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

The Elite Ontario Rowers

The History of Coaching in Ontario 

The Second 25 Years

The Next 50 Years

Bonus Retrospective: The History of Lightweight Rowing

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:

Max McDonald – 1970-73 (London Rowing Club)
Wes Kuran – 1973-77 (Brockville Rowing Club)
Roger Sellars – 1977-81 (Windsor Crew)
Bud Malmo – 1981-82 (Kenora Rowing Club)
Pat Hughes – 1982-85 (St. Catharines Rowing Club)
Mike Murphy – 1985-89 (London Rowing Club)
Jeff Reitberger – 1989-93 (Thunder Bay Rowing Club)
Peter King – 1993-96 (Ottawa Rowing Club)
Wayne De Haitre – 1996-2000 (Quinte Rowing Club)
Bruce Gibson – 2000-02 (Tillsonburg Rowing Club)
Giselle Chiasson – 2002-03 (Thunder Bay Rowing Club)
George Barkwell – 2003-05 (South Niagara Rowing Club)
Mike Thompson – 2005-06 (St. Catharines Rowing Club)
Lynda Dundas – 2006-11 (Don Rowing Club)
Tom Blacquiere – 2011-16 (South Niagara Rowing Club)
Chris Waddell – 2016-Present (Ottawa Rowing Club)

Row Ontario Executive Directors:

Dave Derry – 1987-2000
Susan Kitchen (interim) – 2000
Patrick Okens – 2000-06
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.
  • Canada has won a total of 41 Olympic medals (9 gold, 17 silver, 15 bronze) and 1 Paralympic medal (bronze).
  • The first Olympic medal won by Canada in rowing was a silver won by the Argonaut Men’s 8 at the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis.
  • The first Paralympic medal won by Canada in rowing was a bronze won by the PR3Mix4+ at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
  • London’s Lesley Thompson-Willie is tied with Phil Edwards (athletics) for the most Summer Olympic medals (five) of any Canadian athlete. She is also tied with German kayaker Josefa Idem for the most Summer Olympic Games appearances by a female athlete with eight.

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 is 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 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.

Hall of Fame Inductee Announcements:

Ken Campbell – Umpire 

Al Morrow – Coach

Claude Saunders – Builder 

1930-39 Leander Boat Club Men’s 8 – Crew

Ned Hanlan – Elite Athlete

Marnie McBean – Elite Athlete

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