When the Falls was hot for all things badminton
Men in dapper tennis attire 1932 Opening of the tennis courts

When we think about sports excellence in the City of Niagara Falls, we can include both team sports and individual activities. Although it may not be the first sport that pops into to your mind, one such sport has a long history in the City of Niagara Falls!

Although we don’t hear much about the sport of badminton today, it was a very popular winter sport that dates back to the roaring twenties. Local church basements and school gyms were frequently used by many enthusiastic players, both young and old.  In November of 1928 (more than 90 years ago), a group of interested people applied for and were granted incorporation under the name of Niagara Falls Badminton Club Limited. 

Sir Harry Oakes donated the original 1.33 acre parcel of land for the new club on Willmott Street. Plans for a building to house 5 badminton courts and a clubhouse were soon drawn up by esteemed local architects Findlay and Foulis. Construction began immediately and the completed building was formally opened in March of 1929. The $40,000 of initial funding for the club was raised by issuing $100 shares that were quickly snapped up by local citizens and American visitors alike.

In 1932, the club received a second donation of land from Harry Oakes and 4 outdoor tennis courts were built, with room for the addition of a fifth.  In 1936, more growth occurred with the addition of a ballroom on the clubhouse’s north side.  The next few years saw other improvements to accommodate the increasing enrolment at the club. 

More changes were in store for the club in 1946 when the Niagara Falls Lawn Bowling Club on Victoria Avenue lost its bowling green when the Bell Telephone Company built their new office and exchange centre on this site. An agreement was soon made between the two and a new bowling green was constructed to the west of the clubhouse. Yet another name change occurred and the new club was now known as the Niagara Falls Badminton, Tennis and Lawn Bowling Club.

Starting in the 1950s, the Badminton Club became a powerhouse in Ontario and the team was often considered to be the club to beat at many provincial and national tournaments. Players at both the junior and senior levels continued to make their mark winning tournaments and championships for many decades to come. 

During the 1980s, the Club found itself in financial difficulty due to required renovations, mortgage payments and other financial issues. Fortunately, a group of concerned members were able to reorganize and set up as a non-profit organization. Even a suspicious fire in 1996, with $70,000 in estimated damages did not spell the end for this historic club. At the same historic location, the club is still active today, coaching badminton (as well as volleyball and lawn bowling) champions of the future! If you are interested in finding out more, please visit the Library’s Historic Niagara Digital Collections at: https://www.nflibrary.ca/nfplindex/

Library Notes


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