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Shaganappi Golf Course

by Christine Hayes

Golfer

Sometimes, when you see something every day, you actually stop seeing it in any real sense. Such, for me, is the Shaganappi golf course. I have passed it at least once a day nearly every day of my adult life. I grew up and still live in the west side of the city and I travel down Bow Trail nearly every day. I had stopped seeing the golf course. Now, of course, it is hidden behind the construction for the new leg of the LRT but it is still back there. I have had occasion recently, to gather some of my friends and neighbours around me to reminisce and my next door neighbor reminded me that she is a fifth generation Calgarian and told me the story of her grandfather, Joe Ferguson, who was the pro and the man responsible for the care of the Shaganappi golf course for many , many years. I was intrigued, especially when she told me that Joe actually lived on the golf course.

This picture is from Morris Barraclough's book and was given to him by Joe Ferguson. It shows the opening of the new municipal golf course in 1916:

Shaganappi

From Prairie to Park, page 59

This, of course (and my friends are well aware that I am mining their conversations for blog inspiration) caught my fancy. Several years ago a donation was made to the Community Heritage and Family History collection. It consisted of notes and a manuscript of Morris Barraclough’s From Prairie to Park: Green Spaces in Calgary, which was part of the Century Calgary publications for the centennial of the founding of Calgary in 1975. I knew Morris had interviewed Joe and had documentation on the history of Shaganappi Park and golf course. It proved to be a treasure trove. Excerpts from the Superintendent’s report on Shaganappi from 1905 show that the 80 acres on the west side of the city, which were a gift from the Dominion Government, were considered unsuitable for park purposes but could be improved for field sports. In fact, in 1914, a 9 hole golf course was proposed, both for the purposes of enjoyment but also as a means to increase the revenue of the street railway, which ran out that way. By 1915 an 18 hole golf course built, sort of. 2,153 people teed off between August 7th (the date of its opening) and November 30 when it closed for the winter (really!) The following year it opened in March and some of the greens and tees were relocated on the advice of the players. William Reader, then parks superintendent “loaned a number of chairs and tables (my personal property) for use at the Club House, without expense to the city except for cleaning at their return.” That year 7582 people teed off at Shaganappi. In 1917, shortly after opening in March, the course burned over and the pro from the Banff golf course was called in to re-plan it. It became a very popular course and by 1920 it was seeing nearly 15,000 golfers a season. Golfers so loved it that on fair days in the winter, although the course was officially closed, golfers could come out to play.

The Shaganappi municipal golf course will celebrate its 100th anniversary very soon. It is very satifying to see that he course is still in use. Many of us who grew up near Shaganappi remember wheeling off on our bikes with two or three clubs slung across our backs to hack away on the municipal course. Many of my friends became life-long golfers and now take their kids to Shaganappi to knock around a few balls.

Morris Barraclough's great history of parks in Calgary is available at the Calgary Public Library. It is called From Prairie to Park: Green Spaces in Calgary and is included in the Centennial Calgary volume At Your Service Part 1. The items so kindly donated by his family are in the process of being added to the collection.

I am always looking for ideas for this blog. Do you have any historical or genealogical subjects you would like to see written about? Pop your suggestion into the comments at the bottom of this page and we'll do our best to round up a photo and write a short article.