The game of quoits is recorded as having been played as early as 1762 on McNabs Island by British settlers – the earliest recorded use of the island for recreation. In addition to quoits, McNabs Island was also a gathering place for rowing clubs. The game of quoits itself dates back to the Ancient Greeks. Still, quoits was relatively lesser-known in Nova Scotia in 1858 when the Studley Quoit Club was established. Quoits is a game similar to ring toss: metal rings are thrown at a set distance away from a metal spike. The goal is to accumulate the most points by successfully landing the quoit ring around the spike. At one time, quoits seized Halifax by storm.
Quoits players established the Studley Quoit Club in 1858 in Halifax’s South End, today Dalhousie’s Studley Campus. Through the latter half of the 1800s, membership increased steadily. At its outset, quoit club membership was exclusive at fourteen members only. By 1895, membership limits had increased to sixty playing members and forty non-playing members.
The Studley Quoit Club hosted some rather high-profile guests and players. King George V, then Prince George, was known to drop by the club, as did Prince Louis of Battenburg, His Excellency the Marquis of Dufferin (governor general of Canada in 1873), and His Excellency the Earl of Aberdeen. In 1919, Edward VIII, the Prince of Wales, paid an official visit to the Studley Quoit Club and was initiated as a member – surely the club’s most treasured memory.
During the 1920s and 1930s, the game of quoits only grew in popularity in Nova Scotia. During this time, people across the province enjoyed tournaments and friendly competitions, but playership waned after the Second World War. Similar games still thrive in Nova Scotia, however, including popular outdoor family games like Washer Toss, Bean Bag Toss, Ring Toss, and Horseshoes. Just as with quoits, competition can run fierce in these seemingly friendly games!