The History of Golf Québec Member Clubs

In its 100th year of existence in 2019, Golf Québec counted on the precious support of 237 member clubs. Although clubs have always been the backbone of the association, the pioneers were obviously fewer at the beginning.

The Pioneers

As discussed in the first article, with its incorporation on November 4, 1873, the Royal Montreal Club claims the honour and merit of being the oldest legally constituted club still in existence, not only in Québec, but in North America. Its first course was a 9-hole course on what was then called Fletcher's Field where the Jeanne-Mance Park is now located on the Mount Royal slopes along Park Avenue in Montréal.

In 1896, the club moved to a site called Dixie in the Dorval parish where we find today's Ste-Anne's Academy, part of which unfortunately burned down in April 2020. This site had the privilege of hosting the first Canadian Open in 1904 won by John Henry "Jack" Oke of England who was the professional at the Ottawa Golf Club and whose score of 156 over two rounds (+16) earned him the $60 prize money.

Once again, the pressure of urban development forced the club to move to Île Bizard in 1959 where a 45-hole complex was built as we know it today. The club has been the host of 10 Canadian Open editions, including its last in 2014 that crowned South African Tim Clark with a record of -17. And that is without mentioning the Presidents Cup in September 2007, which was the scene of the epic duel between Tiger Woods and the lone Canadian Mike Weir. Although the Americans beat the International team, Weir beat Woods on the 18th hole when Woods concede the hole to an eruption of cheers.

The inauguration of the Quebec Golf Club by Scottish bankers, today's Royal Québec, followed its Montréal elder by a few months, which according to the most credible theories would have taken place in 1874, becoming the second oldest club in North America. The club's first 14-hole course was built on Cove Fields on the Plains of Abraham. In the beginning, cows from a local farmer were used to cut the grass. In the 1880s, nothing stopped progress as a horse-drawn mechanical mower was used to perform this task.

In the course of its history, the Quebec Golf Club will change location twice. On September 1, 1916, it inaugurated its course on the Kent House property, near the Montmorency Falls. After a few years of operation, club members wanted more space. As a result, the club's management purchased farmland in the Boischatel area to build new facilities. The club was officially inaugurated at its present location in June of 1925.

On April 6, 1920, at the founding of the Province of Québec Golf Association (PQGA), representatives of the seven founding clubs were present: Royal Montreal, Outremont, Beaconsfield, Country Club of Montréal, Kanawaki, Whitlock, and Laval-sur-le-Lac.

The Elders

At its inception, the new association invited other clubs to join such as Quebec, Royal Ottawa, Lennoxville, Grand-Mère, Rivermead, Granby, and Mount Bruno. Soon after, it was Senneville, Islesmere and Summerlea's turn to join the group which had 17 member clubs in 1922.

Although it was only incorporated in 1894 and joined the QGPA in the 1930s, the Murray Bay Golf Club, in the beautiful Charlevoix region, welcomed its first golfers in 1876. It proclaims itself the oldest in North America that is still in the same place with 18 holes. Interestingly enough, from 1914 to 1925, the club was presided over by William Howard Taft, former American President. In fact, Taft served as President of the club much longer than he did as President of the United States, serving only one four-year term from 1909 to 1913.

Another pioneer, the Orléans Golf Club in Ste-Pétronille on Île d'Orléans, joined the ranks of the PQGA in 1924 and was incorporated in 1939, but history tells us that, as early as 1868, three holes of golf were laid out for the pleasure of the Dunn family, which owned a private estate where 9 holes had existed since about 1909.

It was in 1917 that the first francophone club was founded in Laval-sur-le-Lac with the official opening of the first 9 holes on October 20, under the presidency of the "energetic" Mr. Raoul G. de Lorimier, as described in the November 1917 edition of the Canadian Golfer magazine.

Today, Golf Québec is honoured to have 24 century-old clubs among its members, as shown in the chart below.

Golf Québec's century-old member clubs

Club

Regional Association

Foundation

Royal Montreal

Montréal

1873

Royal Québec

Québec

1874

Murray Bay

Québec

1876

Royal Ottawa

Ottawa

1891

Cornwall

Montréal

1896

Old Lennoxville

Cantons de l’Est

1897

Senneville/Braeside

Montréal

1898

Cascade

Est-du-Québec

1901

Como

Montréal

1902

Rivière-du-Loup

Est-du-Québec

1902

Waterville

Cantons de l’Est

1903

Beaconsfield

Montréal

1904

Ottawa Hunt

Ottawa

1908

Country Club of Montréal

Montréal

1910

Rivermead

Ottawa

1910

Grand-Mère

Mauricie

1910

Kanawaki

Montréal

1912

Whitlock

Montréal

1912

Hermitage

Cantons de l’Est

1912

Miner (Granby)

Cantons de l’Est

1913

Laval-sur-le-Lac

Montréal

1917

Mount Bruno

Montréal

1918

Islesmere

Montréal

1919

Lorette

Québec

1920

The Departed

Is it possible to imagine finding more than twenty golf courses on the island of Montréal as it is nowadays? It's a bit unbelievable with the unavoidable urban development, but that's what we would have had if all the great departed courses were still there!

The Westmount club existed from 1900 to 1919 on what is now Summit Wood on the south flank of Mount Royal. Probably irritated by the Westmount Club's decision not to open on Sundays, some members turned to the Outremont Golf Club in 1902, on the site where Pratt and Joyce parks are located today. In 1910, members, fearing urban expansion pressures, began looking for off-island land to create the Kanawaki Golf Club, which opened its first 15 holes in the summer of 1913. It was in 1922 that the Outremont club closed its doors permanently and its members moved to Kanawaki.

Among the other great departed is the Marlborough Club in Cartierville, near Gouin Boulevard and Belmont Park which, when it opened in 1924, had a regular 18-hole course and a shorter 9-hole course for ladies and beginners. The course gave way to real estate development in 1967.

Many baby boomers remember the Montréal Municipal Golf Club (1923-1975) on Sherbrooke Street, where golfers lined up in the early hours of the night behind the first tee of the Viau and Maisonneuve courses, the latter having been the site of Jocelyne Bourassa's historic victory in 1973 at the LPGA La Canadienne Classic.

To complete the list of courses that no longer exist on the island of Montréal, let us mention Mount Royal (1931-1958), Rosemount (1921-1965), Maple in Anjou (1947-1965), Hampstead (1923-1968), LaSalle (1935-1971), Beaurepaire/Fresh Meadows in Beaconsfield (1927-1986), Grovehill in Lachine (1935-1987), Nun's Island (1968-1987), the Challenger in Ville St-Laurent (2002-2011), and Dorval Municipal (1924-2015).

Outside of Montréal, we have also witnessed the demise of several golf courses, including BeauChâteau (1957-2005), Deux-Montagnes (1985-2013), Mascouche (1959-2013), La Providence in St-Hyacinthe (1964-2014), Brossard (closed in 2015), Laprairie (1964-2016), Le Boisé in Lachenaie (1988-2016), Chambly (1927-2017), St-André Est (1923-2017), Inverness in Lac-Brome (1990-2018), and Candiac (1958-2019).

Let us remember all these great departed golf clubs and express our appreciation to all those that still allow us to practice our favourite sport.

Marcel Paul Raymond

Alain Chaput, special collaboration


100 years, it's time to celebrate!