The former Summerland Baptist Church in 1910 is now known as the Service Station. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)

The former Summerland Baptist Church in 1910 is now known as the Service Station. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)

Summerland Badminton Club recognized for heritage value

Facility in downtown Summerland was constructed in 1930s

By David Gregory

The community of Summerland has been celebrating Heritage Week since 1987. An annual tradition has been the recognition of one historically important building, site and tree.

This year, the 2022 recognized heritage building is the Badminton Hall. This badminton hall may be the only building in Canada that is solely dedicated to badminton.

From the earliest available records, the sport of tennis was enjoyed by Summerland citizens. The Tennis Club, in 1909, constructed the Garnet Valley tennis court. It was located on Quinpool Road between Garnet Valley Road and Washington Street. In winter, it became the Garnet Valley Skating Rink.

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Summerland must have had some skilled tennis players. In 1909 Summerland won two tennis tournaments in Kelowna and Mission.

On July 20, 1911, Summerland’s Lawn Tennis Club became a registered society in British Columbia; one of the earliest in the province. Badminton players were part of that club.

Badminton was played at the college gymnasium on Giants Head Road and inside Ellison Hall in Peach Orchard Park.

In the early 1930s, the club was looking for a new location. The club approached James Ritchie and on behalf of the club, Muir Steuart purchased the downtown property in 1934.

The legal description of the property was D.L. 3640, Block 67. (Block numbers were adjusted later.)

On Nov. 1, 1934, the club’s name was changed to the Summerland Athletic Club which incorporated both tennis and badminton.

According to tax records, the cost of the new badminton building was $3,975. Steuart was responsible for taxes for the first two years. In 1937, two wooden, elevated tennis courts, were constructed on the southwest side of the new Badminton Hall.

In 1962, the tennis courts were relocated to the lakeside and those lands were purchased by the District of Summerland. Over the years there have been some renovations of the building. In 2009, with the financial assistance of the Penticton Badminton Club, there were significant improvements to the building.

This year’s heritage trees are Ilo Kitson’s maple trees on Kirk Avenue in Trout Creek. Kitson is originally from Penticton and married her husband John in 1954.

John Kitson was employed at the Summerland Research Station and they planted the three maples in the early 1960s on the west side of their waterfront property. The three trees have grown into grand specimens which on first glance appear to be a single tree. They exhibit the beautiful seasonal colour changes typical of maples and are home to many species of birds.

The 2022 selection of the heritage site is the 1910 Baptist Church in Lowertown, now known as the Service Station. If funds are available, the selected heritage site may be considered for heritage signage.

The current owners, Karen Halliday and John Ashley, have extensively renovated and improved the building, while still maintaining the building’s important heritage elements.

David Gregory is a Summerland historian.

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The Kitson maple trees have been named Summerland’s heritage trees of 2022. (Contributed)

The Kitson maple trees have been named Summerland’s heritage trees of 2022. (Contributed)