Golf Courses

Toronto Golf Course History

Closeup of a hand teeing up a golf ball

In 1998 Metro and the six municipalities within it were amalgamated. All five City of Toronto golf courses are now maintained by Toronto's Parks, Forestry & Recreation Division. Read on to learn about the unique history of each public golf course and their surrounding areas.

Dentonia Park Golf Course History

Dentonia Park Golf Course was named after Susan Marie Denton, who came from Boston in 1888 to marry Walter Massey. The Masseys were an established Toronto family, best known for their farm implement company Massey-Harris (later Massey-Ferguson) and their philanthropy, which included the construction of Massey Hall.

In 1897, as a source of relaxation and partly to fulfill a dream of owning a farm, Walter Massey bought 100 hectares of table and valley land just outside the city limits and named it Dentonia Park. The farm began to produce fresh eggs and milk, that were used to help combat the thousands of deaths occurring from typhoid fever, which especially afflicted small children. Due to the success of the farm within its first years of operation, Massey formed the City Dairy Company.

In 1901, Walter Massey died after contracting the disease he was trying to fight. Susan Massey continued to live at the farm. In 1926, she donated part of the land to the City of Toronto for public parkland on the condition that it remain known as Dentonia Park. She built an enormous 100 room house which was given to the Crescent School for boys in 1933. Dentonia Park Golf Course is situated on part of the old estate.

In September 1961, The Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto (Metro) acquired the land from the City of Toronto. The 13-hectare site was ideally suited for a "pitch and putt" par 3 golf course, and in the spring of 1967 Dentonia Park Golf Course opened at a cost of $350,000.

Don Valley Golf Course History

The Don River was named in 1793 by Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe after the River Don in Yorkshire, England. Crown Surveyor Alexander Aiken referred to the Don River as Necheng Qua Kekonk in September 1788, upon surveying the lands purchased from Aboriginal Peoples. Wonscoteonoch, meaning "black burnt lands," was another name used, probably signifying that the Don Valley had been swept by fire at one point.

Until its acquisition by Metro Toronto, the land around Don Valley and York Mills roads was owned by the City of Toronto and named after W. W. Carson, a prominent civic leader, long-time Hogg's Hollow resident, and a son of the Jolly Miller Inn's proprietor. In 1954, Hurricane Hazel's impact severely altered the course of the West Don River at York Mills Road and demonstrated the need for a regionally coordinated watershed management strategy.

Metro purchased 65 hectares of Carson Park in February 1955, released one hectare for new road allowances, and proceeded with development of the Don Valley Golf Course. The golf course officially opened on August 1, 1956, at cost of $535,000 for land acquisition and course construction.

After more than 35 years of continuous use, much of the original golf course landscaping at Don Valley began to show its age. While vegetation in and around the course had become well-established, tees and greens were worn out and the irrigation system required replacement. In 1993, Metro Parks and Culture undertook an extensive restoration program for the golf course. The two-year program included improvements such as several hole realignments, the creation of a naturalized wetland water hazard and significant drainage and soil modifications to the tees and greens. Tees and greens were also enlarged to accommodate the level of play experienced at the course.

Humber Valley Golf Course History

Until the mid-1950s the name "Humber Valley Golf Course" referred to a semi-private golf course located on the west bank of the Humber River from the Humber Sewage Treatment Plant north to King's Mill Park.

The golf course, located along the west bank of the Humber River in Rexdale, became the second public course to be operated by Metro Toronto after 40.9 hectares were acquired from the Summerlea Golf Club in December 1957.

In March 1958, Metro opened the new Humber Valley Golf Course at a total cost of $357,554 for acquisition and development. In 1992, Metro Parks and Culture completed a $1.25 million renovation of the course, including the construction of many new tees and greens, fairway realignments and the installation of an automated irrigation system.

Scarlett Woods Golf Course History

In 1972, Metro Council approved a development program for the South Humber regional park system. Among its features was the Scarlett Woods Golf Course, which opened on July 1, 1974 at a cost of $549,260. Both the golf course and the adjacent Scarlett Mills Park take their name from John Scarlett, an Englishman who settled in the area, raised a family, and helped develop the Humber Valley during the early 19th century.

Tam O'Shanter Golf Course History

In 1973, Metro Council approved the acquisition of 48.03 hectares of the former Tam O'Shanter Country Club by the Metropolitan Toronto and Region Conservation Authority for use as a public park.

Acquisition costs of $10,825,000 were shared by the Province of Ontario (40%), Metro (38%) and the former Borough of Scarborough (22%). A 5.677-hectare parcel at the southeast corner is leased to the City of Scarborough for local park purposes. Tam O'Shanter Golf Course occupies the remaining 42.353 hectares.

Metro Parks and Culture undertook a comprehensive $1.17 million redevelopment of the golf course in 1980. Improvements included a new clubhouse, automated irrigation system and a revised course layout. More recently, additional course improvements such as modified tees and greens and landscape plantings have been added to increase the challenge of play.