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Crokinole fans gather at pub

Roo Miller, tasting room manager at Persephone, shows off a Crokinole board. The brewery hosts a monthly tournament. Donna McMahon photo

The Christmas holidays were a time that many families gathered over games, and one classic favourite is Crokinole, a genuine home-grown Canadian invention.

According to the organizers of the World Crokinole Championship (held annually in Tavistock, Ont.) the earliest known Crokinole board was built by Eckhardt Wettlaufer, a woodworker, in Sebastopol, Ont., around 1876. Curiously, although Wettlaufer was German, the name derives from a French word, croquignole, meaning biscuit or doughnut.

The table-top game is similar in concept to curling, bocce or shuffleboard, with players shooting wood discs across a circular surface, trying to land near a centre bull’s eye while also knocking away opponent’s discs.

Crokinole (pronounced KROH-ki-nohl) became popular among Canadians and Americans during the 19th century, in part because the Protestant religion of the time frowned on many other “sinful” activities such as card playing and dancing. It continues to be particularly popular among Mennonites, who call it knipsbrat (“flick-board”).

On the Sunshine Coast, Crokinole aficionados gather at Persephone Brewing, which has several game boards and is holding regular Thursday games nights, and monthly Crokinole tournaments.

For those who would like to learn more about Crokinole, there is a book (The Crokinole Book), and a 2006 documentary film (“Crokinole”) that follows the action at the 2004 World Crokinole Championship. Boards can be purchased through a number of sources including Crokinole.com.

Donna McMahon

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