by Joe McLean
In 1972, to recognize the early founders of the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club, a small stone fountain was erected near the chipping green, south of the clubhouse. At that time, plaques dedicated to Willie Park Jr, the golf course architect, and Dr. Edgar Archibald and Mr. John Foley, two of the founding fathers of the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club, were placed on the fountain.
Over the past 50 years, the fountain had aged and deteriorated such that it had to be dismantled. It was replaced late last year by a large cairn adorned with new plaques that better tell the story of the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club.
Flagstick was given the opportunity to drop over to the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club and talk to various individuals involved in the upcoming Cairn rededication ceremony.
Flagstick talked to Bruce McDonald, Chair of the Heritage Committee and Club Historian at the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club about his and Lotta Harasym’s financial contribution to this Legacy project.
“When I was on the Board, I reviewed our history and could see there were Legacy and Heritage Committees going back a number of years. Gord McRostie started the current Legacy Committee off with his donation of $5,000. So we started it off with the Daniel E. Donnelly Vimy Ridge Memorial Tree and the Gary Beech Memorial Clock, and the memorial stones you see on our starting nines. One day a few years ago I happened to notice the old fountain here and by luck found the documentation from Eddie MacCabe that started it off many years ago. So, Eric Ruhs, the course superintendent, and I looked at it and it was falling down. So we went from there and I made a proposal to the Board. A couple of years ago, just prior to COVID, I discussed it with Lotta and we decided to do something. Then with the help of Eric and the Board, we put a plan together and Eric happily brought landscape architect John Szczepaniak on board. He laid out this plaza and designed the cairn with the sloping sides. So here we are. It’s been a wonderful time for us.”
Note: Lotta Harasym and Bruce McDonald generously funded this cairn to commemorate the Club’s history.
As to the design of the memorial cairn, Flagstick talked to landscape architect John Szczepaniak and asked him about his design.
“It was a bit of a challenge as historically there was a rock garden in here associated with the original clubhouse and there were remnants of it, with an early late 50’s, early 60’s contemporary style building. So I needed to marry the heritage aspect of this cairn with the character of the clubhouse and when we were looking for options for the cairn, the priority of it was to make it a significant scale so it would be realized. So it’s slightly higher than a person and for the shape of it I decided to go along with the roofline of the clubhouse and how this cairn feature would be viewed with the backdrop of the building; so we decided to give it the various angles.”
We asked Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club President Jennifer Brooy what it means to have Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club Members like Lotta Harasym and Bruce McDonald, among others, who have provided financial support for various heritage projects at the Golf Club.
“The heartbeat of the Hunt Club depends on members like Lotta and Bruce through their generous donations of time and money for projects, such as the Cairn, along with their sincere respect for the Hunt Club as a family – past, present and future.”
History is very important to the Members of the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club and the Heritage Committee at the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club can trace its origin back to 1971.
According to an historical document on the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club website in the Heritage section titled, “The Hunt Club Bulletin – April 1972, The Beginnings of our Legacy Committee – The History of the Fountain”, it was none other than Ottawa Hunt Club Member Eddie MacCabe who, “On May 21, 1971, Eddie MacCabe wrote to President Arthur Mullen suggesting the Club should consider doing something about its historical background. Subsequently, Art Mullen asked John Cross to chair a committee consisting of the following members: Eddie MacCabe, Scotty Armstrong, Bob Stimpson, Tom Bryson, Len Copland, Alex Milne, Joe Lamb and Ken Clark. After a period of individual consideration a meeting of the committee was held at the Club on August 23, 1971. The committee concluded that some permanent recognition should be given the following group which will include some committee members.
Considered for recognition by this committee were Dr. Edgar Spinney Archibald, Bryant White, John Foley, Scottie Miller, Willie Park, W.R. (Bill) Sandison, Harry Towlson and Bob Warwick.
This was the beginning of what is now known as the Legacy Program and tells the story of how the fountain near the chipping area of #1 South came about.
It was decided to construct a cairn effect with loose stones in the space between the left side of the first tee and the flower bed. These stones could be obtained on the Club property in the area between the fourth and sixth fairways of the White “9”. Plaques would be affixed to the cairn recording in an appropriate manner the contributions of John Foley, Dr. Archibald and Willie Park. There are flagstone steps presently in place providing access to this area from the patio and it is proposed that the cairn be flood-lit by running an extension from the existing outlet for the P.A. system that is just outside the patio area.
The committee endeavored to come up with suggestions for appropriate mementos to honour these men who pioneered our Club that could be done with a minimal expenditure of funds, but still give suitable recognition.
On Monday, May 30, 2022, there will be an official unveiling of the new memorial cairn at the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club and Members will be invited to join President Jennifer Brooy, other Directors and staff to the rededication ceremony and to hear the history of the cairn.
Should you have the opportunity to play golf at the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club, take your time on the course to look at the history of the Club on plaques attached to large stones near the teeing areas. Inside the clubhouse historical memorabilia can be found in abundance on the walls. The flagpole that sits near the green on #9 West was erected in 1972 in memory of Mr. W. R. Sandison and paid for by his wife.
A couple of other projects, including a Champions Plaza and a Volunteer Bridge, are underway at the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club and Flagstick will follow-up in due course when they are completed.