Bolton Wanderers in Canada
In 1978 after two years of offering small soccer clinics in Bolton a group of local civic minded gentlemen including Kevin O’Hehir, Hal Siemens, Winston Cross, Jack Garratt and Dave Wedgebury formed a soccer club to allow local youth and adults to play the game in our community.
They wrote to the President of Bolton Wanderers Football Club of the English Football Association, Nat Lofthouse, who had been a distinguished player both for the Wanderers winning the 1958 FA Cup and for England. Mr. Lofthouse granted the charter to the Club including the use of the name and crest. The Bolton Wanderers Soccer Club Ontario (BWSC) was incorporated as a not-for-profit Ontario corporation that year.
We were a founding member of the Peel Halton Soccer Association in 1978.
Like our namesake in England our home grounds moved several times in our early years from The Humberview to Dick’s Dam and back. From early beginnings with 160 players the program offerings grew as did our membership.
Following a 1980 fire at the ski lodge in Edelweiss Park the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority bought the park and permitted it to the Town of Caledon for parks & recreation use. In 1983 BWSC secured the first fields at this new location.
Over the years the number of fields grew as did programming. BWSC was one of the first to offer micro fields for U4-U7’s. Over the years BWSC has participated equally with the Town of Caledon in the development of our playing facilities, parking lots, the pavilion, lights and irrigation. We have over $750,000 invested in this community facility.
In 1998 as part of our 20th anniversary celebration Roy Greeves another distinguished BWFC player and Manager visited Edelweiss to participate in our Opening Day events. Roy spent the week in Bolton, offering sessions for players and coaches.
In late 1999 a new soccer park was announced and construction began. The Jack Garratt Soccer Park was opened in 2000 with friends and family of one of our founders on hand for the opening.
In 2000 Bolton Wanderers responded to a request from the Valleywood Residents Association made to the Town of Caledon for some type of organized outdoor sports activity in that community. We launched the West Caledon division with 60 players. This program has grown in no small part to the efforts of Lina Marino who chaired the BWSC West Caledon committee. With her husband Luciano she grew the program to over 650 players. The soccer park in Valleywood, and the BWSC’s most valuable award the Lina Marino Award for outstanding Volunteerism are posthumously named for her.
In 2004 the club entered into a landmark agreement with the Town of Caledon. Under the Stewardship Agreement the Wanderers are the care keepers of the Edelweiss, Jack Garratt and Dick’s Dam Soccer Parks. While the parks had always been well maintained by the town staff, we needed a high standard of care.
In 2006 the Wanderers took a major development step and hired a Head Coach. Billy McKenna came on board and with Board approval established the Technical Committee which reports to the Board of Directors. Since that time the Committee has been driving standards and new programs to competitive and recreational parts of the club.
In 2008 the Bolton Wanderers became ‘early adaptors’ of the Canadian Soccer associations Long Term Player Development Program. The recreational programs in Bolton lead the way with the formation of the Micro Academy to focus the development of the Club’s youngest players 4, 5 & 6 year olds.
Acknowledging the need for the growing competitive program to have some stability the Club designated Jack Garratt Soccer Park as the Club's competitive training ground. All competitive teams train at one location, have training equipment stored on site and are accessible and visible.
In late 2009 the Club secured the lease of a house situated behind Jack Garratt Soccer Park on Glasgow Road. The property owned by the TRCA had been vacant for several months and while it needed some renovations it had become the Wanderers House. Our offices, meeting rooms, assembly and storage areas were in the house.
2009 also saw our renewing of ties with Bolton Wanderers Football Club now playing in the English Premier League. A delegation traveled to England and met with the Club laying out the framework for a new level of cooperation and engagement. In January 2010 Dave Bailey, Manager of the Wanderers International School traveled to Canada working with teams and coaches, meeting with the technical group and directors. We set out a path which included the Wanderers providing coaches and educators in Canada access to their programs and sessions and the opportunity for BWSC players to train in the UK and gain exposure to the academy.
After more than 10 years of planning and proposals the Club were presented with the opportunity to lease a building in the town's industrial core. The Bolton Wanderers Training Facility at 25 Nixon Road was ready with phase 1 in just six weeks. Indoor soccer in Bolton had arrived.
Year one saw training programs for the competitive teams, team training, a recreational league for youth, ladies and men. We offered micro academies for the U4-U6 ages, a Playmaker program for U8-U12 as well as pick up soccer. The facility has hosted a number of coaching clinics for the Club, and the OSA. Rental groups use the facility for pick-up soccer, lacrosse and birthday parties.
The Board of Directors moved to consolidate offices and operations into the Training Centre on Nixon Road in 2012. While Wanderers House had been a great location next to Jack Garratt Training Ground the cost of operating the location along with space at 25 Nixon was not supportable.