FIRST LIQUOR LICENSE.
in 1961 under Commodore Austin Grace, the club obtained it's first liquor license which resulted in increased social activity. Previously banquet license had been obtained for special events but they were limited to summertime. The club became increasingly a center of social activity for boaters the year round. During the winter a small convivial group frequently gathered in the clubhouse during the evenings with the buildings capacity taxed on the weekends. In the summer the club was considered a mecca for visiting boaters from both sides of the lake. And early newsletter described the club's on shore activity hub as "a funny little clubhouse which had originally been a garage and had nailed onto it a couple of porches. That little old clubhouse has reputed to be one of the friendliest boating clubs on Lake Ontario -for being the scene of some of the happiest times on the lake and as the home of some of the most notable of powerboats."
GROWING PAINS AND COMPETITION
Boats became larger during the 60s but available docking space did not. The average size of boats had grown from 20 to 25 feet and from 30 to 45 feet with a resultant strain on the docking facilities. And just three years the docking capacity had trunk from 70 to 55 boats and planning for expanded facilities began.
Meanwhile the club did not lose sight of its objective -pleasure boating. The executive also realized that in order to keep the "pleasure" in boating participants must be skilled in navigation and educated and boating safety.
In 1963 OPBC became a member of A group of clubs conducting navigational competitions from Toronto to Hamilton. Within two years it was reported its members had become amongst the keenest competitors usually turning up at regattas with a large contingent of cruisers. At its annual regatta boats competed for that Jack Bedford Memorial Shield named in honour of the late town counsellor who was a hard-working member of the club.
That award would eventually go to an equally hard-working member and one of the clubs founders Arthur G. Heaven. The late Art Heaven was born in Milton and later moved with his family to Trafalgar Township in the early 1900s. He served in the newly formed Royal Flying Corpse in World War I then joined his friend Jim bacon in operating a garage in Aldershot. He later worked for an auto and appliance dealer leaving to go into business building and selling radios. Soon the business became a refrigerated heating and appliance firm which he operated in till he retired around 1960. Heavens boating involvement peaked in 1931 when he had his boat "happy days" built and it became a summer home for him and his wife Florence McKay who died in 1961 and their daughter Louise. He became a charter member of the Oakville Power Boat Club and an honorary life member, search master of TOWARF and was active in the Oakville Squadron of the Canadian Power Squadron. He was also a long time member of the National Yacht Club in Toronto and at the Rotary Club in Oakville. In January 1967 the OPBC Board of Directors submitted his name as their nominee for the 1966 Award of Merit to the Canadian Boating Federation with the statement that "he had been interested in both and boating from an early age". The nomination letter further explained that from the inception of the sport see flea racing in Canada he won the Dominion championship for two years in boats designed and built by himself. His buddies in those days were the late Lou Marsh and Red Foster. He was on the oldest members of the National Yacht Club and a founding member of the Oakville Power Boat Club as well as an active member of the Canadian Power Squadron for many years and had unstintingly given his support in various instructional courses. The executive added in their submission that in 1966 he had given the highest award the club could be still for his untiring contribution of time and experience to the interest of the club and boating. As assistant search master of TOWARF, Heaven had organized the Oakville Power Squadron "man overboard" contest that same year.
Heaven had been an active participant in the "Esso Trophy Contest" for many years and in 1931 the Oakville Yacht Building Company built for him his famous 28 foot cabin cruiser "happy days". It was noted that his boat was probably the oldest license cruiser a float in the Oakville area.
He had travel thousands of miles on the Great Lakes the Rideau and Trent canal systems. From the pioneer days of crystal sets to the modern era depth finders, foghorns, radar and colour television, Heaven had witnessed and encourage the use of modern safety equipment in navigation. Heaven served in the Oakville Rotary Club for nearly 40 years and was past president. He was described as a modest kindly and affable personality living with his daughter and a home overlooking the lake where his watchful perception had saved many boaters in difficulty. The OPBC board of directors in their letter added that while they could not cite a specific instance of outstanding or dramatic action on his part during the previous year, it with his constant contribution to boating and boating safety for over half a century that prompted them to forward his name. They concluded with the statement "We feel that Arts many hundreds of boating friends along Ontario's waterways would join the Oakville Power Boat Club in endorsing his nomination to the above award". The letter was signed by Richard H Plewman Search Master of Oakville and the Fleet Captain of OPBC. Heaven was one of seven Canadians to receive the citation that year the OPBC newsletter commented "Our club is very proud to have one of its members so honoured". In 1967 Heaven won the Jack Bedford Challenge Shield for piloting competition.
