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.
Read more: 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.
Read more: Chester Yacht Club
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.
Read more: Queen City Yacht Club
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.
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The formation of Glacial Lake Iroquois, at the end of the last ice age, was to have a lasting effect on the boating activity on Lake Ontario. Many years ago, as the lake eroded, it left geological records through alluvial deposits from the Bluffs, which then settled westward to form the Toronto Islands. More recently, the erosion rate picked up quickly in the 1940s when cottages were being built along the bluffs to capitalize on the breathtaking, enticing waterfront view of this “geological wonder” and a unique feature in North America. The result of this consistent and dramatic erosion in the Scarborough Bluffs, has created an impressive portion aptly named Cathedral Bluffs. The Bluffs were first named by Elizabeth Simcoe, wife of John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, in 1793. She wrote in her diary, “The [eastern] shore is extremely bold, and has the appearance of chalk cliffs, but I believe they are only white sand. They appeared so well that we talked of building a summer residence there and calling it Scarborough.” It runs for 15 kilometres from the Eastern Beaches to West Hill, and soars up to 90 metres at its highest point. A stylized version of The Bluffs appeared prominently on the flag of the former City of Scarborough before it was amalgamated into the City of Toronto. Nestled in the middle and protected on all sides you will find one of the friendliest places on Lake Ontario, Highland Yacht Club.
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I remember vividly awaiting the beginning of the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition) which also marked the end of the summer, though I wonder now that I must have been crazy awaiting the end of summer! What I was waiting for were the water ski demonstrations in the channel that bordered Lakeshore Blvd and Lake Ontario. Memories of those beautiful ladies perched upon a handsome young gentleman’s shoulders in those gorgeous bathing suits, all tanned and athletic, were enough for me to wish that I knew how to water ski. Oh my how fashion and sports have changed. Little did I know then that the Hudson Yacht Club was making headlines all across Canada and the USA in the 1950s and 60s with one of the best and most active water ski programs in Canada.
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A Sense of History and a Bright Future
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.
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The Coast Mountain Range and the Insular Mountains that form Vancouver Island make it a truly unique geographical area. Generally it is a region of heavy precipitation, but the mild temperatures and long frost-free periods are the rule and that certainly doesn’t categorize it as Canadian.
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.
Read more: The Royal Victoria Yacht Club N48 27.2’ W123 17.7’
The power of one is a dominant proclamation that resonates within many small, casual, easy-going boating clubs throughout Canada. These boating fraternities were often started with the vision of one person, who was soon joined by others to create a community of people who loved the water and wanted to participate in outdoor activities that involved a lake. In the early 1960s, a few people in the tiny village of Deauville, Quebec (population just over 3,300 people in 2006) came together to form Club Nautique on beautiful Petit Lac Magog.
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Ever thought about joining a year-round boating club where you didn’t have to own a boat to be able to cruise or race with friends? How about placing yourself in an environment where learning is the focus of the club? Imagine coming down and hopping on a boat that is already set to go, with no maintenance worries? I can see that I am beginning to pique your interest, especially the part about being able to go boating without the expense of purchasing and maintaining a boat!
Read more: Humber Sailing and Powerboating Centre