Club History

The Early Years 1960-1963

In the early 1960’s there was no small sailing clubs in the Essex Country Region.  The Windsor Yacht Club existed and had many large sailboats but not what the purist had in mind. During the early 1960’s, 20-25 hard-core sailors met at the home of the late Dr. Norman Hillary to form a pure sailing club.  During this meeting Juergen Hendel and Curley (Douglas) Ellis tried to interest the sailors to sail on the river, and make the first club a river club. Many of those present were not about to do that and the club ended up on a beach off Matta’s Park and was known as the Windsor Sailing Club. This club later became known as South Port Sailing Club with its official opening in November of 1962.

In late 1962 or early 1963 Juergen Hendel and Curley (Douglas) Ellis with other boating enthusiast chose the Detroit River as their primary sailing area. Their first home was at Lafferty  Marina, owned by Joe Lafferty at the foot of Martin Lane in LaSalle. This was a small place with somewhat run-down docks and a yard full of stored wooden boats in varying stages of disrepair.

During the winter of 1962-1963 the majority of boat owners, both power and sail at Lafferty Marina approved the formation of a new club.  Doug Kirkaldy and Harold Brush represented the power boaters while Keith Warner, Curley Ellis and Juergen Hendel represented the sailors.

During the next several meetings this group of boaters formed a new organization and it was called LaSalle Mariners Yacht Club in recognition of Robert Cavalier de LaSalle, the French explorer who was the first to sail up the Detroit River in his ship the Griffon in August of 1679.

The Early Years-1963-1969

The creation of LaSalle Mariners was completed in 1963 and to celebrate its birth a club flag or burgee was designed. It was a simple design with gold on red depicting the community colours of LaSalle.

The first clubhouse at Lafferty Marina did not exist. Joe Lafferty made a loft at his boathouse available to LaSalle Mariners Club Members. This loft was renovated by the members and became a place for members to meet and to get away from the stresses of the real world.

The first regatta was held on a Sunday in August of 1963.  It was an impromptu sailing event with many American sailing enthusiasts participating.  After the completion of the regatta the participants were treated to fresh corn and cold beer, which was to become a LMYC tradition. In August of 1964, just a year later the first OFFICIAL LMYC Fighting Island Regatta was held.  This racing tradition continues to this day.

As time went by this happy relation was not to be. A split developed between the power boaters and the sailors. Power boaters and sailors did not have the same agenda and there was no meeting of the minds.  In 1965 the sailors left Lafferty Marina and established themselves at a marina owned by Charles Makar approximately 1 kilometer north of Lafferty Marina.  For about 3 years differences between the power boaters and the sailors of LMYC continued to fester. On March 10, 1968 the big split occurred. The original LMYC was dissolved and the assets of the club distributed.

The mold was now cast. The ardent sailors could once again form a purest sailing club. A true sailing club was born with no powerboat association. This was an opportunity for a dream to come true.

In May of 1969 a large canal lot was purchased by Doug Ellis adjacent to the west by member Ralph Allen and across from member Bob Clark’s extensive canal frontage. Both Bob Clark and Ralph Allen allowed LMYC members to use their properties for shared moorings. During those years the Allens breezeway was used as a gathering spot for meetings, gab sessions and the occasional party.

The Middle Years-1970-1979

During the winter of 1972-1973 Commodore Paul Schreiber and Property Chairman Bob Clark located the present property, which members chose, as their permanent location.  On this lot was a one hundred year old house rented to tenants, and a two-bedroom cottage by the river. On January 10th, 1973 the Town Council passed a resolution to grant permission to operate a yacht club from (farm lot 17 conc.1), also known as 2640 Front Road, LaSalle, Ontario.LMYC hosted its first Shakedown” an annual popular rally to Put In Bay on May 19, 1973. The destination has not changed to this day.

During the next few years the interior of the club had been changed quickly with the removal, remodeling of the bedrooms to make space for meetings and social gatherings.

In July, 1975. the property to the north of the club became available.  It was long and narrow and was 3.5 acres of mostly marshland.  With the demand for more docks mainly for larger boats, construction of what is now the “North Harbor” began and completed in March 1976.

