Wednesday, July 15, 2020

The McKellar Golf Course - Part Two (The course layout and club boundaries)

This is part two of a five part series on the history of the McKellar Golf Club/Course. 
Part one (McKellar Park, club beginnings and the general history) can be read: HERE

Another reminder, for anyone reading this, if you have any old photos, artifacts or anecdotes about the McKellar Golf Course, I would love to hear from you. Please email me at Thank you!

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I wanted to dedicate an entire part of this series to essentially once and for all list and show exactly where the golf course boundaries were, and where each tee, fairway, green, hole and building were located, in relation to today's streets and houses.

I'll often speak to McKellar Park residents who believe their house is located in a particular spot, when it cannot be. I've had people living near Byron, or near Broadview, who claim their house was on the course. I've heard from several people who believe that their house was the clubhouse (when that just isn't possible, as it was demolished in 1958).

This article should help answer all questions and help you find your home, and determine where exactly it was located, and even give you an idea of roughly when it was built.

A few years ago, Joe McLean in Flagstick Magazine did an incredible job putting together a map of the course, with the aid of longtime McKellar club caddy Ken Robertson. The magazine article that ran on McKellar included an aerial photo view well labelled to show where each hole was located, and Ken described each hole as well. Those pages I am happy to re-run here as part of this article, because they are hard to beat for their detail.

However, I'm going to take it a step further, thanks to the Heritage Ottawa board member and Past President (and McKellar Park resident) David Jeanes, who took it upon himself to put together a complete list of the exact or nearest present-day addresses for each of the golf course tees and holes. He also in effect put together a walking tour where one could stroll the McKellar neighbourhood in almost the exact path that golfers would have done so nearly 70 years ago. It is an honour to have David collaborate on this article with me, and there is no one better to assemble a list of this kind.

In this article I'm also going to upload a detailed map of the neighbourhood, down to the individual addresses on each street to show the boundaries of the golf club property right down to the exact spot.

And, I'm also going to profile a few individual houses, cottages and lots which got "marooned" inside the golf course boundaries. More on that below!

Just a note that this website shows the photos in a standard size.  To enlarge it a little on your screen simply click on any photo and it should open a little larger. Some of the files though ought to be opened in a much larger size to get the full benefit. If you wish to really examine a photograph, I recommend you right-click on any photo, select to save to your computer, and then view it as a jpg file from your pc.

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The Flagstick Magazine map and hole descriptions

To begin with, here are the original graphics from the Fall 2008 issue of Flagstick Magazine:

McKellar Golf Course layout - using 1933 aerial photo
(Courtesy of Joe McLean and Flagstick Magazine)
(Note Wavell is incorrectly labelled as Rowanwood)

McKellar Golf Course hole descriptions
(Flagstick Magazine Fall 2008 issue)

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1933 aerial photo labelled

Here is the 1933 aerial photo used by Flagstick, and used by me many times in articles and public displays, as it is an amazing quality photo, taken in high resolution at low elevation, so the level of clear detail is incredible. I ran this in part one as well, but it belongs here too, to help show labelled evidence of streets and landmarks, for reference. (Again right-click and save to your pc for best viewing results).

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McKellar Park Golf Club scorecard

Here is a scan of an original McKellar Golf Course scorecard I own. It has details on the lengths and par of each hole, as well as interesting club rules and golf etiquette. It dates from the final years of the club (circa 1950-1952):

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Fire Insurance Maps from 1951

Here are snippets from Goad's Fire Insurance Plan of Ottawa from 1948 (revised to 1951) showing some of the golf course and surrounding streets of McKellar Park. I love these old fire plans as they show each individual house, its shape, construction/finishing material, its number of storeys, and the location of any garages, outbuildings, etc.