The club continued to build on the initial objective to the 1960s with requisite for members to have a keen interest in boating. Its aim had been to provide a place where boaters could meet in a relaxed atmosphere shorn of the social trappings that had so often become a focal point about the clubs. As a result the club boasted that it had attracted boaters from almost every walk of life -doctors, dentist, carpenters, office clerks, and office managers, teachers, electricians, salesman. "16 foot runabout tie up alongside 45 foot luxury cruisers while their respective owners enjoy a drink together spinning a salty yarn" said one report. Emphasis was also placed on OPBC being a family club. Most of the clubs more than hundred members during those years had wives and children taking part in club affairs. The bylaws restricted social memberships to a percentage of active members and those social members had no vote in club affairs. Associate members are carefully screened with abused it they should have more than a casual interest in boating or prefer the company of boating people. Associate membership club spokesman said "is seen as an opportunity to introduce prospects to the boring life and eventual boat ownership."
The safe operation of both continue to be a strongly emphasized, and most of the club members are graduates of the Canadian Power Squadron courses flying the blue and white striped flag which signify they were educated and safe boating operation. Most were also members of TOWARF-and had taken part in numerous lake searches for missing craft.
Finances were particular problem 1963 with Commodore Bill O'Mara at the helm. He faced a crisis with executive members Art Heaven, Rudy Back, Chuck Martin, Libby Parhutto, Al Brandt, Pete O'Neill and Lil Cansfield. The clubhouse is dying as of January 1. There was virtually no support to facilities available- the bar, the snack bar, docks falling into the river, no dock facilities for many boats, bills to be met, club house is being postponed etc. but here was a problem... Do we maintain the clubhouse or bathroom facilities? Naturally you all want to the clubhouse of some kind...so to maintain the clubhouse we needed to support. This means dollars. Plain and simple we needed more members getting used to using the club facilities. The executive took it to where approach the problem. First set up regular entertainment programs the stick by them (dances door games movie nights etc). Secondly a controversial $5 estimate to members each month which took the form of tickets. It was pointed out to the members that a nearby club was assessing its members $10. From a direct accounting viewpoint and strict analysis we can't tell whether the program worked or not but from a strict management position viewing quotas results increase over the previous year and general all-around precipitation the two-point program was a smashing success. Bar receipts for more than doubled and 50% profit on sales brought the clubhouse from a loss position to a breakeven position. As for the ticketing controversy, it was said that we have bills that must be paid by somebody. Members don't mind helping to pay them through expenses at the bar because no doubt people use facilities of one bar or another on occasion regardless so the club may as well get the members dough. The tickets had been voted on by general membership at an earlier meeting. The tickets were unwieldy to handle by our non-paid members and were unpopular with a few. The few left the club and we have now replaced them with active members.
That year the club docking facilities were overhauled and the gas dock was rebuilt. New docks were installed and a catwalk built around the lagoon alongside with some electrical facilities. A double catwalk was built along the river and upper deck was erected at the clubhouse. Inside the clubhouse received a paint job new furniture and for the first time a full-time steward Al Coster.
A STAR IS BOURNE
Famous entertainer Jane Mansfield visited the club that year on July 6 bourne on a boat owned by the owner of Burlington's Brant Inn where she was doing her act. Keith Beatles took his first executive role later that year as the 1964 entertainment director and was put to work early helping out with the children's Christmas party and the New Year's Eve party. The ever popular turkey roll was such a sellout that year and featured live goose.
A MINI MUTINY
Newly elected, or Bill Twist ran into rough seas almost immediately when the club held a general meeting in January 1964. He was backed on the executive by Bill Sommers Al Brandt, Bob Dewar, Don Abbott, Sam Joyce, Millie Bartman, Keith Beatles and Ted Dinsmore. The meeting had been called to discuss the ticket situation set up the previous year to cover maintenance of facilities and secondly to ask for an increase in membership dues to take care of increased costs such as dredging of the lagoon. A $15 increase was agreed upon by the members to be applied to all active membership single and family effective immediately.
