The Outer Harbour Centreboard Club began as a result of several happy factors occurring at about the same time. In the late nineteen-sixties, dinghy sailing for the “little” sailor was an increasing need waiting to be filled. Pleasure craft in greater numbers were being imported into, or were being designed and built, in Canada, then sold or rented to a growing surge of ex-Europeans who had sailed Over There and were trying to do the same over here.
Earlier, in the late nineteen-fifties, the Toronto Harbour Commission had started building an off-shore weather wall south from Leslie Street. This was to protect a stretch of water at the derelict lakeside property east of Toronto Islands. The idea was for a deep-water container port that was not feasible in the already crowded and undredgeable Inner Harbour. Thus, the now famous Leslie Street Spit started growing with material from demolition sites, subway construction and high-rise excavation.
In the early seventies, the container port was no longer viable and the THC found that they controlled an area of protected water of some 200-plus hectares with very little happening in or around it: it was a place that was absolutely ideal for little boats, and with an off-shore park in the side! The THC then made it known that this stretch of water and some property on the north side of it would be offered to responsible sailing groups, rent free.
Some dinghies in the established clubs were feeling the pressure of keel boat fees, and other groups with no home were looking for something more permanent. This offer, even though only a temporary basis, was taken up quickly. Public meetings in late 1972 were attended by, not only Mirror Dinghy, Albacore and Wayfarer sailors but by other burgeoning groups with no place to call their own: multihulls, Sail Ontario, community clubs and catamarans.
Out of public meetings between THC and sailors, together with private meetings of one-design enthusiasts, evolved the Outer Harbour Sailing Federation – seven unpretentious clubs with meagre finances but with lots of guts. Each group had its specialty: communally-owned dinghies; a sailing school; catamarans; handbuilt multihulls (to swing on moorings) and our very own Centreboard Club.