Since the founding of Buffalo, the broad expanses of the Niagara, the upper reaches of its tributaries, and the sandy beaches of Ontario's shores, have beckoned the lovers of the great outdoors. A small group of canoeists who cruised these waters organized in 1882 the Buffalo Canoe Club.
The transformation from an unimpressive shack at the foot of Hamilton Street, Buffalo, New York, to the present modern yacht club at its unsurpassed location on the beautiful shores of Abino Bay, represents more than one hundred years of outstanding planning and loyal labor by those within our Club. It has always been our good fortune to have on our rolls more than a fair share of Buffalo's leaders.
Our present site on Abino Bay was acquired in 1891, and on February 15, 1892, Williams Lansing, Henry L. Campbell, George Kelley, Emory Dunstan and Frank D. Wood incorporated the Buffalo Canoe Club as a New York Corporation. These men were the guiding spirits in the formative period of the Club, and to them the Club owes it undying gratitude.
The growth of the Club was rapid, and during the next ten years it was necessary to enlarge and improve the property of the Club several times to accommodate the large number of enthusiastic canoers and sailors who for the most part arrived for the weekend via Webb Haun's horse drawn bus. In 1907 a violent storm swept away the old boathouse and flagpole. Sir Henry Pellatt of Toronto presented the Club with the present beautiful flagpole in appreciation of the hospitality that had been shown him.
In 1909 the replacement outer boathouse was built. The wonderful birch bark war canoe that hung from the boathouse rafters was probably the finest piece of birch bark canoe making to be found in the world. It was built by the Quebec Indians to take Edward VII of England and his bride through the Lachine Rapids when he visited Quebec as the Prince of Wales.
Old Lansing House, acquired in 1908, served as winter quarters for over twenty years. So enthusiastic were the members of the day before the automobile that many a party walked out from Fort Erie to spend the weekend, and it was routine practice for the members to walk from the Crystal Beach boat or the Grand Trunk Railroad to the Club. The Lansing House was destroyed by fire in 1929 and was replaced by the present Lansing Lodge. In 1930 the east wing was added to the present main club building.
The opening of the Peace Bridge in 1927 eased the travel problem, and the Canoe Club capitulated to the ladies and gradually became the family club it is today. While water sports have always been the backbone of the Club, tennis, baseball, and just plain good fellowship are a tradition. The Pirate Crews sail Lake Erie shore no more, but their tradition and many other traditions of their time still live.
The old inner boathouse burned in 1941 and was replaced by the present more modern one. In this fire 18 boats, mostly of the Knockabout Class, were lost. Lightning Class boats replaced many of these, and the Club now has the leading Lightning Fleet of the country. Buffalo Canoe Club sailors have long been noted for their skill. The R Boat fleet four times won the Lipton Cup, as well as the LYRA Championship. The old Victory Class on several occasions took the salt-water sailors, and of late years our sailors have won the Lightning Class International Championship on six occasions.
The Club has been chosen five times, by the Executive Committee of the International Lightning Association, as host Club for the International Championship Races. Truly an honor to the Club and a tribute to the caliber of racing men developed by our racing fleet. The tremendous success attained in the Lightning Class has spurred our sailors to seek new laurels. In 1955 a number of Knarr boats were added to the fleet.
On January 15, 1958, letters patent were granted by the Provincial Secretary of Ontario creating Buffalo Canoe Club as a corporation without share capital. Shortly thereafter the new Ontario Corporation so formed took over the assets and membership of the old New York Corporation of the same name and since then the Club has carried on its activities as an Ontario Corporation.
Our main Clubhouse has seen many changes and additions throughout the ensuing years, including: the enclosure and reconstruction of the front porch, the dining room addition, and the conversion of the Abino Room with its attendant observation deck. The inner boathouse and repair facilities were significantly expanded.
Tragedy again struck the BCC when fire engulfed our landmark and historic outer boathouse, destroying it and its contents totally. A far-sighted and careful reconstruction effort was launched under the able and gifted leadership of Rudy Bauer, and 1994 saw the opening of its magnificent replacement. The new outer boathouse should monument our Club's traditions well into the 21st Century.
Sailing and sailboat racing continue to dominate on Abino Bay, and the BCC has been privileged to host a number of World, North American and National Championships for classes as diverse as the Lightning, Flying Dutchman and Shark. For the first time in many decades, our Club also hosted the LYRA Regatta and Freeman Cup, evidence of our growing PHRF and cruising fleets.
"Club Spirits, Good Fellows.hip and Hospitality" is the Club slogan, and with this foundation and one of the finest outdoor spots in Canada for our Clubhouse, the future of the Buffalo Canoe Club is assured