Morris Alexander Stoyka
Born: April 18, 1933 (Fort William, Ontario)
Died: March 7, 2015 (Calgary, Alberta)
Morris Stoyka was a dedicated curling fan who attended the Canadian Brier for 37 consecutive years. He belonged to the famous Fort William Curling Club for which he eventually became a “Professor” of the annual Brier social event known as “Morning Classes.”
Morning Classes are an early morning party and gin-drinking ritual organized by the curling club as an unsanctioned event at each Brier. All who attend class are expected to drink a freshly-prepared gin collins. The “professor” is the longest-serving member of the club in attendance, who duty it is to welcome all arrivals. Other veterans are given responsibility for pouring the alcohol, or squeezing lemons.
The ritual was launched by Colin (Colie) Campbell, a Brier competitor and former president of the Dominion Curling Association. During the Second World War, the mining engineer was assigned to dig defensive tunnels in Gibraltar. He found his daily briefings at a 6 a.m. shift change were poorly attended, so he introduced the serving of lemon gin as an incentive for attendance.
He brought the habit with him to the Brier after the war. The hospitality room known as Colie’s Classes appeared for the first time at the 1948 Brier. The room was renamed Morning Classes after Campbell’s death in 1978.
A dedicated curling fan, Stoyka served a two-year term as president of the Fort William Curling Club in 1998.
As well as his Brier streak, he and his wife Zenovia, known as Zinny, traveled to Glasgow to cheer local champion Al Hackner as his rink won the Silver Broom world championship.
As a youth, Stoyka played football with the Fort William Redskins intermediate team. He worked construction in area mills and became an electrician who worked as a supervisor at Lakehead paper mills.