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Fore! Golfing at Historic Places

It's the height of summer! If you're already an avid golfer, and even if Woodstock Golf and Curling Club, Carleton County Historical Society / Club de golf et curling de Woodstock, Société historique du comté de Carletonyou aren't, did you know there are golf courses in Canada that have been designated historic places? These golf courses not only have  buildings constructed in some interesting architectural styles, but the courses themselves have some landscape designs that can both sooth and challenge a golfer.

In Woodstock, New Brunswick, for example, there is the Woodstock Golf and Curling Club.  This golf course's nine holes cover almost 19 hectares, which include natural hazards such as evergreen forest and swamps. Play a game of golf here and you are taking part in a tradition that began in 1887, when the Scottish minister of the local Presbyterian Church, Reverend G. D. Ireland, introduced the sport to the town. Shortly after this a group of enthusiasts got together to form the Woodstock Golf Club, and the newly formed club then purchased land for their new golf course. Though it has been redesigned several times in its lifetime, this golf course is considered one of the oldest in Canada.

In Edmundston, New Brunswick, the Fraser Edmundston Golf Club Fraser Edmundston Golf Club, City of Edmundston / Club de golf Fraser Edmundston, Ville d'Edmundstonhas been attracting golfers since 1926.  Considered one of the most beautiful golf courses in the Maritimes, it has 18 holes, incorporates a railroad track into its landscaping, and is sited in the middle of the city of Edmundston.  It has been the location of some major golf tournaments, such as the Canadian Amateur Golf Championship in 1956 and 2002, and the Roch Voisine Celebrity Golf Tournament.  Celebrity figures such as Moe Norman, Roch Voisine, Quebec actor François Pérusse, and former NHL coach Jean Perron have golfed here.

If you live in Ontario, perhaps you might want to visit the Roseland Golf Course in Windsor. Built in 1926, this 18-hole golf course is one of a few Canadian golf courses to have been designed by renowned golf architect Donald J. Ross (1872-1948). Ross is golf's most famous architect, and helped make the game more challenging because he had creative designs - such as wide fairways and small greens shaped like inverted saucers with lots of mounds and hollows - with the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape.  Ross was invited to design the Roseland Golf Course, City of Windsor / Roseland Golf Course, Ville de Windsorcourse in Windsor by entrepreneur and businessman Henry James Neal, who also helped create the Essex-Kent Boy's Golf Tournament that still runs to this day. The Roseland course's design is typical of Ross's work with distinctive creativity and natural beauty. The golf course is special because the original design remains unaltered, and is one of only 15 Ross designed golf courses in Canada.            

It is worth noting that golf courses were brought into Canada's National Parks in the early part of the 20th century, and some of the more famous of these places - with superlative views that might distract even the most diehard of golfers - include one in Jasper (opened in 1911 and redesigned by another golf course architect Stanley Thompson in 1926), and one in Banff Springs (designed by Stanley Thompson in 1927).  An example of the golf club buildings constructed in national parks can be found at Riding Mountain National Park.  Built in 1932, the Golf Clubhouse there retains its distinctive and original rustic Tudor-Revival inspired design which by then had become a standard feature of the aesthetic look of national parks buildings.

Victoria Golf Club, District of Oak Bay / Victoria Golf Club, districy d'Oak BayFor golfers on the west coast there is the Victoria Golf Club in Oak Bay British Columbia. This golf course has 18 holes, covers 38.1 hectares, and has spectacular views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the mountains of mainland BC and Washington State. The Victoria Golf Club was formed in 1893 by a group of very avid golfers who were so enthusiastic that before they had a proper golf course they played on grazing land belonging to a man named Joseph Despard Pemberton. For almost fifteen years, the Victoria Golf Club merely leased the land so they could golf on it, but in 1906 this change when the members then purchased the land they had been using from the Pemberton Estate. The Victoria Golf Club also has the distinction of being the oldest golf club in North America west of the Mississippi River, and the course was designed by noted golf course designer Arthur Vernon Macon.  It also has a 1929 Tudor-Revival style clubhouse, which was designed by the locally important architect Charles Elwood Watkins.

As we can see, Canada's historic golf courses have a certain charm. Not only is the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape is of particular importance for a golf course, but also the specific design of the various holes.  Combine these features with buildings of architectural and historic interest, and associations with important people in the world of golf, as well as the overall longevity of the sites themselves, and you get places that form key parts of our cultural heritage.  So go out and visit an historic golf course, and maybe even play a round or two before summer slips away.