Category Archives: Northumberland Strait Yachting Association

Northumberland Strait Yacht Racing Continued into Wartime

small-pics087b

Yacht Racing in Shediac harbour ca. 1939 (Mac Irwin album)

While Canada found itself at war in 1939 many activities continued relatively unchanged in the early years of the conflict. Such was the case with yacht racing. The Yacht Racing Association of Northumberland Strait (YRANS), which had been founded in 1936 had a very successful annual regatta in 1939 before the outbreak of war and in 1940 staged the event in Shediac.

There was a large contingent from the Charlottetown Yacht Club who headed out for the races in the first weekend in August. First away was Mac Irwin in his cruiser Roamer. He and his crew of Fred Small and Doug Carver had Mac’s class three boat Zenith in tow. The following day the CGS Brant departed with three Snipes, one international class yacht and the class 3 boat Jeep aboard. Included in the Brant party were Mr. & Mrs. Charles Bentley, Dorothy Bentley, Art Howard, Joe MacPhee, Jack King, Don Martin, Bill Porter, Dr. MacMillan of Boston who summered at Orwell and others.

Another group left with Commodore Fred Morris on his cruiser Elizabeth and with Hal Bourke on the Restless. Four Summerside Yachts made the trip; the Goldfinch, Capt James Stright, Woodpecker, Ray Tanton, Zepher, Lorne MacFarlane and Eva K. Harry Allen. The Lindsay Brothers, summering in Orwell took their boat to Shediac on a trailer.

The only acknowledgment that this was wartime came with the YRANS business meeting held during the regatta. The Association committed to the purchase of  $50 War Bond to be held until the end of the hostilities.

The racing took place over two days with a banquet and dance at the Shediac Yacht Club bring the event to a close. Shediac Commodore F.W. Storey made the presentations to the winners. Among the race officials were Charles Bentley and K.M. Martin who assisted the starter.

Island yachts did very well the first day of the two-day event but in lighter winds on Saturday Shediac sailors had more success.  Nominingue (Class 2) owned by Ern Ross of Shediac took the trophy for aggregate points with Siren (Class 3), also from Shediac, in second place.  Shediac also took the award for the club with the most points.

small-pics088b

Racing in Shediac harbour ca. 1939. (Mac Irwin Album)

The Islanders were back for the event in 1941 which was also held in Shediac but were there in reduced numbers.  The event was shortened owing to the cancellation of some of Saturday’s races because of heavy rains.  The regatta attracted boats from Shediac Bay Yacht Club, Charlottetown, Summerside, Amherst and Borden. Shediac was the winner of the overall points followed by Charlottetown, Summerside and Amherst. The highlight for the Charlottetown club was in the Snipe Class where Scout, helmed by Billie Bourke took the cup, Bill Porter’s Joke was second and another Charlottetown boat, Four Bells, was tied for third.

By 1942  things overseas and on the home front had changed. While club races continued YRANS decided to postpone the regional regatta and it was not until 1946 that Northumberland Strait began again with the first post-war regatta held once again in Shediac.

C.G.S. Brant pictures are two of the gems from Irwin Album

large-pics009

C.G.S. Brant tied up beside the ferry Prince Edward Island loading yachts – 1939. Picture from Mac Irwin album.

Two photos of the Canadian Government Steamship Brant from the Mac Irwin Album show how small the coal-fired buoy and lighthouse tender really was. More importantly they add to the story of the inter-club races up and down Northumberland Strait.

Earlier I had written about the role of the Brant in getting racing boats back and forth from regattas.  At that time I had assumed from newspaper reports that the Brant accompanied the fleet and that smaller boats such as snipes were taken as deck cargo and that larger yachts had been towed. A newspaper account in 1939 said that three of the large Class 3 yachts were carried on the Brant. The photos show just how it was done.

small-pics060

The Brant with Class 3 yacht aboard 1939. Mac Irwin album

Slung outboard from the davits of the Brant is a full-keeled yacht, one that looks like a Class 3. Two additional large boats, again probably Class 3 yachts can be made out behind the launch and a fourth boat can be seen at the stern of the Brant.  What is particularly interesting is that the boat already hoisted aboard has its mast still in place. The Brant also carried the crews of several of the racing boats and officials from the Charlottetown Yacht Club to Shediac. In addition to the boats sent by the Brant several owners, including Mac Irwin, towed their boats behind powerboats from the Yacht Club.  The 1939 Regatta in Shediac was a major yachting event for the region and was a big success for the Yacht Racing Association of Northumberland Strait.

The close working relationship between the Yacht Club and the Marine and Fisheries vessels rested on the harmonious attitude of the individuals concerned but also came from the long-time understanding that amateur sailors were the nursery for the navy.  Such organizations as the Navy League, Sea Scouts and the yacht clubs provided valuable training and experience at a time when funding for naval activities was strained.

Behind the Brant is the S.S. Prince Edward Island.  Since  the launch of the S.S. Charlottetown in 1931 the Prince Edward Island had seen little use. It filled in for the Charlottetown when the latter went on its annual trip to dry dock for maintenance. The ship was called into full-time service again in 1941 when the Charlottetown struck a reef on its way to dry-dock in Saint John and was lost off Port Mouton in Nova Scotia.

 

“such a duck of a boat” – An ode to the Princess

 

Early photo of the Princess of Wales in Charlottetown Harbour. the building behind the funnel is the Methodist Church

Early photo of the Princess of Wales in Charlottetown Harbour.  The building aft of the funnel is the Methodist Church. The steeple aft of the flag is St. Dunstan’s

In the last posting I wrote of the history of the second Steam navigation Company.   The creation of a P.E.I, company to take over the operation of the connection with the mainland was, for some, a great relief.  The steamer Westmorland apparently did not meet with universal favour but more of an irritant was the fact that the subsidy (grudgingly admitted to be necessary) was being paid to a New Brunswick company!  It was a matter of political concern and as such attracted the notice of the Island’s unofficial Poet Laureate.  We last met with John Lepage in connection with B.W.A. Sleigh’s Albatross scandal .  Included in his collection called the Island Minstrel Volume II is a long poem (and almost all of Lepage’s poems are long) titled “The Arrival of the Princess of Wales” which celebrates the appearance of the Company’s new ship in 1864. The poem describes the vessel and provides the political context.  Owing to length I have omitted several verses referring to the latter.  The full poem can be found in The Island Minstrel available here.

 

“Arrival of the “Princess of Wales”  – By John Lepage

………

Transatlantic, the popular title prevails,
And we in this Isle see our  “Princess of Wales”
A splendid new steamer, complete in details,
For the transit of passengers, luggage and mails.
Too long have we been,
What our neighbours call green,
Our improvident folly transparently seen,
Sending thousands abroad each consecutive year,
To pay for the use of  a steam-whistle dear!
……
And why should we not have a boat? let me see
Are we always to move in the second degree
Dependant on others? No! Certainly not;
Let us feed our own “sea-mews” with what we have got
New Brunswick has long had the lion’s own share
Of the cash which we Islanders poorly could share
To pay for her steamers; – I ask, was that fair?
Yes! so long as we could not do better elsewhere;
But now, when we can,
We encourage our clan
And challenge the mercantile world to a man
To censure – with fairness – our Government plan.
………..
So much for the Government. Now let us view
What enterprise properly Guided can do;
There, look at her now, Stern, midships and bow,
Did you ever! – just wait till I husk out my throat –
Did you ever behold such a duck of a boat
Why she sits like a swan on the water afloat
And before she is near
How plainly you hear;
For to warn of her coming, sonorous, not clear
she carries an engine that whistles by note.
………
Here are spacious saloons, well furnish’d and neat
With Brussels, and sideboards of marble complete,
and mirrors, through which you may look at your sweet
Pretty faces, and crinoline down to your feet!
Then the sleeping compartments! – just take a peep here –
Where ladies or gentlemen – consciences clear –
Might seek for repose and secure it as well,
As if in (No. 1) of the Astor Hotel;
Into which the crown Prince, of Old England might go
And dream of the “Princess” with pleasure –
“that’s so.”

Come wind up the log-line, my distance is run,
Let me frame but a toast and a wish – I’ll have done:
“A health to the captain,
A health to the crew,
A health to the passengers
many or few;
May prosperity follow the Company’s trade,
And a hundred per centum be honestly made;
May the “Princess of Wales”
long ride out the gales
and especially be, in Port or at Sea,
at home and abroad,
Beneath the Almighty protection of God.”