Yellow indicates wood frame, pink is brick, blue is stone/concrete block, grey are small sheds/outbuildings. Blue circles indicate fire hydrants. "D" denotes dwelling, "R.C." is rough cast stucco, "Asb Cl" is asbestos clad, "P" indicates patent, or tar & gravel roof, while an "X" is wooden shingles or board roof. The number inside the house shows the number of storeys. The number alongside the house on the street indicate the civic address at the time and/or a previous number if it has been struck.

These are the streets east of Westminster:

These are the streets west of Westminster:

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The McKellar Golf Course - in 2020

A few weeks back, I was emailing Heritage Ottawa Past-President (and long-time McKellar Park resident) David Jeanes on another subject, but I shared that I was nearly completed a long-running research project of mine on the history of the McKellar Golf Course. David had been doing a little research of his own on the golf course as well, and had been working on trying to locate where the original golf course tees and greens would be in relation to today's streets and houses of McKellar Park.

He kindly put together a list and accompanying map tool that identified the precise civic addresses today to match up with the tees and greens of the original 18-holes of McKellar Golf Course. Additionally he adds in the directions for walking on-street between them, including distances. In effect, this list becomes a potential walking or bicycling tour of the original golf course, just as the golfers would have done between 1927-1952!

I thank David again for this invaluable contribution to the story of McKellar Golf Course!


Total on-street walking distance from 1st tee to 18th green = 7.6 km. Average walking distance per hole = 423 metres. Most streets are traversed once in each direction.

Most streets are quiet, without sidewalks; Dovercourt and Fraser are busier, with sidewalk, and Fraser with speed bumps; Sherbourne is busy with sidewalk and bike lanes both sides; Carling is very busy with narrow sidewalk (for 350 metres).

1st to 9th hole (east of Windermere) 3.7 km; 10th to 18th hole, (west of Windermere), 3.9 km.

1st tee, 9th and 18th greens and hot dog stand site are within a block of Windermere & Dovercourt, (Route 51 bus stops).

Start: Dovercourt/Windermere, south on Windermere to
1.     Tee 615 Windermere: north to Keenan, east to Fraser, south to 637 Fraser (514 metres)
2.    Tee 546 Dovercourt, SE corner, (Greens Keeper's house site), west to Westminster, south to behind 672 Westminster (311 metres)
3.     Tee front of 680 Westminster, south to Tillbury, east to Fraser, north to 663 Fraser (360 metres)
4.     Tee behind 671 Fraser, south to 739 Fraser (294 metres), north to
5.     Tee 719 Fraser, south to Sherbourne, east to Carling, west to 1893 Carling (384 metres)
6.     Tee 1927 Carling, west to McKellar, north to Bromley, east to Lauder 1900 Lauder, at corner with Bromley (300 metres), east to
7.     Tee 1858 Bromley, east to Sherbourne, north to Tillbury Park, north through park to 687 Mansfield (508 metres), south to Tillbury, west to
8.     Tee behind 591 Tillbury, south along west to edge of park to Sherbourne, west to Windermere, south to Wembley, east to 1865 Bromley (601 metres), west to
9.     Tee 1881 Lauder, south to Bromley, east to Wembley, north to Windermere, north to 687 Windermere (437 metres).

Break at site of hot dog stand, 650 Windermere, mid-point (3.7 km) at Dovercourt/Windermere, south to
10.    Tee 672 Windermere, south to Wembley, west to Lauder, east to 1914 Lauder (518 metres), east to
11.    Tee behind 1901 Lauder, cross parking lot close to Church, south to McKellar, south to Carling, west to between 1951 and 1957 Carling (363 metres)
12.    Tee front of 1957 Carling, west to Bromley, north to 1969 Bromley (166 metres) east to church parking lot, cross to Lauder, west to
13.    Tee 1934 Lauder, west to Wembley, north to Windermere, north to Tillbury, west to 683 Gainsborough (881 metres)
14.    Tee behind 662 Tillbury, east to Windermere, south to Sherbourne, west to Courtenay, south to Lauder, east to 1946 Lauder (708 metres), west to
15.    Tee behind 1970 Lauder, east to Courtenay, north to  618 Sherbourne, on the corner of Courtenay (258 metres), west to
16.    Tee 618 Sherbourne: north on Courtenay to 632 Courtenay (326 metres), south to Dovercourt, east to Wavell, north to
17.    Tee 634 Wavell, south to 672 Tillbury (337 metres)
18.    Tee front of 679 Tillbury, east to Gainsborough, north to 626 Gainsborough (351 metres), south to Dovercourt, east to

