Although only 75 years old itself, the club can be tied to events dating back at least to 1732. The beautiful island we call home has, since the arrival of the Europeans, been a family estate, hospital, quarantine station, military prison, prisoner of war camp, recruit training station for the British Foreign Legion, ammunition depot and a yacht club. Wayward soldiers and sailors were jailed here as early as 1803. Beginning in 1808 French prisoners began arriving during the Napoleonic Wars. American prisoners captured during the war of 1812 also paid a reluctant visit to what by then had been named Melville Island after Henry Dundas, the Viscount Melville, a person of “provincial dialect and ungraceful manner”.
In the early years, the island changed hands many times between various civilian owners, the British Army and the Royal Navy. The Canadian Military took control of the four acre island in 1905. The stone prison on the site was used during the first World War to house German prisoners of war.
The Military moved out in 1945 and soon after, the founders of Armdale Yacht Club negotiated a long term lease for the land with the Department of National Defense Five buildings of that historic period remain. One of them is our club house. Built in 1808 it stands on the highest point of land on the island and gives a panoramic view of the Northwest Arm, the mooring field, marinas and yard activities. Pay a visit. Savor the legacy and the legend of Armdale Yacht Club.
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A Detailed History Of Armdale Yacht Club By: J. P. LeBlanc
Incorporating the Armdale Yacht Club was not an event that suddenly rose from the sea floor of the Northwest Arm. It was years in the making. As the second oldest yacht club in Nova Scotia, Canada, AYC in its location has the longest association with sailing ships … bar none … certainly in Canada. At the mouth of the Northwest Arm is the oldest yacht club in North America. The Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron has existed since 1837. AYC has history and legend… far more than can be written here.
In the 1920’s young men like Jack Buckley, Jim Egan, and Walter Piers led the way to the incorporation of the Armdale Yacht Club. First from a location close to Jubillee Road, then from ‘Mosey’ Stoneman’s Armdale Boat House and the Edmonds ground, AYC set itself up on Melville Island.
A 1930’s challenge with those who raced on Chocolate Lake brought others to the Arm. The ‘Siskin’ was an early power boat. During the prohibition era she knew about “rum running”. Louis ‘Tookie’ Murphy (AYC’s 2nd Commodore) later became Siskin’s proud owner. Jim Egan, AYC’s first Commodore, was the owner of the other power boat ‘Comber’.
When Mosey’s boathouse was torn down, a property on Edmond’s Grounds became the Club House. As membership grew, AYC moved to a second and larger house. The new location offered better moorings, a panorama of the Arm and a “great view of the races”. Then, twenty avid yachtsmen took steps to incorporate. This came from the efforts of Arthur J. Meagher and, passing by the Nova Scotia Legislature of the Armdale Yacht Club Act of 1937. The fee was set at twenty five (25) cents.