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Author of Tournament of Hearts name lauds its endurance


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CALGARY — The story of why the Canadian women’s curling championship is named the Tournament of Hearts starts over 40 years ago with sisters drinking wine.

Robin Wilson and sister Dawn Knowles had just won a second Canadian championship with B.C. skip Lindsay Sparkes in 1979. 

That tournament was without a title sponsor after seven years as the tobacco-backed MacDonald Lassies.

Wilson, the only female manager at Scott Paper, where she handled the diaper and feminine product line, successfully pitched sponsoring the women’s championship to company president Bob Stewart.

But Wilson needed to come up with a name and a brand to wow Stewart.

“The name Scott Tournament of Hearts. That was actually my sister and I,” Wilson told The Canadian Press from Vancouver.

“We’d just had dinner at my mom and dad’s. We were sitting on the living room carpet with a bottle of red wine. I said to her ‘help me out here. Where do we go?’

“We talked about all sorts of things. We put up a lot of names, threw them out.”

There was a dearth of elite female sport in North America in 1980, so the siblings couldn’t find inspiration there.

The motif of four hearts representing four curlers on a team came to them quickly, but what name should accompany it? 

They mulled variations on American college football bowl games, Wilson said. 

The Tournament of Roses that accompanied the Rose Bowl must have passed through their brains.

“We thought the Tournament of Hearts,” Wilson said. “The obvious thing was if we’re going to pitch this to Scott paper we had to have the name Scott in it.

“We took a lot of razzing with it too because people said it sounded like a parade in California.”

With the Hearts traditionally held in February, it’s an easy assumption to draw a connection between the hearts theme and Valentine’s Day, but Wilson said that wasn’t a factor in the naming of it.

The first Canadian women’s curling championship held in 1961 was called the Diamond D Championship.

An elite level curler herself, Wilson wanted the women’s championship to have an identifier as enduring as the men’s, which has been called the Brier since its inception in 1927.

“The brand name part of it was important,” she said. “It was creating something that would last forever and would be a pinnacle of women’s sport in Canada.”

The Tournament of Hearts turned 40 years old at this year’s national championship in Calgary.

The tradition of the sponsor rewarding Hearts competitors with custom gold hearts jewelry, augmented with diamonds, emeralds and rubies for those who win or finish on the podium, was also the brainchild of Wilson and her sister.

“The whole concept of jewelry, that’s another thing we came up with when we were drinking red wine,” Wilson said. 

“I think about the support we got from that one particular man, Bob Stewart. We had so much latitude to just come up with ideas and I can’t recall any of them not going through.”

What was the Scott Tournament of Hearts eventually morphed into the Scotties Tournament of Hearts after Scott Paper was taken over by Kruger Inc.

Wilson went to bat in boardrooms to keep the Tournament of Hearts name.

“We fought like heck to keep it,” she said. “There were attempts made to change it and some hard discussions. 

“Forty years, when you think about it, that’s pretty good for any brand to survive. That’s quite the legacy.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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Alberta announces next phase of COVID vaccinations, doses for about 437,000 residents

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EDMONTON — Alberta’s health minister says 437,000 people can soon begin booking appointments for the next round of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Tyler Shandro says those aged 65 to 74 and First Nations, Inuit and Metis people aged 50-plus can begin booking March 15.  

The province has been able to accelerate vaccinations due to a third one being approved by Health Canada, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Shandro says the first 58,000 doses of AstraZeneca will available starting March 10.

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has said while AstraZeneca is just as effective as the others, due to incomplete data it recommends it not be given to those over 64.

Shandro says for that reason, the AstraZeneca vaccine will be offered to adults 50 to 64 who don’t have a severe chronic illness.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Parkland blames pandemic as Q4 profits and revenue slide on lower fuel sales

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CALGARY — Parkland Corp. is reporting lower fourth-quarter earnings and revenue as affects of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns continue to erode fuel sales.

The Calgary-based convenience store operator and fuel retailer says it had net earnings of $53 million in the last three months of 2020 on revenue of $3.47 billion, down from $176 million on revenue of $4.78 billion in the same period of 2019.

It says it sold 5.4 billion litres of fuel and petroleum products in the fourth quarter, a decrease of seven per cent compared with the year-earlier period.

It says lower volumes were offset by strong per unit fuel profit margins in Canada and in its international operations, as well as robust company convenience store same-store sales growth in Canada of around eight per cent and a healthy 90 per cent utilization of its Burnaby, B.C., refinery.

Parkland says it will hike its dividend by two per cent, its ninth consecutive annual increase.

The company says it plans growth capital spending of between $175 million and $275 million in 2021, along with between $225 million and $275 million in maintenance capital spending, including about $40 million of work deferred from 2020.

“In 2021, we will strengthen our customer offerings and continue our organic growth initiatives, advance our disciplined acquisition strategy and deepen our commitment to providing customers with low-carbon fuel choices as part of our broader sustainability efforts,” said CEO Bob Espey.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021.

Companies in this story: (TSX:PKI)

The Canadian Press

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