The clubhouse during the late 70’s was also undergoing tremendous changes. An addition was added which granted a panoramic view of the Detroit River. With the addition came the fireplace and in-house designed furniture, built by the members.

In 1978 the game of darts was introduced by John Geary Senior and Frank Rubery to the members of LMYC. This game has gained popularity over the years and was enjoyed not only by the league players, but also by many club members who at first were very skeptical.

During the late 1970”s LMYC members designed and build a gazebo, elevated on a concrete pillar, overlooking the river. The gazebo was built with the intentions of providing a shelter from the weather, and insects for the race committees that handled the evening races. LMYC gazebo was completed in 1980

The Middle Years-1980-1989

In 1982, LMYC was accepted as a member of I.L.Y.A.. (Inter Lakes Yachting Association) a huge body of fresh water based clubs mostly in Lake Erie.

During the 1980”s there was a great deal of change at LMYC.    Steel pilings replaced the old wooden ones and the wooden docks gave way to steel docks with wood deck­ing.  Water and electricity was supported at the docks. With manicured lawns, landscaping and pea gravel walks along the harbor, the place acquired a new “Out of the Mud” look.

In 1987 the old house by the highway on LMYC property was bulldozed and the lane from the highway to the clubhouse became two lanes, which were long and unpaved. During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s other changes occurred. The balky old pump-out was replaced by a high tech machine and enclosed in a shelter. A proper furnace replaced the old oil heater. A shower was added and Central Air became a reality.

The Blessing of the Fleet was first held on May 29th 1988. Ninety-one boats registered from surrounding areas and cosponsored by Sun Parlour Club and LMYC. The organizers of the first event were Ralph Kepran and John Geary Senior.

Transformation – 1990-1999

Many changes occurred during the 90’s at LMYC.  Early one morning on November 18th 1992 LMYC suffered a serious fire which occurred in the old fireplace in the lounge area of the clubhouse..  Fortunately The LaSalle Fire Department was able to contain the blaze and subdued the fire.

1993 was the Silver Anniversary of LaSalle Mariners.  Twenty-Five had past since the inception of LMYC.  This event was celebrated by a dinner dance at the Sicilia Club in Windsor followed the next day by an open house at the clubhouse.

1995 saw the construction of new docks along the North Harbour near the clubhouse. Members were purchasing new boats and these docks were to accommodate larger boats 30 foot and up.   A new gin pole was constructed at the new launch well and the old gin pole was removed and replaced by the pump out providing club members with two location for masting and de-masting their boats.

In 1996 a covered addition was built to shelter our new gas barbeques and picnic facilities. This addition proved very popular to many club members.

In 1998 a great many things were done to improve LaSalle Mariner’s Yacht Club. The wooden walkway along the South Harbour was completed. A new patio door has been installed off the patio making access easier to the clubhouse.. The front entrance underwent a transformation. It is now graced with grey interlocking brick with the club burgee inserted.

During the final year of the decade many projects were undertaken.   The Haul Out Well, Travel Lift and Travel trailer  became a reality.   The Wheel chair lift renovations were completed with the lift incorporated into the porch design.  A new garage storage shed was installed, which was donated by Paul and Faye Laing.

The New Millennium 

Everyone who was at the LMYC New Years Party held their breathe as we jumped into the New Millennium separating that large but invisible gap that separate the years.  Party hats and horns with old flares gave an added touch to the magical hour. 

Dredging due to low water was the impetus during 2000.  The North Harbor and South Harbor were dredged to a depth of over 7 feet giving clearance for all LMYC boats.  Shakedown 2000 was canceled for the first time since its inception due to low water and the undergoing dredging at LMYC and other clubs.

A new property fence was approved and constructed which now protects and defines the property of LMYC

In 2001, A new 40 foot dock was added to the North Harbor to accommodate visitors and members boats and became commonly known as the Emperor’s Dock.  A new dingy dock was constructed for day sailors and small boats.

2002 A covered deck was added to the Emperors dock which has been a source of comfort to many of us on a hot summer day, not to mention the many parties held under its canopy!

2007 The purchase of the property to the south of the current site guaranteeing us a wonderful windbreak, growing room, and privacy. As you can see this area has already been put to good use!