Getting to Know the Island Lake Rowing Club
To honour the history, dedication and current initiatives of each rowing community, Row Ontario will be producing a series of profiles on member clubs across Ontario. Today we get to know more about the Island Lake Rowing Club!
Island Lake Rowing Club
Location: Mono, Ont.
Established in 1998, the Island Lake Rowing Club (ILRC) was founded by a group of volunteers who were interested in bringing the athletic and community aspects of rowing to the township of Mono, Ontario and the surrounding area. The club became incorporated as a non-profit organization and formed a management agreement with Credit Valley Conservation for the use of Island Lake, a spectacular setting for a rowing club to base its operations.
“Our club is based on Island Lake, in Mono Township which is near the city of Orangeville,” said Ann Nelson, current President of the ILRC. “We’re in a conservation area with a 10km trail around it, and a lot of other activities in the area which is nice as our members can use the area for multiple purposes. We’re also close to town so it’s easy to access. We’re usually on the water from mid-April to Thanksgiving, although some of the braver souls stay on until November. The lake is great for rowing, wind is less of an issue on Island Lake since it’s a smaller body of water.”
The ILRC compound and dock are also fully accessible and the club has made improvements to its infrastructure over the years. In 2008, a new boat house was built and in 2011 the club added a second dock to make it accessible for para rowing and to help with the high volume of dock traffic. In 2014, an addition to the boat house created a second bay for more boat storage as well as meeting space and an area for ergs.
With a membership base of 100 members ranging in age from early teens to late 70’s, ILRC has developed programming for every age group and skill level. The club has a large high school program with participation from high schools in the neighbouring communities of Brampton, Bolton, and Orangeville. In a typical year, the high school programs start mid-April and go until the beginning of June with early morning training sessions five days per week. The club also runs a Summer youth program which is also mainly for high school students, in both competitive and recreational streams, as well as a Summer camp for the 11-14 year old age group, which serves as an introduction to the sport of rowing for youths.
Many graduates of the high school rowing program have gone on to row on University crews at Queen’s, Guelph, Brock, Ottawa, Carleton, McGill and the University of Toronto. One recent alumnus who stands out is Gavin Stone, who cut his teeth in rowing at ILRC before moving on to row at Queen’s. Stone has been making a name for himself in the rowing world and is now a National Team member who has competed at two U23 World Championships (2017, 2018) and a Senior World Championships in the men’s eight in 2019. The ILRC also has competitive master rowers who have experienced success and recently won gold medals at the 2018 World Masters competition in Sarasota, Florida.
In terms of programming for adults, the club typically runs a weekend and a three-week Learn-to-Row program for adults that begins in June and is open to all comers looking to test out the sport. Rowers also have the option of joining as a full member and participating as a recreational or competitive rower. Recreational rowing members have the option of rowing in a variety of boats, depending on their skill level and weather conditions. The club has a number of boats, including racing and recreational singles, doubles, pairs, quads, 4x’s, and 8’s. New recreational members are supported by masters rowers who help them enhance their skills and expand the boats they can row. Competitive rowers at the club train regularly and participate in regattas across Ontario. ILRC rowers can be seen participating at regattas in St. Catharines, London, Guelph, Toronto and Peterborough throughout the Summer months and at Head Races in the Fall.
Since their inception 22 years ago, the Island Lake Rowing Club has been a successful mid-sized club and Nelson attributes their success to a strong culture of inclusiveness that the club and the members share along with a strong core of volunteers whose love of the sport shines through in their commitment to the club.
“We’re a very supportive and inclusive club in the sense that we welcome anyone no matter your experience or skillset,” said Nelson. “Whether you want to just row for recreation or become a competitive rower, you are welcome at Island Lake. We’ve had a number of people who are new to our club comment that they can’t believe how helpful and welcoming the club is. We’re a volunteer-run club and we pride ourselves on having a strong community culture.”
Thank you to Ann Nelson for her generous contributions and help in completing this profile. Photos are property of Island Lake Rowing Club.