History of Courts Limited
To understand the history of Courts Limited, let’s step back to the 1920s, when tennis was first being playing on the courts on Royal Avenue.
In 1923, the Westmount Amateur Athletic Association purchased land on Royal Avenue from the Protestant Board of School Commissioners. The Association built 13 tennis courts and a clubhouse. It also bought the fields now owned by Lower Canada College.
Aside from tennis, it ran other sports, such as football, lacrosse and cricket. The association changed its name to the Westward AAA in 1925.
Purchase by the Protestant School Board
Then came the Great Depression. The WAAA folded in 1935.
In 1936, the clubhouse, courts and fields were purchased by the then Protestant Board of School Commissioners. (In fact, it was re-acquiring them: it had originally sold the land to the WAAA.)
In 1937, the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (MAAA) decided to operate a tennis section using the Royal Avenue facilities. It rented these facilities from the school board.
Beginnings of the Monkland Tennis Club
In January 1939, the MAAA decided to stop operating its tennis section. To save the tennis activities, a group of tennis section members got together to run a new club on the grounds.
This was the beginning of the Monkland Tennis Club, which was officially incorporated in March of 1939. The club continued to rent the courts and clubhouse from the school board. (The board sold the fields shortly afterwards to Lower Canada College.)
Creation of Courts Limited
Things went well enough that, in 1946, a decision was made to purchase the tennis courts and clubhouse from the school board. To do this, a new entity – Courts Limited – was incorporated. Courts Limited is still the owner of the property.
Workings of Courts Limited
Courts has 15 shareholders. They are the successors of the original 15 shareholders from 1946. Courts also has a board of directors made up of five of the shareholders. The names of the current shareholders and directors are listed on the Monkland Tennis Club website under “Board of Directors and Committees.”
The Monkland Tennis Club has a unique ownership structure. The physical grounds and building are owned by a group of past and present members who act as advisors to the Board of Directors.
The elected Board in conjunction with the business manager makes all key operational decisions. Major investments or operating changes require the approval of the majority of playing members who are eligible to vote after being a member for five years or more.
Following is a list of the 2017 board of directors and their portfolios. Please communicate directly with the director in charge of the portfolio for which you have a concern or a suggestion.
For more information, please download the Club's constitution: the constitution (updated February 15th, 2010).
Advisory Committee 2017
Note: The Advisory Committee consists of all senior members in good standing who have previously served as president of the Club for at least two years, and of the President in office.
Board of Directors 2017
Note: The administration of the Club is carried out by a Board of Directors ("the Board") composed of a minimum of nine and a maximum of eleven senior playing members in good standing of the Club. Only senior playing members may serve as directors.
Courts Limited Shareholders
Currently has 15 shareholders and a board of directors which is made up of at least five of these shareholders.
Board of directors for Courts Limited
All the shareholders are long-time members of the tennis club. When a shareholder passes away, moves away or resigns, a new shareholder is chosen by the other shareholders by consensus.
Relationship Between Courts Limited and the Monkland Tennis Club
Courts rents the property to the Monkland Tennis Club for a nominal yearly rent.
There is a written lease between the club and Courts. Under the lease, the club pays for maintenance and other expenses, such as insurance and taxes. The lease also says that Courts must approve all physical changes to the premises. The club is responsible for daily management of the tennis operations.
Finally, the lease provides that, if the property is ever expropriated or sold, and every effort is made to relocate somewhere else, but this effort fails, each member of the club who meets the criteria set out in the club’s constitution, and each shareholder of Courts, will share in the proceeds of expropriation or sale after all debts are paid. Each person gets only one share.
With the club operating successfully for over 75 years, this clause is, to say the least, very hypothetical.
Why Have a Courts Limited?
We have few written records about the rationale for creating Courts Limited to be owner of the property. But one reason seems to have been this: a separate entity with shareholders who tend to hold their shares many years provides continuity through changes to the board of the club, whose directors are only initially appointed for two-year terms. The shareholders of Courts are a repository of knowledge about the club and its operations that the club can draw on.
The shareholders of Courts include people who have been members of the club for decades. They also include past presidents and past board members of the club, and people who have served on club committees and volunteered for the club. Needless to say, they have the tennis club’s interests at heart.
Postscript: 13 Courts?
Wondering why the Monkland Tennis Club now only has 9 courts and not the original 13? Some land – where the Jean Coutu now sits – was sold in the 1940s to Steinberg’s Wholesale Groceterias Limited for, what else, a grocery store.
Sarah Dougherty, President, Courts Limited