50th Anniversary recap

27 Jun 2019 5:08 PM | Matthew Burpee (Administrator)

The first sailing club in the Portlands area of Toronto recently celebrated 50 years of providing low-cost and low-impact access for sailors and paddlers. See event announcement for background. 

The day

Event organizer Jordan Mitchell opened with how the event came together and how the club has transformed from a post-apocalyptic wasteland to a beautiful green space. Also, mentioned that during the planning of the event, some incredible stories came out of the woodwork (e.g., Water Rat costumes from the early 1970s, the Poona Pot Sail/Ski Championship and the Water Rat 10 Commandments).

Club member Jimmy Sabourin joined in for a land and water acknowledgement in Mohawk tradition, gave thanks to the land, water, winds and rains and talked about the importance of bringing your best self. 

Julie Dabrusin, MP for Toronto–Danforth, as a member of the neighbouring Windsurfing Club, she hadn't seen the Water Rat from the inside and was amazed at how beautiful the grounds were. She talked about the importance of having access to the water so close to downtown and the importance of protecting it from plastic waste.

Paul Henderson, Club founder, spoke for about 20 minutes on the development of the Water Rat and all of the clubs along the Portlands (see his Canadian Yachting article). He later cut a cake and showed the members the first membership badges for him, Gordon Norton and Bill Cox. 

Norm Lamb, our Chief Rat, thanked the 50th anniversary organizing committee and talked about the importance of member-run clubs where so many people dedicate their time for the enjoyment of others.

Paula Fletcher, City of Toronto Councillor for Toronto Danforth, talked about the tenacity of the club members for fighting to stay put on an incredible piece of water and land. She also planted a silver maple tree. 

Photos and video

YouTubeFlickrFacebook and Instagram.

50th Slideshow

For 50 years The Water Rat Sailing Club has championed dinghy sailing in Toronto's Outer Harbour. 200 members and their families participate in dinghies, catamarans, canoes and kayaks. The volunteer-run non-profit co-op was founded in 1969 and has one of the largest Laser fleets in Canada.

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