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Course History

Lakeview Clubhouse in 1904

Lakeview Roots

Twenty three years after Canada's first golf club was established at Royal Montreal in 1873, a group of west end sports-men decided to add to Toronto's stock of golf clubs (which is 1896 consisted of the Toronto Golf Club, then occupying the land later to become Greenwood Racetrack, and the Rosedale Club in the north end), by building a modest 18-hole course on 50 acres alongside the west bank of the Grenadier Pond, and calling it the High Park Golf Club.

For a decade members enjoyed the course, and in 1904 a new clubhouse was built.  But by 1906, housing demands were putting the squeeze on the members to find another place to play. Early the next year, the club wound up operations and a number of members formed themselves under the name of The High Park Golf and Country Club, and bought a 98-acre parcel of property then described as 'a short distance west of Long Branch Park'.

In the new club's prospectus, Rosedale Golf Club professional W.J. Lock declared the property admirably suited for a Golf Course, in fact more than any site I have yet seen around Toronto.  Lock estimated the cost of construction 18-holes at only $99, largely owing to the fact the ground is almost in condition to play over now, with the exception of the Greens.  In fact, by May 24, six weeks after possession, the first nine holes were ready for play.  The second nine was completed by August 3. An article in Outdoor Canada described it as 'Not a bad performance, to take a half-plowed farm and lick it into a golf course in four months! Perhaps the most notable feature of this early layout was the ninth hole, at about 750 yards indisputably the longest in Canada.

Seventh Green in 1922

The only problem with the new golf course was that the railway line split the property, with nine holes on each side.  The club was able to overcome this inconvenience in 1910 by securing another 40 acres and rebuilding entirely north of the tracks. The converted farmhouse that served as the original clubhouse was replaced by a new building in 1911, and six months later the Board of Directors decided to change the club's name to the Lakeview Golf and Country Club.

Lakeview's Head Professional, Arthur Russel with his assistants in 1908


In 1914, the club hosted its first important tournament, the Canadian Professional Golf Association Championship.  While the second course was good, in 1921 club president F.A.N. Powell spearheaded an effort to construct a championship layout and hired renowned New York architect Herbert Strong to head up the $35,000 project.  The result, completed in 1922 and still in play today, was described as the hardest test of golfing skill in Canada at that time.

True to its billing, two hundred of the leading golfers in North America failed to match par for any round over the course at the 1923 Canadian Open.  In fact is wasn't until 1931 that Eric Russell, the pro's son and Ontario Junior Champion that year, was the first to score par for the course.  No one broke par until the 1934 Canadian Open, when Ky Laffoon turned in a 68 and Leo Diegel set the course record, which stood for 73 years, at 65.

End of an Era

A cocker spaniel named 'Buddy' is the greatest champion Lakeview has ever produced.  The pooch's frantic barking alerted staff and guests to an early morning blaze on July 21, 1939, allowing 15 people to escape with their lives as flames swept through the frame club house.  Martha Andrews, the housekeeper, was caring for the dog which belonged to the club's secretary-treasurer.  His barking woke her up with smoke already billowing through her room.  She spread the alarm and everyone managed to escape unhurt from the clubhouse.  Another 20 employees also had to abandon their nearby quarters when it was feared the flames would spread.

The loss of the clubhouse, built in 1916, sounded the death of knell for the club, which the same week had been placed in the hands of a Toronto trust company as custodians pending re-organization.

Employees sort though their salvaged belongings as the clubhouse burns
behind them on July 21, 1939

"We're all washed up now, club president J.W. McMaster told reporters as he watched timbers and parts of burning roof and walls crash to the ground.  We were beginning a re-organization which we had every reason to expect would be successful and put us on our feet again, but now we're through."  About 100 sets of clubs were saved from the men's locker room, but nothing was salvaged from the women's lockers which were near the heart of the blazed that started in the kitchen.

