This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.
Crokinole appears to have originated in Southwestern Ontario in the 1860s. There are similarities to the British games of shovelboard (later developed into shuffleboard) and squails, as well as to the East Indian game carrom, but crokinole is generally acknowledged as a uniquely Canadian invention. Play involves flicking small wooden disks around a board to earn points while preventing opponents from scoring. Over the years, several variations on the original game have been patented in Canada and the U.S. Some crokinole boards are octagonal or even square, but the world’s oldest known existing board is round, 66 cm in diameter and painted bright red and green with stylized folk-art designs. It was made by Eckhardt Wettlaufer of Sebastopol, Ontario for his only son’s fifth birthday, December 31, 1876. Wettlaufer was also a woodcraftsman, wagon-maker and inventor who devised equipment for making apple cider.
- The exact origin of the name of the game is unknown, but the French word croquignole translates as a “small, hard biscuit.” Could this be a reference to crokinole disks?
- Some early hand-made models of the game used slices of broomstick for disks.
- The World Crokinole Championships are held each year in Tavistock, Ontario, close to the village where the Wettlaufer family lived. www.worldcrokinole.com