Many people have been asking about the history of Camden Braes Golf & Country Club. Who designed it, how many years has it been open, what did it look like before? I was looking through some old photos and they have inspired me to share “our” history. It all started years ago when Herb Wolfram met Margaret Gillan (First image to the left).
Well, here is the proof! Herb and Marg purchased the land as corn fields! Here the family stands (in our stylin snow mobile suites!) in what is now the old family home’s back yard looking down onto what is now the 10th and 12th fairway. After the purchase of the land we went down most weekends all winter, traveling from Mississauga to measure and re measure so that Herb could go home and plan out the course layout (Second image on the left).
Once the course was designed, we started clearing the brush. Winter was perfect because the water was frozen and we could clear the wood while walking on the ice. Dad was in charge of the chain saw, while Mom, Kevin, Brian and I dragged the brush to a fire. They were long days but at the end of the day Mom would bring out a bag of potatoes and we would throw them into red hot coals of the last of the fire! Well, I have never tasted better potatoes to this day! After bursting through the blackened skin we would slather the potatoes with gobs of butter, salt and pepper and devour them hungrily. It was always hard work and long days, but we were a family working together and there was always singing and laughter as we went along. (Third image to the left was taken on what is known as 9 tee today).
The summer came and then the work really began! The fields of corn had to be plowed under, then harrowed. You can see we were clearing the tree line, piling the wood and lugging it up to the house. Daunting … but no task was too great for Mom and Dad and three kids! The 5 of us plugged away at it! The land had been treated with a chemical which allowed only corn to grow. We had to wait for 3 years until grass would grow… (Fourth image on the left is a view from #1 hill)
Here we are in 1973. Dad, always thinking, rigged up this board on which we sat and picked stones. We took turns driving the tractor – that was the fun part in those days!(Fifth image on the left)
Giving us lots of time to clear and sculpture the land and PICK STONES!!! Oh how we all remember this well. Back breaking! Every single stone had to be picked up from pebbles to boulders off of the 150 acres of land by the 5 of us. At first we walked behind a wagon and picked and threw the stones into the wagon.(Sixth image on the left)
We had very little money and had traded our labour (Mom, Kevin, Brian and I) with local farmers to use their machinery to plow and cultivate the land. The little gray tractor was a big purchase for us at the time. After a summer of rock picking Dad thought it necessary to purchase a stone picker because every time we dragged the fields MORE rocks would appear. Dad kept saying “don’t miss a single stone, the golfers will get very angry if they ruin a club by hitting a stone!” (Little did we know that the rocks will never end if you keep dragging it!) Our exuberance soon faded when we realized the stone picker didn’t do as good a job as we did…so here we are walking behind it picking stones again manually! (Seventh image to the left)
The greens were made up of peat moss, mushroom manure and sand. The dump trucks would deliver the piles and the 5 of us would shovel, rake and work under Dad’s direction. You’ll notice the “fields” are now planted with oats & barley…the only thing still that will grow in the fields and a way for us to make a little money to pay for the supplies needed (Some of you will recognize this spot! The eight image to the left is the #6 green).
Here is a big leap but the grass grew fast when we did finally plant the seed! When you are walking the course take a look at the trees, especially between 10 and 12 fairways. When we started planting trees along the soon to be fairways we were kids, a millwright and a stenographer. We really didn’t know what we were doing. So, our transplanted trees were dying. The solution was to plant three trees instead of one in the hopes that one would survive. This was a good plan at first because we did loose a lot. But as we learnt we got better at transplanting! Low and behold today you will see many groupings of trees in that are much too close together. We just couldn’t take any out after all that hard work putting them in! (The ninth image to the left is a view from the old #1 tee, which is where the clubhouse sits now! How do you like our trees around #12 green?).
The pipeline informed us they were coming through the property and we could not open or use the land north of the pipeline. We had to open, so we did with a short 9 holes. The course was completed and first played on July 1st, 1976. You can see in the tenth photo to the left that #11 green was on this side of the pipeline and we had our mixtures ready for the real green the minute we could get to it. I love looking at this photo of the golden wheat on #14 and #15 and realizing how tiny the trees were…or how big they are now! 1979 and the pipeline is through and we were able to complete the back 9! Oh how barren it looks with all the trees so small!(Tenth image to the left)
The clubhouse was in the family home and the trees were so little you can’t even see them! Another aerial photo but the trees are a little bigger! Just a funny note; Jamie Fraser took these photos from a plane and he wasn’t leaning out far enough to get “good shots” so Dad held his belt and Jamie leaned right out the door of the plane! Those were the days! (Eleventh & twelfth image to the left).
Well, I hope you have enjoyed this little look into the making of Camden Braes and the Wolfram Family. This course was built by friends and family, it came from hard work, sweat, tears, but mostly love and laughter. Dad has left an incredible legacy and I am proud and I am in awe of both Mom and Dad’s courage and strength.
by Linda Wolfram Fraser
If I dig up any more photos I will put them on the site.
If you have any comments please don’t hesitate to email me