TMCC was founded in 1971, when the north shore of what is now known as the Toronto Outer Harbour was little more than piles of landfill, concrete rubble and abandoned storage tanks. The Leslie Street Spit, now known as the Tommy Thompson Park, barely existed. The main filling and creation of the spit that now gives our Outer Harbour protection took place from 1973 to 1984. Much of the following is taken from the recollections and writings of Alan Slater, one of the original organizers for what was to become TMCC and who was also the club’s first Commodore. He published three articles in the TMCC newsletter during 1991, titled: Looking Back. I have also taken reference from a notebook he put together and other information from TMCC’s early days.
Alan Slater launched his Wharram catamaran in 1968, and wasn’t allowed to join any of the Greater Toronto Area yacht clubs because he sailed a multihull. He found a berth in the Toronto Island Marina, as did Bob Perkins who launched a similar Wharram catamaran shortly after the Slaters.
B.C. (Before the Club)
In the summer of 1970, Lorne Smith bought the 40ft Piver Victress trimaran, Caravel. (Caravel had belonged to Fred and Kitty Carlisle who, along with their two young daughters, sailed this homebuilt plywood boat to England, the Mediterranean, Caribbean and back to Toronto - they lived in Scarborough – their voyaging beginning November, 1965. They wrote a book about their five years of voyaging, Journey with Caravel, 1971, John de Graff.)
Smith decided to organize a rally, including two races, for local multihulls. He got some trophies and a case of liquor from somewhere and persuaded the Toronto Island Marina (TIM) to host the event.
Twelve multihulls took part, including: Slater’s 27ft. Wharram; Perkins’ 29ft Wharram catamaran; Smith’s Piver Trimaran; Arno Henkel’s 24ft. Newman trimaran; Walter Skol’s trimaran, Lollipop; Pat McGrath’s 24ft. Buccaneer trimaran painted with a sort of silver tar undercoat; Karl Uthoff’s 25 ft. Crowther trimaran painted with pink primer; a 32 ft. trimaran called Pussycat and a 30ft. Piver trimaran, Penguin, based at the National Yacht Club.
Slater doesn’t remember who won the races - it wasn’t him – and it was many years before they again had that many multihulls together.
The Slaters kept their boat at TIM for several seasons, first the Wharram and then Alan’s own 30ft. design catamaran, Pandemonium. It suited them to have a dock when their sons were small and it became their sort of cottage on the water.
(Simon, David and Robin; David continues the family tradition with a 36ft. family built PDQ catamaran at TMCC).
Bob Perkins, also a Wharram catamaran owner, and Slater often ate lunch in the Acadian Court at Simpsons (now Hudson’s Bay, near Queen and Bay Streets), doodling on place mats designing catamarans and eating shrimps and scallops. At one such lunch, after the aforementioned sail-in, Alan suggested to Bob that they should start a multihull club. He said “Of course”. Bob rented a meeting room at the King Edward Hotel and Alan wrote to every multihull owner they knew to join them for a meeting and the Club was formed in November, 1971, though they had no dedicated base for the club. Alan Slater was elected Commodore, Pat McGrath was Vice-Commodore, Kathy Jacques was Secretary and Bob Perkins was Treasurer.
Slater and Perkins lobbied Jack Jones, Chief Engineer of the Toronto Harbour Commission (THC) for a club base. Jones had also been lobbied by several other sailing groups hoping to find a permanent base in the Outer Harbour. Those groups included the Water Rats, a branch of the RCYC, who wanted exclusive use of the Outer Harbour to train their Tornado catamaran crews for the 1976 Montreal Olympics in the warm water that flowed from the coal fired Hearn Generating station at the eastern end of the bay. Other clubs wanting a base at the Outer Harbour included an assortment of local day sailing clubs previously renting or sharing space on the Toronto Islands. Jack Jones insisted the various clubs form an entity that the THC could deal with, as there was some competition and controversy between clubs wanting dry sail bases and those wanting wet moorings. The Outer Harbour Sailing Federation (OHSF) was formed and remains a cooperative group of sailing and rowing clubs along Regatta Road.
Peter Van Buskirk of RCYC was elected the first President of OHSF and, through a manoeuvre by Bob Perkins, Alan Slater was elected Secretary. Slater drew a layout for the OHSF clubs on the present 758ft of water frontage, the area was fenced and the clubs bought temporary classrooms as clubhouses. TMCC was granted permission to install 12 wet moorings. Alan Slater and Bob Perkins played major roles in TMCC's start up. Perkins took care of all of the legal work and provided much valuable advice. Perkins also found and purchased the clubhouse for TMCC and managed the installation. There were no services on site at that time.
The original ‘Letters of Patent’ incorporating the Toronto Multihull Cruising Club, were recorded with the Province of Ontario on 28th September, 1972. The objectives of the club stated therein were:
To promote and carry on the sport of sailing in all its aspects and in particular to encourage the design, construction and development of multihull sail boats; and
To encourage the improvement of sailing techniques and to promote sail training and racing;
TMCC continues to work towards those objectives with our:
quest for multihull owner members,
our Wednesday evening club races from about June 1 to September 15,
the TMCC annual Regatta Weekend that attracts multihulls from all around the Great Lakes
and with our support of the Outer Harbour Water Sport Camp for children, the equipment sheds are located on our grounds and the sail training boats are launched from our docks.
The TMCC membership will celebrate our club’s 50th sailing season in the near future, remaining committed to the advancement of multihull sailing.