Beaconsfield Yacht Club

Beaconsfield Yacht Club 7

 

By Katherine Stone

Sail and power boats tucked safely in their berths for the night.

Two-hundred-year-old homes are what ghost stories are made of, and Beaconsfield Yacht Club (BYC) has its fair share of both. Although no one has seen any apparitions, a former club restaurant manager swore she could feel a presence whenever she went down to the cellar to get supplies.

Shift back to the beginnings of an area known as Beaurepaire. The first land concession on Lake Saint Louis at Pointe Beaurepaire was obtained from the Sulpicians by Jean Guénet in 1678. Shortly thereafter, 46 homes were constructed along Lakeshore Road.An old deed, dated September 1700, called the area ‘Pointe Anaouy’- an aboriginal name meaning ‘Whole Point.’Guénet was a controller of the ‘King’s Realm’ and the tax collector for the Seigneurs of the Island of Montreal. Over the next 200 years, that plot of land changed hands many times over. The English moved in and slowly forgot the French name, referring to the area as ‘Thompson’s Point.’ However, in due time,James Thompson decided that the area should revert to its original name, and forever it remained Beaurepaire.

The stately old clubhouse adorns the grounds.Beaconsfield 9

In 1810, the cornerstone was laid for a beautiful stone house, referred to as the Grove building (Le Bocage), at 26 Lakeshore Road, built by Paul Valois. Stone from local quarries was brought in to build the 38-inch thick walls with hand-hewn timbers at three-foot centres to provide support for the floors.From the club archives, it is revealed that Valois then built the first waterfront clubhouse and dock in 1812 (where the present docks of BYC are located). Valois raised the first club burgee – a flag with a royal blue background and a gold crown at the centre – while his guests enjoyed champagne to mark the first regatta.

Beaconsfield 2

 

A break in the action at the bar.

In 1853, the Grand Trunk Railway put in its first single track line and later the Canadian Pacific Railway, allowing residents escape from the heat and humidity of Montreal to enjoy the countryside and life along the lake. The town of Beaconsfield was incorporated in 1910 (and later in 1966 as a city). The progressive town councilors passed a by-law in 1914 that would provide electric light services to their citizens. This was quite groundbreaking, as Buffalo, NY, was the first American city to have widespread electric lights only at the turn of the 20th century.

Several owners later, Francis Upton acquired the property in 1891, adding buildings and turning it into a fashionable resort and boating club for Montreal’s elite called ‘The Grove Pointe Inn.’ Owners changed, the depression arrived, and during the Second World War, the Ration Administration, Civil Defense, Red Cross, and First Aid operated out of The Grove. Sold in 1966 to the City of Beaconsfield, it was used as a hotel during Expo 67 and then leased tothe newly formed Beaconsfield Yacht Club.

The clubhouse offers a wonderful quiet place for sailing stories over a scotch.Beaconsfield 3

Located only 20km from downtown Montreal (celebrating its 375th birthday this year), at the east end of Beaconsfield on Montreal’s west island, the Beaconsfield Yacht Club overlooks much of Lake Saint Louis where there is deep, safe water at the harbour mouth. There are facilities for 240 members, storage for 80+ small boats on shore, and a harbourthat can accommodate 160 boats up to 36 feet with finger docks for every boat. It has a ‘Three Anchor’ rating fromL’Association Maritime du Québec. The facilities include the services of a fully licensed bar and restaurant (full-time throughout the summer and part-time during the winter), lawns, picnic areas, BBQ facilities, showers, washrooms, workshop, electric hoist, sheerleg, yacht crane, gas dock,and pump-out facilities. If you are feeling a bit nervous about your docking skills, professional assistance on the docks is at your fingertips. It’s no wonder they are at the top of their game with a beautiful 200-year-old clubhouse to welcome members!

