldest son William who had been Ice man and Joint Secretary died in March 1918 leading his regiment of the Royal Scots into battle. The last entry in the Minute book of Gladsmuir club is for the 9th Oct 1914. A photo of the club members with William Gemmill Snr. is held by East Lothian Council. The Club Minute books and Treasurer’s books have survived intact.
(By: David Affleck)