End: Dovercourt/Windermere

This first image below shows the greens/holes in the red circles, and the tee/fairway as the dotted line towards it:

The second image below provides the walking/biking tour route, using today's street grid (and follows the hole-to-hole instructions listed above):

David provided a few additional comments related to the images and directions:

"My numbered circles were centred on the greens, as they appeared in the 1932 labelled aerial photo; not where the labels are placed. Unless otherwise stated, they are at the house itself or immediately in front. If I say "in front" it means on the street in front of the address. If I say "behind" it means in the back garden, in a couple of cases right at the back and extending onto the property behind. But these addresses are as close as one can get without trespassing.

I was reasonably happy about the street routing, with multiple repetitions only along the two short blocks from Tillbury to Wembley on Windermere. Even these are split between the two half-tours that I have described. The only unpleasant part of the walk is along Carling Avenue from McKellar to Bromley, where the hedge protrudes into the already narrow sidewalk, with fast traffic coming up behind you."

Enjoy! Those of you who take the tour and follow the course, I would love to hear about your travels! Please add a comment to this post if you would!

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The Golf Course Boundary

I've created a map image using GeoOttawa which shows all of the houses/properties in McKellar Park today.

For the most part, the exact boundary of the golf course is a bit grey. In most cases there was never a 'fence' to identify the boundaries of the golf course. Some of the lots never had any golf played on it, and merely sat as vacant space adjoining the course. Trees, shrubs or adjoining properties formed a natural boundary at the time. It is best then to use the aerial photos and map tools provided above, as to determine the playing surface golf course boundary. The purpose of this map is just to show exactly what made up the golf course property in totality, to show just how large it was, and where it began/ended. I've also made notes of where each of the houses/lots not owned by the golf course were located (they are described in greater detail in a section down below).

Click this link to view the map: CLICK HERE

For best results to view it, you can download the image. (Click on the three dots above the photo, and select "download").

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The houses inside the golf course boundary

For some lucky (or unlucky, depending on how they felt) residents, when the golf course scheme was cooked up in 1926-1927, they already owned property within the proposed boundaries. In a couple of cases, their house was already built. When the McKellar subdivision opened in 1911 and over the following 15 years, no one could have anticipated a golf course landing in on half of the property. Thus, during that period, lots were sold to a few individuals who must have liked the isolation well back from the streetcar line and Richmond Road, as they were well south of most other lot buyers. By 1927 though, the golf course had arrived, and they suddenly found themselves on the inside.

I'll quickly go over some of those houses, as some have a pretty neat story:

The Swimmings houses

The two most notable houses were the Swimmings family houses, which were located back-to-back at 622 Windermere and 621 Gainsborough. Amazingly, both houses still stand today, though both have been added-on to extensively.

621 Gainsborough was one of the first 28 houses built in McKellar Park during its first three years of existence. It was built sometime between 1913-1914. William Henry Swimmings had come over to Canada from England with his wife Clara and their children in 1912. Arriving in Quebec City that summer, they somehow arrived in McKellar Park in 1913 and the 54-year old carpenter built a small 2-storey, 4-room wood frame house on Fifth Avenue (Gainsborough) on what would have been a quiet, isolated lot well south of where everyone else was building at the time.

