Windsor

Wigle Park Clubhouse

One of the building recently brought up in the comments on another post, involved the Wigle Park Club house.

The building opened September 2, 1922, and cost $13,000 to build (about $170,000 today).

The building was erected by the Windsor Park Commission, and contained (and possibly still does?) a wash room, showers, a locker room and club room.

The article about the opening states there were 50 shows on the ground floor, the second floor contained “two rooms, connected by folding doors”. On one side was the lockers, and the other half being the club room, “open for all teams to hold their meetings”. The basement contained the hot water tank and a boiler for the steam heating system.

Sadly no architect was listed as being responsible for this project. The building is remarkable shape considering the lack of use, and apparent lack of maintenance over the years.

In doing some research on the building, it was amazing to find that Wigle Park was the hub of sports activity in the 20’s and 30’s in the Border Cities. A look at the fire insurance map shows that there was a second building along McDougall and also a grandstand.

The article about the opening also mentioned that hockey took place there in the winter. Amazing that a park that was once so important, looks empty so often today.

An impressive stone cairn displays the name and year of opening. Wigle Park was the first park in Windsor.

From the City of Windsor Parks History:

    Wigle Park
    Commonly known as: Wigle Park, Wiggle Park
    Former/other names: none
    Location: bounded by Erie, McDougall and Mercer Streets
    Property acquired: 1906
    Acreage: 5.31
    Official designation: Neighbourhood park

    Established in 1908, Wigle Park was Windsor’s first official park and the field house remains the
    oldest park structure in the City. Bounded by Erie, McDougall and Mercer Streets, the property
    was acquired from Mrs. F.J. Holton in 1906, via a tax sale. Construction at the site began in 1907
    and official opening ceremonies were held in 1909.

    Named after Colonel Ernest Samuel Wigle, a two-term Windsor Mayor (1905-1909; 1936-1937),
    the park’s development played an important symbolic role in the area, which at the turn of the
    century was decidedly undeveloped. In fact, Giles Boulevard, rather than Erie Street, was the main
    east-west thoroughfare in the area. By developing the park site, Windsor, with Mayor Wigle at the
    helm, sent a strong message to potential land developers, many of whom had been justifiably wary
    of investing their time and money in a district which for some time had been virtually ignored by
    elected Windsor officials. Today, the Erie Street area is a perennial favourite with tourists, a
    vibrant, cafe-lined slice of true Italian heritage, undeniably a powerful testament to Wigle’s
    turn-of-the-century foresight.

    Wigle, known simply as “The Colonel,” was a proud descendent of United Empire Loyalist stock,
    a University of Toronto graduate (1884) who studied law with Windsor’s White and Ellis firm until
    1897, when he officially became a barrister and solicitor. During his distinguished career in public
    office, Wigle served on the Board of Education for more than a decade and once took an ill-fated
    run at federal political office. Renowned locally for his versatile athletic skills, “The Colonel” was
    a powerful force behind the park’s establishment.

    In keeping with Ernest Wigle’s lifelong interest in athletics, Wigle Park is today a relatively high
    profile sports park, featuring a soccer field and a softball diamond. A variety of playground
    equipment is also available at the park.

Despite the under use of the park today, that ball diamond is probably the oldest diamond in the city. With a diamond having been on that site at least 90 years.

More of our history, that’s hidden in plain view.

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