Row Ontario's 50th Anniversary

Row Ontario's 50th Anniversary

Row Ontario is turning 50 this year! We have a number of initiatives on the go to celebrate our 50th anniversary in style, including a seven-part retrospective history series, profiles on key contributors and the launching of the Row Ontario Hall of Fame. We’re extremely excited to celebrate our 50-year history with the Ontario rowing community this year and can’t wait to see what’s in store for the next 50 years!

Row Ontario Retrospective

In honour of our 50th anniversary we are putting together a seven-part retrospective series on the history of Row Ontario and the Ontario rowing community. This series is a celebration of all the volunteers, coaches, umpires, athletes, parents, regatta organizers and many more who have worked so hard over the years to build the sport of rowing in our province.

They say it takes a village to raise one child. To build the sport of rowing in Ontario it took the whole province.

Row Ontario Retrospective Stories:

Before the Ontario Rowing Association

The First 25 Years

The History of Umpiring in Ontario (coming soon)

Ontario Rowers at the Olympics (coming soon)

The History of Coaching in Ontario (coming soon)

The Second 25 Years (coming soon)

The Next 50 Years (coming soon)

Row Ontario 50th Anniversary Honours

In honour of Row Ontario’s 50th anniversary we are celebrating just some of the many athletes, coaches, umpires and builders who have contributed greatly to rowing in Ontario throughout the history of the sport. Please find the gallery below with all the honourees!

Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to see the profiles written on these AMAZING contributors!

50 Years at a Glance

Row Ontario Presidents:

Coming Soon!

Row Ontario Executive Directors:

Dave Derry – 1987-2000
Patrick Okens – 2000-06
Susan Kitchen (interim) – 2006
Derek Ventnor – 2006-17
Andrew Backer – 2017-Present

Fun Historical Facts:

  • The Ontario Rowing Association (ORA) was created in 1970, one year after the first Ontario Rowing Championships were held in St. Catharines
  • The ORA became the 56th sport organization to become a member of Sport Ontario, joining other sport organizations from across the province
  • The first Row Ontario ‘office’ was in London, Ont., at President Max McDonald’s house
  • The ORA had nine member clubs in 1970 – Argonaut Rowing Club, Brockville Rowing Club, Don Rowing Club, Leander Boat Club, London Rowing Club, Kenora Rowing Club, Ottawa Rowing Club, St. Catharines Rowing Club and the Thunder Bay Rowing Club
  • St. Catharines hosted the 1970 FISA World Rowing Championships in the first year of ORA’s existence
  • In 1971, the ORA’s operating budget was $2,800.
  • The first Ontario Rowing Championship to be held outside of St. Catharines took place in Brockville in 1972. Brockville hosted again in 1974.
  • By 1973, the Windsor Rowing Club, University of Western Ontario, Brock University Rowing Club, Ridley Boat Club and Peterborough Rowing Club had joined the ORA as members.
  • Carol Love was the first paid employee of the ORA after being hired as Technical Director in part-time role in the mid-1980’s.
  • Dave Derry was the first full-time staff member of the ORA, hired as Administrative Director (later changed to Executive Director) in 1987.
  • The ORA’s first actual office space also came in 1987, at the Ontario Sport Centre in Toronto
  • The ORA initially shared an office at the Sport Centre with the Ontario Ball Hockey Association
  • Ontario has hosted two Canada Summer Games since 1970, Thunder Bay in 1981 and London in 2001. Ontario won the Canada Games flag both years.
  • The Ontario Rowing Association changed its name to Row Ontario in 2001

Rowing in Ontario Through the Years

We want to celebrate all the hard work and great moments in the last 50 years with a retrospective picture album! Check out these pictures below and reminisce and remember all the great moments you thought you forgot about!

If you have any historical pictures from a past Row Ontario event like the Ontario Rowing Championships, umpire clinics, coaching clinics, board meetings, banquets, AGM’s, or social gatherings and are comfortable sharing online, please send to to add to this gallery!

Row Ontario Hall of Fame

Row Ontario will be inducting the inaugural class of the Row Ontario Hall of Fame this year! The Hall of Fame will recognize and honour the outstanding contributions and individual achievements in the sport of rowing in Ontario.

The induction categories for the HOF will include Athlete (including Crews), Coach, Umpire and Builder. A builder can include variety of functions in the sport of rowing including administrator, regatta director, patron, media (journalist/broadcaster), sports medicine, and volunteer.

Stay tuned for announcements on the inaugural class of the Row Ontario Hall of Fame!

Logo History