Their sailing school squadron offers Sail Canada programs including Wet Feet, CANSail levels 1-4, and a race team for youngsters aged 8-17. Adult lessons are also highly popular and are offered two nights a week with Learn to Sail, Learn to Cruise,and the Canadian Power and Sail Squadron’s Power and Sailing boating courses. Quoted by many as an inexpensive, wonderful way to learn how to sail, it is a most wonderful opportunity to make lifelong friendships and develop life skills for the future – all while having fun!

Beaconsfield 4Floating docks provide an adjustment from the high water in Quebec this season.

And fun they have with all kinds of social events to fill their calendar offered for every participation level.A common event theme is food, with the Lobster Boil, Chilly Bowl, and Turkey Bowl races. If you aren’t a foodie, they also offer the Commodore’s Bowl, Sainte-Jean Cup, Two Generation race, and Club Championship events. Not a boater? You can get involved with the Sand Bar Party or Yoga. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings you will find almost every type of sailboat and all types of sailors, from hard-core to beginners, out enjoying the Good Neighbour Series (GNS) on the lake. These races are extremely popular and are run in collaboration with two neighbouring clubs. They have also been at the forefront of encouraging wanna-be sailors by offering an Associate Membership, which allows non-boat owners the use of club sailing school boats when not in use for teaching. Also known for their involvement in the boating community,they have hosted regattassuch as the Laser Masters, Quebec Shark championships, and this year, the 2017 J/24 Canadian Championships. They certainly stand by the Earl of Beaconsfield’s motto,‘FORTI NIHIL DIFFICILE,’ meaning ‘Nothing is difficult to the Brave.’

Members enjoy a Musical Chair event.Beaconsfield 5

The people who live in this semi-rural community of summer cottages are distinguished by their lifestyle of united voluntary participation. Take for instance a story recounted by Brad Wood, a member of BYC since 2011. After a particularly violent squall had blown through the area, club manager David Speak received a phone call at home from one of the club’s student bosuns, saying that a boat had broken loose from its mooring and drifted ashore in a most unusual state. David immediately went to the club to investigate and upon arrival, discovered that the boat had its companion way hatch open, the mainsail wrapped on the boom in a disorganized manner, and the jib still set with some tears.

Beaconsfield 1Had the occupants gone aground and swam to shore? This was not likely as it was June and the water was still cold. Scanning the shoreline he thought he could hear a very faint whistling coming from the lake. With the help of a bosun, he immediately launched one of the club boats and headed out onto the lake. They stopped the motor several times to be able to clearly hear the whistling, as it was dusk and nothing was clearly visible. They finally found a man and woman floating about two-thirds of the way across the lake,having been in the cold water for more than an hour.

 

Sharks on the starting line at BYC.Beaconsfield 8

David radioed ahead for an ambulance, recovered the couple from the water, and ferried them to the club where they were warmed up in showers until the medics arrived. The couple were new members to BYC and in fact, it was the first time sailing for the woman. When the bosunhad taken them out to their boat, he pointed out that some nasty weather was supposed to be coming and that they should keep an eye on any approaching fronts. When the squall hit, it knocked their boat over and the woman panicked and jumped overboard without a PFD. The man quickly grabbed two PFDs and also jumped overboard. Given what could have been the outcome, it was a very happy ending thanks to great teamwork from the yacht club.

As they celebrate the 207th anniversary of their beloved clubhouse during the summer of 2017, many members recount that being at BYC was the highlight of their youth. Current Club Manager, David Speak, learned to sail at BYC as an adolescent in the 1970s and is the son of a past Club Treasurer. Members Carolyn and Matt Koch, whose parents were both members of BYC, met at the club in the late 1980s, married, and now their daughter, Katie,works at the club restaurant. The Beaconsfield Yacht Club is truly a family affair that often attracts multi-generational members.

Beaconsfield Yacht Club; 26 Lakeshore Road; Beaconsfield , Quebec H9W 4H3
Tel: (514) 695 -127273o 50′ 25″ W – 45o 25′ 55″ N
Email: administration@byc.qc.caWeb site: Yacht Club de Beaconsfield

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