This piece was first published as “Sixty years later, a surprising port for Toronto’s once-blacklisted Jewish sailors” in The Times of Israel.
As a general though unwritten policy, Jews were not welcome at Toronto’s Royal Canadian Yacht Club starting from its founding in 1852. So, a century later, in 1951, a group of 18 Jewish boating enthusiasts started the Island Yacht Club, which was not discriminatory in its admissions. Now, having just celebrated its 60th anniversary, IYC is considering merging with RCYC.
The Toronto Star reported that the idea for the merger originated with IYC commodore David Baskin. “The history of the founding of the IYC, a long time back of course, [was that] Jewish boaters were not welcome at the RCYC,” he said. “But that’s a long time ago. Times have changed.”
Not only have RCYC’s admissions policies changed, but the odds for IYC’s future viability are also not the same as they once were. According to a video narrated by Baskin on the Star’s website, at its high point IYC had over 350 member families, but now it has only 80 boating members and 40 social families — few of whom are younger than 50 years old.
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© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.