Barry was Commodore when I joined the club and I would see him regularly on the back of his big boat at the centre of the outside dock.
The last few years his boat has not been in its slip but I have had the pleasure of saying hello when he stopped by to visit. Barry did us the great service of taking charge and caring for the club for so many seasons.
Summer on the river in 2021 turned out to be a long warm season defined by the closing and opening of the locks at Lockport. With so little rain, the level of the river was consistently near normal and the river never did flow strongly. The lack of current added to the growth on ours boat hulls and the docks, so cleanup was a a bigger job than usual. Our new electric power washer helped with that.
The pandemic restrictions kept the clubhouse mostly closed but as the restrictions eased up people were able to meet on the docks and I hear there was some fairly regular barbecues on the weekends.
The lost revenue from being unable to rent out our space was lessened by income from a movie shoot on our site. The movie production painted the garage a green colour that has not been appreciated and there are plans to cover it up next year.
There are a few activities making use of our river access this winter as well. A curling tournament and a company that harvests ice will be using our ramp in the upcoming months.
Well they are not quite ‘in’ yet, but the task of assembling and attaching the docks is nearly complete and on May 31st members will be parking their boats on the water.
Thanks to everyone who helped put this together. There are a number of new members this year who I am sure are ready to get out there. Everyone is excited to have a place to go in this time of lockdowns but we do need to follow the current health regulations so the socializing will have to wait.
Summer on the river is wonderful, let’s get started.
This post jumps forward slightly with the Free Press articles to 1959. The previous two years had articles about the club meetings and election of the club officers. This first article from April includes a big fish story and a tie in to the present with upgrades to the ramp.
The next article from June has the club supplying boats for a cruise arranged for inner city children. It names the club ‘cruisemaster’ as Ron Spears.
In July, there was an article that I find astonishing. The club is sponsoring a race across much of Lake Winnipeg and down the Red River. I wonder how many times this was done.
On September 12th, there is an article about more relaxing cruises organized by the club for members to take part in.
Lastly on September 19th we learn of the winner of the big race, Ronds Marina. Apparently the starting point was switched from Berens River to a more reasonable distance of Gull Harbour at Hecla. Also mentioned is a cruise for Red River Day sponsored by Redboine and a number of other boating organizations.
These articles are a nice and interesting slice of the past. With the favourable spring conditions we are currently experiencing, I guess that my next post will be about getting the docks in early this year. Fingers crossed…
Now that we are experiencing the joys of midwinter, I will post some more club history to get our thoughts back to summer on the river. The Winnipeg Free Press is searchable online for free if you have a library card and today I will share what I found from the first year of the club in 1956.
All the meetings were advertised the week before and welcomed all boating enthusiasts.
The club was active with the issues in the city pertaining to the river.
The club’s group activities made the newspaper.
The club sponsored a long distance swimmer and accompanied her from Grand Beach to Winnipeg Beach.
The club announced the annual general meeting and Al Brophy was kept on as Commodore. The ‘better facilities for bathing’ comment seems strange.
The Red River started into winter in a much different way this year compared to last. Last fall ended with extremely high water on the river that froze early and then fell through the winter as the water went down. This year once the locks were opened the river level quickly fell to near 0 ft James, which is normal for winter and 6 feet lower than the normal summer level. This and the lack of snow exposed the bottom section of our launching ramp and it did not look good.
It appeared that we were lucky there was no trouble with the process of pulling all the boats out this fall. So fixing the ramp moved to the top of our repair list, and the weather was cooperating. The decision to act was made quickly and we went from quotes, to work in progress, to complete in a matter of a few weeks.
Now that the concrete has hardened, it has been uncovered and we were able to get a few pictures before it gets covered up with snow.
The end date of the 2020 season was the usual Thanksgiving weekend, when the locks are opened up and the river level starts to drop to the normal winter level known as 0 feet at James St. station. Thanks to Chester and Pat and the others who helped to get the docks out. We encourage members to take part in this to help lighten the load and learn what is involved in the annual ritual.
As everyone knows, most things in 2020 were not the usual. Because of COVID the use of the clubhouse was restricted and we were not able to book any gatherings.
The river level was not normal for much of the summer and it shortened our boating season considerably. I will share some screenshots from the cities river level web page to show how it unfolded.
The graph above shows the river dropping in October after thanksgiving and the drop in May after a fairly high flood season that left the ground soaked and delayed the docks going in until the end of the month.
The river stayed normal for almost two weeks and the docks were in place and a small number of boats got in when the excess of rain to the south of us caused a 6 foot jump in the river. The docks were hanging on by chains and no more boats were allowed in. The tending of the chains is a demanding task, again thanks to Pat and Chester.
I got my boat in the river as June ended then pulled it out again a few days later as more record rains south of us caused a quick rise of about 7 feet. It was another 3 weeks before the docks could be secured well enough to allow all member boats in to start the season.
The rest of the summer was wonderful out on the water. It was nice to have the river to enjoy when so many other activities were shut down by the pandemic. Plans are in the works to improve the mechanics of the chains attaching the docks to the piles so that these river level interruptions are minimized.
The process of putting the Redboine Boating Club docks back in the water has begun. And to celebrate that, I will share the story of one dock in particular. Dock #1 is located at the east end of the row closest to shore and has a well engineered notch for one of the posts that hold the docks in place.
Last year ended with a sudden rise in the river due to record September rainfall and with the rush to get the boats and docks safely out of the water dock #1 was left chained to the post with only a corner of it visible above the surface. The river froze at a very high level and although attempts were made there was no chance to rescue the dock. It spent the winter in the ice.
Spring came and the ice broke up and more attempts were made to rescue the dock. It was tied to shore with a strong rope and plans were being made while the quite high spring flood was happening. The dock broke free of the ice, snapping the rope, and started floating down the river with the ice. Luckily it did not get far and was tied up to the shore just west of the club.
As the spring flood receded, dock #1 was brought to shore and included in the spring repair ritual. After much straightening and board replacement it was put back in the water, the first in, after being by far the last out.
This of course is only a small part of the story. If you want to hear of all the adventure and heroics I think Pat Bohme is the member to ask.
One more historical photo before boating season begins for 2020.
The year is 1960 and Ralph Miller (left) is presenting the clubs first lifetime membership to Chas Harvey who was the original secretary of the club and signed the first lease for the property. Ralph was the treasurer in those early years.