A Replay of Tennis Beginnings at Hillary House in Aurora

Hillary House

By Erika Mazanik, Aurora Historical Society (AHS). Hillary House National Historic Site is back open to the public for the summer and it is the perfect time to visit the new exhibit Tennis in Canada: From Early Beginnings to Global Success. This exhibition is funded in part by a generous grant allocated by the Toronto 2015 Pan & Parapan American Games Community Celebrations Fund.

The game of tennis has a long history in Canada, with the first tennis club in Canada starting in Toronto in 1874, after which tennis gained popularity very quickly. One of the features that contributed to its rapid growth was the appeal it had for all ages and genders. Tennis is one of the few competitive sports that included women and children from the outset. It truly was a family activity, which is why by the turn of the century, the Hillary family were avid tennis players.

“Tennis is one of the few competitive sports that included women and children from the outset.”

The history of tennis in Aurora has a rich beginning, with the first tennis club in Aurora playing on both the Hillary House grass courts, and at Trinity Anglican Church, starting in 1911. The Hillary Family were a very active group who regularly played tennis, one of the most popular sports of the day. The Hillary House collection includes a tennis racquet used by the family in the 1880s, which will be featured among many other tennis artifacts in the exhibit at Hillary House. The family had a grass court on their property as early as 1910.

This court has been recreated in the same location, and AHS will be hosting heritage tennis demonstrations throughout July and August 2015.

The exhibit will cover a full range of tennis history as Aurora Historical Society explores the history of tennis from it’s roots in twelfth century France, to its standardization in nineteenth century England, to its spread into Canada, and finally to its impact in Canadian culture. Highlights to lookout for include tennis rackets ranging from the 1880s to 1987, vintage tennis clothing, images of Canadian Professional Tennis players, and more.

Erika Mazanik
Aurora Historical Society (AHS)

Tennis in Aurora

Aurora Historical Society, Hillary House

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