621 Gainsborough in the winter of 1941-42 looking west,
one of the original homes of McKellar Park (built 1913-14).
(Courtesy of Catherine Swimmings)

621 Gainsborough present day

McKellar pioneer William Henry Swimmings
(Courtesy of Catherine Swimmings)

In 1926, Edwin Arthur Swimmings, son of William and Clara, purchased the lot immediately in behind his parents. He had just married his wife Jessie in 1925, and clearly wanted a new home for his family. Right away the 40-year old bricklayer set about constructing 622 Windermere Avenue.

Thankfully the Swimmings family took and maintained a great archive of photos of their houses through the years, providing this amazing glimpse in to the earliest days of McKellar Park. I am very thankful to William Henry's great-granddaughter Catherine Swimmings (still a McKellar Park resident!) for sharing these fantastic photos. One set in particular was a goldmine. Catherine explained that her father, Edwin Arthur's son Edwin Kenneth Swimmings, as a teenager took his camera out one afternoon in the summer of 1942 and took photos all around the house. One of the photos was of the golf course (already shared in part one, one of the best neighbourhood history photo finds I'll ever come across), but these photos of the Swimmings' family houses are excellent too, not only capturing the houses nearly 80 years ago, but the vast openness of McKellar Park at the time!

622 Windermere circa 1930.
(Courtesy of Catherine Swimmings)

622 Windermere in the summer of 1942.
(Courtesy of Catherine Swimmings)

622 Windermere in present day, with a few additions.

This final photo below captures the two Swimmings houses in the mid-1930s, with the golf clubhouse in behind as well. It's amazing to think this photo was taken in what is now the heart of McKellar Park, on Windermere looking northwest. Not another house in sight.

622 Windermere with 621 Gainsborough in behind, and
the McKellar Golf clubhouse in back as well.
Circa mid-1930s. This photo shows well the open, flat area
the houses were built on. To the left of these houses was the
golf course. (Courtesy of Catherine Swimmings)

The Coates Browne home

In 1921, 41-year old carpenter and gardener Coates Browne and his wife Bessie acquired the lot at the southeast corner of Fourth and Balmoral (Windermere and Dovercourt). They built a small bungalow on the property for their small family, including their 3-year old son. The original house actually burned down a few days before Christmas of 1925, but the family rebuilt, and remained on the property into the 1950s. The Brownes had actually acquired the neighbouring 5 lots as well, so they for a long time owned 300 feet of frontage on Windermere, running south from Dovercourt.

Ottawa Journal, December 21, 1925

The house that stands on this spot now is 649 Windermere Avenue, and I believe the original 1926-rebuilt home remains part of the structure, but I'm not certain.

Site of the Browne family home - 649 Windermere

The Browne's property would have been just adjacent to (north of) the 2nd hole green. In fact if they hadn't acquired all six of those lots, the 2nd hole surely would have run a little more to the north, adding more length to several other holes to the south.

Upon his death in 1955, an article ran in the newspaper discussing Coates' life, and the headline referred to him as the "district historian", and noted that he was "known in the district for his knowledge of the history of the Capital and Carleton county."

The Thomas Curtis home

Across the street from the Brownes was another house on a wide property. 43-year old Thomas Curtis, a mechanical engineer, and his wife Eva Marjorie built their house in 1922 on a set of an incredible 12 lots they acquired (the six lots on each of the west side of Windermere and east side of Gainsborough running south from Dovercourt).

Site of the Curtis family home - 650 Windermere

I could find very little on the Curtis', and like the Browne house, am uncertain if the house they built at 650 Windermere is still the one standing today. I believe it is. Eva Curtis died in 1947, and Thomas died in 1953. Around 1947 the Curtis' began selling some of their lots, and certainly after Thomas passed, his heirs sold the remainder.

This house at 650 Windermere appears to have had a garden or hedge at the south end of the property back in the '30s. On the opposite side of the fence/hedge was the golf course, and in fact immediately on the other side was the infamous course hot dog stand which stood alongside the 9th green, where golfers could have a mid-game snack (or buy one for the caddies, as was the tradition).

