How Badminton Started in Stratford
The Stratford Badminton Club had humble beginnings in 1921 when a “group of young people” played in the old arena on Waterloo Street. Club play started in 1922 with Col. J.L. Young as president. Members supplied their own racquets and shuttles. Membership was $3.00.
Officers of the Perth Regiment showed interest in the 30’s and founded the Perth Regiment Officers Mess Badminton Club. It is believed that they played at the Stratford Armories.
A building known as The Casino opened in Stratford on Christmas Day 1905, as a curling rink. It also served as summer dance hall, roller skating arena, and ice-skating rink. In 1933, after a few mild winters the curlers moved out of the Casino building, and Stratford Badminton Club applied to the Parks Board to become winter tenants. The club remained at this Lakeside Drive location until 2008 while sharing facilities with the Stratford Festival. Over the years, the building became known as the Festival Exhibition Hall, The Third Stage, and Tom Patterson Theatre. In 2018, the building was razed to make room for the new Tom Patterson Theatre.
At the beginning, members had to lay the courts. Play could not begin until the first court was completed! While players waited their turn to play, they constructed the additional courts. The building was unheated and uninsulated until the late 70’s. On cold winter days, the players played in long pants, sweaters, hats, and gloves. Plastic birds would occasionally shatter, and snow would blow in under the doors. They did an excellent job planning the layout and lighting. With the suspended wooden floor, high ceiling, dark walls, excellent lighting, and lots of room at the end of the courts, Stratford had a badminton club to be proud of. As time went on, Badminton Canada named Stratford as one of the top ten badminton facilities in Canada.
With the new hardwood floor completed in 1936, the building became one of the most prominent dance halls in Western Ontario. The Club, then known as the Stratford Badminton and Social Club hosted spring and fall dances that attracted 600-900 of Stratford’s most prominent citizens. During the war years, the club entertained members of the Armed Forces stationed in the area. It was known to be the social hub of Stratford. It was also an after-school destination for many students and adults who would spend many hours playing badminton and socializing. It is interesting that the invention of television lessened the need for a common meeting place. In 1955 the club suspended operations. However, in 1957, Ray Cornish and others returned home and raised funds to save the club. There are still many residents of Stratford who recall, as youngsters, being at the club every Saturday to play badminton and board games in the lounge.
Over the years, the Club has produced many great players. Don McLean won the club’s first ever provincial title when he won the Ontario Junior crown in 1940. A young player, Audrey Rhodes, was a finalist in the Canadian Junior Championships in the 1950’s. Shirley Uniac (nee Gladding), has been described as perhaps the best player we’ve had at the club defeating the #1 ranked female junior player in Ontario. Ray Cornish and Bill Parkes of Woodstock teamed up to win 10 Western Ontario doubles championships between 1961 and 1971. Ray Cornish went on to hold more than a dozen master’s titles late in his career and was instrumental in the development of the club. In 1964, Ray became a director of the Canadian Badminton Association and eventually its vice president. Sue Marsh won two golds and a silver medal at the Pan Am Games in 1979. Wil Pass was a perennial men’s champion (1993-2002, 2006-07) and continues to contribute to the club.
In 2008, the club moved to its present location at the Burnside Agriplex at the north edge of town. The club rents the space from the City of Stratford. The facility can accommodate 16 badminton courts which enables us to host Provincial Championships for Secondary Schools and Badminton Ontario, and in 2011 Stratford hosted the Canadian Masters Championships.
8 courts opened for play during club hours
16 courts on Thursday nights
Change rooms with showers & day-use lockers
Courts available during club hours for open play
Organize your own game at your convenience