The Way We Were
The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the September 16, 2009 issue. Reprinted with permission.
Larrimac Golf Club turns 85
Sheep to flag stitchers, everyone pitched in to create Larrimac
by Louise Schwartz
This year marks the 85th year since a few cottagers with vision and some determination established a golf club in Chelsea at Larrimac. The credit goes to cottager Larry McCooey, who envisioned a golf links on the then rolling farmland of the Gatineau Hills. He first marked out several holes for putting in 1923 when he was only 24 years old. This crude course was located on a portion of farmland rented from Owen Lacharity, a bachelor farmer in his 50s.
The following summer, McCooey chanced upon Phil and Eta Sherrin, nearby cottagers, and their friend Bunty Carver. The three had been out walking and seen the same golfing possibilities. The notion of a community course gelled. That first year the membership numbered only 21, including an interestingly named Miss Victory Bond. The name Larrimac was chosen in recognition of Larry McCooey's role and was a contraction of his name. In 1932 the geographic name of the area was changed from Lacharite (a misspelled Lacharity) to Larrimac Links (later to become Larrimac).
In 1926, property along the Gatineau River was expropriated for the hydroelectric project on the Gatineau River. The land the club was renting was not affected, since it was on higher ground. However, it was able to acquire an expropriated cottage that had belonged to Mabel Lambe, whose Gisborne grandchildren would soon play golf as juniors. It was moved to a spot by the current fifth tee. In 1949, it was replaced by a new clubhouse in its current location beside the first tee and close to Hwy 11 (now 105). Wood salvaged from the old clubhouse was used for a shelter near the seventh tee, which is still standing (but refurbished with a donation from Oswald Koch). One of the first rentals of the new clubhouse, raising needed revenue, was the 1950 marriage of Nancy Minnes, a former girls' champion, to her American fiance.
The first greens keepers were farmer Lacharity's sheep. Salt was spread on the greens to encourage them to nibble that grass even shorter. In 1927, a horse drawn mower was added to the club's inventory and Gordon L. Wilson was hired as a greens keeper, staying on 30 years.
He and the club shared ownership of Doll and Dan, horses who helped pull the mower around the course. A motorized tractor was finally purchased in 1937.
The club would not have survived this long without the contribution of its members. In the early days, they supplied their own equipment for the many greenskeeping tasks.
Eta Sherrin made the flags for the pins that marked the holes and embroidered the numbers on them. In the early 1940s, because of the war-time scarcity of rubber, old golf balls were collected and recovered. One member, Chief Air Marshall Breadner, donated an airpiane engine cylinder (now rusted away) for use as an "all clear" signal at the bottom of the fifth fairway.
Besides giving their time to the club, members have donated paintings and photographs now gracing the walls of the club and trophies awarded annually in their name.
Some have remembered the club in their wills, including Frances ("Billy") Stewart who left a bequest for a new equipment shed, called "Billy's Barn".
Those first 21 members from 1924 would be gratified to learn their initial efforts have been sustained by later generations. With the continued engagement of the local community, the Larrimac Golf and Tennis Club will thrive for many more years to come.
Information for this story was taken from various sources including Volume 9 (A. de L. Panet) and Volume 25 (Ann Schwartz) of Up The Gatineau! published by the Gatineau Valley Historical Society.
Next week: the more recent days of Larrimac's history.
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