Tickets were out for 1964. Instead, a quarterly assessment was made to each member for $15 payable in advance and usable over the club fiscal year. This amount would be used for all facilities within the confines of the clubhouse by merely making up a chit as provided sign your name for the amount and fill in your number. This was the birth of the clubs monthly chitting system which is still in use today. Later that year the club was chosen by the Canadian Boating Federation to host a power boat regatta.
THE APPROACHING STORM
In 1966 a fact finding committee had been appointed to see how OPBC fit in with the town of Oakville the long-range plans for the harbor. It didn't. Not only had the club reached its docking capacity but stood to lose everything it had. The committee consisted of J.B. Grant, R.H. Plewman , R.J. Craddock, D.F. McLean and M.R. Harper, studied the situation and recommended what could be done about it at a special membership meeting called for November 4.
In a notice to shareholders the executive pointed out newspaper articles and rumors which suggested the Oakville Centennial Project as well as the hopes of many of our members and shareholders create the necessity of giving very serious consideration towards establishing a new clubhouse in a location other than that of our present promises. There is doubt that we will be able to have our present premises and facilities as a no exist forever. Just how much time do we have frankly is debatable. To this end, the executive requested M Harper to form a fact-finding committee and to report back to the executive with the committees findings and recommendations. Members are warned that the accurate facts and ensuing recommendations called for a substantial investment in the immediate future.
The committee formed the previous month seem to of done it's homework. It found that the future of OPBC was indeed in jeopardy and recommend plans that sported an uncanny resemblance to how the club house appears today. The committees letter to shareholders members read as follows:
The planning department has impressive plans for development of the 16 mile creek. These plans are well along and presently include no provision for OPBC after expire if our present lease April 1, 1974. It is imperative that we move quickly to negotiate a new lease which will locate our clubhouses in the area permanently satisfactory to the town.Although the planning department recognizes that waterfront land should be retained for a marine type activities there are other bodies interested in the space we want and I need to land our part would increase the danger of this land being committed for other uses.
To best serve our needs in the building we can start must be modest and economically built. All possible avenues of cost reduction will have to be considered. At the same time the more capacity we can build into the new facility the better we will be able to accommodate new members which in the long run will enhance our ability to repay any loans.
It appears that 3200 ft.² would provide about as much space as we need. A preliminary outline of a possible floor plan is and clothes for your consideration. Preliminary indications are that a building along these lines could be built for about $30,000. If we allow $10,000 for additions to our docking and furnishings the total capital expenditure involved would be approximately $40,000. As in I noticed the cost of pilings or foundation work which would be necessary because of the composition of the dump.
We originally appraised our financial position on the basis of 1965 income and the outlook was not encouraging. However we are considerably way better off than he first meets the eye. Our income over the last five years is been as follows 1962 -$2781.14, 1963 - $3,165.04, 1964 -$6731.23, 1965 - $1297.48, 1966 -estimate $6000 for a total of $19,974.89. Average $4,000 per year and recent best performance $6700.
Our bank balance that year and will be about $15,000. If our estimates of building cost prove accurate a loan or mortgage about $25,000 would suffice. Although the availability of mortgage funds is at an all-time low we have a definite indication of interest from one oil company and there are indications that on the necessary financing could be arranged with our bank. Either of these alternatives would be satisfactory and the cost or expense involved is within our present means.
It is desirable that the club considers every possible means of increasing its revenue in or just beat up repayment of the loan particularly if bank financing is used had to take care of the many contingencies which are bound to develop over the next few years. Additional docking furnishings repairs and maintenance and other presently unforeseeable expenses are probable. There are several ways we might increase our revenue.
(A) Increasing her active membership dues by $50 per year would increase our revenue by $3000
(B) if we increase the number of active members by reconstruct air docs over the clubhouse and taking into consideration docking charges membership fees initiation fees etc. we could accommodate 15 more boats and increase our revenue by a boat $3000. This would drop to $2000 in the second year because of the initiation fees do not recur. An increase in accommodation to take care of 30 new boats would double this figure.
