Royal Vancouver Yacht Club – A Brief History
(See ‘RVYC Chronicles’ for more detail)
The Vancouver Yacht Club was formed in 1903, seventeen years after Vancouver was incorporated. The Club had as its first headquarters a small rented house at the foot of Thurlow Street in coal Harbour and proudly counted eighteen yachts in its fleet!
The first elected commodore was Walter E. Graveley, a real estate dealer whose racing credits included sailing on the Countess of Dufferin, the 1876 challenger for the Americas Cup.
The Club soon built a two-storey floating clubhouse on a leased water lot just west of the foot of Bute Street. In 1905 it was towed to a new site in the shelter of Deadman’s Island, close to our present coal Harbour location. This building was later hoisted onto the bank in Stanley Park and used as a spar shed until 1977.
In 1905 the Club included 187 Members and 43 craft flew its burgee – a Cambridge blue pennant with a black diamond in its centre. That same year an application was made for a Royal Charter. In 1906 permission was granted to use the prefix ‘Royal’ and for Members to fly the Blue Ensign. The present burgee, incorporating the Royal Crown, was designed that year. During this time, several Members took advantage of Life Memberships for the princely sum (it was then!) of $50.
The Club continued to expand and in 1927 a permanent Clubhouse was officially opened at Jericho on English Bay. In 1978 the Club completed further expansion and modification as membership growth continued, approaching 1,400 Active and Associate Members. In 1996 a total renovation that took over a year to complete prepared the Club for the twenty-first century. By this time the number of Active and Associate Members exceeded 1,600.
Between 1960 and 1993 the Club acquired seven Offshore Stations. 28 acre Tugboat Island in Silva Bay on Gabriola Island was purchased in 1960; Alexandra Island in Centre Bay on Gambier Island 1n 1965. The Membership approved acquisition of 400 feet of waterfront at Secret Cove in 1972 and in the spring of 1977 we bought our first ‘complete’ marina at Scott Point on Saltspring Island. Colourful and historic Wigwam Inn at the head of Indian Arm was purchased in 1985 and in 1989 the Club took possession of our second ‘full service’ marina at Garden Bay in Pender Harbour. In 1993 the Club purchased 18 acres with 1,400 feet of waterfront in Cortes Bay on Cortes Island. The search continues for a second Offshore Station in Howe Sound.
At present there are 1,918 Active and Associate Members, 245 Intermediate Members, 80 Post-Secondary Members, and 371 Junior Members. In addition there are 625 Non-Resident Members, 1,403 Affiliate Spouses and 540 Special, Honorary, Honorary Life and Life Members. The fleet numbers over 465 sailing yachts and 848 power yachts berthed at Jericho and Coal Harbour Stations or moored elsewhere.