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What is the history and background of the game of crokinole?

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The earliest known crokinole board was made by craftsman Eckhardt Wettlaufer in 1876 in Perth County , Ontario , Canada . Several other domestic boards of southwestern Ontario origin dating from the 1870s have been discovered since then.  Crokinole is often believed to be from Mennonite or Amish origins, but there is no factual data to support such a claim.  The reason for this misconception may be due to its popularity in the Mennonite and Amish sects. The game was seen as a rather harmless fun - unlike the perception that diversions such as card playing or dancing were devil's work as held by many 19th century Protestant groups. 

In 1899, Crokinole was revolutionized by what is still known today as "Eagan Opening". Tottenham, Ontario 's Thomas Eagan developed a complicated, hybrid, 3-turn opening sequence that confused, and ultimately defeated, many of Perth County's best players. The Eagan Opening has never been published, but appears to have been transmitted generation to generation by descendants of Thomas Eagan via word of mouth. What is known is that on the initial shot, the "20" is missed intentionally, with the disc being left on the edge of the 20-hole. Then, depending on the response of the opponent, the second or third shot is left behind the players left-front peg, which requires absolute precision to eliminate by an opponent. Even if the opponent was able to "break through" the Eagan Opening, which the Eagan family themselves were the experts at, it is often caused such mental exhaustion that it ended in defeat over the course of the game.

In the late 1940's, a crokinole playing family from Northeastern Newfoundland named The Fitzgeralds visited Tottenham on cross-country journey. They introduced the Eagans to the "Coachman Screen" which deliberately slowed the pace of the game by lulling the the disc to the 5-point area of the opponent's cross-side. The Eagan and the Fitzgerald families soon learned that the Eagan Opening and Coachman screen, when used together, made them virtually unbeatable. Inside the local church, after Catholic mass on Sunday morning, they taught each other angles and the succession matrix of each technique.

The name "Crokinole" comes from the word "croquinole, Quebec French for "cake" (or "biscuit" in British English). Crokinole is called knipsbrat ("peek-board") in German speaking Mennonites minima.

In 2006, a documentary called Crokinole was released. The world premiere took place in the Princess Cinema in Waterloo , Ontario in early 2006. The film follows some of the competitors in 2004 World Championships Crokinole (WCC) as they prepare for the event. It also features an interview with crokinole board manufacturer Willard Martin.

It has been suggested that those within the current crokinole establishment have purposely suppressed the stories of the Catholic, Amish, Menonite, Metis, and First Nation communities on the impact they have had in the history, traditions, and strategy on the game as we know it today.

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This is more of an addition to what James had to say!

Accomplished fiddler and stepdancer, Julie Fitzgerald, was allegedly the first family member to confirm the infamous “Eagan-Fitzgerald Cabal“, a term coined by famous crokinole player and blogger Eric Miltenburg of Toronto. (http://crokinoledepot.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=32&start=0&st=0&sk=t&sd=a) In the World Crokinole Championship’s very backyard in Tavistock, in early July 2010, Fitzgerald explained in great detail to Bill Gladding of the Tavistock Gazette the importance of her family’s contribution to crokinole. Fitzgerald stated that many of Thomas Eagan’s descendents still play dominant crokinole, but are now scattered across the continent, with some in the Greater Toronto Area, the Ottawa Valley, remote areas of Northern Ontario, British Columbia, and San Francisco. The family do not participate in the World Crokinole Championships, because they consider the level of competition inferior to their own and concentrate on developing their family’s skills. Fitzgerald boasted about the family’s political connections and stated they are developing crokinole software with an unnamed technology company in Sunnyvale, California. (http://tavistockgazette.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/world-crokinole-2010/3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca)
Unfortunately, the story was never published in the Tavistock Gazette. Bill Gladding and Julie Fitzgerald have since denied any conversation taking place. However, Julie’s sister Kerry and brother Tom have confirmed they were in Tavistock with Julie and that she spoke to Gladding on two separate occasions on July 2 and 3, 2010. (source: http://www.bancroftthisweek.com/ )
 

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The earliest known crokinole board (with legitimate, dated provenance) was made in 1876 (not 1875 as previously reported) in Perth County, Ontario, Canada. Several other home-made boards of southwestern Ontario origin, and dating from the 1870s, have been discovered within the past 10 years, suggesting confirmation of this locale as the probable 'cradle' of crokinole's birth. Earlier Canadian written sources detail the game from the mid-1860's. Several years after that time, a registered American patent suggests 1880 as the time when commercial fabrication began - first in New York, then Pennsylvania. The games that no doubt contributed to the arrival of crokinole seem to be the 16th century British games of shovelboard-from which modern-day shuffleboard descends, the17th century pub game shove ha'penny, and the Victorian parlour game of squails that appeared in England during the second quarter of the 19th century. In addition, Burmese or East Indian carrom (developed during the ... more
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