Our Humble Beginnings
Bluffers Park is situated on the shores of Lake Ontario on the East side of the city of Toronto. It incorporates parkland and beaches, a number of small harbours, a public marina, and four yacht clubs: Bluffers Park Yacht Club; Cathedral Yacht Club; Highland Yacht Club; and the Scarborough Sailing Club.
Not many years ago the lower portion of Brimley Road was a garbage dump. The shoreline and beaches below were almost inaccessible because of the rugged and dangerous headlands. But the area was transformed when the Metropolitan Toronto and Regional Conservation Authority decided to undertake massive erosion measures along the lakefront. Their intent was not only to control erosion, but also to provide safe and secure access to the waterfront.
During the 70's landfill from city construction sites, was hauled down Brimley Road and dumped into the lake to form a basin. When completed, the preliminary landfill resembled embracing arms reaching out into the lake. More fill was dumped into the resulting basin to form a peninsula, complete with small harbours, of more than 14 acres of land. Later, this peninsula would be converted into an island with the inclusion of a bridge.
In November of 1977 MTRCA and the Metropolitan Toronto Parks Department, established a Steering Committee of ten people to develop boating facilities on this new island. The committee is now known as the Bluffers Park Boating Federation. Jack Ross, who came from PYC, was the first Federation Chairperson. In the spring of 1978, even before the landfill was completed, thirty floating docks were constructed on the East end of the emerging island. Rapid progress attracted boaters from around the area who saw this development as an opportunity to relocate closer to their homes. Original plans called for "a total of 750 boats: 500 wet moorings and 250 dry-sailed dinghies, along with ample parking space for cars". As a result, membership in the Boating Federation grew quickly and it was made clear to each new member that they would eventually be required to belong to one of the four yacht clubs planned for the island. The government sponsors wanted the site to be developed by the members themselves.
Mr. Robert Bundy, then Commissioner of Parks and Property, strongly supported the self-help concept. Similar waterfront development was occurring along the shoreline. The Toronto Harbour Commission designed the basins and tested the scaled designs at the National Research Council lab for wave spending and protection capabilities. The materials for dock construction were raised by assessing each Federation member $500.00 plus a $50.00 membership fee. Each applicant also had to provide a minimum of fifty hours of productive labour for the Federation and thirty hours for their designated club. From the very beginning small groups of members began to meet and plan the development of their club. In 1979, one such planning group met regularly to prepare a proposal for a small keelboat club, to be called Bluffers Park Yacht Club. Originally from Pickering, it consisted of Hank Borsboom, Bert Hegerman, Ron McPherson, Bruce Reilly and Don West. Rollie Renaud joined them soon after and became the first non founding member
Their dream was to establish a club the average sailor could afford. It was to run on the principles of self-help and cost containment. Their plan included a small clubhouse, Hydro, water and sewer system and a parking lot that would double for winter boat storage. On March 11, 1980, they submitted their proposal to the Bluffers Park Boating Federation. Even as these plans were being made, construction on the docks continued. Those on the east end of the island were completed first, and one group of Federation members chose that area to establish Cathedral Bluffs Yacht Club. The BPYC group had selected their location on 2.8 acres of land on the western end of the new peninsula. Because the landfill was not completed until late 1980 it was difficult to visualize the characteristics of the site. However, the BPYC planning group had the vision to realize that this location, opposite the entrance to the basin, was most desirable. Late in 1980 they prepared a handout to attract new members. This document contained a short history of the project, a description of the club and its philosophy, and the cost per member. It was made available at the 1981 January Boat Show. One month later, on February 3, 1981, the Metro Council approved the principle of "land division", or, as it was called, delineation, and endorsed the four-club concept, approving the Bluffers Park Yacht Club proposal.
(*Webmaster's note: The text above was taken from a story of our Club by Dick Grannan. To request a copy of the document, please e-mail the webmaster