The early years – 1890-1938
At the corner of Carnarvon and Blackwood Streets in the 1890’s, tennis enthusiasts of the New Westminster Lawn Tennis Club met for a game on grass courts.
Ladies wearing full-length dresses and fashionably large hats posed gracefully at one end of the court. Over the nets, also suitably dressed, were their male partners. It was the man’s responsibility to get the ball square into the centre of the lady’s racquet. It was a gentleman’s sport, after all, and only the most uncouth would think of hitting the ball hard to a lady.
It is believed that Mr. F.J. Coulthard and Mr. L.A. Lewis were the original founders of the New Westminster Lawn Tennis Club. It was established before the turn of the 20th century, the first official record is a picture of the courts and players taken in 1897.
In 1901, the club moved “temporarily” to an area in Tipperary Park which had originally been set aside for the provincial legislature buildings. Three courts and a modest clubhouse were built. Activity continued at the club with the ups and downs of World War I and the Depression. Membership at the club reached its peak in the early 1930’s when there were as many as 160 entries for a tournament.
Ken Wright remembers – In the thirties, appropriate dress on the courts for gentleman players consisted of a long sleeved white shirt and long white flannel slacks (which had to be dry cleaned). Great rejoicing when “white ducks” which could be laundered at home were allowed.
From the minutes – 1939-1960
1939 – President Ken Smith stated the the Club had enjoyed another very happy and successful season. He mentioned that we had run a dance in 1938, the first since July, 1930 and suggested that further events of this nature might be considered. Prospects for the coming season looked bright and he asked fo the cooperation of all members to interest new members.
The bank balance was $312.29; members had paid their dues promptly.
The grounds manager reported that the grass slopes in courts two and three had been put in first class condition and would be reseeded in the spring.
Moved and seconded that we again affiliate with the B.C. Lawn Tennis Association. Carried.
Moved that we enter teams in both section of the league, i.e. ladies and gentlemen.
Mr. Gordon Johnston signified his willingness to act as chairman of the Membership Committee with power to add two members.
The meeting discussed the advisability of setting up an Entertainment Committee to run dances, friendly matches, etc.
A suggestion was made that the club consider the idea of obtaining Club colours and a suitable crest.
Eight applications to join and six applications to rejoin were received and accepted.
The annual club tournament was held in June.
1940 – Groundsman’s report: Grounds had been kept in excellent shape during the season and expected that no extraordinary expense would be necessary this season. Work would be commenced for the present season almost immediately and, weather permitting, play would be possible within 14 days.
The Executive again went into the matter of clubhouse improvements and it was the unanimous opinion of the members present that some effort should be made to clean up the clubhouse and make a separate kitchen. Mr. K. Wright moved that a sum not exceeding $65 be set aside to make necessary alterations and improvements.
Mrs. D.E. Biggs accepted position as Tea Convenor for the season. Members partaking of tea on Saturdays will be assessed $1 per season.
1941 – The condition of court one was thoroughly discussed. It has become increasingly difficult to keep the court in condition as very little clay apparently is now left. The surface is cracking in many places causing soft spots. A re-dressing will shortly become necessary.
The secretary pointed out that only 30 members had joined so far this season and it would be impossible to carry on unless steps were taken to make an assessment.
Tournament results: Owing to very small membership it was found impossible to run any tournament of any size. However, three events were staged, men’s singles, men’s doubles, and mixed doubles.
A meeting was called to give consideration to the serious financial situation due to lack of members. The Secretary recommended an assessment of $3 to each member except junior and new members.
1942 – Mr. P. Amy was appointed to the position of groundsman at a salary of $35 per month.
A letter was read from the New Westminster Board of Park Commissioners granting the use of the courts at a nominal rental of $1 per season. Offer accepted. This was the first change in 40 years, the original authority having been given to the Club by the Minister of Land and Works, Government of B.C. in 1902. Apparently the ground on which the courts were built now come under the jurisdiction of the Parks Board.
A motion was passed that special consideration be given to permit members of the Service stationed here to play. This invitation included other ranks in addition to officers. Fees to be subject to approval of the Executive.
General discussion then ensued regarding the means of interesting new members and it was agreed that every member should endevour to obtain new members even if beginners and that an effort should be made to give a certain amount of voluntary coaching to beginners. Two members of the committee signified willingness to assist in coaching.
