Macassa Bay Yacht Club has evolved from a very humble beginning in 1962 with a small, plucky group of boaters with great vision, to the vital, vibrant and exciting place that it is today.
The very beginning was around 1962, when seven fellows got together. The feeling was there were a lot of boaters are out there and that a club should be started. An association was formed and they met at a work shop of the B&M Marina. The meetings were held at one of the boat sheds until the water got so high they had to get out of there. At the time, there was no official name for the club, but they were often referred to as the Bitchers and Moaners (from B&M)!
The original clubhouse building was dragged across the ice from Ship Street near the present location of the Harbor Police headquarters and placed at the bottom of Picton Street where it stands to this day. The owners at the time claimed squatter’s rights. Later the original seven members bought the building. There were a few problems working out the purchase of a squatter’s cabin with no deeds, but they hired a good lawyer, who sorted things out. A “key club” was set up and new members were charged five dollars for a key.
The next building expansion was in late 1978. The city by-laws would not allow expansion of the original clubhouse, so with help from a Wintario grant, two portable buildings were grafted and mounted on pontoons. This floating clubhouse was placed on the ice and kept right in front of where the present clubhouse is now. The Commodore at the time said in a Hamilton Spectator article “We will never give up the old clubhouse, it’s like an anchor for the future and we’ll always maintain it”. The old clubhouse could only accommodate 29 of the 77 members. This arrangement lasted only 3-4 months, and then the buildings were lifted onto a pad. Later in 1981, a centre section was added.
The original plans for the new clubhouse were the result of a project with Mohawk College architectural students. They made up 7 or 8 models and plans, but could not come in under budget. Bill Mitchell went to the final marks defense and all the proposals were well over budget. A local architect had a reputation for staying within budget, so he was contacted. There was some dissent about the building of the new clubhouse. A special full member’s meeting was ultimately called to settle the issue. 113 members were present and there was a unanimous vote to go ahead with the project.
In the fall of ’97 the construction of the new clubhouse was started with the removal of the portable buildings, which were taken away by a barge. The “floating” cement pad and soil was tested OK and increased in size to suit the footprint of the new building. The new clubhouse was completed under budget and opened in April of 1998. A little later on, the south meeting Room was built. In 2003, the elevator was installed to make all areas of the club fully accessible to everyone.
MBYC is the envy of the yachting community with its new clubhouse, outstanding facilities, reasonable rates, beautiful location and balanced books. The view of the west end of the bay from the verandah is second to none. We are privileged. The original members had the vision and energy to make this so. This has always been a “Working Man’s club”, with the members doing much of the work that was needed to be done. Quite simply, this is why the club is in such an enviable position. For the long-term survival of the club, it is incumbent upon every member to become actively involved in doing whatever they can to help with the operations of the club.
Our club is host to many people in the community for many uses besides boating. Take the average Sunday and there are usually several wicked games of Euchre in progress. We have an annual Golf Tournament, which raises funds for McMaster Children’s Hospital. The club’s free will offering at the Annual Christmas Open House usually raises around $1500, which is given to local charities such as The Christmas Tree of Hope, McMaster Children’s Hospital, Operation Child Find, and The Good Shepherd. During the winter months, there are Dart games and tournaments going several nights a week. There is the annual Children’s Christmas Party. The “Annual Run for the Cure” happens each fall and our team of runners regularly raise over $2000, going towards the cure for breast cancer. MBYC supports Aquafest and The Parade of Lights. MBYC provides the Knot Abreast Dragon Boat Team, with meeting space and boating facilities. MBYC provides funds to” Keep Hamilton Blooming”, for the beautiful gardens at the entrance to Bayfront park. MBYC gives meeting space to The Hamilton Power and Sail Squadron, a volunteer organization dedicated to teaching safe boating. The club’s own gardens are kept looking lovely by a team of volunteers, which enhances the beauty of the Waterfront Trail. There are countless wedding receptions, showers, wakes, dances, concerts, graduations, meetings, demonstrations and classes going on.
MBYC is a great place to be!