Mt Brenton Golf club Celebrates 75th Anniversary in 2023. John Alexander Humbird
In 1909 A. E. Collyer purchased the Horseshoe Bay Inn. He used his Collyer farm to supply fresh produce, dairy products, and fruit to their Horseshoe Bay Inn. After fire destroyed the Chemainus mill in 1924, John A. Humbird Jr. moved from St Paul Minnesota to Chemainus to assume personal control of his asset. He purchased the forty-acre Collyer farm thinking he would locate the new mill on this site. Instead, he reconstructed the new mill on the original site. In 1944 Humbird sold the Victoria Lumber & Manufacturing Co. to a newly formed Victoria Lumber Company (VLC) owned by eastern investors headed by J.T. Taylor. The eastern investors had no intention of operating the Chemainus facility. Hence in 1944, the H.R. MacMillan Export Co. assumed the management of the VLC for the eastern investors.
H.R. MacMillan immediately appointed J.S. (Joe) Johannson, formerly the general manager of the MacMillan Industries Ltd, as the new general manager for VLC. Joe” Johannson donated the former Collyer farm for the construction of a nine-hole golf course for the nominal fee of $1 per year. The club members agreed the land would always be maintained as a golf course and never sold for real estate development.
In 1947 two groups of potential golfers, one from Chemainus and one from Ladysmith met to organize a golf club somewhere between Victoria and Chemainus. Holdovers from the first Chemainus golf club (See the previous post for the history of the 1st Chemainus GC 1925. ) included A.E. (Ed) Craig, H.E. (Harry) Heslip, and Joe Sutherland. Prior to incorporating the new club, the committee members struggled to find a name for their new enterprise. Each committee member wanted to name the club after their town. Finally, the two groups compromised upon the name of the most prominent feature of the new course – Mt Brenton. In August 1947, The Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle reported; “Great progress is being made with the Mt. Brenton golf course, as bulldozers are busily engaged in clearing and leveling the land preparatory to seeding.” On April 23, 1948 the Mt Brenton Golf club was incorporated.
1948 first nine hole course
Fred Clunk, a former Victoria GC caddie, moved to California in 1928 to be the head professional at the Riverside GC in Riverside CA. In 1930 he returned to his roots to assume the professional position for the new Vernon Macan deigned course. He served Gorge Vale GC until the War, then retired from golf. In 1948 working as a Victoria police constable, he undertook the task to design the first nine holes at Mt Brenton. In 1950 news reports announced; “6 holes are completed and the members are playing on the course.”
First clubhouse constructed from 2 surplus bunkhouses
The club required a clubhouse. Joe came through again. The VLC donated three surplus bunkhouses to the club. Volunteers renovated the combined structures into a functional clubhouse. On June 27th, 1953 the new clubhouse and completed nine-hole course officially opened. This clubhouse served the membership until the current clubhouse opened in 1984.
The most famous visitor to Mt Brenton, without doubt, has been Queen Elizabeth 11. In 1959 during her tour of the Island, her entourage stopped at Chemainus to inspect the mill. Unfortunately the mill workers were on strike. The organizers of the visit did not want to cancel this once in a life time opportunity to show their village to royalty. Up to 5,000 locals lined the streets in Chemainus as the procession of vehicles proceeded to the golf club. The members of Mt Brenton hosted the Queen’s lunch in a shady area overlooking Fuller’s Lake on the fourth hole.
Mr Brenton Open
Left to Right
Cec Ferguson, Marlin Thompson, Bill Wakeham
In 1971 Marlin Thompson, the newly appointed head professional at Mt Brenton, introduced the annual Mt Brenton Open for professionals and amateurs. It was common practice for golf clubs to hold annual golf tournaments to attract players from throughout BC and to provide additional revenue to their club. (See the incomplete list of winners at the end).
In August 1983 Frank Thurston, chairman of the Ways & Means committee began the process to replace the original clubhouse. The Board authorized the borrowing of $60,000 for the project. Provincial lottery funding supplied $43,000. The membership donated labour and materials totaling $25,000 to make the project feasible. The two story structure, with professional services on the ground floor and banquet rooms and offices on the second floor, opened on April 7th, 1984.
In 1986 the Petrie farm located on the south end of the golf course came on the real estate market. Rather than sell their land to developers, the owners decided to offer the club a sweetheart deal ($100,000) for their property assuming the land would be used to expand the golf course to 18 holes. At this time Bill Robinson, a well-experienced golf architect from Oregon, designed the first nine holes at Arbutus Ridge. The club hired him to expand their course. Utilizing BC Lottery grants, the club undertook the $830,00 expansion project. The renovation included twelve new greens. The finished layout was a par 71, 5,800-yard course. Cowichan Valley MLA Graham Bruce, Mayor Rex Hollett, and golf club director Blake Hodgson officially opened the expanded layout on August 1, 1989
L to R North Cowichan Mayor Rex Hollett, Club Director Blake Hodgson, Cowichan MLA Graham Bruce
Official opening of the 18 hole golf course August 1, 1989 .
On August 8th, 1998 the club celebrated its 50th anniversary by hosting a members’ best =- ball tournament and reception. On a chilly April 23rd, 2023 the club officially celebrated their 75th. Congratulations from the BC Golf Museum.
Mt Brenton Open Amateur champions :
1971 Bill Wakeham, 1972 Bill Wakeham, 1973 Bob cox (play-off with bill Wakeham0, 1974 Bill Wakeham, 1975 Bill Wakeham, 1976 bob cox (play-ff with Tom Whittle), 1977 Dave Mick, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982 Ed Beauchemin, 1983 Ed Beauchemin, 1984 Bruce Tapp, 1985 Ed Beauchemin, 1986 Ed Beauchemin, 1987 Grant Millikan, 1988 Neil O’Leary, 1989 Ed Beauchmin, 1990 Grant Milliken, 1991 Neil O’Leary, 1992 Neil O’Leary, 1993, 1994 Neil O’Leary, 1995, 1996, 1997 Greg Koster 1998 Greg Koster, 1999 Greg Koster, 2000 Rich Ingle, 2001 Ed Beauchemin, 2002 Ed Beauchemin, 2003 todd Bissenden, 2004 Craig Keeping, 2005, 2006 Sandy Harper, 2007 Sandy Harper, 2008 Sandy Harper, 2009 Steve Martin, 2010 Derek Reid, 2011, 2012 Jay Banfield, 2014 Bryan Toth 2023 Wyatt Brock