The next day, it was reported that the Mississauga Golf Club was besieged with caddies from Lakeview desperately looking for work.

In 1940, the club was purchased privately by local businessmen and long-time club members Harry Phelan and Bill Purtle purchased the club for $400,000.  The club operated semi-privately for the next 15 years. 

The Township of Toronto (later the City of Mississauga) leased the club from 1956 to 1964 and eventually purchased Lakeview Golf Club in 1965. 

National Opens

Before the Royal Canadian Golf Association made Oakville's Glen abbey for all intents and purposes the permanent home of the national golf championship of Canada, clubs across the country bid for the right to host the prestigious event.  On two occasions, first in 1923, and again in 1934, Lakeview won the honour.

The 1923 championship attracted some of the brightest stars of the game, including Gene Sarazen who had his breakthrough year on tour in 1922 and Jock Hutchinson of Chicago.  But it was another American pro, Clarence Hackney of Atlantic City, who took the crown with a score of 295, five better than runner up Tom Kerrigan, also of the U.S.  According to a popular periodical of the day, Canadian Golfer, local fans weren't too put off that a pro from the U.S. had won the tournament for a fifth straight year, because Hackney was a transplanted Scot who had learned the game at Carnoustie.

The 72-hole event was staged over two days, August 3 and 4, and attracted a record field of 139 golfers, 41 amateurs and 98 professionals.  To complete 36 holes on Friday, the groups had to tee off at four minute intervals starting at dawn. Even so, car headlights had to be shone on the 18th green to allow the last few pairings to putt out in the deep dusk.  At the conclusion of the first day's play, the Executive of the Royal Canadian Golf Association decided to cut the field for the second day and resolved to begin holding qualifying rounds at future championships, because the size of the field was becoming unwieldy.

A first at the 23 Open (with the exception of Red Cross fundraising matches during the First Word War) was a $1 fee for spectators.  About 1,500 spectators ponied up their buck to watch the play.

And the club received high praise from the players. Canadian Golfer reported that, "they all expressed themselves delighted with the Lakeview course and the courtesy of the officials and galleries generally during the Championship.  Lakeview, they all thought, provided a capital test of good golf."

It was such a good test that the road show made its return 11 years later when golfing legends Walter Hagen and two-time Canadian Open champion Tommy Armour headlined an extraordinary strong field that included American pros Gene Sarazen, Leo Diegel, Al Watrous, Danny Shute and Willie Macfarlane. One Toronto daily heralded it as probably the strongest field that has ever contested the championship.

Tommy Armour with Lakeview president Bill Purtle during tournament week in 1934

Again Lakeview was showered with high praise for the condition of the course and for hosting a first-class event.  Toronto sports editor Edwin Allan wrote: Lakeview had an unusually large gallery on the opening day.  William Purtle, president of the club, was going around with his chest out and he had reason to, for the club officers were the recipients of many congratulations on the splendid condition of the course.

Reports from the tournament were delivered to fans live from the golf course on radio stations CFRB and CKCL, with a young Foster Hewitt heading up the broadcast team.

Tournament Record





C.P.G.A. Championship

George Cumming


1st Ontario Open Championship

Andy Kay, 153


1st Ontario Amateur Championship

R.M. Gray, Matchplay


Canadian Open Championship

C.W. Hackney, 295


Ontario Junior Championship

Fred Lyon, 163


Ontario Junior Championship

Gordon Gunn, 157


Ontario Amateur Championship

Sandy Somerville, Matchplay


Ontario Open Championship

Dave Spittal, 148


Ontario Amateur Championship

Don Carrick, Matchplay


Canadian Open Championship

Tommy Armour, 287


1st Ontario Champion of Champions

Jim Twiss, 157


Ontario Public Course Championship

Greg Paterson, 65


Canadian Tour - Jane Rogers Championship

Byron Smith, 264


Canadian Tour - Jane Rogers Championship

Alex Coe, 265