The History of the Stratford Country Club
The Stratford Country Club celebrated it’s 100th anniversary in 2013. In 1913, more than a century ago, Walter Miller of Stratford, was instrumental in acquiring the first parcel of land off of Romeo Street that would be developed into a permanent golf course for the city.
Using passages from TJ Dolan’s memoirs, the book describes how Miller came to acquire the golf course property.
“One day, while out for a leisure stroll, Walter Miller passed the (Jacob) Cook farm on Romeo Street. Somehow or other it appealed to him as a suitable site for a golf course. Having no knowledge that Mr. Cook was interested in selling the property Mr. Miller approached him, asking if he were going to sell what would be his price. Without hesitation Mr. Cook answered $4,000.
“When Mr. Miller remarked that at least he knew his price Mr. Cook related that he expected a man that very day to take the option on the property. Before taking his departure Mr. Miller exacted a promise from Mr. Cook that should the man not present himself that he, Mr. Miller, be given the opportunity to take an option on the property.
“Mr. Cook promised and forthwith Walter Miller sought out Kenneth Turnbull and related his story. Mr. Turnbull immediately became enthusiastic and offered to provide half the option money. The next day Mr. Cook presented himself at the office of Mr. Miller who took the option on the property.
“The meeting to discuss the desirability of forming a country club was held on November 14, 1913, at the office of Mr. Miller in the Beacon building at 104 Ontario Street, now Mercer Hall.”
Miller proved to be a skilled golfer. Always dressed in a shirt and tie, he would walk to the course from his Waterloo Street home – now A Patch of Heaven Bed & Breakfast, where some of the Millers stayed during their visit – play nine holes and walk home.
Two trophies Miller won at the country club, the Lloyd Cup in 1917 and the President’s Cup in 1921, had been held by a family in Stratford for many years before being sent to Miller’s grandson in Winnipeg. The trophies have now been returned to the club for display, along with a ladies’ championship trophy won by Miller’s daughter, Mary Murray (Miller at the time), in the years 1930-32.
The history book touches on these years and many other significant dates in the club’s history, including the 1923 fire that destroyed the original clubhouse and the 1954 blaze that destroyed the second. The curling rinks were added to the club in 1959-60. A group of curling enthusiasts had existed locally as far back as 1887, playing on nice at a number of different locations, including what is today the Tom Patterson Theatre and the old fairgrounds. The squash courts, meanwhile, were built in the late 1970s, first owned and operated by a local squash club before ownership was transferred over to the country club in 1991.