1858 engraving of Victoria

Colonial History Vancouver Island

Maureen Duffus - Author and Historian


Excerpts - Beyond the Blue Bridge

Golf Comes to Western Canada

This is one of several contributions to the book by the late Vic Simmons, used here with the permission of his widow, Elizabeth Simmons.

Macaulay Golf Club was founded in 1893 (or, according to some accounts, 1888) by the Royal Engineers. Originally operated by the United Services and used mostly by army and navy officers, it was also popular with civilians.

The nine-hole course was built on Hudson's Bay Company land 1 where Macaulay School and military units are now. It ran down to the waterfront at Macaulay Point, with the clubhouse facing Lyall Street opposite the end of Macaulay Street.

The course was designed by Hans Ogilvy Price, a clerk at the naval yard. There were six par fours two par-threes and one par-five. At each tee there was a bucket of water for washing the golf balls and a bucket of sand for building a tee.

Golfer and Cow at Macaulay Golf Club
Golfer & Cow - Photo courtesy of Esquimalt Archives

Alex Potts, a local dairy farmer, often had cows grazing on the course, dropping hazards more difficult to deal with than a mere sand bunker, so a fence of single wire was erected around each green to keep them off. Duncan Fraser remembers the fairways were not mowed but were cropped by a flock of sheep kept off the greens by a single wire fence, which did not always deter them from trespassing.

Green fees for the day were $1 Saturdays and Sunday, and fifty cents on weekdays. Annual membership fees were reasonable.

Some time in the early 20s, writes Duncan Fraser, the members became disgruntled because the Hudson's Bay Company would not pay for any improvements, so they decided to start another course. The present Gorge Vale Golf Club was financed by the sale of 1,200 shares at $100 a share, half the amount raised to build the nine-hole course and the other to build the clubhouse. Norman Wallace, a shareholder and club champion, was asked to play in a foursome for the official opening of the new course. He remembers that Herbert Anscomb, a well-known businessman and politician but a non-golfer, was asked to hit the first ball. After missing completely with six vicious swings he kicked the ball off the tee, declaring "I now pronounce the Gorge Vale Club open".

Even before Gorge Vale was opened some members were setting up the Uplands Golf Club. During the thirties the Macaulay property reverted to the municipality which operated it until the land was taken over by the Department of National Defence in 1942.

1 Macaulay was bailiff of the first, and most unsuccessful, of the Puget Sound Agricultural Company's four farms
   in Fort Victoria. Colwood, Craigflower and Constance Cove farms followed.

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