After 37 years as Brier Bear, Reg Caughie to retire in front of hometown crowd

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After 37 years as Brier Bear, Reg Caughie to retire in front of hometown crowd

After 37 years being the mascot for the Tim Hortons Brier, the man behind the Brier Bear is calling it quits.

Reg Caughie of St. John's, who is 79, first wore the bear costume at the 1981 Brier in Halifax, after organizers decided it would be a good way to add some colour to Canada's top annual curling tournament.

​"The suggestion came up that we should have a mascot for curling, and they said 'Hey that sounds like a good idea — you're it'," Caughie told CBC.

Caughie doesn't know if Curling Canada plans to replace him, or if his retirement will close the curtain on the Brier Bear character. He would like to see the tradition carry on, but will respect whatever decision is made.

Hometown finale

Caughie also just found out that he'll be recognized this weekend for his nearly four decades of service as the Brier Bear, when he gets inducted into the Canadian Curling Hall of Fame in front of the hometown crowd at Mile One Centre.

Caughie was actually ready to call it quits two years ago at the Brier in Calgary, but when he heard St. John's was making a bid to host, he figured he had another two years in him.

"To retire in my own hometown, well that's very unique," he said. "It's really special."

People person

The job of being Brier Bear has brought Caughie to cities across the country. He said what kept him coming back year after year is the fans, and making sure they have fun outside of watching what's happening on the ice.

​"My role is to try and keep the fun in Curling," he said. 

"It's physically draining, there's no question that by the end of the week you probably need another two weeks' rest to get over it. But I just kept journeying on."