Victoria Golf Course - 100 Years and Counting
The Edmonton Golf Club was established on April 4, 1896, which began a long progression of great golfing in the river valley.
The Club’s first course hosted five holes and was located on land where the provincial legislature building now stands. It was a well used course, so when Edmonton became the capital of the new province of Alberta and government officials needed the course land for construction, an alternative location was necessary—the end of golfing in the river valley was not a consideration.
The Hudson’s Bay Company offered the Club a lease on a parcel of land known as the Hudson’s Bay Flats, which was just west of the original course. By 1907, the Club had transformed the land into a seven-hole course, and later to nine with plans for eighteen. These early efforts lead to the establishment of Canada’s first municipal golf course.
In 1911, the City of Edmonton purchased the Hudson’s Bay Flats from the Hudson’s Bay Company at a cost of $310,006.06. The Golf Links, as it was known, was combined with adjacent land to make the area into a municipal park and golf course. On May 25, 1914, the Golf Links was officially and ceremoniously christened Victoria Park and opened to the public.
In1922, ambitious plans were made to expand the course to 18 holes. On July 8, 1927, Mayor A. G. Bury officially opened the new 18-hole municipal golf course at Victoria Park.
The discovery of a large coal deposit on the course land almost brought closure to this era in golf history. In 1930 Mr. J. B. Little, who owned the mining rights of the area, received a number of offers to mine his land. Test holes revealed a six-foot seam of coal 184 feet below the surface. Fortunately, this never occurred and golfing in Victoria Park continued.
In 1949, the Edmonton Municipal Golf Course, as it was known at the time, announced that along with being the first City-owned course to operate in Canada, it would soon become the first municipal 27-hole course in the dominion. The City purchased eight acres of land located west of the present boundaries for $12,000, and on May 11, 1951 officially opened the course with 27 holes in play. This expanded course operated for three years until the land was needed for the construction of the Groat Bridge.
In 1957, the Edmonton Municipal Golf Course’s name was changed to Victoria Golf Course. The driving range was officially opened in 1961 by Mayor E. E. Roper.
The Victoria Golf Course and Driving Range continues to be one of the busiest municipal golf courses in the world. A portion of that success can be attributed to the talents of a select group of Golf Professionals who worked at the course over the years. The list includes John Inch (1915-1919), Bert Gee (1919-1949), John Aitken (1950-1993) and Kevin Hogan (1994 to present). John Aitken has the distinction of being the longest serving Golf Professional (43 years) in the course’s history.
During the summer golf season Victoria is home to the River Valley Junior Program, Men’s Club, Senior Men’s Club, Business Ladies Club and Day Ladies Club. The adjoining Victoria Park plays host to the Victoria Park Cricket Club and is a popular location for cross-country skiers and skaters in the winter months.