“forming some sort of association for…recreation centres for Gordon Head”

The inaugural meeting of the (yet to be named) Gordon Head Athletic Club was held on May 31 1916. Photo credit: Saanich Archives

At Gordon Head Hall on May 31 1916, a group of Gordon Head residents “much interested in the young people of the community gathered to discuss the possibility of forming some sort of association for the purpose of securing and controlling recreation centres for Gordon Head.” The group decided to call their organization the Gordon Head Athletic Club.

The organization was called “Gordon Head Athletic Club”. May 31 1916 minutes. Photo credit: Saanich Archives

Among these interested residents were Mr. William Trevellick Edwards, Mrs. Peter (Marie) McNaughton, Mrs. Florence Mitchell, Mr Ernest Rendle, Miss Jessie Dunnett, Miss Jessie Fullerton, Miss Airlie Watson and Mr. George Fraser Watson, Saanich School trustee. “The election of officers was thus proceeded with, moved by Mrs. Mitchell, seconded by Mrs. Aitkens, that Mr. W.T. Edwards be our president, carried. Moved by Mr. Edwards, seconded by Mrs. Mitchell, that Mrs. Peter McNaughton act as secretary, carried.” (Learn more about The Secretary and Our President)

Choosing the executive, Gordon Head Athletic Club minutes, May 31 1916. Photo credit: Saanich Archives

“Moved by Capt. Todd, seconded by Mr. Tucker, that Mr. Jack Williamson act as our treasurer. Carried.” Jack Williamson was the local mailman before he went overseas for military service. The Williamson family lived at the corner of Tyndall Avenue and San Juan Avenue. They operated the local store and telephone exchange. This family portrait taken was donated to the Saanich Archives in December 2020.

William J. and Wilhelmina Williamson and family outside their home on Tyndall Avenue, 1918. John (Jack) Williamson in uniform on left. Standing: Bea (Alixena), Minnie, Willie, and Ruby Williamson. Seated: George, Wilhelmina and William J. Williamson. Credit: Saanich Archives

“Moved by Mr. Watson, seconded by Mr. Pearson, that Miss Jean Dunnett be our Assistant Secretary. Carried.” Assistant Secretary Jean Dunnett (back row centre in the photograph below) was a young school teacher from large family of pioneer Gordon Head residents. Two of her sisters were also involved Club activities: Jessie Belle Dunnett, aka “Miss Dunnett” (back row left) and “Flo”, back row right.

Photo credit: The Daily Colonist, March 6 1966

“Moved by Miss Fullerton, seconded by Miss Watson, that the club colours be purple and white.”

Prominent community members helped the newly-formed Gordon Head Athletic Club. Saanich Member of Provincial Parliament, The Hon. David McEwan Eberts K.C. (Speaker of the House) agreed to have the Club incorporated under the Benevolent Societies Act and to give a cheque for $15 which would pay the government fee for incorporation, if the Club decided to apply it to this purpose. (They accepted his kind offer).

David McEwen Eberts. Photo credit: Victoria Daily Times January 11 1912

We are indebted to Mr. Eberts for a good speech on the value of sport in the individual and the community.

Report of the Gordon Head Athletic Club concert, August 25 1916

“Mr. Eberts was much interested and will gladly speak to his constituents re the value of such an organization in this neighbourhood. He will assist in any he can to ensure the success of the club.” Mr. Eberts made good on his promise. He donated four tennis racquets to the Club, so that they were able to use the money saved to buy racquets for the school children. He also gave a speech at the Club’s August 25 1916 concert: “Athletics developed not only the physique but the character. It gave confidence to the young man and fitted him to take a place with credit in the world. There was much truth in that ancient and oft quoted saw “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. He could not say that his play had entirely eliminated the “dullness”, but he knew that a certain amount of it was good for everyone…..Mr. Eberts concluded by expressing the hope that all would co-operate in making the club a real factor in the life of the community.” (The Daily Colonist August 26 1916)

Another supporter was Rev. Dr. J.M. Miller, of the Theological College, Edmonton, who was spending the summer in Gordon Head. At the Club’s first general meeting on June 7 1916 Miller was called upon to say a few words on the value of sport in the community and “he cheerfully did so, assuring the club of his sympathy and support while with us. He said he knew of nothing that would do more than stimulate a community spirit than such an organization as this.”

The Club’s best friend was Mr. Luke Pither, a local businessman, who had long shown an interest in providing a play field for the young people. Pither became the Hon. President of the club. Learn more about Mr. Pither and his Play Field

Copy of the original invitation sent to all residents of the Gordon Head District, June 1 1916, pasted inside the front cover of the Gordon Head Athletic Club minute book. The doodles were done at a much later date. Photo credit: Saanich Archives

“….the notice they sent out for that first meeting. It says, I think it is right inside the front cover, it says “at exactly 8 o’clock.” My father was very precise about the time … he found that meetings and so on were frequently late in getting started whereas in his youth and homeland he’d been used to them being precisely on time. So it’s rather amusing to see that “exactly 8 o’clock.” Ursula (Edwards) Jupp, 1977

“A general meeting of the G.H.A.C. met on this date, the President calling the meeting to order at eight o’clock, promptness being one of the things aimed at all of our gatherings.” (January 2nd 1917)

List of original Gordon Head Athletic Club members. Photo credit: Saanich Archives

The Club now needed members. Annual membership was $1 for “seniors” and 50 cents for “juniors” (from 14 to 18 years). The back of the minute book lists the original members, showing a wide section of the Gordon Head community. While the list of names was being written “an informal chat occupied the members until called to order by the President.”

But it looks like most people didn’t bring any money to pay — on July 7 1918 “the secretary and treasurer were asked to interview prospective members re fees.” At the July 25 1918 meeting, the treasurer reported there were 45 senior members ($45) and 14 junior members ($7) “Upon motion of Mr. Tucker, seconded by Mr. Watson, it was agreed to have membership cards printed and given to all members in good standing.”

On July 25 1916, a General Meeting was held at the Gordon Head Hall. “It was announced through notices held in public places and through announcements given at Sunday services. There were very few absentees on this occasion. The night was damp and cold, this making it out of the question to hold the meeting at the tennis courts as planned. The members gathered first at the courts to see their condition then adjourned to the hall. The meeting was called to order by the President who made a statement describing our progress since the last general meeting…” Much discussion and “expression of opinion” came from members about how the new tennis courts should be run. Just here, President Edwards stepped in and “said some splendid words which were greeted with hearty applause.” Edward’s idea of sport became the philosophy of the Gordon Head Athletic Club:

He pointed out the tendency in some clubs for the good players to stay together, thinking of their own pleasure. He would have the man who knows the game assist in every way in his power the beginners so that all may become skillful and get all the happiness possible out of the club. All for Each and Each for all.

President W.T. Edwards, July 25 1916
“All for Each and Each for all” – President W.T. Edwards’ idea of sport for the club. Gordon Head Athletic Club minutes. Photo credit: Saanich Archives

Next – Mr. Pither and his Play Field