The Island Yacht Club (IYC) was founded in 1951 by a small group of Jewish sailing enthusiasts at a time when Jewish applicants were denied membership to Toronto's yacht clubs. The founding members included Cecil Yolles, Dr. Bernard “Bunny” Willinsky, Ben Dunkelman, John Bussin, Eon Gilmore, Mel and Irving Gould, Mark Speyer, Norm Kerzner, Joe Kitz, Boris Adelberg, and Bill Ackerman. The group obtained a lease from the City of Toronto for a parcel of undeveloped land on Mugg's Island in Blockhouse Bay. They then obtained a provincial charter incorporating the Island Yacht Club as a non-profit corporation. A board of directors was elected, with Bunny Willinsky as its first Commodore.
In 1952, the original group had grown to approximately 35 members. Work parties were formed from among the members to clear the land and a prefabricated building was purchased by the club which served as the early clubhouse. A generator was donated by member Al Jacobs for electricity and two floating docks were built. As the club membership grew, more land was acquired; the original clubhouse was expanded; grounds were landscaped; a swimming pool, lockers, dining room, lounge, docks, and marine railway were installed; and a tender was purchased. By 1956, the membership had grown to 350 with a fleet of eighty sail and power boats and the IYC was accepted into the Lake Yacht Racing Association (LYRA), the oldest association of its kind in North America.
In 1957, the IYC hosted its first open sailing regatta for the seven Toronto area yacht clubs and has since hosted many other regattas including four LYRA events. In order to accommodate its more junior members, a Junior Sailing Club was founded by Commodore John Zeldin in 1958, which has played a large role in the development of the IYC. In 1964, an adult sailing program was instituted to teach members and non-members racing tactics and rules. Racing competitions have been an important part of the IYC’s history. IYC sailors have been members of Canada’s Olympic sailing team and have competed in the Pan-American Games, Maccabiah Games, CORK regattas and other competitions in Canada and the United States.
Over the years, the purpose of the IYC has changed from a racing club that has developed champion sailors, to a more recreational club, oriented to family and leisurely activities. The IYC has also played a large social role in the lives of its membership, hosting galas, auctions, fashion shows, theme nights, bowling events, anniversary parties, the Commodore's Ball, and other activities during both the sailing season and off-season months.
The IYC has suffered from two fires in its fifty-five year history. The first fire occurred in 1986 in the IYC’s boat yard, destroying several boats. The second fire occurred in 2004 and destroyed the IYC’s clubhouse and its contents. A new clubhouse was officially opened on June 18th, 2006 and the IYC continues to serve its members in boating, socializing, dining, and marine services.
The records were donated to the OJA by Brooky Robins, archivist for the Island Yacht Club. Brooky and her husband, Hartley, are both members of the IYC. Hartley Robins has been a member since 1956 and was commodore from 1973 to 1976.
Scope and Content
Fonds documents the various functions and activities of the Island Yacht Club. The records include correspondence, financial records, meeting minutes, invitations, program flyers, year books, photographs, slides, films, flags, tickets and tokens, drawings, clippings, bulletins and newsletters, racing programmes and calendars, as well as the files of founding member, Cecil Yolles, and member and past commodore, Hartley Robins. The fonds also includes the original letters patent for the IYC.
Physical description note: includes ca. 600 b&w and col. photographs, ca. 400 col. slides, 5 flags, 3 film reels, 2 videocassettes, 1 architectural plan, 1 sketch, and 1 compact disc.
Storage location note: Box 8 (3" Letter Hollinger), 504 col. slides plus 2 b&w photos
Island Yacht Club
See also fonds 2, Benjamin Dunkelman fonds, series 1 and sub-series 1-4 for textual records and photographs pertaining to the IYC
See also fonds 37, Gilbert Studios fonds, series 4-1, item 18, for photo of IYC member Mr. William Bernard Herman
See "Island Yacht Club" vertical file in OJA file cabinet for newspaper clippings