Royal Montreal Golf Club (Queen of Angels Academy)
by Dick Nieuwendyk – Montreal Times
In 1873, a small group of eight gentlemen sat in a dockside office and formed the Montreal Golf Club. One of them was Alexander Dennistoun, who was born in Dumbarton, Scotland in 1821, and who came to Montreal in 1861. He was joined in his efforts by John G. and David D. Sidey, Scottish brothers who had also immigrated to Canada. In 1866 Alex married a daughter of John Redpath, owner of the Redpath Sugar Refinery. Dennistoun and his wife appear to have spent as much time in Scotland as in Canada. and it was during one of those visits home that he had some success in competitive golf. At the Royal Liverpool Golf Club, he won the Silver Cross for second-best scratch score in the spring competition of 1870. A year later he tied for the Gold Medal. So it was as an accomplished golfer that he returned to Canada in 1872 with his wife, and bought a home on McTavish street, within walking distance of the new Mount Royal Park. In 1873 Alex Dennistoun became the club’s first President and Captain. In 1884, Queen Victoria, through the Earl of Derby, bestowed upon the club the ‘Royal’ prefix, and the club became known as the Royal Montreal Golf Club.
The first golf course was a 9-hole layout on Fletcher’s Field, part of Mount Royal Park, while the first clubhouse was built at the edge of the park. Members of the club embraced the Scottish protocol of wearing red coats while playing, to distinguish themselves from non-golf visitors to the public park. The red coat has remained Royal Montreal’s official ceremonial club garb.
Mrs William Watson Ogilvie, was admitted to the club in 1891, being the first female member of any golf club in North America. In 1899, the Ladies moved on to their own golf club.
Montreal looking for expansion in housing dictated a move, and in 1896 the club moved to Dixie, in Dorval on land bought from Jean-Baptise Meloche. The Club stayed in Dorval till 1958. The Canadian Open was held for the first time at Dorval in 1904, and again in 1908, 1913 and 1926. In 1958, Royal Montreal decided on yet another move. The eighteen fairways did not answer the demand anymore, and another fact was the Grand Trunk Railway cutting right in the middle of the property, showering the golfers with soot. The Club decided to move to a 675 acre property in Ile Bizard, in the Lake of the Two Mountains.
In 1959 the Congregation of the Sisters of Sainte Anne bought the Royal Montreal Golf clubhouse in Dorval. It became the home of Queen of Angels Academy, a private college for girls, which was founded in 1888. Over the years the building retained much of its original past. The entrance still has the impressive character it had when important gentlemen came to the club. The former bar has been converted into a chapel featuring the original walnut panelled walls, on which are still the buttons to call the waiter.
After 55 years being in Dorval, Queen of Angels Academy announced in January 2014 it was closing because of declining enrolment. The school is working with Collège Sainte-Anne de Lachine, a French-language secondary school and bilingual CEGEP, to open a co-ed bilingual elementary school on the Queen of Angels campus in Dorval. Both schools were founded by the Sisters of Ste. Anne.
The building is located at 100 Bouchard Boulevard in Dorval
DID YOU KNOW ?…… The game’s ancestry is obscure, but golf as we know it was first played in Scotland in the last half of the 15th century. In 1491 the Scottish Parliament passed three edicts ordering that the game be banned, reasoning that interest in it kept people from more practical pursuits and interfered with military activities. Golf spread, nonetheless, and when native Scots emigrated to Canada, they took what came to be known as the “Royal and Ancient Game” with them.
Source: Royal Montreal Golf Club / Golf Quebec / Dorval, three hundred years of history / Canadian Encyclopedia