The Blackwell and McLaughlin cottages

The most unique structures on the golf course have to be the random cottages that were built together way out at the far south end of old Wavell Avenue just north of Carling Avenue.

For reasons lost to history, two men built small cottages way out in the isolation of McKellar Park that ended up being located well out in the golf course.

In 1917, Thomas H. McLaughlin built a small cottage on lot 873 (about where 1934 Lauder Drive exists today), while George T. Blackwell built a small cottage next door on lot 874 (about where 1933 Bromley Road is today).

Clip from the 1933 aerial photo showing Carling at the bottom
and Windermere at right. The two cottages can be seen in the
centre, the Blackwell one shows a significant fence around
the property. All around the cottages are the 10th, 11th, and
 14th holes. 

In 1935, the golf course owners acquired McLaughlin's property and removed the cottage. In 1936, Blackwell's cottage, then owned by a relative, Frank Longhurst, was demolished. Longhurst was living in Winnipeg, and perhaps was asked by the golf course people to tear it down. Longhurst held on to the lot though until the 1950s, profiting from its sale then.

Not surprisingly. no photos seem to exist of these old cottages. The only trace of anything historical related to them (aside from the aerial photo above placing them right in the middle of the course), is this odd story from December of 1924, where a Westboro resident broke into Blackwell's cottage to steal a dogskin robe. How could he resist?

Ottawa Citizen, December 18, 1924

The Jean Courtenay House

This house at 626 Wavell, a little north of Dovercourt, was built in 1918 by Thomas Magee, a 48-year old salesman, who had a 7-person family. It started out as a small wood cottage, but was expanded on slowly over the next few years. It later belonged to the Bedford family for many years, and survived until 2008 when it was torn down and replaced with a large new build.

This house was located right in front of the 16th green and adjacent to the 17th tee.

626 Wavell Avenue in September 2007

Notably, in 1926, Jean Courtenay and her daughter Phyllis and son Reginald moved in to the home. Jean was a 63-year old widow, and former school teacher in Hawkesbury. The family would remain in this house until 1934. That year Phyllis married Orme Dunning and moved to Leonard, Ontario, and Jean went with them. Reginald married Nettie Ruth Dunning daughter of Albert Dunning, who built the castle house on Byron at Courtenay. (I can't imagine Orme Dunning wasn't a relative of the Dunnings as well but I can't place him; he was not a son to Albert Dunning at least). Reginald, who was a railway mail clerk with the Post Office Department, and Nettie Ruth occupied the castle house in the late 1930s and most of the 1940s (the only house which stood on the entirety of the west side of Courtenay until the late 1940s), and in 1944, Seventh Avenue of McKellar was renamed Courtenay to honour the family.

The Victor Benoit lot

The house did not come until the 1950s, but Victor Benoit owned lot 479 on the west side of Westminster (now the site of 618 Westminster) from March 1st 1919 until his death in 1943. Benoit was Ottawa born, but went on to a successful Hollywood silent-movie and Broadway career. For whatever reason, he acquired this single lot in 1919 (during the peak of his acting career), and did nothing with it for the remainder of his life. His heirs sold the lot in 1956 and it was finally built on then. The golf course went two lots to the north, and this lot would have been right in front of the 1st hole tee I believe.

Photo from 'The Devil's Daughter' (1915)
Victor Benoit, Doris Heywood, Paul Doucet, Jane Miller.

The King-Miller lot

The lot with little story to tell. Samuel Ernest King, grain merchant, purchased lot 410 on the east side of Third Avenue (Westminster) at the southwest corner of Dovercourt in January of 1919. He sold the vacant lot in 1923 to Harold Allen Miller, who did nothing with the lot until selling in 1956. 620 Dovercourt Avenue now stands on this lot. This would have been on the 2nd hole fairway.

