The History of the Ottawa Regional Association
Mr. Thomas H. Harley from the Kingston Golf Club
With the Alexander of Tunis Tournament to be held at the Camelot Golf Club on August 31, 2020, we are pleased to introduce a new series of chronicles that will present the history of this tournament, which is part of the Men’s Triple Crown, and of the Ottawa Valley Regional Association (OVGA) where it began.
As the representative of Golf Québec and Golf Ontario in the Ottawa Valley, the OVGA's purpose is to advance amateur sport and recreational activities through the playing of the game of golf, including the standards of play and competition.
Golf in the Ottawa Area Prior to 1920
Friendly golf matches between golf clubs were the order of the day in the Ottawa area prior to 1920 and they would continue for many years thereafter. Apart from playing matches in the area and along the St. Lawrence Seaway, Ottawa golf clubs would also travel to Québec golf courses for friendly home and home matches.
Golf clubs still in existence today and hosting friendly matches during the time period of the late 1800s through 1920 included Perth Links O'Tay (1890), Ottawa (1891) (Royal status in 1912), Cornwall (1896), Napanee (1897), Port Hope (1898), Picton (1906), Rivermead (1910), Brockville (1914), Mississippi (1915), Cataraqui (1917), Ottawa Hunt and Motor Club (1919) and Belleville (1920).
Early Historical Golf Dates in the Ottawa Region
The Ottawa Valley region has been the scene of many events that have shaped the history of golf in Canada. They include:
- The Canadian Golf Association was formed in 1895 and received its Royal designation in 1896 by Queen Victoria through the Governor General of Canada, Lord Aberdeen;
- In 1895, the first Amateur Championship for Canada at the Ottawa Golf Club, won by Mr. Thomas H. Harley from the Kingston Golf Club;
- Formation of the Canadian Professional Golf Association at the Ottawa Golf Club in 1911;
- Canadian Open - 1906 & 1911 at Ottawa GC, 1920 at Rivermead;
- Canadian Amateur (Men) - 1895, 1899, 1908 & 1911 at Ottawa GC & 1914 at Royal Ottawa GC;
- Canadian Amateur (Women) - 1907 & 1911 at Ottawa GC and 1921 at Rivermead;
- Canadian Professional Golfers' Association - 1920 at Royal Ottawa;
- Rivermead and Royal Ottawa golf clubs were the first Ottawa area golf clubs to join the newly created Province of Québec Golf Association (PQGA) in 1920.
Golf Events in the Ottawa Valley Since 1920
In the early days of the Province of Québec Golf Association (PQGA), Ottawa area member clubs hosted field days and occasionally provincial championships for men and women administered by local officials under the guidance of PQGA officials. This practice for provincial events continues today.
OVGA records indicate the astounding number of local events and championships run by local officials dating back to the Men's City & District Championship in 1921 and the Women's City & District Championship in 1922.
The Ottawa District ran its own events under the PQGA from 1920 to 1968; the Québec Golf Association (QGA) from 1969 to 2011 and now the Québec Golf Federation (Golf Québec) since December 2011.
The men were able to form the Ottawa District Golf Association (ODGA) in 1948 to run local events, all of which were played on the courses of the Ottawa Hunt, Rivermead and Royal Ottawa Golf Clubs up until 1974 when some events were held at the Chaudiere, Outaouais and Rideau View golf clubs.
Some PQGA and QGA field days were still being run in the Ottawa area up until 1981 when the autonomous Ottawa Valley Golf Association (OVGA) was formed by the amalgamation of the QGA District and the ODGA. At the time of this amalgamation, the OVGA was made up of 36 member golf clubs, eleven of which were located in Québec and the remaining twenty-five in Ontario.
The OVGA continues to operate today as a Regional Association of Golf Québec and a Regional Association of Golf Ontario with over 65 member clubs.
In 1922, a group of enthusiastic women golfers in and around Ottawa formed the Ottawa City and District Golf Association, with six founding member clubs consisting of the Brockville GC, Cataraqui GC, Links O'Tay GC, the Ottawa Hunt and Motor Club, Rivermead GC and Royal Ottawa GC.
The Ottawa City and District Golf Association and the PQGA District Tournament Committee amalgamated in 1939 to become the Ottawa Branch of the Canadian Ladies' Golf Union under the Québec Branch. In 1966, the Canadian Ladies' Golf Union changed its name to the Canadian Ladies' Golf Association.
Following the lead of Golf Canada and Golf Québec, and after numerous meetings, the RCGA Ottawa District Women's Division amalgamated with the OVGA at Rideau View Golf Club on October 16, 2008. The new organization would operate under the Ottawa Valley Golf Association name.
Flagstick Golf Magazine Editorial Assistant and Ottawa Valley Golf Association Historian