An interest to be on the water, do things on the water, and enjoy it with friends who like to do the same, is the driving force behind just about any boating club in the world. Add to that a driving desire to continue to improve upon what you have, so that your club becomes a destination to meet friends outside the sailing season, and you have a truly wonderful experience that has helped to form this club; a club that would change its name five times before finally settling on the Britannia Yacht Club.
You won’t find a prettier site in all of Canada (although I am sure that the west coast sailors would probably disagree!) nestled on the Chester Peninsula extending into Mahone Bay along the south shore of Nova Scotia, with both a front and back natural harbour. The bay is dotted with about enough islands for each day of the year. The village was founded in 1759 during the French and Indian War. Setters from New England were given Shoreham land grants for the area we now know as Chester and the Tancook Islands. These people were known as Planters, as they farmed the land and were also fishermen. During the American Revolution, some Yankee privateers tried to plunder Chester.
Imagine a club that has been around for 125 years, that used to rent their club house, finally built a club house only to have it go headfirst into the lake, that rebuilt the clubhouse on an island that didn’t used to exist, and then not be able to get there unless you whistled to someone from across the inlet at Ward’s Ferry, to come get you in a rowboat! Sounds unbelievable…it’s the legacy of the Queen City Yacht Club
In 1793 Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe and his wife used to picnic on the island, although it was really not an island at that time, rather a peninsula coming out from the eastern end of the city. As the only way into the harbour was through the western gap, he decided to make Toronto (then York) the military centre of Upper Canada and Gibraltar Point (now Hanlan’s Point) would guard the entrance. Fort York would eventually be built across the western gap to help defend the city.
It doesn’t seem to matter if you are on the east coast, in the Prairies, or on the west coast, sailing clubs often seem to be born out of a desire to be on the water with a group of like-minded friends, and if you don’t have a place to hang out, then you use member beaches until you do. Such was the case with Wabamun Sailing Club (WSC) in Northern Alberta.
Club historians are always the heart of a yacht club’s soul and are to be revered and saluted for their tireless work of keeping the club’s archives intact and accurate. David Page is just one of those people, and he sure made my job pretty easy when it came to the beginnings of Kingston Yacht Club.
Prior to the white seamen arriving in the area now known as the Uplands, some dozen or so native groups who all spoke Salish inhabited and played lacrosse on the sandy beaches that still remain on the coast from Sidney to Beecher Bay. These were coastal, seafaring tribes who always travelled by water, never land, and were, for the most part peaceful.
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