I had no idea who Ada McKenzie was. The name popped up in the Parkwood Secretary’s Journal 1935 on September 13.”Mrs McLaughlin permanent at Francois, then fitting at Ada McKenzie, then Home and School publication meeting”.

So in this day and age, I googled Ada McKenzie, Toronto, women’s wear.

Turns out that Adelaide was being fitted at a store for women’s athletic wear, a store owned and named after Canadian golf darling, Ada McKenzie. I was shocked and ashamed that as a Canadian woman and historian I have never heard of Ada. According to the Library and Archives Canada website,

“At a time when female athletes were few and far between, Ada Mackenzie was looked on as a pioneer. Her achievements are even more remarkable taking into account the general attitude regarding the role of women in society in the first half of the 20th century. If the men’s domain was the public sphere, then the women’s was definitely the private sphere. If women worked outside the home, it was often while “waiting” for marriage or as a continuation of their maternal role. At that time, it was very difficult for women to promote their skills in a world still strongly dominated by men. That Ada Mackenzie succeeded in asserting herself outside these traditional spheres of activity was an accomplishment in itself and bears witness to her strength of character; that she accomplished this in the sports world was even more remarkable. As she herself said: “I started golfing when women were supposed to know more about a cook stove than a niblick”.

Ada went on to win a variety of golf tournaments and titles in her life.

Furthermore, in my research on this new find, this remarkable woman, I learned that Ada inspired by what was going on in Great Britain, and in order to assist young girls and women to play golf, opened the Ladies’ Golf and Tennis Club of Toronto in 1924. DING!! DING!! DING!! The brain bells sound and I start rummaging through the archives looking for the golfing images of the McLaughlins, particularly Adelaide, and daughters.

From the Parkwood Archives is a May 1935, Mayfair magazine photo of Eileen McLaughlin with Ada McKenzie, in stripes. So a quick call is made to the Ladies’ Golf and Tennis Club of Toronto to see if they have an active archives, and the beginning of my email relationship with Joan, a volunteer archivist at the club who is scouring membership records for me on the McLaughlin women. So far, we can find information from the 1950s and nothing earlier, however, my feelings are, there is something more to the story and we will uncover it one day.

In the meantime, I was pleased to learn that the McLaughlin women supported Ada’s business ventures by purchasing their athletic clothes at her store, a venture she began in 1930, closing its doors in 1959.

Please listen to a CBC archives recording from 1949 about Ada’s golf course