Who in Summerland today has heard of the Jolly Boys Club? Not only did this small group of men live up to their name by having fun, they also were instrumental in attracting tourists to Giant’s Head Mountain.
The Jolly Boys consisted of a core group of 10 members, who formed their own independent club after the Jr. Chamber of Commerce, to which they had belonged, disbanded. They kept as their same objective, the aim to promote Summerland.
“We wanted to see if we could do something to attract tourists,” said Al McIntosh, one of only three members of the club who are still living.
“This is when the discussion of ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could get a road up Giant’s Head Mountain’ came about. You get a beautiful view of Summerland from the plateau up there. We thought this was the most likely spot to attract people, so we set our minds to that.”
McIntosh explained that at that time, in the early 1950s there was only one road up to the plateau overlooking town. It was the road up from Victoria Road South and was not very negotiable in the wintertime. The club had the idea of putting in a road on the east side of the Mountain.
“We talked to Don Agur about it and he was very much in favour of the idea and we came up with quite an attractive deal,” said McIntosh. “We hired Don with his bulldozer.”
It wasn’t long before others in the community became involved.
“At that point Bud Russeau started a tour to the top of Giant’s Head, in his jeep and from there it pretty much took off,” explained McIntosh. “We had no problem getting people with equipment to finish the job. They all thought it was a wonderful idea. Bud was fairly busy. He did us a great favour by starting that jeep service up there.”
According to McIntosh the road that the Jolly Boys Club had roughed in way back then, is still the same road used to access Giants Head Park today.
One of the other main goals of this club was to take their wives on an exotic holiday.
Each member invested $10 per month with the Investor’s Syndicate to fulfill this objective.
In 1966 the gang and their wives left for a holiday to Hawaii. It was the first flight for some of the members.
They flew from Vancouver to Honolulu and returned by steamship, the P&O flagship, the SS Canberra.
The Jolly boys and their wives also enjoyed other trips over the years, such as a trip to San Francisco and another to Reno, Nevada.
The highlight of each year, for the Jolly Boys was their New Year’s Eve Dinner and Dance held at the IOOF Hall and it was described by those attending as the best party in town.
“It had to be restricted due to the size of the hall,” McIntosh explained.
“Each member was allowed to bring two couples. We kept it under control very well. If anyone stepped out of line they wouldn’t be back the next year.”
In order to raise funds the club undertook several projects over the years.
“We demolished Walter’s Packinghouse in Lower Town. We salvaged and sold the lumber,” said McIntosh.
“We also went out and cut Christmas trees for the Boy Scouts to sell. We picked and thinned fruit and we did a garbage pickup every year.”
The club would advertise the pickup well in advance and although there was no charge, donations were accepted.
“Time” and “old age” took their toll on the club and they were forced to cease their activities and now only fond memories of the Jolly Boys Club remain.
“We found it very interesting being members,” said McIntosh. “We became like a family. If anybody was having problems, the others were all ready to help. It became more of a brotherhood than a club and we stayed close.”
Now when Summerland residents traverse the winding road to the top of Giant’s Head Mountain, they too can remember the Jolly Boys, who first had the vision, to use this unique focal point of our town as a tourist attraction.
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