History

While interest in the sport of rowing existed in Saskatchewan in the 1930s and 40s (exemplified by the achievements of Harry Duckett and the crews from Regina), activity had fallen off considerably by the 1960s. In 1971 the city of Moose Jaw hosted the summer games and featured a demonstration of rowing by crews form Calgary and Winnipeg. Because of this promotion, the provincial government sought to train a crew for the 1973 Canada Games in Burnaby, BC; with the loan of a coxed four from Winnipeg, workouts began in earnest on the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon. Unfortunately, the lack of facilities necessitated storing the boat underneath an overhang behind the Bessborough Hotel—the 400 metre walk out to Spadina Crescent and then down to the river was a workout by itself.

The 1973 Saskatoon Rowing Club was beset by endless problems. The lack of facilities or coaching resulted in all the original members either leaving the sport or settling elsewhere. However, by 1976, the original president Stuart Meeklah had acquired a training single and wharry for the club, and had successfully negotiated the use of an old building behind the waterworks for storage. It wasn’t much, but it was a start!

One of the original members, Bob Haver, returned to Saskatoon in 1976 and took over the club. Still, the membership grew very slowly due to restrictions on facilities and funds. In the winter of 1978/79, Bob and Ed Zahar filled out every available grant application possible; they were rewarded with a substantial block of money to purchase a trailer, single, double, straight four and coxed four in preparation for the Western Canada Games to be held the following summer. The enthusiasm was now accelerating.

The need for coaching and administrative assistance was met with the arrival of Paul Marcotte and Bruce Holliday in the early 80s. However, it was apparent that the true potential of the club would not be met until a new and appropriate facility became available. Such became possible when, in 1986, Saskatoon was awarded the 1989 Canada Summer Games. It was club member Mark Simpson who went to considerable lengths to ensure that a new boathouse would be a legacy of these games, and that it would meet the specifications of practicality, expandability, pleasing aesthetics, and budget parameters. When the Queen officially dedicated the boathouse on a cool October morning in 1987, it marked the successful acquisition of one of the finest courses and facilities in the country.

The Canada Summer Games did more than leave behind physical reminders of the event; it rekindled interest in a sport that fit in naturally with Saskatoon's pride of the river setting. Under the capable stewardship of Morley Bruce, the club grew to almost 70 members by 1990, participating in all age groups both competitively and recreationally. Fast forward to 2013, the club is slightly smaller, but still sports a strong racing tradition of producing Olympians, World Champions, Canada Games medalists and Henley Champions.