On November 19, 1908 a group of over twenty riding enthusiasts met to organize a riding club. The object of the meeting was to organize a club for those interested in riding and also to raise funds for the purpose of providing a clubhouse with suitable accommodations for the members. After a thorough and diligent discussion it was decided to purchase the Clement cottage from the Dr. Clement estate along the lake shore.
After several months of major renovations, which included the erection of a frame stable on cement foundation with sixteen stalls and harness rooms, the clubhouse of the Sarnia Riding Club was officially opened on Saturday, January 4th, 1909.
Approximately forty guests attended the reception coming from as far as Toronto and Detroit. About twenty of the members were mounted on horseback and the other members were driven to the clubhouse in a large tally-ho and carriages.
In February of 1909 a tea for the members of the club was held. The president, Dr. Wilkinson announced that the executive had come to a decision around the name of the clubhouse. Based on submissions from the lady members, the name selected was “Altamount”.
The Sarnia Riding Club was considered a relic of the days of equine popularity, but in later years had become a centre of social activity, with members now arriving by streetcar to use the clubhouse and beach facilities. Many an afternoon tea was served by the lady members of the club.
A meeting was held on November 24th, 1922 at which time a proposal to seek incorporation as a country club was ratified. Up until that time the organization had been operated as an association of members with the property vested in trustee Dr. Wilkinson who had acted in the capacity of trustee since the club was inaugurated.
During the 30’s and 40’s the club continued to be most popular but many members were forced to resign during this period when war was declared and a great many members of the club were shipped overseas. When the war was finally over, the heroes returned home and the clubhouse was filled with laughter and merriment again.
The club continued for years as a very fashionable private club until the morning of Saturday, January 28th, 1950. The annual party of the Imperial Oil Industrial Council was nearing its close when the blaze was first detected. By the time the fire was put out, the entire clubhouse had burned to the ground. Valued at the time between $15000 and $20000, the building was declared a total loss. Fortunately, the building was covered by insurance and had just been increased prior to the fire to $40,000.
With funds from the insurance claim and private donations, the first sod was turned on Tuesday, June 13th, 1950 in the construction of the new clubhouse. At this time one tennis court was constructed as well as a practice boards, plus shuffle board courts and a play area for children with swings and teeter-totter. During the winter months a natural ice out-door rink operated with great success.
On the 24th day of May, 1963, the board of directors announced plans for expansion of the Riding Club. The $75,000 expansion included the construction of a 42’ x 75’ swimming pool overlooking Lake Huron, as well as a 30’ diameter wading pool for the members’ children. A second tennis court was also to be added.
The club continued to grow and by the 70’s, it boasted the addition of four more tennis courts, two squash courts and complete change rooms with saunas and showers.
Throughout the years, the Sarnia Riding Club has prided itself with living up to the standards originally set down in its Charter in 1922:
“A Country Club for encouragement of sports and maintenance; a country place for social meetings and purposes of amusement.”
The stables and horses are gone now, the Altamount of old has disappeared, but the pride and dignity lingers on.
The Sarnia Riding Club provides member’s families, adults and children with year-round athletic, recreational and social programs in a unique lakeside setting.
The Underlying Philosophy
1. The club programs in squash, swimming, tennis, and social events are provided by member involvement (committee, etc.) acting upon guidelines from the Board of Directors.
2. The programs are established to create an atmosphere which fosters healthy competition and development of lifetime skills in water and racquet sports.
3. Membership fees are set for a financially stable, non-profit club.