Bayfield International Croquet Club

  Bayfield International
                   Croquet Club

History of BICC

The Beginnings

Much anecdotal evidence indicates that backyard croquet was popular in Bayfield for many decades prior to the actual formation of the Bayfield International Croquet Club (BICC), becoming especially popular during the 1950’s. Jim Day recalled that a croquet tournament held during this decade on their cottage lawn on Tuyll Street began with 8 teams and a few spectators and eventually grew to an event comprising 30 teams and the addition of floodlights for night play.

The 1950’s also featured the acquisition of the Bayfield Cup, which had originally been presented to the Bayfield Golf Club by the business people of the Village and had fallen into disuse. This trophy was converted to a croquet trophy which is still presented to the club champion of BICC. Early winners listed on the trophy include:

1951 Jim Huck and Ray Bauer

1952 Don Oates and Wally Hilton

1953 Jim Huck and Ray Bauer

1958 Bill Bennett

 Many original members of what would become BICC played croquet on various village lawns during this period, although the sport seems to have waned somewhat in popularity throughout 1960’s.



The 1950’s also featured the acquisition of the Bayfield Cup, which had originally been presented to the Bayfield Golf Club by the business people of the Village and had fallen into disuse. This trophy was converted to a croquet trophy which is still presented to the club champion of BICC. Early winners listed on the trophy include:

1951 Jim Huck and Ray Bauer

1952 Don Oates and Wally Hilton

1953 Jim Huck and Ray Bauer

1958 Bill Bennett

 Many original members of what would become BICC played croquet on various village lawns during this period, although the sport seems to have waned somewhat in popularity throughout 1960’s.



The Founding of BICC

In 1973, following what was recalled as a particularly frustrating round of golf, and probably much informal discussion, a concerted effort arose to resurrect croquet in Bayfield through the formation of the Bayfield Croquet Association. Lorne Cook approached the Pioneer Park Association and was granted approval to cut some of the park for use as a court to be considered the home grounds. In the fall of 1973, a letter was drafted by Hugh Gregory and sent to 8 other individuals to determine the level of interest and request an initial contribution of $25. Interest was shown by all recipients. An additional $25 initiation fee request came soon after, followed by $35 annual dues in early 1974. Jim Day created a sketch of a club crest. Bill Tillmann became the first President, a position he held seemingly continuously for many years (as of 1986, he was the only President the club had ever had). Another letter was sent by Hugh Gregory to his friend, Ward Cornell, who at that time occupied the position of Agent General for Ontario in England, inquiring about equipment cost. Best wishes were sent from the Croquet Association in England, expressing enthusiasm at receiving a Canadian inquiry. An application for membership and the associated fee were sent to the CA at the Hurlingham Club in England. Prospective members soon came to the realization that this form of croquet represented a vastly different game than the one they had been playing recreationally over the previous summers. The objectives of the new Bayfield club were directed toward insuring and encouraging the continued play of the game of croquet in the Village of Bayfield and any other locations as may be deemed advisable by the membership, and engaging in any other athletic or social activities that may be deemed by the membership advantageous to the promotion of the game of croquet.

 By 1974, a set of top of the line croquet equipment was ordered from John Jaques & Son Ltd, as well as copies of the Laws of Association Croquet. Subsequently, Dick Ivey of London, a friend of some BICC members, heard of the Bayfield plans and generously donated a complete set of Jaques equipment identical to the one which had been ordered. There was a scramble to cancel the original order which was eventually successful. At the start of this inaugural year of BICC, there were 11 members:  Ray Bauer, Joe Beechie, George Cantrick, Lorne Cook, Jim Egerton, Fred Erb, Hugh Gregory, Gil Heseltine, Pat Paterson, Bill Tillmann and Jack Walters.

Foamy Acres

The membership may have played at various Bayfield locations in 1974, including the Agricultural Grounds, Pioneer Park, and other available spaces, but the club still had no facility which could be considered the home grounds.  This situation changed through the generosity of George Cantrick, who owned a farm (Foamy Acres) 5 KM east of Bayfield.  Construction began on a full-sized croquet court adjacent to the farm house.

Seeding was completed in the fall of 1974.  It is interesting to note that at this time, discussion ensued among members regarding the purchase of the New Ritz Hotel on Main Street in Bayfield.  This option was never pursued.

  The official inauguration of the BICC Foamy Acres court took place on July 5, 1975, with the members and a large number of invited guests sporting quite formal attire in apparent contrast with the distinctly rural setting. The Croquet Association sent regrets that they would be unable to attend, although other dignitaries including the federal Member of Parliament and the Reeve of the Village of Bayfield were on hand.

Association Play is Introduced

At this time, the club received a membership inquiry from a gentleman by the name of Tom Colls, a croquet player from England who was at that time living in Ottawa, and who was quite enthusiastic about the Bayfield endeavour. Tom was invited to Bayfield as a guest and is the person responsible for introducing BICC members to the correct way to play Association Croquet.  Because of his significant contribution, Tom is remembered to this day through the Tom Colls Cup, presented to the annual bisque champion of BICC.


1975 also saw the beginning of a challenge tournament which lasted for several years, featuring BICC members competing against a clearly younger group of players from London led by Ged Tillmann, Bill Tillmann's oldest son.

By 1976 the BICC Foamy Acres facility was in full swing, even designing a banner and participating in the Bayfield Centennial Parade. 


Members were organized for a work bee which included top dressing, fertilizing and overseeding. Tom Colls paid a second visit to Bayfield to hone the skills of the members aspiring for a higher level of proficiency.

Tom also issued an invitation for BICC members to travel to England in 1977. Although nobody was able to accept his offer, it prompted a return letter from Bill Tillmann thanking Tom for his visits and expressing that croquet had “taken on a new meaning for us that we never believed possible. Our organization which started in a sense as a lark seems to be leading into a very great interest and activity for us all. Much of the thanks for this is due to your efforts and influence.”  Discussion continued regarding a trip to England.