The Royal St.-Laurent Yacht Club
Located at the Northeast end of Lake St. Louis in Dorval, Quebec, the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club offers sailing and power boating enthusiasts an ideal location to carry out their sport, while social members can enjoy the beautiful facilities, including three tennis courts, a lakeside swimming pool and stunning water views from the Clubhouse.
As fancy as it sounds, don’t be deterred by the word “Royal“. You don’t have to be of noble descent to join, nor should you think of sailing as an unaffordable sport. In fact, membership is not required if you wish to enrol in one of the Club’s sailing courses offered to adults and children and fees are comparable to those of other types of sports.
The designation “Royal” dates back to the year 1894 and was bestowed onto the Club by H.M. Queen Victoria and meant that henceforth, the Club flew under the blue ensign. In the 1950’s, direct links were forged with the monarchy when the Royal Dragon “Bluebottle” visited RStLYC and raced on two occasions. In 1954, wishing to commemorate theses events, the Duke of Edinburgh extended his royal patronage to the Club. Five years later, during her visit to Canada, Queen Elizabeth reviewed the fleet while sailing up the lake on the Royal Yacht “Britannia”. While there are many yacht clubs in Canada only 7 of them carry the designation “Royal”.
Royal or not, the raison d’être of the RStLYC has always been driven by a true love of boating. It should come of no surprise that it has put forth many world-class athletes, among them Olympians Kai Bjorn, Chantal Leger and Evert Bastet. “We are always very proud when one of our members represents us at an international event. We always offer as much support as we can,” says Valérie Lavigne, the Clubs vice-commodore. Currently, the club is lending its support to Rio 2016, Olympic contestants Heather Myatt and Arielle Morgan.
Lavigne herself began sailing as a young child when her parents put her in a camp that offered sailing as an activity. “I loved it and continued,” she says. After having completed all her levels, including those to become an instructor, Lavigne, a chiropractor by day, joined the RStLYC at the age of 17. Today, she is a married mother of three. “I met my husband while sailing. He was on the race team at the time at the RStLYC and I was an instructor, “she says, adding “My whole family sails. It is a great family activity because everyone can have a job on a boat and you spend some great time together. ” While beginners will likely remain on Lake St. Louis, more experienced sailors wishing to go farther have the St. Lawrence Seaway, which gives access to the Atlantic Ocean and the Thousand Island region, a mere 20 minutes away.
Today, the RStLYC can look back at a rich 125-year history− a history in which women haven’t always figured prominently. But long gone are the days when they remained at the periphery of the Club. In fact, having been on the executive committee now for six years, Lavigne will become the Clubs first female commodore this November, a position that equals that of a CEO of a company.
This spring, tune in to Fibe tv1 as we learn more about the fascinating history and programs of the RStLYC.