The Way We Were

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the September 23, 2009 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Larrimac Turns 85 - Part 2

Larrimac members all about committment

by Louise Schwartz

The Larrimac Golf and Tennis Club in Chelsea, now in its 85th year, is one of the oldest golf courses in the region. With a small but challenging course, it attracts a loyal core of locals and golfers from Gatineau and Ottawa.

The Way We Were
Gwen Wilmot with her father Arthur Wood pose at the tennis courts in 1969. Photo courtesy Gwen Wilmot.

With a friendly competitive spirit, the club celebrates its winners each fall at a "Beef and Greens" dinner. Long time members win their share of the trophies and plaques. In 2008, Val Wilmot won 6 out 7 awards under the "Ladies Nine Holes" category. Val joined the club in 1940, and aside from a 20 year absence in the States, has been an active member since. Also in 2008, Tom Greenberg was the senior champion. Tom joined the club when he was 8 years old. Some 53 years later, he still crosses the Gatineau River by motor boat from his cottage in Cantley to play. This season Tom won the Thomas Lawson trophy donated by his mother years earlier in memory of her father.

The Way We Were
Peg Christie (nee Gisborne) poses in 2008 with the Florence Brown trophy she won 67 years earlier. Her grandmother's former cottage became the first clubhouse. Photo courtesy of Ann Schwartz.

Primarily known for golf, there is a distinct tennis membership. The current Raemac courts, built in 1964 on the west side of Highway 105, were named for Alex MacRae who donated half of the costs. (Local writer Catherine Joyce is his grand-daughter.) In that period, Arthur Wood (in his 70s and 80s) taught lessons to juniors and eager adults like Carol Martin. He was aided by his daughter Gwen Wilmot and Sheila Wright. Today, Janet Drysdale does the lion's share of organizing events such as round robins.

The social aspect of the club has always been a key to its success. Saturday afternoon teas at the club started in 1931, and Saturday evening was often reserved for dances, games, and movie nights. An annual regatta was held on land and water, with events such as a hundred yard dash, swimming, diving and canoe races. In later years, the popular Sadie Hawkins night attracted as many as 80 members and guests and a "Fun Night" involved skits, sing alongs, and "fashion shows" with men acting as models. Duplicate bridge on Monday evenings has been a mainstay for over 45 years. It has had only a few convenors over the years, including Mingaye Grant, Bob Martin, Claude Arsenault (for 35 years) and currently Judy and Bob Ripley.

In 1973, a group of Larrimackers cleared trails through the club property for the purpose of cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Twenty-five years later, a new generation of volunteers ventured out with chain saws and axes to clear some of the destruction along the trails caused by the January 1998 ice storm. Long-time member Allan Richens leads an annual fall walk through these trails.

The Way We Were
Tom Greenberg celebrates at the annual trophy night in 2002. Photo courtesy Larrimac Golf Club.

Over the years the club milestones have been celebrated - and not without a sense of fun. For the club's 50th anniversary celebrations in 1974, Val Wilmot and Lois Robertson teasingly jumped out of a giant birthday cake. For its 60th, John Chown installed a small mushroom shaped hut in the woods beside the seventh fairway. It was (and still is) a home for Herman, a gnome responsible for the many golf balls that find their way back to the fairway.

Current members can take pride in the history of their club. A tour of the clubhouse reinforces how involved members have been over the years. The aging photo albums stored in the office are testimony to the participation of many. Trophies and plaques behind display cases detail the winners of dozens of tournaments put on each year. A handsome certificate on the club wall bears the names of all past and present honoured with life memberships for their exceptional contributions. With this level of commitment, the club can look forward to celebrating many more anniversaries.

Information for this story was obtained from various sources including Allan Richens, Gwen Wilmot, Val Wilmot, and Volume 9 (A. de L. Panet) and Volume 25 (Ann Schwartz) of Up The Gatineau! published by the Gatineau Valley Historical Society.

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