The OTA's First President

by Pam Olley

March 16, 2018

In 1918 George Blackstock, accomplished veteran and athlete, became the first President of the Ontario Tennis Association.

Colonel George Gooderham Blackstock was a founding member of the Ontario Tennis Association and was elected the association’s first President at its first AGM in 1919. As the OTA begins to celebrate its centenary, we decided to find out a little more about this man who was obviously influential at the inception of the association.

George Blackstock was born in 1892, the son of Thomas Gibbs Blackstock and Harriet Victoria Gooderham. He was educated at Upper Canada College and the Royal Military College. On graduating from RMC in 1913, he began studies in Science at the University of Toronto.

When the war began he joined the Royal Artillery in November of 1914 and transferred to the Canadian Field Artillery shortly afterwards. In February 1915 he went to England and France. At the age of 26 he was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel. In 1918 he was decorated with the Military Cross and as a member of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.) in 1919.

Colonel George Gooderham Blackstock

Blackstock seems to have been an excellent athlete and an energetic and colourful character. He was often referred to by his nickname of Porky, given him at R.M.C. He was Quarterback of the football team for his three years at R.M.C. He also played goal at hockey and was an accomplished badminton player. He was the Dominion Badminton Champion for several years. He was the founder of the Badminton and Racquet Club and was the President between 1924 and 1927. He was a member at the York Club, the Toronto Hunt Club, Rosedale Golf Club and the Military Institute and Badminton Club.

Blackstock was also the founder and first President of GG Blackstock and Co and a member of the Toronto Stock Exchange. He was involved with many companies in various capacities. He was President and Managing Director of Bake-rite Co., a Director and Vice President of Steep Rock Iron Mines, a Vice President of Commercial Lumber Co., a Director of Dominion of Canada Guarantee, Accident and Insurance Company, Central Porcupine Mines, Selected Canadian Golds and the Casualty Company.

In 1940 Blackstock entered provincial politics as the National Government candidate for the Spadina riding and was Deputy to Premier George A. Drew of Ontario. On Nov 8th 1945, Blackstock was a speaker at the Civil Service Veterans’ dinner, when he sat down after speaking he slumped in his chair and fell unconscious and was rushed to hospital however he did not survive. He had died of a heart attack after being apparently in good health at the start of the evening.

Thanks go to the Badminton and Racquet Club for providing access to their archives and thereby providing the OTA with otherwise elusive information on their first President. Although there is no mention of Colonel Blackstock playing tennis, it is likely that he was introduced to both badminton and tennis through his military education and service. The Badminton and Racquet Club added tennis courts for summer only play in 1927, when Blackstock was still President of the club.