The Sporting Life in Flamborough

An ad for movies at the Waterdown Roller Rink, Waterdown Review, 1921

There was radio, but no television or internet. The cyber world of Tweets, texts and Instagram posts were not even a twinkle in the proverbial eye – so what did people do for fun and entertainment? Sports! There were very competitive baseball teams. There were soccer, basketball and lawn bowling teams. Every community was usually able to create at least one team of some kind and their supporters were behind them 100% at their games. Let’s explore the sporting life in Flamborough.

In Waterdown around 1900, “There was roller skating (and other activities) at the roller rink, bowling on the bowling green, various activities in Sealey Park, basketball  in the drill shed, cock fighting at the local carriage shop and horse racing”.

Waterdown Dance ad from the Waterdown Review, 1921
The Sporting Life in Flamborough - Waterdown Girls Baseball Team, 1925
Waterdown Girls Baseball Team, 1925

In 1928 the May 5 edition of The Waterdown Review stated:

The Waterdown  Ladies Soft Ball team will be on the ball diamond again this season. The team has entered the West Shore Ladies Soft Ball League with Clarkson, Oakville and Bronte. The first game will be played with Bronte at Waterdown on May 18th. The prize in this League is a $25 silver cup.

The Waterdown Amateur Athletic Association was the blanket association for many sports. “There were always crowds at the roller rink, and it was dusty and noisy. It was up on cedar posts to level it off because it was built on sloping ground; it was hollow underneath. It was really just an old wood shell, and when about 150 people were skating in there, the roar could be heard for nearly a mile away. “  Waterdown and East Flamborough 1867-1967. Waterdown East Flamborough Centennial Committee 1967, pg.  102.

The aim of our organization has been and will be to promote good sport and sportsmanship in our village and community. This aim also includes the providing of good sports entertainment for the district. The W.A.A.A. has been in existence  off and on since the 1920’s but it has attained its greatest strength since the end of the war.”  Waterdown Board of Trade Yearbook 1948, pg. 24.

The Sporting Life in Flamborough - sepia image of Waterdown Baseball team
Waterdown Baseball Team. Photo # 219
The sporting life in Flamborough included baseball teams, like this Waterdown Baseball team from 1909.
Waterdown Baseball Team 1909. Postcard #52

Greensville, Strabane and Bullock’s Corners had very strong teams in both mens and ladies sports.

The sporting life in Flamborough included soccer teams, like this 1885 team from Bullock's Corners
Bullocks Corners Soccer Team 1885
The Sporting Life in Flamborough - Strabane Soccer Team 1903
Strabane Soccer Team 1903
The Sporting Life in Flamborough - West Flamborough Soccer Team 1903
West Flamborough Soccer Team 1903
The sporting life in Flamborough included women's teams, like this 1925 Greensville Girls Softball Team
Greensville Girls Softball Team 1925 Photo # 1696

Gordon Jackson was a Bullock’s Corners resident and wrote many reminiscent columns for The Dundas Star.   The following quotes are from  his column  Bullock’s Corners of Other Days, 27 October 1954.

In 1921 the local girls formed a Softball Team and made sports history until 1927 when through a shortage of players they were forced to discontinue under the local banner. In 1925 they won the Ontario Tournament and again in 1926 they were victorious in the same contest and finished 2nd in 1927.

In 1926 they entered the Hamilton City League and on August 5th, Nellie Taylor pitched a no-hit, no-run game against the Otis Fensom team. This team brought more glory to the community than any other team.”

The Sporting Life in Flamborough - Greensville Girls Softball Team 1925-26
Greensville Girls Softball Team 1925-26.

“At the time I was living in Toronto and one balmy evening strolled down to the Sunnyside Baseball grounds. To my surprise and pleasure I found our girls from home playing against Lakeside Ladies Team. … I sat in the bleachers and an old gentleman admiringly enquired  of George Ofield Where do these wonderful girls come from? Greensville. Where is that place, I never heard of it, how big is it? Well, said George, the population is here tonight. Never was I so proud as I cheered for an invincible, unbeatable group of swell lassies.” 

The Sporting Life in Flamborough - Strabane Girls Ball Team
Strabane Girls Ball Team

In 1909-10 quoiting created the excitement for the villagers and many an enjoyable Saturday afternoon was enjoyed on the grounds where Whitey Rice grows grapes at Bullock’s Corners.”

Sometimes the sports were a bit too rough – in 1909:  “ The hockey team lost to Ancaster when Fatty Durand lost an eye. That put a damper on vigorous sports for a year or so and the more dignified sport of tennis took over attracting the girls and boys of the neighbourhood.” Bullock’s Corners of Other Days by Gordon R. Jackson. The Dundas Star, 27 October 1954. “The boys unpampered and through school at 12 years of age and doing a man’s work were tough and anxious to maintain through victory the dignity of their hamlet. So bloody noses can be understood as an aftermath of any sport encouraged by the local business men and hotel keepers who strived to success by  the survival of the fittest method.”

The Sporting Life in Flamborough - Freelton Ladies Softball Team 1921
Freelton Ladies Softball Team, 1921. Photo # 821
The Sporting Life in Flamborough - Greensville Hardball Team
Greensville Hardball Team 1922

The Waterdown Golf Club opened on Parkside Drive in 1930 and billed itself as “the coolest play”, being 600 feet above sea level.

Waterdown Golf Club Ad in the Waterdown Review 1930.
The sporting life in Flamborough included golf - this was opening day of the Waterdown Golf Club, located on Parkside Drive.
Official opening of the Waterdown Golf Club, 24 May 1930. Mel Best drove the first ball. Photo #1149

Representatives of three local organizations, the Women’s Institute, Board of Trade and W.A.A.A. were then called in and agreed to aid in this enterprise and donated the necessary funds. Early in September, 1946, prominent citizens who now form the Board of Directors, conceived the idea of a Community  Memorial Park and when the opportunity was available, they bought the Anderson property with this idea in mind.

The Sporting Life in Flamborough - newspaper clipping with notation - clearing up for Waterdown baseball park
Newspaper clipping with notation: Clearing up for Waterdown baseball park

The work of grading was able to be carried out by the generous aid furnished by many prominent citizens and firms who provided men and machinery, also the very capable leadership of the Works Committee under E. Nicholson and R. MacKay.

The Park has now been graded, seeded and fenced. The important work of beautifying it and making it useful  to the public lies ahead”.   Waterdown Board of Trade Annual Year Book 1948, pg. 22

Today hundreds of girls and boys play sports on various teams and many make good use of Memorial Park.  But the enthusiasm that used to encompass the entire village or town to cheer on their team seems to be missing. “Our forebearers have much to teach us about amusing ourselves”  Waterdown and East Flamborough 1867-1967. Waterdown East Flamborough Centennial Committee 1967 pg.  104.

Sports played a large role in the spare time of men and women in Flamborough, especially in the spring and summer months.  All materials cited are housed in the various collections of the Flamborough Archives.


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