In 1987, we bought a run-down, century-old farm in Bonshaw, Prince Edward Island, fronting on the Trans Canada Highway and located roughly halfway between the capital city of Charlottetown and the Borden ferry to the mainland (Borden is now the site of the Confederation Bridge). We named the property “Hillcrest Farm” after the street Mary grew up on, and because of its location amidst the rolling hillside of Bonshaw.
At the time of purchase, Hillcrest Farm consisted of 100 acres of land, a decrepit house and several barns in various states of near-collapse, but with a really beautiful view of the surrounding countryside that sold us on the property in the first place. The land included about 60 acres cleared and 40 acres wooded, with a small stream labelled “Smelt Brook” on the old maps, running straight through the woods on its way to the nearby West River.
Some of the woodland had been cleared by the original Scottish settlers of this property, the Boyces, but had grown back up to a coniferous forest in subsequent generations. Other parts of the woodland had never been farmed, as the land there was too hilly and uneven, and at the time we bought it, was primarily a mixed deciduous forest.
In 1990, we put through a roadway to make the woods more accessible for farm use, and the Nature Trail was formed. In the shape of a key, it cut through most of the western side of the woods. Also, one of the former pastures on the near side of Smelt Brook was logged to pay for the Nature Trail and we planted it in white pines.
Fast forward 20 years. The white pines are now almost a foot in diameter and 30 feet tall. The rest of the trees in the forest grew unhindered, and around the Nature Trail all was quiet.
Then came 2010 and the work on Hillcrest Farm Disc Golf course was started (see “The Story” tab). Parts of the woodland were carved out to form fairways – or perhaps more accurately, “airways” for the discs to fly. Master course designer John Houck was very careful to preserve large trees wherever possible, and the result we think is a spectacular disc golf course in a beautiful woodland setting.
We love the different types of trees on the course, and they give each hole a different character and challenge to players. In addition to the white pines that dominate holes on the near side of the brook, the far side boasts groves of huge old poplar trees, spruce trees, ever-popular maple trees that turn gorgeous shades of red, orange and yellow in the fall, giant gnarled beech trees, and white and yellow birches, some slender and young, others old and hoary.
Water also plays an important part in the disc golf course. We think hole 11 is very special, running along Smelt Brook, with the prettiest sylvan setting on the farm. Two of the holes border on Pilkey’s Pond, a man-made duck pond which we put in with the help of Ducks Unlimited. We hope to attract wood ducks there in the future.
We are very fond of wildlife and delight in the frequent animal visitors to our disc golf course. From the iridescent dragonflies that keep our mosquito population under natural control, to the small birds and animals (squirrels, chipmunks, frogs of every size and shape, blue jays, robins, goldfinches and small birds of many types), right up to the bald eagles that roam the perimeters, all are interesting to see and photograph in their natural environment. We even have glimpses of rarer visitors such as blue herons, barred owls and red foxes (or at least their tracks!) One favourite pastime is to walk around Pilkey’s Pond and watch the frogs jump in from the edge, one by one.
We hope this gives you a bit of an idea about us and what’s important to us at Hillcrest Farm Disc Golf course. We hope you’ll like what we’ve done. Please treat the property and the animals kindly, as you enjoy the course. Have a great day!
Bill and Mary Best
Master course designer John Houck was very careful to preserve large trees wherever possible, and the result we think is a spectacular disc golf course in a beautiful woodland setting.