In 1957, a group of us
were touring Alberta rivers using our own canoes and kayaks. Chris
Von Schoening had quite a following of Klepper kayaks but most of us
had wood and canvas canoes. The spur to forming a canoe club came
when we organized the Banff to Calgary race, and in 1958, we
registered the Calgary Canoe Club (changed briefly to Calgary Canoe
and Kayak Club). We developed races whenever we could with no
meeting place except members homes. Initial memberships cost $3.
Believe it or not, we lost a few people when we started charging
this princely sum.
As years went by, we
felt it would make good sense to have a safer spot to train novices
in the skills of safe canoeing. I wrote to the Canadian Canoe
Association and heard back from their secretary Frank Clement, who
suggested we look at flatwater racing. He came by to see Glenmore
Reservoir, offered us a loan of $2500 to help us buy original
flatwater canoes and kayaks (Chris Von Schoening and I put our names
on the line for this first loan), and we progressed from there.
Boats were stored in my back yard and we could top them to Glenmore
down a track, where the club is now (thought to be Sam Livingston's
access to his farm), through dense bushes to the water.
With a little pressure
from home, I approached Harry Bootham, Calgary's Parks
Superintendent, saying we wanted to build a boat house on the shore
of the reservoir. He had been most helpful in helping us locate a
Rugby Clubhouse at Kingsland, but was not in favor of our locating
on the north shore. Instead, he wanted us to locate with the sailors
on the south shore. The Rowing Club was forming at the time and Dave
Matthews came up with a wind study which showed the sheltered water
on the north side.
Dave had spotted an old
construction shed near the waterworks building which was full of
black filtrate (coal dust). The shed was used when Glenmore Dam was
being built in 1930 and was good in frame only. The city had just
sold the building to entrepreneur and Dave persuaded the man not to
buy it. Then we went to city council to persuade them that we needed
the sheltered north shore location. Ron Farran was on the council
then, Jack Leslie was the mayor, and with five minutes to speak
against the Parks proposal, we carried the day. Bill Wearmouth
agreed to move the building, but Harry Bootham came behind us hook,
line, and sinker. City Parks bulldozed an area, moved the building
and re-furbished it, garage door and all. We determined that one
side was for the Canoe Club, the other for the Rowing Club.
Extensions came in Bert
Matthews' day, and with gas and electricity when Ray Palmer became
Commodore. Thereafter we were badgered by on city commissioner to
put toilets in at our expense. After pointing out that this was
financially impossible, the city decided to look into toilets for
the two clubs and the public using the park. A study developed into
a plan, from toilets, to toilets with a change room and showers, to
the architectural draft we have today. Ray Palmer, Dave Matthews and
myself lobbied local politicians and Parks' Dave Kalinovitch and
were successful in getting the fine facilities we have now.
Many people contributed
to the club's progress: Roberts Sims with whitewater, Herb Benthin
with wilderness appreciation, Bert Matthews with the flatwater
program, and Ray Palmer with political clout and the school board
program. No one person does it all, but people working together make