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This morning I spent a couple of wonderful hours in the company of one of Abbotsford’s salt-of-the earth men.

While his memory, reaching back into the early 1950s is elusive on some details, nonetheless my old friend, (who is actually only a decade older than me) was able to give me a much clearer picture of the history of the Abbotsford golf course.

There may never have been an official document requiring that property, (109 acres today), to always be kept for a golf course.  But now I can understand why that was, and is,….. the expectation of so many people in the valley.

My friend is a fellow I deeply respect and I believe him.  He told me the story of Wally, a man with a wife and daughter and son who worked single-handedly to turn his property into a golf-course.  He was much in demand as an electrician and worked for months in industry in northern B.C., but then he’d spend summer months on this land.  My friend lent him an extra tractor so that if Wally got stuck with his own he could get on the other tractor and pull himself out of the muck.

He was developing Ledgeview at the same time Trans-Mountain Pipelines was coming through his land, back in 1954.

Financial difficulties and talk about having his land frozen made Wally anxious.  Here my friend was unsure of the date, but it sounds like this would have been when Dave Barrett was the NDP premier, and the Agricultural Land Reserve got slapped on BC.  (1972-73)

Anyway so my friend’s memory goes…….five men stepped up to support Wally.  Those five men turned into one-hundred people who shared Wally’s desire to keep the land for golf and protect it from government interference.  So they each bought shares valued at $200., and my friend bought one share for himself, and three for his family members, making him a 4% owner of the course, he said.

Wally built a house for himself and his family on the property, somewhere along this time-line.

The course still faced financial hardship but in time the value of the land increased significantly and there was discussion about having Matsqui buy them out, with perhaps the town of Abbotsford also coming on board.  So by 1980 that is what they decided to do.

My friend does not remember what the local government paid for the purchase price.  But he bristled when I asked if he’d ever seen a document stipulating that the local government should keep those lands for the purpose of golfing ,……‘in perpetuity’.

He said in those days a lot was done with the shake of a hand.  A man’s word was enough. Not a recommended way to do business, and it will hardly stand the test of time, but for this quality sort of man a man’s word was his bond.

Clearly my friend, whom I trust to be one of this world’s genuinely honest men, does today, and did in the past, believe that was a commitment that was made between the local government and Wally, and the hundred shareholders,  signed on paper, or not.

So the legend of Ledgeview has become a lot clearer.  Wally did notgift‘ the property to Matsqui/Abbotsford, as some of the fable surrounding Ledgeview implied, but the deep conviction that it should always remain a golf course, does have deep roots.

And so, regardless of whether at times the taxpayers are called upon to bail them out financially,  it does seem right to make every effort to keep this commitment, document or not.

Maybe with a new club house on the horizon and perhaps a new management style the whole place can become a viable business that is an asset to all of Abbotsford.  Wally emerges as a really nice man through the memory of my old friend.

I hope the ashes of the present clubhouse can rise to grow into a renewed and vibrant fulfillment of Wally’s dream.

 

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