A Brief History of the Brome Lake Boating Club

Boat Club 4The Brome Lake Boating Club was founded in 1901, with W.W. Lynch as the first president. This makes the BLBC the second-oldest sporting Club in the Eastern Townships. The original 1901 mandate stipulated “an association or club was to be formed with a view to recreation, instruction, and amusement, such as rowing, paddling, sailing and racing of small craft, and for the mutual recreation, instruction and amusement of the members of the association under the name of the Brome Lake Boating Club”.

A provincial charter for the BLBC was granted on September 19, 1902. On March 23, 1903 the Club purchased, from Christopher Dunkin Bancroft and Samuel U. Courtney, a property measuring 150 feet on the lake shore and lying between the lake and the right of way of the South Eastern Railway. The original property was added to in 1924 and 1932 (gifts from Charles Foster Bancroft of Boston), in 1946 (purchased from Florence Pettes Thomton and Isabelle Mitchell Call) and in 1979 (purchased from John Lewis O’Brien). Additional property was also leased from the estate of James H. McKeown (1939) and the CPR (1925 and 1948). The water lot (riverbed and foreshore) in front of the Club property was leased from the Quebec government in 1931 and the lease was amended in 1989.

In 1931, a new joint-stock company was incorporated under Part I of the Quebec Companies Act for the purpose of operating a boating, fishing, sailing and athletic Club, under the name The Brome Lake Boating Club Inc. In 1932, the assets of the original Club were sold to the new company for one dollar.

In 1991, a new not-for-profit company was incorporated under Part II of the Quebec Companies Act under the name Brome Lake Boating Club (1991) Inc. /Club nautique du lac Brome (1991) Inc. These two companies together now operate the Club through two boards of Directors.

Boat-Club-2.jpgThe original Club house was replaced in 1957 by the present Club buildings. Always known locally simply as the Boat Club, the BLBC’s main focus is on summer activities and instruction for children and young teenagers in tennis, sailing, canoeing, kayaking and swimming, as well as social and sports activities for adult members and their guests. From its earliest days, the Club has held an annual regatta including competitions in various waterfront activities, except sailing. Ribbons and cups are awarded to the best performers in each age category.

Land was leased from the Conference Station grounds of the CPR effective August 1, 1925 for a tennis court. Regular weekend sailing races began in the 1920s. In earlier times, the regatta was open to all comers, whether Club members or not. Senator George Green Foster donated the first Boat Club trophy, for the over-all regatta championship, about 1926. He specified that anyone winning his trophy for three consecutive years could keep it. After this happened twice, he donated a new perpetual trophy in 1939.

The earliest perpetual trophies were first given for sailing in 1928 (Fisher Cup), for the regatta (swimming, diving, canoeing, rowing, other children’s races) in 1931 (G.B. Foster Cup), and for tennis in 1948 (Dr. Bobbie Bell Memorial Trophy). The G. Norman Strachan Memorial Trophy, donated in 1933 for the most athletic, sportsmanlike, popular and active junior member, is awarded only when there is a truly deserving candidate and is often awarded to a boy and a girl jointly. The names of all trophy winners are recorded on the walls of the Club house and engraved on the trophies.

Annual children’s competitions in swimming, sailing and tennis are held with neighbouring Clubs – North Hatley, the Hermitage, Sargent’s Bay, and others.

The business affairs of the Club have always been conducted by volunteer directors and officers. Past presidents are listed on the Club house walls. For many years, the Club has hired a paid staff to manage its operations in the summer. Frequently, children of members have held their first summer jobs at the Club, sometimes returning for several years and even becoming manager.

In 1988, the Club published a booklet of reminiscences about earlier days at the BLBC entitled Painting the Leaves Green. Copies may be purchased from the manager.