(C) We should and sure that charges for service or materials are competitive but are not subsidizing members at the expense of the club. Our charges for active membership are presently lower than the other clubs as our charges for winter storage. Our docking fees are comparable.
(D) We would encourage expansion of associate membership particularly if we have an attractive new clubhouse. With our building structure there is no hazard in this kind of expansion.
As long as we are able to secure a mortgage or bank loans it appears it will not be necessary to consider loans to the club by individual members. In fact we could even squeak through the program without an increase in dues or other charges. In the interest of having the club in the sound is possible condition however we believe serious consideration should be given to an increase in dues and the maximum possible increase in numbers of members.
It appears necessary that we can get started on building program quickly if we wish to retain control of our present talking and have club facilities after the expiry of our present lease. Delaying another year increases the risk of intended space being committed for other uses which would be disastrous. It is important to every member and particularly every boat owner of permanence of our facility be insured.
As soon as positive decisions can be reached the next steps are:
(A) Formation of a larger building committee to deal with design layout furnishing and construction.
(B) Further negotiations with the bank and mortgage sources to firm up the financial arrangements.
(C) Immediate negotiation with the Town of Oakville to secure the site on the most favorable terms. If possible we would propose to retain all of our present docking including the area south of the present clubhouse and more or less trade the present clubhouse location for a large portion of the dump.
(D) Further investigation is necessary to determine what might be available in the way of additional outside support from the Province, the Federal Department of Public Works and other bodies interested in the development of yachting or pleasure boating facilities. It would be impractical for us to even consider a lavish building comparable to the new one in Port Credit or many of the other large facilities around the lake. What we are proposing here however is a modest facility which we can afford without undue financial strain. It would enhance the prestige of OPBC amongst the other clubs around the lake and will put us in a much better position to accommodate reciprocal visits from other clubs. We urge that a decision to proceed with this program be made by the membership at the earliest possible date.
A green flag was given by the members and a letter was sent to the town of Oakville Administrator K.C.Needham. The letter signed by newly elected, Herb Hetherington and committee chair Mike Harper reads:
The Oakville Power Boat Club has developed plans for a new construction project which will dramatically improve the appearance and utility of our facilities. This action was prompted by a study of the long term master plan for development of the 16 mile creek and the rapid progress on the Centennial Project now underway and Busby Park. It is our desire to do everything within our power to enhance Oakville’s observance of the centennial. Attachments to this letter provide background data on the Club, no outline and sketch of the area involved in a description of her building plans. We will be pleased to furnish any additional information which may be helpful to you. Specifically we are proposing:
1-We be granted a 25 to 30 year lease on a new section of the landfill area north of the present Lagoon as shown on the enclosed sketch.
2-That we build their own I knew and a truck to pull a post of approximately 3400 sq ft.
3- That we remove the present of hose from the Busby Park area.
4-That we retain the Busby Park docks at least until further development up river permits committing them to public to use according to the master plan.
Soil testing is necessary to define the type of slab or pilings required under the proposed building. The cost of this work is a key element in determining our overall cost which is necessary to complete the financing arrangements. All of these things hinge on the availability of the land. Therefore your approval of our plans and agreement on the site is the next step in our program. If approval can be negotiated quickly and orders for major materials placed within the next month or so, completion of the project by June 1, 1967 is possible.
In our view, the second lagoon outlined in the master plan for the opportunity for substantial expansion of docking in the future. To be fully utilize however persons using the docking facility would require the facilities a club and clubhouse generally along the lines we propose. It would be logical therefore if these two developments could be coordinated to a maximum extent. We will be pleased to meet with you or with any group you may doesn't need to elaborate on any part of these plans at your earliest convenience. If renewable consideration of this proposal will be sincerely appreciated and we look forward with interest to hearing from you.
THE CENTENNIAL APPROACHES
Commodore Hetherington's mandate was well underway as Canada centennial year began and the membership was yet to be convinced that building a new clubhouse was necessary. In a report to the membership earlier that year he emphasized the time had come to consider a move to relocate and build a new clubhouse. Mike Harper fact finding committee was reconstituted following the previous years annual meeting and submitted an updated report in February 1967.
