Just a few minutes from downtown Vancouver, Southlands Riding Club (SRC) has grown up with the city. SRC traces its roots back to a time when the land was covered in farmland, horse stables, and a sense of community. Long before its official establishment in 1943, the Blenheim Flats were tended by farming families like the McCleery brothers, Samuel and Fitzgerald, and Hugh Magee. The landscape along the Fraser River, stretching from 75th/Granville to the river’s mouth, was characterized by pastoral lands and agricultural pursuits. This idyllic setting was also home to riding stables and academies, creating a vibrant equestrian culture in the region.

In the 1920s, the Point Grey Golf Course emerged, drawing more farm and horse owners to the Flats. However, the area was not only about golf; it was also a haven for horse enthusiasts, with riding academies scattered across Vancouver including Dunbar, Point Grey, and Stanley Park.

The spark that would ignite Southlands Riding Club began in the early 1940s when A.J. McPherson and 12 visionary riders gathered to discuss the formation of a community dedicated to preserving trails and advocating for equestrian safety. Names like Bernice Ramsey, Neina Williams, and Jack Abramson stand out among the pioneers who sought to promote the well-being of horses and riders. This group’s efforts bore fruit when, in August 1943, Southlands Riding Club was officially incorporated with a modest annual membership fee of $3.

An outdoor riding ring.

‘The Big Ring’ at SRC. The area is surrounded by equestrian properties.

The early years saw the club’s growth as members met at Ascot Riding Academy, organized gymkhanas, group rides to the beach, and Sunday trail rides. In 1946, a clubhouse was erected at the corner of W55th and Blenheim, constructed from the remnants of a fisherman’s net storage hut painstakingly moved on horseback and rebuilt.

Recognizing the importance of securing their own land, the club, in a testament to community spirit, collectively purchased 16 acres of land in 1946. This acquisition marked a turning point, leading to the formation of the Southlands Riding and Driving Club Limited, a company authorized to issue shares to raise funds. Over time, this structure ensured that all members held a stake in the club.

In the 1950s, Southlands Riding Club burgeoned, hosting diverse equestrian events from polo to gymkhanas, and hunter/jumper to dressage shows. A pivotal moment came with the construction of the iconic Indoor Arena in the 1960s, made possible through fundraising campaigns and the generosity of notable figures like Walter Koerner, Patrick Oswald and Chunky Woodward.

In 2016, SRC introduced the Rescue and Rehabilitation Program, embracing a mission to provide care and training for equine residents. Over the years, numerous horses and ponies have found new beginnings through the program as confident and educated companions.

As the 21st century unfolded, SRC thrived in the face of challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, by embracing outdoor activities and horse shows. The passage of time has also brought changes to the landscape with the encroachment of urban development and rising property values. However, SRC and the heart of the neighbourhood remain steadfast, driven by its historic mission and the dedication of its members.

Today, there are 460 members of SRC with a variety of categories for membership available for reasonable annual or monthly fees. Facilities include an indoor arena, covered arena, five outdoor rings for dressage and jumping, a large field, a cross-country course, a half-mile track, covered and open lunge rings/round pens, a clubhouse and event stabling. Plans are in the works for renovating the old indoor arena and building more spectator viewing areas outside, along with footing upgrades.


Drawing of Southlands layout.

As ‘The Club’ enters a new decade, its legacy endures, carrying the spirit of the early pioneers who saw the value in preserving an equestrian community. As the sun sets on one chapter and rises on the next, Southlands Riding Club’s story continues to be one of resilience, unity, and the enduring bond between people and their horses.

Learn more about Southlands Riding Club, their events, and the Rescue Program here.