TORONTO — It was almost impossible for Jews to gain entry into gentile yacht clubs 60 years ago.
Recently, the largely Jewish Island Yacht Club (IYC) was approached by the prestigious Royal Canadian Yacht Club (RCYC), with a view to considering a merger or other possible arrangement.
The situation is certainly ironic, acknowledged IYC Commodore David Baskin, but it reflects the way the city of Toronto has changed. The RCYC has Jewish members today, and the IYC has a good number of non-Jewish members.
The IYC has struck a committee to investigate the proposal, and while no decision has yet been made, the offer is being taken quite seriously, Baskin said. There are upsides to a potential merger as well as downsides and the committee might suggest something in between, he suggested.
Interest is certainly high at the RCYC. Reporting online to his members, RCYC Commodore George Meadows said, “No negotiations have taken place. The informal discussion led us to believe there may be mutual benefit to both parties should we be able to reach agreement to get together.”
Baskin said the RCYC approach came only a few weeks ago. The IYC has assets that the RCYC might want to utilize, while the RCYC has resources that IYC members could enjoy, he said.
For one, the IYC possesses 30 to 40 unused slips, while the RCYC has plenty of members but nowhere for many of them to dock their boats.
The RCYC, which was founded in 1852 and can boast Prince Phillip as its patron, has run out of slips for the 35-foot-plus boats that sailors today favour. The IYC has spare slips on Muggs Island, only a short ride away from the RCYC’s facilities on Centre Island.
A merger or other arrangement would see RCYC sailors berthing their boats at IYC slips and IYC members taking advantage of RCYC facilities.
That could be advantageous for IYC members, who pay dues similar to those levied on RCYC members, but who enjoy the club’s facilities from May to September. The RCYC runs year-round, with its club offering dining and health-club facilities at Bloor and St. George streets in Toronto all year round.
A merger would provide IYC members more for their money, Baskin suggested.
As for the downside, “We could lose our independence in a merged situation. They’re much bigger than we are. We might lose our identity.”
Those are issues the committee will have to consider, he said, adding any decision will have to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the members.
In his address to RCYC members, Meadows stated, “Our club is in good financial shape, but because of the economy we have been losing members. This is similar to other yacht clubs, golf clubs and other private clubs.
“The Island Yacht Club has also suffered the same effects with a number of their members, which could impact on the sustainability of their operation in the future. They have a great facility, with lots of available docks, especially for larger boats. There is a new clubhouse, a swimming pool and tennis courts, all housed in a lovely setting,” he stated.
“At first glance there are numerous advantages to such a joining of forces. It is an opportunity worth investigating.
“The investigation may find that some IYC services could be combined with RCYC services (e.g. administration, membership, harbour and property, food and beverage) for cost efficiencies, but these details are not known at this time.”
Baskin said timing of a vote is unclear, but if both sides approve a merger, it likely wouldn’t be implemented until next year’s boating season.