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Sept 27, 2018

Baddeck YCEver since Alexander Graham Bell chose Baddeck for his summer home the town has been a popular destination for boaters and tourists. In addition to his many ventures and experiments at his Bell Laboratories, Bell also commissioned the 52’ yawl Elsie and gave her to his daughter Elsie Bell Grosvenor. Elsie’s husband was Gilbert Grosvenor whose family were publishers of the National Geographic magazine. Through many articles in the magazine over the years the Bras d’Or Lakes and the town of Baddeck became world famous.

Bras Dor BaddeckFor almost a century, the Bras d'Or Yacht club has stood on the Baddeck shoreline greeting all who enter the harbour. The clubhouse - with its slipway, flagstaff and viewing verandas, are so much a part of the waterfront of Baddeck, that it is hard to image the community without it. But in fact, for the first decade of its existence, the Bras d'Or Yacht Club had no such home base. Meetings were held at Gertrude Hall, the courthouse and in member's main street offices. Minute books from the earliest club days, detail searches for the most basic of yacht club needs - a patch of water frontage to launch boats and a location where sailing trophies could be presented and displayed.

RacingToday, the clubhouse is a vital part of the village's tourism infrastructure. It is a community meeting place. It has played host to birthday parties, kids Halloween dress-up contests, wedding celebrations, regatta festivities and provides a homey gathering place for sailors and friends.
The Bras d’Or Yacht Club’s upper lounge provides a warm, welcoming atmosphere where you can relax, socialize and absorb the breathtaking views of the Bras d’Or Lake. There is a full-service bar is open year-round, seven days a week which welcomes members and non-members alike. 

Extending the length of the upper lounge the balcony offers comfortable deck furniture, and a wonderful place to view yachts sailing on the lake, or the day’s sunset. The lower hall provides an ideal setting for hosting a variety of private functions, accommodating up to 100 guests. Bar services, kitchen facilities, sound equipment, and restrooms are available. The facilities of the lower hall can be extended outside on the club wharf with the use of commercial tenting. 

Bras Dor BaddeckA large wharf at the face of the clubhouse can accommodate boats for temporary docking, and dinghy traffic to and from the yacht club moorings. Adjacent to the club wharf is the launch ramp which can accommodate just about any sized boat, launched from a personal trailer or by commercial lift.

Like many of the Yacht Clubs in the Maritimes this club owes its success to the dedication and hard work of volunteers. Peter Paterson recounts the story of how the present club house came to be.

Bras Dor SailsIt might be argued whether the first clubhouse was Gertrude Hall the Court House or the office of Dr. MacIver. While it is known that the first meeting took place in the Court House, the motion to declare the first Commodore, C.T. Carruth was held in Gertrude Hall. The idea to build a formal Clubhouse was adopted by the membership in 1912. 

The newly completed building built to plans drawn by a Washington architect; hosted its first meeting on July 3rd, 1913. Pre-build estimates were in the $400-dollar range. This money was donated by the membership. Over the years several significant additions and renovations have taken place, but the original design is still clearly evident particularly within the southern facade. No longer the modest wood floored one room (plus RC loft) building delivered in 1913, the club has expanded to include over three levels including the junior annex. 

The current facilities consist of two buildings located on the Baddeck waterfront. The smaller of the two building is referred to as the "Junior Club". The Junior Club was formerly a portable classroom and has been annexed to the clubhouse with a recent addition that houses barrier free washrooms and a breezeway. The junior club has been extensively renovated and is in good condition. 

Bras Dor Aerial

Half of the building, facing the beach, is dedicated to youth training. This area has been fitted with new windows and doors, including a new roll-up door to facilitate entry and removal of sail training vessels, and serves as both a classroom and fleet maintenance area. The other half of the building houses washrooms and laundry facilities. 

The senior club is two story, slab on grade with a loft. In addition to the large multifunction room, the ground floor also houses the kitchen, furnace room, washrooms and business office. The multifunction area is used primarily as a dance or meeting space and opens directly onto our licensed private waterfront concourse. 

The upstairs portion of the senior clubhouse houses an additional washroom plus a lounge and bar with a breathtaking vista of Great Bras d’Or. The lounge area opens directly onto a large licensed balcony overhanging the concourse. A display case accommodating a wealth of nautical memorabilia chronicling our one-hundred-year history enhances the "clubhouse" feeling. 

The floor loft area is reserved for race management space as it has been from the beginning. Much of the current condition of our Clubhouse facilities is due to a generous donation towards the Junior Club in honor of departed member Harry Sullivan. The junior Clubhouse project included a large beachfront deck, updated wiring and the replacement of most of the doors and windows. Some work remains to be completed on this building, particularly relating to the north end which houses the showers and laundry. 

The senior Clubhouse condition is largely the result of a major restoration project in honor of the club’s 2004 centenary. This project received a supporting grant from Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation on New Year’s Eve 2003 and began in earnest in March 2004, just four months before anniversary celebration plans. 

Preliminary work revealed structural deficiencies so extreme as to threaten the integrity of the entire structure. Work was halted, and engineers were contracted to provide an analysis and recommendation. It was suggested that the club faced two alternatives; to install structural steel supports under the second and third floors braced to ground level and replace the entire roof framing or to level the building and start again. Continued occupancy of the existing building was not an option. Not willing to allow this important heritage building to come to its demise a team of over thirty-five volunteers and a fleet of donated equipment assembled to face this challenge on April10, 2004. 

By evening the next day, the roof had been removed, new trusses had been installed in its place, and the last roof shingle had been tarred in place. Volunteers had carted away the debris, raked the yard with magnets to corral old nails, and washed the dishes from two days of feeding a hungry crew. A new club spirit was in evidence and a can-do attitude prevailed. 

Today structural steel has replaced decayed and rotting posts. New beams support both the second floor and the loft and new wiring provides a safe path for all electrical circuits in the building. The truss work allowed for a dramatic new ceiling and the familiar slant to the floor is no more. New washrooms service not only the membership but the public waterfront as well. Space was provided to accommodate a future addition to the kitchen and a business office sits where the "old" lady’s washroom once was. 

A long way from its beginnings but true to its spirit, the BYC clubhouse sits ready to continue its role welcoming visiting sailors and providing a comfortable meeting place for our members. 

Peter Patterson
Property Chairman 2004
Past Commodore 2005 – 2008
Thank you to Shawn Dunlop for some great sailing photos
www.brasdoryachtclub.ca