Victoria Golf Club
1110 Beach Drive
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Victoria Golf Club consists of a clubhouse, sundry other buildings, and an 18-hole golf course occupying 38.1 hectares on Gonzales Point in Oak Bay, British Columbia, overlooking Juan de Fuca Strait. The entrance to the site is marked by a pair of rusticated-stone gate piers.
Victoria Golf Club is valued for its role in the development and history of Oak Bay. The Club was founded in 1893, thirteen years before the municipality was incorporated, by the businessmen and merchants of Victoria. Most were British, had played the game at home, and considered a golf course to be a necessary component of an established community. At first they played on rough grazing land belonging to Joseph Despard Pemberton, the former Colonial Engineer and Surveyor; later they were granted a lease and formed the Victoria Golf Club. A streetcar service offering 'Golfers' Specials' brought players from Victoria. The Club and the popularity of the game grew, and in 1906 the land was purchased from the Pemberton estate. Since that time, the Club has grown to become an important recreational facility in Oak Bay, and is now considered a 'jewel among Canada's premium heritage golf clubs.' It is the oldest golf club in Canada still on its original site, and the oldest golf club in North America west of the Mississippi River.
The community values immensely the open green space of the golf course, as well as the views it provides across Juan de Fuca Strait.
This site is also valued for its association with Charles Elwood Watkins, architect of the clubhouse, which was built in 1929; and with Arthur Vernon Macan, the Pacific Northwest's most prolific golf course designer, who was a member of the club and made many changes to the course. Watkins was born and trained in Victoria in the office of Thomas Hooper, eventually forming a partnership called Hooper and Watkins. During the boom years just before the First World War, Watkins was engaged in designing schools, such as Willows School in Oak Bay. After the war he was occupied with domestic, commercial, and institutional commissions. Watkins was active in the creation of the Architectural Institute of British Columbia and was well respected for his community involvement.
The land on which the Golf Club stands, Gonzales Point, is of special significance to the people of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations because a village known as Kukeeluk, meaning 'place of war', once stood on this point. It is thought to have been used as a look-out place for the Chilcowitch people, one of the Coast Salish families which lived on McNeill Bay.
Source: District of Oak Bay Planning Department
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Victoria Golf Club include its:
- picturesque setting, with mature landscaping and views across Haro Strait and Juan de Fuca Strait to the mountains of mainland British Columbia and Washington state
- location on Gonzales Point, surrounded on the land side by large homes set on large manicured lots
- form, scale, and massing of the clubhouse and ancillary buildings, expressing their functions as social and service centres
- frame construction, stucco cladding
- style details such as the mock-Tudor half timbering, Tudor arches on the verandah, and rusticated stone work
- exterior architectural details including porte-cochere with battered piers, verandah
- regular fenestration
- interior features including wood panelling in the clubhouse, original fireplace
- landscape elements such as mature fir trees, Garry oak trees, flagpole and granite gate piers
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
1906/01/01 to 1906/01/01
1893/01/01 to 1893/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Sports and Leisure
Function - Category and Type
- Sports Facility or Site
Architect / Designer
Arthur Vernon Macan
Location of Supporting Documentation
District of Oak Bay Planning Department
Cross-Reference to Collection