1946 – A motion was passed that imposed a 25 cent visitors fee Monday through Friday and 50 cents on Saturday and Sunday.
Moved that a new net be purchased. Carried.
1947 – The Annual General Meeting was held at the home of Ken Wright, with 21 members present. President Wright thanked members for a past successful season, membership had increased to nearly 70, including juniors.
Fees are to be increased to $12 and $22 for married couples. Junior fee to remain at $5.
The meeting endorsed a three year plan to raise funds to build a new clubhouse.
A committee was appointed to select team players for each league match.
The club tournament will be staged from Saturday, June 21 to Sunday, June 29. All events are to be confined to Club members with the exception of Junior singles which are open to anyone in the city. Juniors must be under 18 years of age.
It was agreed to hold an American Tournament on Victoria Day, participants to bring a lunch which will be pooled.
1948 – Plans to complete a new clubhouse still remain much “up in the air” and it was thought that the matter should be discussed at the next general meeting.
Entrance fee for the club tournament shall be increased to 75 cents from 50 cents.
The Secretary pointed out that membership and new applications have practically reached out limit of 85. The constitution preference is to be maintained.
A crest and colours have been selected and four dozen were ordered.
No member will be allowed to play in league matches unless fees have been paid.
1949 – Mrs. Enid Smith consented to act as Tea Convenor for the season.
In line with the suggestion laid down at the General Meeting, it was decided to run a house league in two successive Saturday afternoons in the early part of the season. It was felt this would be an effective means of introducing new members to present members.
1950 – The Annual General Meeting was held Wednesday, March 15, 1950. Nine members were present.
Mr. Alan Webster, our retiring President, gave a brief resume of our
activities during 1949. Our membership has unfortunately decreased and although our standard of play has improved he stressed that something was lacking. A better club spirit was needed and he hoped that an effort would be made to improve this situation, which he deplored.
1951 – It was moved, seconded, and carried that singles play not be permitted while others are waiting and furthermore, preference must always be given to doubles play on courts one and two.
All notices pertaining to club rules and regulations must be placed on the board and signed by the Secretary.
1953 – A good discussion occurred regarding fees for the coming season. Various opinions were expressed but the majory present seemed to think that a slight easement in fees would be productive for most members. It was finally resolved that fees for men should be $15, ladies $12, juniors $5 and married couples $25.
The President asked members to express their opinions on any subject coming under the heading of “good and welfare of the club,” so that the incoming Executive could consider suggestions. The following points were brought up for consideration:
- Create a publicity committee to keep our name in front of the public.
- Post notices at Queens Park and Moody Park inviting any interested players to join our club.
- Give a good writeup of the Annual General Meeting to the local paper.
- Invite specifically the public to join the club. Stress that they are very welcome.
- Make a strong bid to interest juniors.
- Create more interest socially – form a Social Committee. Endeavor to hold a dance.
- Place a sign at the entrance of the Club that we are a tennis club. Invite any interested to apply for membership.
- Have an article written for the Columbianweekend magazine section tracing the history of the club during the past 50 years.
- Attempt to coach new members who wish help.
Mr. George Pedloe of Vancouver offered to give lessons to our senior members at 50 cents per lesson and to juniors at 25 cents per lesson.
1954 – A very fine turnout at the Annual General Meeting, one of the best in many years. 28 altogether.
1955 – Mr. Vic Miranoff will explore the cost of electric lights for future consideration.
1958 – Annual General Meeting. Since there were so few members present, the election of officers will not be held until the season commences and the present Executive will continue in office until that time.
1959 – Discussion on buildings and grounds:
- Fences are just about falling over.
- Building foundations are sagging.
- The changing rooms are in lousy shape.
There was a proposal to put a chain link fence across the front and consider putting in new foundations.
The Executive will form a Building Committee to have the power to use their judgement on the extent of repairs and replacements for the ensuing year and draw up a tentative building and grounds improvement plan for the next five years.
1960 – Moved, seconded, and carried that a Life Membership be presented to Mr. A. Webster, President, for services rendered to the Club.
1961 – President A. Webster gave a full report on our activities during the past season. We had a very busy year mainly concerned with the building of the new clubhouse. Although not yet fully completed, he hopes that by June all will be in readiness.