History of the Port Elgin Yacht Club
The Port Elgin Boat Club was started in 1946 by local boaters. The boaters felt there was a need for an organized group to assist one another, promote boating in the Port Elgin area and to improve the docking infrastructure in the Port Elgin Harbour. In the 1990's, the Club name was changed to the Port Elgin Power & Sail Inc. and operated as the Port Elgin Yacht Club.
In the early days of the Club, the harbour was quite different than what you see now. Due to very low Great Lakes water levels and silting, the north end of the harbour was not useful for boat docking and there were no finger docks at all in the harbour. Every spring for many years, pilings were driven down or added in the southeast corner of the harbour to provide some docking. Early in the 1970's, there was a considerable increase in the number of people joining the Club and major improvements were needed to the docking facilities and the harbour itself. Although providing some protection from the lake, strong westerly and northwesterly winds made docking in the harbour uncomfortable. The Town of Port Elgin (now the Town of Saugeen Shores), which operated the harbour and our Club members of the day contacted the Federal Government and asked for assistance to improve the harbour, protection and facilities. The Government did a complete study of the harbour including a scale model and wave testing which resulted in dredging to enlarge the harbour and the placement of armour stone along the breakwalls and entrance to reduce the wave action within the habour.
Once the north end of the harbour had been dredged, additional docks were added by Club members along the north breakwall and floating docks installed by the Government in the harbour which increased dock space to over 200 slips. A proper launch ramp and boat well were added to provide easier boat launching. Hydro and water services were paid for and installed by the members. The involvement of the Port Elgin Yacht Club has continued in recent years. Working closely with local fishing clubs, the Club was instrumental in funding and building the new washroom/shower facilities at the north end parking lot.
A common misconception that evolved from all of these improvements was that the Port Elgin Yacht Club was on the north side of the harbour. Although many of our members are docked on the north side, the PEYC does not operate any part of the Harbour. The Town of Saugeen Shores has full responsibility for all maintenance and improvements to the docks within the harbour and these improvements continue each and every year. Now, there are close to 300 slips in the harbour available to transient and seasonal boaters.
The Port Elgin Yacht Club has approximately 50 members which includes mostly sailboats but also includes non-boaters and power boaters alike. Club activities include an organized spring lift-in and fall lift-out, special sailing events, potluck dinners and a club sailing / racing program. During the summer, many of our Club members travel together to explore the North Channel, go for a weekend anchorage in the Fishing Islands or sail to Kincardine for an overnight stay. Our activities are not limited to the boating season. During the offseason, we hold several social functions.
Our members feel a need to promote boating to people who do not have the opportunity to experience the fun of being on a boat. We are actively trying to encourage interest in sailing and boating in the Port Elgin area.
The Port Elgin Harbour has been promoted as the "Harbour of Hospitality". The harbour has evolved into an active marine centre during the boating season to the benefit of local and transient boaters and it has become a great attraction for summer tourists, local and seasonal residents.