The club is born in the Inner Harbour
The impetus to form the oldest sailing association in Western Canada
Plaque Number 13
arose in Victoria out of the City’s annual celebrations to mark Queen Victoria’s May 24th birthday in 1888. Eleven local yachtsmen decided a sailing race should be part of the festivities. The first organized yacht race to be staged in British Columbia, the event became the highlight of the celebration, with yachtsmen from American ports on Puget Sound adding an international flavour. There was considerable interest in extending the racing season beyond just the Queen’s birthday; the solution was to form a yacht club. On June 8, 1892 forty-six yachtsmen founded the Victoria Yacht Club.
Victoria Yacht Club far right. Victoria Harbour circa 1900 BC Archives G-01111 copy
After several years of begging shared accommodations on Victoria’s Inner Harbour, the Club acquired a waterfront lease, and a clubhouse was constructed. It was a two-storey frame building floating on pontoons. It turned out to be highly unreliable: on three separate occasions, members arrived to discover their clubhouse had settled on the harbour’s bottom. In 1910, encouraged by increasing membership and weary of competing for space with the city’s whaling and sealing fleets, the Yacht Club began to search for a better location.
In 1911 King George V recognized the club’s success, granting permission to add a “Royal” prefix to the club’s name, allowing for the change to the Royal Victoria Yacht Club.
On the Oak Bay waterfront, four miles from the Inner Harbour, the Uplands Corporation was turning a 1000 acre farm into an exclusive residential suburb. A carefully planned “garden community”, featuring meandering avenues and artfully designed houses, the Uplands wanted a country club which would provide residents with healthy outdoor recreation. Other garden communities had a golf or tennis club, but Uplands was persuaded that a sailing club would fill the bill.
By 1912 negotiations were complete and the Royal Victoria Yacht Club was possessed of a spectacular property hugging the shores of Cadboro Bay. A clubhouse, designed by well known Victoria architect William D’Oyly Rochfort, was completed in time for the official opening on July 13, 1913 where three hundred members and guests gathered for the social event of the season.