I like sleuthing, when I can, and decided I wanted to learn more about the Orillia Hunt Club and the "hunt" history in Canada. Guess what? I cannot locate any information on the Orillia Hunt Club, and am starting to think that no entity ever existed. This interpretive material, information we have inherited over the years, is proof of how here-say becomes fact, even with historians. On my own twitter account, I frequently read Tudor historians bemoaning how myth/legend become historic fact that is often repeated by generations of academics who never bother or have the time to research what they have come to know as a truth.
Imagine my delight when I began looking into hunt club histories in Ontario and I find this photo (r), with persons identified, the year and location in a book written for the sesquicentennial for the Toronto Hunt Club.
According to William M Gray, author, A History of the Toronto Hunt Club written in 1993, we have George W Beardmore (MFH), in scarlet, escorting HRH Prince of Wales at a meet in Aurora, October 1924. (MFH- Master of Foxhounds). At last we may have some information to go on about the occasion and who is in the mural image. I did double check and Edward did visit the Toronto area in 1924 and if you are knowledgeable on hunt seasons, the northern hemisphere hunt season begins in October and runs through March/April, dependent on weather (especially in Canada) and Beardmore held property, Beverly Farm, in Aurora.
Brief History of the Toronto Hunt Club
The Toronto Hunt Club has an extensive and interesting history. In 1895 land was purchased in Scarborough Heights (current Kingston road location) and architectural firm Darling and Pearson (architects of Parkwood) were commissioned to design and build the "new" club.Under the name of “The Toronto Hunt and Country Club”. The Club was first incorporated under the Provincial Letters Patent in May 1894. In 1905, it was re-incorporated under Dominion Charter as “The Toronto Hunt Limited” and finally in October 1930, it was again incorporated under Provincial Letters Patent as “The Toronto Hunt” and still operates under this Charter. In 1893, George Beardmore was elected president and held that position, as well as Master of the Fox Hounds until 1930. Polo, skeet shooting and eventually tennis were added to the pursuits of the club, but hunting with the hounds was the most popular at the club. There seems to have been a peak in terms of the hunt at the turn of the century, with a decline occurring with the introduction of the automobile and then WWI, but the hunt popularity was revived in the 1920s among society elite.
|C. Churchill Mann & Billie Mann|
The Eglinton Hunt becomes home to the first Canadian branch of the Pony Club.
As Toronto expanded, Beardmore was forced to move the hounds to his property in Aurora, Beverly Farm, and as the depression worsened, Lady Eaton provided many of the financial and property resources, neighbour to Beverly Farm, Eaton Hall, to support the hunt, through the end of the 1930s.
From 1949 to 1952, Eleanor (Billie) Mann ( nee McLaughlin) is Master of the Hunt of the Eglinton Hunt.
Introducing George W Beardmore
Who is this George W Beardmore gent that was very influential in the club and is portrayed in the mural at Parkwood, and I know nothing of?
Beardmore came from a leather and shoe (tannery) empire, Beardmore & Co. Ltd., and is described by Gray as an "out-going, successful businessman, sportsman, and accomplished horseman".
His Toronto estate, Chudleigh, is now the Italian consulate, but stands in much of its grandeur, with the changes George W Beardmore saw it undergo through the nineteen teens and twenties.
The relationship between Beardmore and McLaughlin is unknown and may be strictly through sport. Sam and Adelaide McLaughlin were members of the Toronto Hunt, as were their daughters. We know the successes of the McLaughlin family in terms of horses; jumpers, hunters and thoroughbreds and the legacy of Parkwood Stables.
Both the McLaughlin's and Beardmore's were in business with architects Darling and Pearson, but so were many of the "society set".
In terms of business accounts, Oshawa had its own renowned tannery, Robson Leather, and the McLaughlin Carriage Works, McLaughlin MotorCar Company and eventually General Motors seem to have done most of their tannery business dealings via this enterprise.
The exact relationship between McLaughlin and Beardmore may be forever elusive, however, we now know what & whom the "hunt" image in the mural depicts, and an image, I believe, would have had a great importance to the McLaughlin family as it was painted onto their wall.