Marlene Stewart Streit, one of Pelham’s greatest all-time athletes, has recorded a long list of accomplishments in her 87 years.
Order of Canada. Order of Ontario. Member of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Canada’s most successful amateur female golfer, and the only golfer in history to have won the Australian, British, Canadian, and U.S. Women’s amateur tournaments. She also won the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as the best Canadian female athlete for the fifth time in 1963.
And now, she has her own wall of fame—in the Pelham park named in her honour. An official unveiling of a mural painted by students and their teacher from E.L. Crossley Secondary School took place last Tuesday morning, July 20.
Born in Alberta in 1934, Streit was schooled in the game by Gordon McInnis Sr., at Lookout Point Golf Club in Fonthill. She graduated from Rollins College in Florida in 1956, the same year she won the NCAA women’s intercollegiate golf championship.
Sherry Wilkinson, a visual arts and e-learning teacher at E.L. Crossley, told the Voice that he was contacted by Jodi Shishkov, Pelham Culture and Community programmer, in April to create a mural of Streit on the side wall of the Marlene Stewart Streit Park pool building.
“Jodi is excellent at getting grants, and has been a huge supporter in helping me get my students’ art shown in the Town offices, Meridian Centre, and Summerfest. After all, art is supposed to be seen, not simply submitted to a teacher,” she said.
Wilkinson scoured the internet for appropriate images of Streit, which were then run through Photoshop in preparation for the project.
“I recruited students by making a general call-out through emails and texts to those students who I knew would enjoy the challenge, and would work well as a team,” said Wilkinson. Six students were identified who were both eager to do the work, and able to fit the painting in to their job schedules—and all happened to be girls.
Though the emailing, scheduling, and gathering of materials took several weeks, the actual drawing and painting process took about 36 hours, said Wilkinson. Each student worked on specific sections of the mural, and provided feedback to one another, often touching-up or tweaking each other’s section to improve the accuracy.
“This group of young women are very committed, and excellent team players. We have a lot respect for one another, so the project was very enjoyable, despite having to work in extreme heat and pouring rain,” said Wilkinson.
The team of artists consisted of Natalie Anderson, Gwen Cudmore, Hannah Horton, Rachael Moskalyk, Emily Shatford, and Trinty Young.
Streit told the Voice that she was “honoured and very excited” about the project.
Seeing the mural for the first time was a blast from the past,” she said. “I love the photos they have chosen. One was when I won my first Ontario Championship in 1951 in Toronto, at the Lambton Golf and Country Club, when I was still a student at Pelham District High School. Mr. E.L. Crossley was my principal. Great memories!”
The second photo depicts Streit swinging a club, an image taken at the 1952 Canadian Women’s Amateur Championship at the Mayfair Golf and Country Club, Edmonton, Alberta.
“I was defending champion but lost in the semifinals—I hated to lose!” she said, laughing.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, said Streit. “It’s 70 years since I won the first of my 11 Canadian amateur championships.”
Streit attended the unveiling virtually from her home in Aurora, Ontario, but her sister, Dolly Smith, who still lives in Fonthill mere metres from the park bearing her sibling’s name, attended in person.
The student artists were pleased by the result of their work.
“I enjoyed working with other artists and painting something new out of my comfort zone,” said Rachael Moskalyk.
“Being part of creating the mural of Marlene Stewart Streit was an incredible opportunity that allowed me to collaborate with an amazing group of talented artists who share the same passion for art as I do,” said Natalia Anderson. “The experience of spending many hours working as a team not only provided a creative outlet but I was also able to grow as an artist while creating something for future generations to enjoy.”
“Painting the mural was a really unique and fun experience,” said Hannah Horton. “It was great to be with friends, and work as a team to create such a special piece of art.”