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This article first appeared in the June 5, 2013 issue of the The Low Down to Hull and Back News.External Link Reprinted with permission. Search complete list of Low Down Articles.

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Golf tourney drives in $300K for health foundation

20th anniversary of golf tourney clouded by decline in golfers

By Lucy Scholey

Rainy weather has never cancelled the Arthur Brown Memorial Golf Tournament.

But this year, an unfortunate first is clouding the 20th anniversary of the charity event.

It's not the rain Shirley Brown is most worried about - although as chair of the annual event, she has been cautiously eyeing the long-term forecast - rather it's the attendance.

Arthur Brown Memorial Golf Tournament
(From left): Sven Pavey, Nils Pavey, Mike Sianchuk & Jeanot Bertrand (absent from photo) accept the award for Best Overall Team on behalf of the Wakefield General Store team. LD file photo.

For the first time in 20 years, organizers are having a hard time recruiting golfers to hit a few balls in support of the Wakefield Hospital.

Shirley said many younger people have stopped coming out to the tournaments because they're too busy these days.

But those that do, she said, have a great time supporting a charitable cause.

Since the golf tournament started in 1993, it has raised nearly $300,000 for the Des Collines Health Foundation, an organization that raises funds for the Wakefield Hospital and other health initiatives in the Gatineau Hills.

Last year alone, the event raised $22,000 and 132 people teed off. This year, there are just 108 people registered.

"You don't have to be a good golfer," Shirley said, in her pitch to recruit more people to the tournament. She noted that her own father, who the tournament is named after, rarely hit his balls onto the green.

Arthur Brown was perhaps best known as a land baron in the Gatineau Hills. He inherited 200 acres of land in Kirk's Ferry during the 1960s. He started dividing and selling the lots with his son, Jim, who later became the youngest mayor of Chelsea (then West Hull) in 1973. Their Ridge Group project is thought to be Chelsea's first housing development.

Arthur Brown Memorial Golf Tournament
Arthur Brown and his uncle, Ferguson Brown, loading grain with a horse-drawn wagon at Brown's Farm in Kirk's Ferry circa 1930. Photo courtesy Gatineau Valley Historical Society.

Shirley, who owns the Jamboree boutique in Wakefield, no longer lives on the original 200 acres of land (initially established by Thomas Reid in the 1850s), but many descendants of the Brown and Reid families still do.

Arthur was one of the cofounders of Mont Cascades in the early 1970s. He bought 2,200 acres of land and eventually turned it into the golf club.

When Arthur suffered his first heart attack in 1977, he was treated at the old Wakefield Hospital and became a regular patient over the years. He passed away in 1993 - the same year the Des Collines Health Foundation formed - whereupon a group of people, including Arthur's daughter, started a charity golf tournament in his name.

Apart from owning large swaths of land, Arthur was known for being sociable. But the gift of the gab never helped him with his game.

"If he was there (at the memorial tournament), he would have had a hard time playing golf," said Shirley. "He would have been busy talking to people."

So, perhaps by coincidence, the annual tournament is more about getting out and having fun with old neighbours and friends than it is about scoring under par.

Still not convinced you want to golf ? Sign up for the hip of beef buffet dinner for $50. An additional golf game costs $150 - total. There will also be a silent and live auction, with proceeds going towards the Des Collines Health Foundation.

To sign up, visit www.fsdcdchf.ca.