The report included a copy of the executive proposal to the town and authorization of soil test on the proposed site excerpts from the testing results and recommendations and a copy of a letter from the town of Oakville accepting the general principle of OPBC's proposal and a drawing of the area with the clubhouse tentatively sketched on the new site. The report stated that considerable work has yet to be done in investigating the various types of construction and floorplans which could be utilized a group of members it said including the most of the executive visited Oshawa and examined a building which we propose to duplicate so far as outside shell is concerned. It is the impression of this committee that those who saw the building and indeed most of the memberships are in favor of the proposed plan.
The committee also pointed out that it's previous report of November the previous year indicated that a building along those lines might cost about $30,000 and that it had proposed to allow about $10,000 for additional expenses which would be incurred by the time the entire project was completed. Investigations had concluded that those figures and costs were estimated at $14,874 for a pan abode building package $1514 for a thermal pane windows $833 for sliding doors and $200 for screens all around. Added in were costs for erection of the building the soil test cost of a pad for the foundation, plumbing, heating, wiring, utilities, sewage, water, tilling, hydro, gas, landscaping, and roadways the total came to $32,531. Additional cost for expected for the kitchen and bar equipment docking modifications a new furnishings for the building. The club seemed to have enough cash on hand that it wouldn't be necessary to borrow more than $25,000 to complete the project. It was expected that about five years would be needed to eliminate the debt. In conclusion the report said the fact-finding committee has now completed its work. We have established the availability of a site and have favorable indications relative to the financing. The size type and layout of the building proposed is within our means and suitable for our requirements. The next move is up to the board of directors. We propose the board of directors approve the project in principle and formally appointed committee to proceed with the building subject to satisfactory financing approval of the necessary borrowing by the shareholders.
The Board of Directors voted unanimously to adopt and approve the reports conclusions and recommendations made it by the chairman of the fact-finding committee and two approved in principle the entire building project as it had been presented. They also voted to empower and improve the officers of the club to proceed in the negotiation and signing of all necessary instruments and or documents whatsoever in order to proceed with the entire plan through to completion. All that remained was the approval of the shareholders and boring the money. Mike Harper the executive decided he would head up the building committee. A special general meeting was called for February 17 and members were caution that your decision on the boring of the necessary funds at this meeting to decide the fate of this project. "Your Board of Directors have approved" said the Commodore "will you?"
Increasing the efforts of Harper, Hetherington said his untiring efforts as past chairman of the fact-finding committee have made it possible in putting this club on the threshold of making a new club host dream in becoming a reality he's untold contributions have been many both monetary and otherwise in working on this project. In addition Mike has now except a nomination as chairman of the building committee to further and complete the entire project. All this because of a keen interest in boating and good fellowship for our club. No club could ask for more from an individual member. Thank you Mike for a job well done.
The proposal was approved by the shareholders of members at the February meeting and the town had given its approval in principle but the real battle was just beginning to brew. Dozens of newspaper articles lashed out at the town and Mayor McLean Anderson for even entertaining the idea of allowing a private club to lease public land for its own use. The Ontario municipal board held a hearing over the proposal but reserved it's decision when three Oakville landowners objected to the lease. One object or suggested the link could be better utilized as a high-rise apartment site or for school. He pointed out that there was a desperate shortage of school sites in the downtown area and another would soon be needed to take care of people from many high-rise apartment blocks then constructed in the downtown core. He contended the land as an apartment site would turn more tax dollar value than a clubhouse for book club.
Oakville Board of Education chairman Kenneth Horwood was quoted as saying that residence on the west side of the creek would not only be subjected to noise but also faced evaluation of their property values. Another object or said no decision should be made until I complete study at the harbor area had been undertaken. He was Murray Mehlman, VP. of Erchless Holdings, owners of the former Chisholm Estate at the foot of maybe Street overlooking the harbour mouth. Mehlman had earlier purchased the former Chisholm a state they original home of Col. William Chisholm founder of Oakville and had offered to swap it to the landfill site where he would construct an apartment building.
The club meanwhile had already started pouring foundation for the new clubhouse based on the letter of intent from the town. The building department issued a stop order and the clubs building materials are stored in a field at Summerville in Toronto Township. The board of parts management then suggested that if a lease was granted it should be renewable every five years instead of the 25 years requested by the club. The board also suggested to council that it open to public use all the boat moorings then held by the Boat club and it's current clubhouse site south of Anderson Bridge by 1968.
