Squadron History as recalled by P/C Gordon Heal:
THE FIRST YEARS
It was in September of 1948 that 42 students gathered at the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club and signed up for the Junior Piloting Course being sponsored by the Canadian Power Squadron.
Our Instructor was G.R. Tripp (Don) sometimes assisted by C.R. Lunt (Cliff) and S.G. McCandlish (Gordon).
The Canadian Power Squadron, at that time consisted of three squadrons with a total of 35 members.
Of the 42 students, 18 passed the examination and 17 formed the charter members of the Hamilton Power Squadron. We received our charter in June of 1949, at which time Canadian Power Squadron had grown to six squadrons with a total membership of 147. My certificate is number fifty three.
During the following ten years the membership of Hamilton Power Squadron grew to 217 Members and 41 Lady Associates.
It has been graduates of Hamilton Power Squadron who, in turn, have formed the Port Dalhousie, Kitchener-Waterloo and Burlington Power Squadrons. As a matter of interest, five of our charter members were from Port Dalhousie.
The following is a small selection of items from our early years which you may find to be of interest.
Predicted Log Contests were popular and Hamilton regularly competed for both the Claydee and Van Vallsenburg Trophies, we consistently finished well on top. These contests were run off in Hamilton, Port Dalhousie, Toronto and Olcott N.Y.
During our early years, being a small group we were able to hold social evenings at the larger homes of a couple of our members, Al Prack of the architectural firm and Harry Tier of the Halliday Co. made us welcome and certainly helped to hold the group together. Our Winona rendezvous was, for several years at the lake side home of Phil and Maxine Aggus. Phil, a commercial photographer was also the Squadron photographer.
We received much favorable publicity from an all day search and rescue operation conducted with the Harbor Police and HMCS Star and also from a tape recording made by Paul Hanover during one of the JP classes and subsequently broadcast on air in his program.
In 1953 the Harbor Commission donated a large advertisement in the local paper telling the public of our educational programs. Our records also indicate that we were promised permanent quarters in their new office building when completed. Al Prack was our commander at the time.
We seemed to have had a much higher profile in our early days than we now have, it might be well to analyze why this is so.
Hamilton has sponsored the Canadian Power Squadron Annual Conference twice, in 1950 it was held at The Royal Hamilton Yacht Club, and in 1953 at the old Brant Inn.
Just so that it does not get lost in the dusty files of antiquity I might mention that in 1960 Bill McCracken, then editor of Dry Rot and later to become a very active Commander, organized a Predicted Log Contest to Oakville preceded by a compass correction and speed trial. Six boats took part. Unfortunately Barcarolle II became stuck in the mud of the lagoon earning her skipper the name of Mudbanks Probert.
While we are talking of names we should mention the origin of the title of our publication. Earl Buckley was a very popular and active member during the early years of the Squadron, his ship the “Black Goose” was well known around the lake. Unfortunately the Black Goose became infected with that malady so common with wooden craft and Earl eventually acquired the friendly name of “Ole Dry Rot”. When a name was required for our bulletin what more fitting title could be given than that of our favorite member? By the way the Black Goose survived and was last seen, several years ago on the west coast. Earl became the first Niagara District Commander in 1960.
Our Publication was founded in April 1957 by Harry Colder and Joyce Land. The first front cover was designed by Shirley McCracken.
As a challenge to our training department I might mention that in 1959/60 we had 107 students write the Junior Piloting exam, now called boating, 107 passed and 105 joined the Squadron.
In the same season 1959/60 with Ralph Probert as Commander we had a round the bay cruise and rendezvous. Thirty boats participated with Barcarolle II leading and Merreneito skippered by Cliff Lunt followed in the rear, the rendezvous was held at La Salle Park. Obviously a great time was held by all. Could we muster thirty boats today?
In 1952 Art Hill of Hill the Mover purchased a 72 foot war surplus patrol craft in England and sailed her back to Hamilton by way of Bermuda and New York. Accompanying him were Mr. and Mrs. Chick Johnson also active Hamilton Power Squadron members. The Canadian Power Squadron and the RHYC Burgee, which “Le Cheval Noir” wore on the trip across are framed and in possession of the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club.
Well, if you were kind enough to take five minutes of your time to read this article which took me several hours to get together you possibly know a bit more about the Hamilton Power Squadron than you knew before. We were an active group, we attracted public attention and we make a lot of friends. Some of our most active and dedicated members were in the upper levels of business or professions yet they found the time and interest to promote the ideals of Canadian Power Squadron.
If we could generate that enthusiasm once again, with the membership we now have, just imagine the impact we could have on the boating public.
Written in the late 80’s
P/C Gordon Heal
Historian 1985 to 1997
For more information check out the articles written by P/V/C Ralph Probert in the Dry-Rot issues: