From Coal Yard to Boat Yard – 70 Years

From coal yard to boat yard — what a difference 70 years makes.

In 1951, a group of hydroplane racing enthusiasts converted a leaky shed in a disused coal yard into the first clubhouse of the Toronto Hydroplane Club — no water, no toilet, and a lot of coal dust, but plenty of room to build boats, even though it was a good four kilometers from anything resembling open water.

We celebrate our 70th anniversary with a different name — the Toronto Hydroplane and Sailing Club — and a much more pleasant and inviting location in Ashbridge’s Bay, on the north shore of Lake Ontario. We’re adjacent to the boardwalk, the Beach, Queen Street shopping, and acres of beachfront parkland. And the club offers a wide range of boating facilities, including excellent dockage, with individual finger piers for approximately 100 boats, and dry storage for trailered boats.

Our current clubhouse is notable for a lack of coal but has excellent facilities for functions and individual use, including a fully equipped kitchen, showers, and lockers. The patio offers barbecues and shaded tables, making it a perfect spot to relax after a day’s sail. The grounds include parking, a workshop, boat and mast storage facilities, a dry sail launch ramp, and a mast crane.

In the early days, hydroplane racing was a big deal and THC played an important role. In 1954, the club got the first permit in Toronto for a Sunday sporting event — racing on protected water south of the Canadian National Exhibition. Crowds were so enthusiastic many didn’t wait to buy tickets — they simply pushed over the snow fencing and walked in. In conjunction with a weekend of racing, the club also got the first liquor permit ever issued for the Exhibition grounds.

The coal yard clubhouse on Blake St. only lasted a few years, until the club got a lease on city property in Ashbridge’s Bay. For a clubhouse, members bought a house at Leslie St. and Eastern Ave., which was part of the city’s stock of wartime housing. They built a foundation on the new property and then jacked the house up and transported it, completely without a permit, to the new location — knocking the chimney off but not even breaking a single window.

At the new site, members could sometimes race their machines right off the beach. When the water got too rough to race, they opened the bar and sold hot dogs and booze to spectators.

In 1965, a group of catamaran sailors asked if they could use the property to store and sail their boats. They became associate members and built a small dock and a launch ramp. As time went on, more sailors joined and in 1976 the name was changed to Toronto Hydroplane and Sailing Club to reflect our changing nature.

Hydroplane racing dwindled in popularity and although some club members were still active in the scene into the 1980s, their powerful machines now live on only in the club’s name. Current members remain proud of their gas-powered heritage; look around the clubhouse and you will see many many photos and trophies commemorating founding members’ triumphs.

When Ashbridge’s Bay Park was created and Ashbridge’s Bay Yacht Club moved to the south bay, TH&SC expanded and built the current three-storey clubhouse. We continue to improve the property: We have just completed a four-year rebuild of the seawall, carried out almost entirely by club members; the kitchen was recently completely redone; and the docks are currently being enhanced with new modular decking.

The strongest resource at TH&SC is our club members. We come from all walks of life and bring diverse experience to the club. Our common bond is our love of boats and boating. TH&SC offers an ideal range of activities, from cruising to racing, for boaters who are looking for camaraderie, convenience, and value. Download our two-page Visitor’s Guide with map or phone 416-694-6918.

Sponsor Our Team!

Family Homelessness & Violence Against Women

  • On any given night there are over 8,000 people in Toronto, including families who are seeking shelter
  • On any given night in Canada, more than 3,000 women (along with their 2,500 children) are living in an emergency shelter to escape domestic violence

About Red Door

  • The Red Door provides safe, emergency shelter and support services to women and families in crisis
  • The Red Door Family Shelter is an innovative shelter community comprised of two emergency shelters and an active outreach program operating in Leslieville and Toronto’s east end since 1982
    • One services families experiencing homelessness
    • One services women and children escaping violence
    • On any given night, approximately two-thirds of the residents are children and youth
  • We provide support to approximately 350 families every year through the two shelters and the outreach program
  • In addition to individual casework and counselling, our range of supportive programming includes:
    • Children and Youth Program
    • Health and Wellness Program
    • Housing & Outreach Support Program
    • Access to education and employment opportunities
    • Interpretation services
    • Moving Program

Impact of COVID-19

As an essential service, The Red Door continue to serve families at our two shelters, as well as recently housed families through our outreach services. We are grateful to our frontline staff for their dedication.

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of incidences of domestic violence since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. When isolation and social distancing become imposed out of necessity, many women and their children have nowhere else to turn to for support.

Your support, particularly at this unprecedented time, is deeply appreciated. With community fundraising events cancelled or postponed indefinitely, we are facing a major funding shortfall that we need for our support programs this year.

