If you’ve ever walked by the charming barn-like Nelson Rowing Club on the Lakeside Park waterfront and wondered what it would be like to glide across the glassy waters of Kootenay Lake in a narrow scull, May 2 is your chance to do just that.
Club member Kim Shea said, “It’s a chance to try rowing with one of the skilled rowers, check out the club and find out what all is involved.”
She said one reason for the open house is rowers generally take to the water earlier in the day or in the afternoon when the waters are calm. This leaves many passersby curious to what’s behind the shop doors and how to join.
The club itself has over 15 boats and a modest group of 20 current members. The learn to row program is run through the Nelson and District Community Complex programming. The club offers lessons for the novice rowers as well as adult rowing with flexible times, and a juniors program for youth aged 13-17.
Founded more than 100 years ago in 1896, the club continues to welcome new members. In decades past, the club existed in two house boats which both suffered from various demises.
There was a dwindling membership until 1987 when Dominique Preney, a former French national team member, helped the club into rejuvenation. Despite the loss of the club’s second boat house to an ice storm shortly after his arrival, the club managed to prosper along with the help of Shea, a St. Catherine’s rower who moved to the area in the mid-80s.
“Kim’s the mover and the shaker,” said Preney, adding Shea has been the main force behind fundraising for the club, organizing dances and more.
Both Preney and Shea said longtime member Morris De St. Jorre, who is in his late 70s, is integral to the club.
Morris De St. Jorre rowing on Kootenay Lake in mid-March. Tamara Hynd photo.
In 2002, the large land-based boathouse was constructed by LVR Secondary School’s shop class, led by shop teacher Dave Afford.
“Morris organized the construction and design of the boat house,” said Preney. “He’s a retired mining engineer who likes to think things out.”
The newer facility houses a myriad of singles and doubles, a touring quad, two ergometers and many dedicated rowers.
How far do these athletes row?
Members typically row out to Troupe beach or Grohman Narrows but the club also ventures out to Pilot Bay for an overnight trip once a year. Every August they play host to the Nelson Sprints Regatta with clubs visiting from the US, Vernon, Kelowna, the BC Interior, Nanaimo and Cranbrook.
The club will have its grand boat house doors wide open for their annual open house on Sunday morning beginning at 10 a.m. Bring close fitting outdoor clothing without pockets and a water bottle.
For more information, visit nelsonrowing.ca.