Bob Carswell adds to our stories – I’ve learned they are of interest to many site visitors – about the Marlborough Golf Course

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I am absolutely amazed at how much interest there is among site visitors in the history of the Marlborough Golf Course.

My own contact with the course was fleeting. Given that I made about $20 during my career as a caddy at the course, I figure I must have caddied there about a dozen times. I remember sitting in a clubhouse where in hours of sitting, waiting to be chosen for an assignment as a caddy, I heard many stories.

Caddy buttons – Marlborough Golf and Country Club. Bob Carswell photo

A few of the stories have stayed with me. Most of the stories are long forgotten. That said, I have memories of walking around the course pulling a golf cart and handing the requested clubs to the golfer I was working for. Somewhere in my notes I’ve written that I tried swinging a golf club a few times in those years.

What the circumstances were, that prompted me to pick up a club and hit that ball I do not remember. But I do vaguely remember such an occurrence. I remember it was a fun thing to do. I could appreciate what makes the game enjoyable for people who were playing the game all the time.

I am as well reminded that memories are malleable. Research underlines that our memories can be stretched this way and that, in order to fit into a coherent form of storytelling that sums up whatever it is that happened in the past. I make it a point to document things, to take notes when I can, because that helps me to keep my memories straight – regarding even events of the recent past. My memory, when I don’t take notes, is episodic. I remember some key things and many other things I do not recollect at all.

At times I’ve thought, as well, about the fact that the golfers at the club were in their own separate world – some kind of separate, contented universe with its own characteristic form of interaction order. I now know much more about the course – and about golf as a sport, as a pastime, and about the separate world which golf inhabits – than I did in the 1950s. I know these things thanks to the stories that people connected with the course have shared at this website.

For example, there’s a story about an American professional golfer – famous in those years and noteworthy even now – who visited the course – and hit a ball like you wouldn’t believe. What he did with that ball was absolutely phenomenal. He had such a level of strength that the ball went along a trajectory that stood out as far surpassing the usual trajectory that you would ever expect to see.

Usually, from the spot where he was standing, a ball would never go as far as it went that day, when he put a ball on the tee, and swung his club. Off it went. A gallery of observers would have watched it soar across the sky. It flew a distance that far surpassed the usual state of affairs, at the Marlborough course, where a regular golfer was hitting a ball from that location. I feel blessed, that I know about such events of days ago.

Bob Carswell recalls days when he was a caddy

In a recent email Bob Carswell writes (I’ve added some paragraph breaks):

I came across these two Buttons from 60 to 70 years ago. I thought they would interest your readers.

Button on the left

The button on the left was my Class B Caddy button from Marlborough Golf and Country Club at the top of Golf Road in Cartierville.

Golf Road was only one block long back then and turned west as Jean-Bourdon Avenue. Although broken up along the way several times it is the road that continues through our former property in Saraguay between Martin Avenue and Wood Avenue.

It was through arrangements my father made to exchange parts of their property with the neighbour Frank Hennebury, (father of Lynn Hennebury Legge of London, Ontario today) so that the road could go through thereby making lot options available for both of them when they chose to sell their respective properties.

Dad bought the property in 1951, had the house I grew up in built there and sold it in 1974 at a time when prices had dropped considerably due to Separatist situation. By breaking up the French acre into four pieces, he was able to achieve what original prices would have given him before the drop in prices.

They next built a retirement home on Dog Lake, off Burnt Hills Road, outside of Seeley’s Bay, Ontario, northeast of Kingston and closer to Gananoque. They lived there for 30 years in retirement until the death of my mother in 2005. My father remained with help but eventually moved to a support medical facility in Kingston where he died in 2007 at age 88.

Button on the right

The Button on the right [dates from after the] closure of Marlborough and belongs to the Royal Montreal Golf Club. The club itself is 150 years old. According to Wikipedia, Royal Montreal owes its origins to a decision by eight men, then striking gutta-percha balls on Fletcher’s Field in downtown Montreal, to form an independent golf club in 1873.

Scottish-born Alexander Dennistoun, the Club’s first Captain, would lend his name to the trophy that currently recognizes the men’s club champion.

The first female member to join any golf club in North America, Mrs. William Wallace Watson (née Florence Stancliffe) was admitted in 1891.

The Club’s location has changed twice since its initial formation, first to Dixie, in the parish of Dorval, in 1896, and then to its current location in Île-Bizard in 1959.

I caddied there for a number of years after it opened to earn money. It meant early morning hitchhiking to Île-Bizard and hoping a fellow going directly to the course would pick me up and take me there. I think they got used to picking up caddies along the way.

