After marking its 90th birthday with a refreshing renovation and a feeling of rejuvenation, The B&R now heads into a new chapter of its storied life. With many Members living nearby, we continue to enjoy a strong connection with our community, at the same location where it all began.
By the 1920s, the Yonge and St. Clair area of Toronto was already a thriving intersection with fine shopping and elegant homes, including numerous wealthy estates like ”Oakland” (which later became De La Salle College) and Sir Henry Pellatt's "Casa Loma". Havergal College was leaving its original St. Clair Avenue location and moving north to Lawrence Avenue and Avenue Road, leaving an open spot on St. Clair that would soon become the home of the stately Granite Club (which eventually became the Granite Place condos). Many local churches were already established, although the Avoca Bridge connecting St. Clair to Mt. Pleasant had yet to be built.
Lieutenant-Colonel George Gooderham Blackstock was an Order of the British Empire recipient and senior executive of numerous companies including Steep Rock Mines. A driving force for badminton in Toronto, Blackstock and a group of colleagues played at The Toronto Garrison Badminton Club but wanted a better facility. The Toronto Transportation Commission (they weren't using the word 'Transit' yet) was amalgamating numerous transportation operations and no longer needed the Toronto and York Radial Railway streetcar barns located on a hidden property on St. Clair Avenue. Blackstock lead the charge to purchase the St. Clair property in 1924 to start The B&R with a small number of Members that soon grew to about 500, many of whom were among the elite of Toronto business and social life.
The original streetcar barn formed the core of the Club for seven badminton courts and is still used today, although some space has been repurposed for the ladies locker room, the Courtside Lounge and fitness studios.
The B&R, known for its Members’ passion for racquet sports and a zest for life, has a history of innovation and reinvention. The compact size of the property has influenced the direction of the Club for many decades and ensured that it has remained intimate in scope, a true strength of the Club today. Over the years, Club leaders and designers have been particularly innovative, adding facilities, reallocating space, and maximizing the property.
The result over nine decades has been a remarkable transformation from a small badminton club, into one of the premier racquets, fitness, and social clubs in Canada. As we head off on a new and exciting chapter, the future feels very bright.