Colin “Pop” Nisbet was born in Toronto, Ontario on November 13, 1882. He grew up in North York and worked in his grandfather’s greenhouse and later ran another for his father. It turns out that Colin had quite a green thumb and a knack for management. In 1913, Pop married Beatrice Day and together they had three children. He continued to manage the family greenhouse business until 1919, when he and his family moved to Aurora to establish their own roots.
Naturally, Colin continued to cultivate his success in his industry, and opened the Aurora Greenhouses, located behind the family home on the south end of Yonge Street. Aurora Greenhouses quickly flourished to become one of Aurora’s most successful businesses.
On July 2, 1931, the Aurora Golf and Country Club opened on the land that was adjacent to Aurora Greenhouses. The Club featured a 40-acre, 9-hole course that was designed by the renowned golf architect Stanley Thompson. With the family business thriving it gave Pop the time to start turning his attention to other pursuits, such as golf.
After a decade of use, it became clear to Pop that the Aurora Golf and Country Club needed work and the maintenance was being neglected. That was when Pop decided to split his knowledge between the greenhouses and the putting green. In 1943, along with Norman Campbell of Toronto, Pop took over management of the course and two years later, at the age of 63, he decided to purchase it.
The course was renamed Highlands Golf and Country Club and it quickly became known as a premiere venue. It was not long before Pop purchased a neighbouring property to enlarge the course from 9 to 18 holes. In April 1952, the new 18-hole course opened with upgraded amenities, including a clubhouse, locker room, lunchroom, and lounge area.
Pop’s upbringing and appreciation for family-run businesses enabled him to successfully manage two different ventures. Together with his wife Beatrice, Pop oversaw the Greenhouses and golf course, but he delegated his sons to managing the everyday operations: with Keith acting as superintendent of the course, and Doug as the manager of the greenhouses and retail store. In 1956, Pop sold the newly revitalized and expanded Highlands Golf and Country Club, but by no means was he done with golf.
The following year, at age 75, he bought over 200 acres at the southeast corner of Leslie Street and Vandorf Sideroad and opened a new course that would become known as Westview Golf Club. In the beginning, the course only had 4 holes and free play was offered in exchange for opinions on the course. Highland Golf and Country Club had been Pop’s showpiece, but with this course he wanted to try and make golf accessible to everyone.
Along with his sons, Pop built the first nine holes, known as Homestead, which opened to the public in 1958. The following year they built a second nine, known as Middle. By 1963, the course was ready to grow again, so Pop purchased the adjacent Manser and Barber farms. The first two nines were redesigned and a third nine, named Lakeland was opened.
On November 10, 1974, at the age of 92, Pop passed away. His built-from-scratch course, Westview Golf Club, continues to be owned and operated by members of his family, and his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have worked side by side at the course over the years. If you play a round at Westview, you may notice a tall sturdy, solitary oak wrapped in a yellow ribbon. This is a nod to Pop and his favourite song, Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree.
Contributing to and building a family business is in the Nisbet veins, from the family greenhouse operation in Toronto, to the putting greens and fairways in Aurora, Pop truly knew the secrets to success and how to instill a love for contributing back to the community.
In recognition of his contribution to the sport of golf, we are proud to welcome Colin “Pop” Nisbet as part of the 2022 class of inductees into the Aurora Sports Hall of Fame.