13 May 2015

Canyon Hills Swim and Saddle Club

This San Bernardino Sun article, from 1 June 1964, discussed county planning commission approval of the "Canyon Hills Ranch, Swim & Saddle Club," the name of which changed slightly with the removal of "ranch."
The demise of Club El Circulo in the first months of 1964 on the former Camp Kinder Ring property was quickly followed by a new enterprise by the same owners, the Olinda Development Corporation, which incorporated in January 1961 with its business address later shown as in Olinda Village.  This endeavor was christened the Canyon Hills Swim and Saddle Club and was managed by the Circle C Development Company, a subsidiary of the Olinda Development Corporation.

In late May 1964, the San Bernardino County Planning Commission heard a proposal to remake the El Circulo compound into the new facility, including, as reported in The Champion, the building of new stables and a riding ring, while adjacent land would be marketed for real estate development.

The San Bernardino Sun of 1 June noted that "plans call for facilities for horse shows, training rings, stables, show rings, teen canteen and lodges."  Existing components included "a restaurant, bar and guest cottages and facilities for swimming, tennis and archery."

A photo from the 9 July 1964 edition of the Chino Champion showing Rex Vance, manager of the new Canyon Hills Swim and Saddle Club posing next to the facility's recently-completed swimming pool, the second at the facility, with the first pool directly behind.  From newspapers.com.
By mid-June, the commission approved the thirty-acre project, conditional upon the state transportation department's requirements that warning signs be erected to warn drivers on Carbon Canyon Road (State Highway 142, which, incidentally, was officially designated by that number around the same time) of horse riders crossing the highway, as well as meeting local fire department stipulations for on-site precautions for preventing wildfires.

"Steady there, young fella!"  This photo, from the same issue as the above photo, shows the new rollerskating rink at the Canyon Hills Swim and Saddle Club with the rink's manager Barbara Behnke assisting an unidentified boy learning to skate.
In mid-July, a public notice was taken out by the Circle C Development Company's president, Eric Sutton, stipulating the fictitious business name of the Canyon Hills Swim and Saddle Club was being used, while another notice at the same time verified the previous operating entity of Club El Circulo.

This came on the heels of the first event held at the new club, the inevitable Hawaiian-style luau, a staple of California outdoor events at the time.  Complete with fire-and-sword dancers and "native music," the event, supervised by club manager Rex Vance, highlighted the redecorated clubhouse and second swimming pool, while the stables and arena were under construction.

A relic of its time, for sure.  Here is the ad from the Champion, also 9 July 1964, for the Canyon Hills Swim and Saddle Club's authentic "Royal Hawaiian Luau," complete with whole barbequed pigs, fish and poi, chicken and long rice, pineapple, fire-and-sword dancers, "native music" and so on--all for $5.  Now, that's "da kine, brah!" 
Also noted in a Champion article covering the luau was that the complex included the rollerskating rink and children's playground that were holdovers from El Circulo.  But, there were also new horseshoe and shuffleboard courts and a snack bar.  In the works was a clubhouse for horse riders over the arena and a "teenage activities" center.  Upcoming events slated were a horse show and opening party for the arena planned for August, a barbeque, another luau, and "a before school jamboree."

Whether or not these events took place or if the planned improvements were completed, the Canyon Hills Swim and Saddle Club had an existence about as short as that of Club El Circulo.  By early 1966, the club was out of business and the next phase for the site was underway.  This was the bizarre, but notable, development of Ski Villa, the only all-year ski slope in the region.  While Ski Villa has been covered here before, new material has been found for an upcoming post.  So, stay tuned.

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