While I was young as a Class B caddy at Marlborough, my age at 14 pushing 15 as one of the early caddies at Royal Montreal, made me a more senior caddy at Royal Montreal and I was classified as a Class A caddy there.

Today it is the home of the Canadian Open and is highly regarded as a top Canadian course.

I got to know Île-Bizard earlier, working one summer on a Wonder Bakery bread truck operated in Roxboro. The driver lived on Île-Bizard and occasionally drove home to drop off some stuff or do whatever.

His house was on a slight hill with several others but lots of vacant land around them and probably former farm fields, hence no trees. It was right in the middle of the island. I have driven by bicycle completely around the outer ring of Île-Bizard so I knew the island well.

It is too bad the Cartierville course closed as I knew it well and enjoyed playing on it when I could.



2 replies
  1. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    In a recent post, Bob Carswell speaks about caddying for Elmer Lach who when he was young played hockey for a team in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. The reference to Lach prompted me to start reading about the history of Weyburn.

    Here’s a June 12, 2018 reference to a book about the Weyburn Mental Hospital:

    Historical association recognizes book on Weyburn Mental Hospital: Professor Erika Dyck and alumnus Alex Deighton (BA’13, MA’16) were awarded the Clio Prize for the Prairies.

    A Sept. 19, 2019 reference is also of interest: Managing Madness: Weyburn Mental Hospital and the Transformation of Psychiatric Care in Canada.

    As well, a Sept. 8, 2022 Sask Dispatch article is entitled: “Remembering those who died in Sask’s psychiatric institutions.”

    The references bring to mind a book I am currently reading: “And Neither Have I Wings to Fly”: Labelled and Locked Up in Canada’s Oldest Institution (2013), which I’ve borrowed from the Stratford Public Library.

    The above-noted books bring to mind the history of the Lakeshore Hospital Grounds in New Toronto.

    Graeme Decarie remembers Elmer Lach

    Today I came across an email message of February 2020 from Graeme Decarie which eventually made it to the comments at this website; Graeme wrote:

    I remember seeing Elmer Lach in my caddy days at marlborough. a great thrill. I was sitting in the caddy shack at the time – a moment to remember.

    Graeme Decarie also speaks about Elmer Lach at an earlier post:

    Elmer Lach died at 97

  2. Jaan Pill
    Jaan Pill says:

    Memories are malleable: I am reminded of a Feb. 2, 2024 New York Times article which is entitled: “A Leading Memory Researcher Explains How to Make Precious Moments Last.”

    An excerpt reads:

    Rather than being photo-accurate repositories of past experience, Ranganath argues, our memories function more like active interpreters, working to help us navigate the present and future. The implication is that who we are, and the memories we draw on to determine that, are far less fixed than you might think. “Our identities,” Ranganath says, “are built on shifting sand.”

    Why We Remember: Unlicking Memory’s Power to Hold on the What Matters (2024): A Kirkus Review of the book reads:

    A well-informed tour of a mysterious and crucial part of the brain, promising greater self-awareness and mental clarity.

    A professor of neuroscience and psychology delivers a wide-ranging study of how memories make us who and what we are.

    Memory is a quirky thing, writes Ranganath, director of the Dynamic Memory Lab at the University of California, Davis. We can remember song lyrics from 20 years ago, but we can also forget what we ate yesterday. The author has been trying to understand memory for decades, and he admits that a huge amount still remains a puzzle. He explains the mechanisms of memory in the brain and the different types and levels of memory, as well as the evolutionary reasons for it. Many theories have been posed about how memories develop, but the current thinking involves “a phenomenon called error-driven learning,” where memory is a constant process of reworking experiences to fit our larger mental picture. Memory failures have been linked to depression, poor sleep, and other ailments. Ranganath explains how fake “memories” can be inserted by repeated suggestion, to the point that people have “remembered” and confessed to crimes they didn’t commit. Some memories, especially those of traumatic events, break into our consciousness unbidden. The author suggests that they can be kept under control by persistent and intentional rejection, although it takes effort. He also offers tips on how to not forget routine things (phone, keys) by connecting their image to something else. It’s useful advice, but much of the book is devoted to Ranganath’s examination of theories of memory and the new generation of testing. Anyone expecting a simple how-to guide on improving their memory may be disappointed. The author’s research is undeniably intriguing, but the book will appeal to specialists more than general readers.

    A well-informed tour of a mysterious and crucial part of the brain, promising greater self-awareness and mental clarity.


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