By: Rose Divecha

It wasn’t long after moving to the North End, having watched many a paddler from the shoreline of our great harbour, that my husband Rob announced,   “I’d like to get a kayak.”

I wasn’t surprised. Over the years, he’d paddled and sailed and rowed his way across various lakes and rivers, quite often with me onboard, providing little to no assistance. So in a show of support, last Father’s Day, my kids and I decided to buy him a life vest and water shoes. We knew he’d want to pick out the kayak on his own. But here we are, almost a year later, and still no kayak.  “Where would we put it and how would I get it to the lake?”  He’d ponder out loud.

So recently, when Hamilton held its annual Doors Open event, we jumped at the chance to visit The Royal Hamilton Yacht Club. We’d heard they offer kayak storage racks but were somewhat hesitant to investigate because we always thought you needed to actually own a yacht to belong to a yacht club. It turns out, you don’t.

Upon signing the guestbook, we entered the clubhouse and were warmly greeted by Jan, the Club’s Commodore. She provided a wealth of information including the significance of the “Royal” designation.  Her very early predecessor, William Eli Sanford, pursued achieving the Royal status and in 1891, Queen Victoria bestowed the designation upon the Club. This year marks the Club’s 130 year anniversary holding on to this prestigious honour. No small milestone since there are only 10 clubs in Canada with this title. Rob looked at me and smiled. He’s 50% English but 100% loyal to the Monarch. I could tell he was impressed.

As we continued to wander through the building, we were introduced to Katrina, the Club’s General Manager. She was the one who informed us of the Social Membership option for non-boaters and then proceeded to tell us everything the RHYC has to offer. The list was extensive and we were itching to explore the grounds. We made our way out of the building and through to the lake side of the property. Upon exiting the doors, I stopped in my tracks.

“Rob, there’s a pool!” I announced excitedly. The view was breathtaking and I could immediately picture myself lounging poolside. Now I was impressed.

We spoke with many people in the next hour; Sue, Pat, Rob, John, Matt and Mark just to name a few and they all shared their personal experiences with us. Everyone was genuinely happy to be a member of the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club and as I looked to the blue skies and glistening waters of Lake Ontario, I thought, how could they not be? We were pleasantly surprised by what we learned and saw that day. In addition to a lakeside pool, the club has a bar and restaurant, outdoor patio, sailing lessons, racing, regattas, swim lessons and year round social events. And yes, most importantly, even a place for Rob to store his kayak…just as soon as he gets one!