In fact, Edenvale is the place where the British Empire Motor Club (Bem-See) organized what many say was the first sports car race ever to be held in Canada – the first annual Spring Trophy Race – on June 25, 1950.
The King of Edenvale in its early years was a Hamilton driver named Tommy Hoan, who had a lock on the annual Purilator Trophy race. He didn’t win it every year, of course, but it was his more often than not.
Others who turned out to race at Edenvale in the sport’s early days included Peter Templar, Peter Hayes, Charles Wheaton, Jim Fergusson, Fred Mallard and R.J. Hanna (yes, that Bob Hanna), all of Toronto, plus Max Goldman of Ann Arbor, Mich., and Gilbert von Roch of Germany, among many others.
The track was in operation until 1959 when the owner of the land decided he wanted to run some stock car races on the track. The "sporty car’ set objected to that and moved operations to Green Acres (another training airport near Goderich), St. Eugene (the Ontario home of the Montreal MG Car Club that was also known as "Connor" because a fellow named Connor owned the property) and the famous (but also long-gone) Harewood Acres circuit, near Jarvis.
Although racing at Harewood, St. Eugene and Green Acres continued into the 1960s, there was never another racing wheel turned at Edenvale post-1959.
Earlier this year, Lee Abrahamson – a co-founder of the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame who’s still in possession of a dozen or so "Champ Car Lights" open-wheel race cars that he’s had since that series failed to materialize years ago – was casting around for a location to run "corporate days," in which race fans pay to drive around in race cars all day.
He stumbled upon Edenvale and was encouraged by what he found. It’s still a working airport but after you got beyond the main runway there were other parts of the track just sitting there, waiting for somebody to do something with them.
So Abrahamson contacted my friend Brian Stewart (of Indy Lights racing fame) and Stewart went up to Edenvale a few months ago with a tractor fitted with a bush hog and chopped down the vegetation on both sides of the unused runways. Then he took a front end loader and ripped up all the weeds. A quick sweep and general cleanup and, voila, Edenvale (or parts thereof) was back in business.
Abrahamson and Stewart have since held five "corporate days" there.
Whether there will ever be real racing at Edenvale again is highly unlikely but the fact that Canada’s very first sports car track has sprung back to life 50 years after it was deserted is a real cause for celebration.