Courts worthy of this district

Our earnest and energetic representative upon the school board secured the use of the school grounds for tennis courts….

Gordon Head is an Active Community, The Daily Colonist, August 13 1916
Tennis was a popular game in early Saanich. The Gordon Head Athletic Club’s tennis courts probably looked similar to this home-made court at the Cedar Hill residence of the McMorran family. Photo credit: Saanich Archives

Tennis was a popular pastime in early 1900s Saanich, so one of the first objects of the Gordon Head Athletic Club was to build tennis courts. There was extra land on the school grounds. Club member George F. Watson, Saanich School Trustee, won the Saanich School Board’s approval: “The board will gladly consent to tennis courts on school grounds provided only that they are put to no expense in the arrangements for same and that property holders on either side are protected from intrusion or inconvenience because of the granting of this privilege.”

Building the courts was a group effort. These were earth courts, so the ground had to be prepared. Thanks to Club member and Saanich Councillor Mr. William Somers, the Municipality of Saanich’s grader and their team and a man were furnished for a Saturday afternoon in early July 1916, “and did very much toward making the courts worthy of this district. Willing hands among the club members had taken hold of the work with a will and the President was able to announce that the lines of the court were all in place and all was in readiness for the nets and posts.” Heavy rain in mid July made it possible to roll the new courts and put them in first-class shape. “There had been little hope of this until the autumn but now our tennis courts are certain to be satisfactory and the work of many willing members was freely given in making them just right.”

The Club spent $3 on tape to line the courts, but the staples for the first court (presumably for the nets?) “were made of wire that was gathered up here and there about the Head.” The net and posts cost $21.35. Club friend and local Member of Provincial Parliament The Hon. D.M. Eberts donated four racquets. The Club executive decided “to dispose of same to members and to use money realized in purchase of racquets for school children of the club.”

The roster of responsible seniors to be present at the tennis grounds every evening. Gordon Head Athletic Club minutes June 25 1916. Photo credit: Saanich Archives

Here’s how the courts operated — the result of much discussion among the members! School children could use the courts on weekdays until 4 p.m. and on Saturdays by arrangement. A responsible senior person was to be present at the grounds every Monday – Saturday evening. When members arrived, they were to register for play on an old blackboard taken from the old school house. The court gates were to close at 9 p.m. And of course…everyone must wear tennis shoes!

The Secretary was asked to have posted a notice on the grounds asking all players to wear tennis shoes, no one to be allowed to use court otherwise.

The Daily Colonist September 26 1916

The end of the season tennis tournament of the Gordon Head Athletic Club was held on the club courts at the public school grounds on Saturday under perfect weather conditions, the grounds under the direction of the president, Mr. W.T. Edwards, being in fine condition and gay with bunting.

The members and their friends much enjoyed the keenly contested games, which, much to the delight of all, were won in the finals by this season’s players. Miss Lottie Watson and Mr. Gordon Clark won the mixed doubles; Miss Lottie Watson the ladies singles, and Mr. Gordon Lindquist the men’s singles. Mr. H.A. McNaughton and Mr. G.A. Pearson acted as referees.

At the close of play all adjourned to the Gordon Head Hall, where the ladies had arranged a simple supper which was beautifully served by ten young ladies of the club under the direction of Mrs. H.H. Grist and Mrs. W. Tucker. The tables were decorated with great taste in the colors of the club, purple and white, these colors being worn by the assistants.

Gordon Head Club Winds Up Season, The Daily Colonist, September 26 1916

The tennis courts were closed during the Fall and Winter, but soon as Spring came, “the courts were reported to be in good condition for season’s play, the President having personally seen the work through with a band of willing assistants.” (April 30 1917) The executive decided “to put into effect rules governing last year’s play on tennis courts as given on page 16 and page 20 of minute book. Courts to be closed at 9.30.” A new roster of responsible seniors to supervise was made, and the treasurer was asked to purchase a dozen balls to be available for members. The tennis courts continued to be popular every Spring and Summer. We last hear about the courts on May 19 1919: “A tennis tournament arranged by Miss Ursula Edwards was a distinct success.”

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