Nine hole Veterans course between Westminster Hospital and Westminster ponds. Wellington Road on the right side of aerial photograph, Commissioners Road near the bottom. London’s busiest intersection these days.
550 Wellington Road, London, Ontario
Federal Government, Department of Veteran’s Affairs
1956, closed 1984
Unknown but difficult to believe that it wasn’t John Innis, decorated WWI veteran, Westminster Hospital patient and designer of Thames Valley,
Wardsville and the Fanshawe Traditional
Doctors apparently made the most use of the course. Ken Foran played the course
when he was part of the maintenance staff
Five Best Features
Used to help rehabilitate veterans from WWII and the Korean War
Affordable [likely free for vets]
Good use of a large, unused open space
Nice rolling land that bordered a forest
Although we have yet to come up with a scorecard or layout diagram, we know that the first hole was a strong par 4 going south along Wellington Road, the next two holes were par 3’s and there were two par 5’s on the layout. Some patients that were veterans passed the time hunting golf balls in the treed areas and enjoyed selling them back to the golfers.
Westminster Hospital opened in 1918 to serve as a hospital for Veterans of the First World War who had suffered both physical injuries and mental illness as a result of the devastation and carnage of trench warfare in Europe from 1914-1918. After the Second World War from 1939 to 1945 and the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, many veterans required the same type of health care services. Westminster Hospital was at the forefront of efforts to rehabilitate former soldiers back into civilian life. The importance of recreation became to be recognized more and more as an important part of the rehabilitation process. Accordingly a golf course was designed and built on the sprawling grounds of Westminster Hospital for use both by veterans and staff.
The site is now occupied by the recently constructed Parkwood Institute. The course opened for play in 1956 and the best closing date we have available is 1984, although it may have operated in some form later than that. Many golfers remember that there was a course at Westminster because it was hard to miss being located on the busy intersection of Wellington Road and Commissioners Road. I remember seeing the flags myself and a hockey playing buddy, Joe Wocsnicz, told me in 1982 that he was the Greenskeeper there. I have not been able to find out who designed the golf course but it is hard to believe that it was anyone except John Innes. Innes designed Thames Valley, Wardsville and the Fanshawe Traditional. He was a decorated World War One veteran and he ran the Poppy Fund for so many years that he was given a Humanitarian award from the Federal Government for his efforts on October 13, 1954. Innes was no stranger to Westminster Hospital due to his World War One wounds and he was to turn 65, mandatory retirement age in 1958. In 1956 he may have been looking for a “retirement project”. A site visit turned up no visible remnants of the golf course
This is some of the rolling land between the woodlot and the hospital buildings that was used to build the Westminster Hospital Golf Course for Veterans. Actually a fine site for a golf course. Fairway could use a trim.
Aerial view from 1967.
A wider view 1967.
Again, 1967. Can anyone remember the layout? I see a few traps which are always easier to spot than the greens.
John Innes was a decorated World War I veteran and frequent patient at Westminster Hospital because of the wounds he received during the Great War. He was also the Golf Professional at Thames Valley Golf Course as well as the designer of Thames Valley, Fanshawe and Wardsville golf courses. Innes ran the Poppy Fund in London for so many years that he was awarded a special “Humanitarian Award” on October 13, 1954. He is seen here in this London Free Press photo receiving this award. More research is needed but it is hard to believe that Innes didn’t design the nine hole course for Veterans behind Westminister Hospital.
This is the dense bush that bordered the golf course to the south and east. Veterans that were patients used to enjoy hunting for golf balls in areas like this and then selling them back to the golfers, many of whom were their own doctors.
This was one of the green sites along Wellington Road. Indications so far are that it was #1 green but we would like to hear from anyone who played the course to confirm this or come up with a scorecard or layout diagram.
Some fair sized buildings now occupy the site of the Veteran’s golf course.