Confederation Celebration Sailing in 1939

Current mythology has it that the 75th anniversary of the 1864 Confederation Conference was squeezed out of popular consciousness by the out-break of the Second World War. However the 75th anniversary, like the current 150th anniversary, was a year-long celebration and had a long list of activities.

Confed 2

Charlottetown Guardian 11 July 1939 p. 8

For Charlottetown’s anniversary week in mid-July 1939 one of the many activities was a series of aquatic events in which the regatta of the Charlottetown Yacht Club played a central role. Swimming and diving competitions were held at Victoria Park in the morning of Tuesday, 18 July and at 1:00 o’clock attention moved to the Charlottetown Yacht Club on Pownal Wharf.  One feature was rowing races between crews of visiting naval vessels from two Canadian warships, an  American team and one from the local Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve. When the ripples settled on the water the HMCS Skeena took the honours, the other Canadian ship second, the local naval reserve third and the Americans last.

The yacht races saw a larger field with twenty-three boats from six clubs taking part. Yachts were expected from the venerable Royal Kennebacassis  Yacht Club of Saint John, the Amherst Yacht Club and the Wallace Yacht Club, Pictou and Shediac  as well as Island boats from Charlottetown, Summerside, Borden, Montague, and Georgetown. There was also interest in the entry of an Ontario-built boat sailing out of Orwell.

Confed 1939

Charlottetown Guardian 19J July p.6

At the end of the day the Island boats had a clean sweep of the silver trophies and awards presented by C.Y.C. Commodore Fred Morris.  The greatest number of entries was in the snipe class with ten competing boats, four from the Amherst Yacht Club and the remainder from Charlottetown.   J.C. Clark’s snipe Joke took the honours. Another keenly contested class was the Northumberland Strait Yacht Racing Association’s class 3 which included boats from Summerside as well as Shediac .  This class included boats whose names were known all over the region such as Mac Irwin’s Zenith, Jack Kenny’s Jeep, Ralph Smith’s P.N.O. and G.P. Paoli’s Mic  (Charlottetown), George Cunningham’s Nomad (Shediac),  and Ray Tanton’s Woodpecker (Summerside). This was another C.Y. C. victory with the ten-year-old P.N.O. in the lead.

The five-hour event was plagued with light and variable winds but the Guardian commented that it attracted one of the largest crowds ever seen on the Charlottetown waterfront.

Seventy-five years later the anniversary will pass without any special sailing events except for the 150 Challenge Race leaving from Charlottetown on 28 July. Perhaps yacht racing, with events every Monday and Wednesday evening and longer races almost every weekend has become too commonplace.

The newspaper account is the first note I have seen of the Amherst and Wallace Yacht Clubs. They may have been short-lived organizations. I am especially interested in knowing where the Amherst club sailed from – Tidnish appears to be the nearest harbour on the Strait.


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