The Oshawa Yacht Club was the furthest building on the south side of Lakeshore Road. It was situated on the edge of the beach – in close proximity to the harbour. Most of the backyard consisted of sand with patches of greenery in and around it. A huge anchor sat in this area and we spent many hours playing on it. The roof of the yacht club was slanted toward the lake with large white letters (OYC). A dance floor with windows overlooked the lake. There was a set of wooden stairs outside on the east side of the building. The main entrance was on the north side of the clubhouse. A steep cement stairway was also on this side. It led to a door that opened into a small area with a half-door and snack shop. Occasionally, we were allowed to go there to purchase a bag of chips. I think there was a kitchen beyond the snack shop and a games (darts etc.) type of room on the left. Sometimes a door swung open, and the sound of many voices and laughter was noticeable.
– Linda Cory Bazowsky, 2002
This is a story of a group of individuals who liked “the pull of a sail and the lift of the waves,” and who were determined to do something for the sport of sailing in Oshawa. In 1931, the Oshawa Yacht Club (OYC) was conceived. Its guiding policy was to be a unique institution – where the boats were owned by the club and not by individual members. Sailing would be made accessible to anyone interested in learning the sport.
The entrepreneurs involved were Gordon Conant, John Stacey, William Gilbert, George Hart, S. J. Collacutt and Colonel Chappell. There were 23 sailing members in 1931. Club membership was restricted to men.
The clubhouse for the Oshawa Yacht Club was originally constructed on the east side of the harbour. John Stacey, former Mayor and builder in Oshawa, oversaw the construction of the original clubhouse in 1931. The original building a one-storey structure, consisting of a clubroom and boat storage. It had no running water at first, and water was ferried over from the west side of the harbour.
During its first year, the OYC had only one dinghy, a 14’ Turner lap-strake with a 140-square foot (13 metres) gaff-rigged sail. By 1933, there were nine dinghies available for use by club members. Gordon Conant, who would become Ontario’s 12th premier, was a mentor and instructor at the club. It has been said that Conant was responsible for the sailing skill achieved by many of Oshawa’s Corinthian sailors.
Due to stormy weather in 1937, dredging of the harbour was causing the shore to wash out gradually, so club members would fill old oil drums with stones to form breakwaters to protect the clubhouse from the dwindling shoreline. By 1938, the shore had receded one hundred feet (30.5 metres) and water was under the club house. A lease was secured with the Federal Government and the club house was moved, by its members (literally), to the west side of the harbour.
The OYC provided sporting and recreational facilities for the community of Oshawa, including storage space for O’Neill Collegiate Vocational Institutes’ Model Yacht Club.
In 1984, the Oshawa Yacht Club moved their clubhouse to the marina lands. The clubhouse remained there until 2004.
The anchor pictured in the image on the right has an interesting story. Today it sits in front of the Whitby Yacht Club. Richard B. Townsend shares more about this anchor in a piece he wrote called “The Whitby Yacht Club Anchor.”
Whitby Yacht Club Anchor. Enjoy this audio clip with an English Transcript.