Invermere is another example of an agricultural land company introducing golf to an area in BC; other examples include Walachin 1912, Vernon 1913, and Kelowna 1914.
Because Robert Randolph Bruce (1863 – 1942) originated from the home of golf St Andrews, Scotland he would be totally devoted to the game. During his residence in the Windermere Valley he served as the Honorary President and chief patron of the golf club.
Bruce came to Canada in 1873 and worked primarily as the chief surveyor for the Crowsnest CPR rail line. From his first visit to the Windermere Valley region he fell in love with the mountains and the rivers. He dreamt of the day he could return to the Valley. To fulfil his yearning in 1897 he began purchasing large tracts of land in the valley. He renamed the area Invermere from the Scottish words “inver” = “mouth” and “mere” = “lake”. To attract English and Scottish immigrants to his paradise he formed the Columbia Valley Irrigation Fruit Lands Corporation. The CVIFL began selling 40-acre plots for agricultural enterprises especially orchards. Naturally the new residents introduced their traditional sporting activities to their new homeland. Shooting, cricket, tennis and lawn bowling became prime social activities. Because of his St Andrews roots Bruce encouraged a group to form the Invermere Golf & Country Club. His Columbia Corporation gave the new club a beautiful tract of land over looking the lake.
The long time secretary of the club (from 1925 onward) described the opening day on May 24th, 1915 as follows: “This being celebrated as Empire Day I attended the formal opening in the afternoon of the Invermere G&CC on their grounds at Canterbury Point. About 40 persons were present of whom say 12 played golf, the rest were drinkers.”
In 1915 the rail link between Cranbrook and Golden opened allowing golfers to travel between the two centres. The first match occurred on October 14th 1915. Invermere showed their superiority by Mr Barker (scratch) wining the men’s open handicap singles with a score of 96, by Mackinnon and Cuthbert winning the men’s foursomes with Johnson and Morris second, and by Miss Johnson of Wycliffe winning the Ladies open handicap singles.
William Cleland, the Paradise Mine Manager, wrote an uplifting article for publication in the Canadian Golfer Magazine in March 1918 titled “The invigorating Invermere”. “We feel we have one of most wonderful natural courses in Canada to-day and would like so far as possible, through the means of your valuable publication, to bring our links more to the attention of the golf loving people of the dominion of Canada. Situated as it is between the main ranges of the rocky and Selkirk Mountains and in one of most picturesque parts of British Columbia, where any holiday seeker can spend an ideal vacation at a comfortable tourist hotel, we do not think any one will ever regret having come here. Last year we had a number of visitors from outside points, due no doubt to the publicity we have received through your valuable journal, and we believe without exception.”
As the Canterbury point property became more valuable for orchard expansion Bruce encouraged the golf club to move inland to a tract of land presently occupied by the Wilder subdivision. W Cleland, the club secretary, described the move as follows: “It may be of interest to you to know that last Fall, it was decided to change the course location of our course to grounds that were considered more suitable. The services of a professional were arranged for and a very attractive new course has been laid out.” Canadian Golfer Magazine April 1922. The club reorganized under the name the Invermere Golf Club Ltd. Again Bruce supplied the land and paid the bills in times of difficulty.
On August 12th 1924 BG Hamilton secretary of the Invermere GC wrote a description of the visit of Governor General Baron Byng to the Windermere Valley. “During the visit of the vice-regal party to the Lake Windermere District His Excellency, Baron Byng very kindly honoured the local golf club playing a game with the clubs president, Dr. F.E. Coy. He went round the nine-hole course on the morning with Dr Coy and in the afternoon with A Cuthbert. The weather was perfect neither too hot nor too cold in spite of the fact that the new course is simply in the process of making. The regal group remained from evening of Friday, the eighth, till the early hours of the Monday, the tenth, enjoying in quite an informal manner the beauties of nature for which the Lake Windermere district of British Columbia is justly noted.”
In December 1959 an order in council in the BC Legislature reveals how the Invermere Golf Club Company functioned. The Invermere Golf Club Ltd was struck from the Register of Companies and dissolved on January 7th, 1937. In 1937 the property owned by the club was conveyed to the Columbia Valley Irrigated Fruit Lands Ltd owned by Randolph Bruce.” Records indicate Bruce paid all the expenses on the land for the golf club from 1922 until it ceased operation in 1959.
Congratulations to the Invermere region on the 100th anniversary of golf being introduced to their region.