We’re in This Together

In times like these, we are reminded of just how important it is to be there for one another. The basic needs and rights for all of us to be safe, healthy, and happy become ever clearer in the face of a crisis.

We are truly grateful at the Red Door to be part of a community of care – the generosity and support that we receive from people like you, and in turn the help and critical support that we are able to provide for those in need: mothers fleeing intimate partner violence, refugees, and homeless families with nowhere else to turn. Your support helps each family who comes through our doors to heal and build a brighter future.

When we work together to help each other, we change lives. We ensure that no one is left behind, and we build a better, stronger community.

All donations over $20 are eligible for a tax receipt.

To donate online, please visit:

Click on SPONSOR OUR TEAM to make sure your donation goes to our total.

We also gratefully accept cheques payable to:
Red Door Family Shelter
21 Carlaw Avenue
Toronto, ON M4M 2R6

Or you can fill out a form provided and donate cash at the Club on Launch Day.

For more information, contact: Kirsten Cooney
Fundraising Coordinator, Community Initiatives & Events
c: 416-577-6659

Important Updates: Launch, Sailpast, Water Levels and Club status

The Club held an Executive Board meeting on April 7 and considered all the input we have received concerning COVID-19 and water levels. Advice from the City, Ontario Sailing and orders from the Province plus indications from the International Joint Commission on water levels also were included in the discussion. Bottom line, here’s where things stand:

  1. Launch will NOT happen as scheduled on May 2. We are keeping options open for a postponed launch and Amherst crane has indicated potential cooperation. We plan to provide enough notice to prep your boat.
  2. Water Levels remain a serious concern. Currently the level is higher than last year, but this month’s precipitation will tell the tale. As the level approaches the boardwalk, sufficient time will be calculated to prepare the site, fill sandbags and other provision to protect the building should the property flood. Watch the skies and keep your fingers crossed.
  3. Sailpast and all other social functions are suspended until at least June 30 following the lead of the City.
  4. Special General Meeting: The Club requires an SGM to select a Property Manager. Special thanks to Keith Willson who has assumed the role on an interim basis. You will receive notification of the meeting, a request for nominations and subsequently a ballot mechanism will be presented.

NOTE: Until further notice, the clubhouse and property are closed except for emergencies. Should you need to visit your boat for an urgent matter, please notify the executive and receive permission before you enter the property.

Security is maintained via the security service and all traffic is tracked via the security systems. Additionally, a Board member will walk the club every day and notify you if there is a reason to do so. Otherwise, all is well.

Critical work parties with limited participation and physical distancing may continue as necessary.

We will continue to communicate and, of course, remain at home to answer any questions. Email addresses are in Spar & Prop or on the website

Stay safe, take all necessary health precautions and hang in there with the TH&SC crew.

We are all in this together. 


John Morris

THSC Grounds Now Closed

Ahoy Members!

Further to closing the club and workshop, please understand this change effective 12 noon Thursday April 2, the entire club and grounds are closed in accordance with the provincial order to close public recreation spaces. We have asked Sail Ontario and they feel that includes our club. Here’s a link to the relevant release:

Other facilities are already closed or closing immediately, but we will allow the time to allow you to close up and remove any current projects. This closure will last until at least April 13. As we understand it, this is now a legal requirement and is subject to a fine. So please don’t.

Unless something extraordinary happens, the wind is blowing in the direction of postponing launch, so please don’t panic over boat prep.

Thank you for helping us to follow provincial guidelines/rules and thank you for
putting member health first.


Have a spectacular evening and stay handwashed.

John Morris

COVID-19 Update

Greeting isolated members. Hope this finds you safe and healthy. There’s a lot going on, so please forgive these quick bullets.

As of today

  • THSC remains closed until at least April 13 as ordered by the Province. That includes workshop and all buildings INCLUDING WASHROOMS unfortunately.
  • Work parties of five or less are attending to critical club issues with executive oversight.
  • Flooding remains a threat. Preparations are underway to deploy the aquadam in order to protect the facilities.
  • The Rear Commodore is evaluating upcoming social and on-the-water activities with recommendations to come to the Executive on Tuesday, April 7. An update will follow.
  • Alternative dates are under consideration for launch – crane availability, water levels etc. May 2 is still on the calendar but please be ready to postpone. More to come, but who knows!
  • Policy is under discussion to manage the boats of quarantined members etc.

Please respect the closure of the club, physical distancing and other appropriate behaviors. With all that is directly ahead, the Executive would prefer to avoid additional disciplinary and regulatory issues.  This is not difficult to understand so please cooperate.

Other than that, have a nice day and wash your hands.

John Morris