The minute book of the Gordon Head Athletic Club was found by the son-in-law of President W.T. Edwards while he was tearing down an old barn on the family property. The minute book was in the possession of Edwards’ daughter, historian Ursula Jupp, in the 1970s. Eventually, the minute book arrived in the Saanich Archives in 2007. I first learned about the minute book in 2017, when Saanich Archives, as part of “Saanich Remembers WWI”, shared on their website selections about the Club’s WWI fundraising activities. In Spring 2020, I was able to look at scanned pages of the entire Gordon Head Athletic Club minute book. I began to read and transcribe the early 1900s handwriting to discover a whole world of tennis court rules, “basket picnics” and swimming galas!
The Gordon Head Athletic Club’s activities were often reported in the Victoria newspaper, The Daily Colonist (digitized at britishcolonist.ca). These contemporary news items gave context to the Club minutes, as did a series of 1977 oral history interviews with Gordon Head residents, most who had been school children in the WWI years and members of the Gordon Head Athletic Club. Also very important were Ursula Jupp’s many articles on Gordon Head people and places that appeared in The Daily Colonist’s Sunday “Islander” magazine in the 1960s and 1970s, and her book Cordwood to Campus. Finally, I was able to illustrate this project through the extensive collection of early 1900 Gordon Head photographs, donated to the Saanich Archives by former Gordon Head residents and their families. Key families are the Aitkens, Watsons, and Williamsons.
A very big thank you to those people who shared their personal stories with the Saanich Archives by donating photographs, documents and memories. Also a very big thank you to Saanich Archives for initially transcribing some of the minutes and making them publicly available online. A special thank you to Archives Specialist Suzanne Hervieux for her continued enthusiasm in scanning documents and sharing information. In doing so, she really demonstrated the Gordon Head Athletic Club’s collaborative motto “All for Each and Each for All”.
To learn more about Gordon Head history and see many more photos, go to the Saanich Archives’ online exhibits on Gordon Head.