A group of sailboats in the lake.

Our Story

Sailboats at Royal Hamilton Yacht Club out on the lake. Sunny day with clouds.  

The History of the Royal Hamilton Yacht Club

Sailing and boating have been activities on Hamilton Harbour for well over 150 years. The harbour was home to a number of large yachts when the first yacht club was built in 1860. The Hamilton Yacht Club was founded in1888 - when it opened at the foot of James Street and then later moved to the foot of Bay Street. It was at this time that yachting took firm hold in the harbour and many regattas were held.

The Charter Commodore of The Hamilton Yacht Club was William Eli Sanford. In 1890, he began representation to Her Majesty Queen Victoria and on February 14th, 1891 the Club was informed by the Governor General of Canada, The Right Honourable Lord Stanley of Preston, that Queen Victoria had consented to the use of the word “Royal”, making it one of only ten clubs in Canada granted this designation.

In 1891 federal authorities agreed that the RHYC could build a new clubhouse beside the Burlington Canal that proved to be a popular place, especially among the wealthy and affluent that frequented the resort area of the beach strip. It remained as a major landmark until it burned down in 1915. The Club reopened at the Bay Street location in 1920 and then later to its current setting at the foot of MacNab Street North.

The Club boasts an ideal location on the Southwestern shore of Hamilton Harbour, at the western tip of Lake Ontario. The unique geography of the harbour provides shelter for the beginner and interesting winds for the more seasoned racer and sailor. It also allows for an extended sailing season, from early spring to late fall.

Since 1888, the RHYC has offered some of the top sailing programs in Canada. Canada’s first Olympic sailor, John Robertson Sr., was a member of RHYC and members have historically been involved in all levels and aspects of racing and competitive sailing, winning many titles and accolades.


Our proud history continues in this same tradition.

Excerpts from the book “One Hundred Years and Still Sailing!” by Commodore H. Penny