The Eldridge-Downes house

637 Windermere on lot 558 at the northeast corner of Windermere and Dovercourt was a late entry within the golf course boundary. The lot was originally sold in 1926, just prior to the golf course being approved. Esther Emmeline Stewart acquired the lot, but did nothing with it. In 1946, her heirs sold the lot to Philip and Muriel Eldridge, who built the house in 1947. They sold a year later, to a couple who re-sold again in 1949 to Kenneth and Kathleen Downes. Dr. Kenneth Downes went on to become Chief of the Extractive Metallurgy Division of Energy, Mines and Resources. They remained in the house until the late 1980s.

The house would have been located in between the fairways of the 1st and 2nd holes. It must have been odd building it in the middle of the golf course, though by 1947, it was pretty much known that the golf course's days were numbered.

637 Windermere in 2019

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History of Changes

The golf course underwent a few adjustments over the years. Though this is getting even further into the minutia, in the interests of providing all details on the history of the course, this may be pertinent to someone at some point, so here it is:

* In 1928, a few changes were made to the course, from how it appeared in 1927. “Along Carling Avenue No. 6 hole is now played down the hill and a new hole No. 12 provides a short sporty shot into the southwest corner of the field, from where the player takes a shaded walk to No. 13”. “The new No. 12 is played along Carling at the west corner. This change eliminates crowding and provides a sporty shot.” The arrangement of some bunkers was also changed in 1928. These changes allowed the course to change from a par 68 to a par 70 in 1928.

* July 1928 (as written about in part one) a tee that had been located on Balmoral Avenue (Dovercourt), meaning on the roadway itself (or at least would have qualified as a roadway at the time) was required to be changed due to complaints from local residents. I believe this would have been the 17th tee.

* For the 1929 season, “two new fairways were being cleared out continuing from No. 14, which would make the course championship length.” In the end, the holes on the “homeward nine” were revamped. Three new holes “will run their course through a woodland setting will add both beauty and playing interest to the links. The renovation will also serve to make the total length of the course several hundred yards greater.” Also “A number of new greens are under construction; sand traps have been placed about the majority of the putting surfaces and much terracing work done. A practice putting clock and driving area are already under fashioning at the rear of the clubhouse.”

* In the Spring of 1930 it was reported that improvements since 1929 included “Work on clearing the rough, commenced then (in late 1929), has been carried out, and there is little on the course to worry the ordinary golfer who stays within bounds. The short holes, particularly the twelfth, have been well cleared and at the same time retain their sportiness.”

* In the spring of 1934, plans were made to enlarge the course, and adjoining property considered for expansion. (No details found as to what changes were made, if any)

* In 1937, the western portion along Carling was cleared, to permit the 11th hole to be extended almost 100 yards. The 12th hole was extended easterly, “and considerable length added with a sporty green situated amongst the trees”.  A cedar fence was erected along Carling.

For most of the information in the Flagstick Magazine article, and the walking/biking tour done by David Jeanes, the 1933 aerial photo was used. It appears then that changes occurred after this time, extending 11 and 12, and possibly other holes as well. I would love to acquire a scorecard from the 1930s which would list the hole lengths individually, and could be compared against the 1950 vintage one I have above. But generally, the course did not change too much over its final 20 years.

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Thanks for reading part two!

Next up Part Three - the history of the Clubhouse and other buildings on the course!


  1. Thank you Dave for this wonderful article on the golf course. It is great to learn about the history, the families involved and the course boundaries. This has answered questions and expanded family history for my family. Catherine Swimmings

  2. Hi. Great read and a very thorough research effort. We are the current owners of 650 Windermere, so found the article very interesting. When we bought the house we were told it was built in 1921 or 1922, which is consistent with your research. However we were told that it was the golf course's groundskeeper's residence. I have nothing to substantiate that claim, but I suppose it could be possible nonetheless. Thanks again for article.