One Councilor challenged the rate of counsel to give the club a 25 year lease on town property and cited a 1964 policy decision of counsel which deplored leasing public property to any organization for more than 10 years. Any hopes of a July 1 opening for the new clubhouse had already been – and more objections were pouring in. In the middle of May town Council approved the two draft lease is in principle over the objections of two counselors who said the action was premature at this time and depriving Oakville residents of one of the few remaining public access to the harbour. Mayor McLean Anderson replied that the agreements were weighted heavily in favour of the town and will give us back more control of the areas of 16 Creek Harbor about another 350 feet more.
The Ontario Municipal Board finally settled the dispute by approving a town of Oakville proposal to resolve the area. The OMB noted that the change regularizes the long-term lease and steps already taken by the club towards building at the clubhouse. In making its decision the OMB said it did not feel it was required or indeed permitted to focus its attention on the economics or reasonableness of leasing these municipal lives to private club for 25 years except insofar as such considerations relate to the planning board report. The OMB referring specifically to the part of the report which recommends the town proceed as soon as possible to improve address of the lands now publicly owned and to release them for public enjoyment. In conclusion the OMB said that counsel has given full consideration to all aspects and it has not been shown that counsel has failed to exercise it discretion in a reasonable manner. Council finally approved the new lease in late summer too late for an official opening during Centennial year as had been hoped.
While a confident Hetherington stated the new facility could be completed by about the middle of September the delays and approval push the project into winter. Bites Commodore Harper said we can't complete trenching for water and sewer facilities until the frost is gone. We can't justify the added cost. After the signing of the clubs first lease for its new facilities the activities continued at the original site. Commodore Herb Hetherington had other problems to deal with however as the Oakville Club downstream had plans to increase its morning space by driving piles about 30 feet from shore.
Other clubs including OPBC objected to the plan because 140 foot channel already reduced by existing docs would then be only about 70 feet wide. A series of meetings among the various clubs failed to come up with a solution to the problem caused by the blossoming interest in pleasure boating along 16 Mile Creek.
That year Art Heaven was nominated by the club to receive the Canadian Boating Federations Commodore citation of merit and he was consequently selected by the Federation. The Centennial Sail Past was held June 10 and attended by members of the town Council, Harbour Advisory Board and the Planning Board.
The cement floor for the new clubhouse was poured March 28 and the new building was open June 1 with the dance to celebrate the occasion. Several new members are welcome at New Members Night. Later that spring the club approved the membership increase of $60 and he will leave for family active members and 45 for singles. The boat for launched under the fairest guys April 20 in record time. Progress continued at the new club house. The grand opening too place June 22nd. Yachts, outboard, sailboats and one lonely tug. both of all sizes and descriptions decked out in flags red and yellow balloons and streamers for strung out across a glistening Lake Ontario Saturday at the Ceremonial opening of the Oakville Power Boat Club's new clubhouse.
The 60 odd power craft and about 25 sailboat saluted, T.H Hetherington's yacht in a stately procession into Oakville harbor which is traditionally known as sale past. Later on at the newly completed Clubhouse Mayor McLean Anderson congratulated club members for the completion of the long-awaited clubhouse. "To those who said it couldn't be done it has been done" the mayor said. He cut the ribbon officially with a small pair of sewing scissors quipping "one more drink and I'll bite the rope" when there was difficulty finding him a pair of scissors. When the ribbon broke the 150 guests and onlookers burst into applause. "This is a tremendous day for Oakville" said the mayor. Over 300 guests enjoyed an action-packed program directed by fleet captain Ted Lewis. In September 2 cruises were held for mentally handicapped children and the big brothers association.
The opening of the new club has been a change for some house rules. Has Committee Chairman Mike Harper explained in the old club has a routine with the stylish with the last member to leave the building was responsible for locking it up and many members had keys and free access to the facility at all hours. With the value of fixtures furnishings and inventory in the new building a new approach to this question it's necessary. Effective immediately it will be the responsibility of the clubs to her to lock the building 30 minutes after bar closing time Monday to Friday. Members will be expected to vacate the premises at that time.