TORONTO SUNNYSIDE PADDLING CLUB
Sunnyside Paddling Club is a Toronto community-based non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and facilitation of paddle sports. Established in 2005 as National Dragonboat Club, the organization quickly evolved to include a variety of other paddle sports (i.e. outrigger), and being located on Humber Bay Shores at Sunnyside, the new name Sunnyside Paddling Club was made official in 2012.
One of its original founders, and presently Head Coach, Blake Hara is a community-builder and believer in extending paddle sport access to as many corners of the community as possible, no matter anyone’s perceived limitations. Paddling brings people together and encourages healthy living and cooperation. It’s also an integral piece of our Canadian cultural fabric.
Sunnyside Paddling Club currently has over 1,300 active members, most of whom participate on its 70 dragonboat teams, making it North America’s largest paddling club. Outrigger is also becoming increasingly popular on the lake and Sunnyside Paddling Club is always exploring new options for plying the shores of Lake Ontario.
Sunnyside Paddling Club is proud of its history and cooperative arrangement with the City of Toronto and the historic Sunnyside Pavilion. We look forward to supporting recreation in Toronto and on the lake!
See you at the beach!!
Originally the Greater Toronto Dragon Boat Club (GTDBC)
The Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival (TIDBRF) was founded in 1989 and soon became North America’s most popular and premier dragonboat event. In addition to providing festival and race opportunities for teams, the event organizers, the Toronto Chinese Business Association (TCBA), organized training and preparation packages for teams. Eventually, competing teams were demanding more practices with increased expertise, and the TCBA established the Greater Toronto Dragon Boat Club (GTDBC) in response to the requests. Both the TIDBRF and the GTDBC were incorporated as not-for-profit organizations to handle the demands of dragonboaters and dragonboat enthusiasts in the Greater Toronto Area. During its first decade of operations, the GTDBC ran its practices out of various locations in the city including Centre Island, Palais Royale, Ontario Place, the Humber River, and eventually settled at Sunnyside Pavilion. In 2006, the TCBA decided that it would no longer coordinate practices for its racers and instead would strictly focus on race operations and culture - its primary areas of expertise.
National Dragonboat Club (NDC) formed in 2006
It was at this time that National Dragonboat Club (NDC) was formed. The club purchased the assets (boats, docks, equipment) from TCBA to create a new not-for-profit organization/club for the Toronto paddling community. NDC's founders and Board of Directors were paddlers, coaches, team captains, and other key members of the paddling community. In addition to providing a platform for paddlers in the Toronto area, NDC would also subsidize Canada's national teams and provide paddling opportunities to at-risk youth and people with disabilities who otherwise would not have opportunities to participate in paddle sports. NDC quickly became home to the world’s fastest dragonboat teams and in the early 2000's, NDC-affiliated National Teams established Canada’s most successful international reign, sweeping many premier race categories at the World Championships and is still the only syndicate in history to win three Nations Cup Trophies - emblematic of world dragonboat leadership and dominance.
Relationship with City of Toronto and other Key Stakeholders
In addition to being a dragonboat and paddling powerhouse, NDC also boasted healthy relationships with its partners on the Toronto waterfront. Being at Sunnyside Pavilion, NDC had a healthy working relationship with the City of Toronto and Sunnyside Café. At Sunnyside however, NDC was not able to store all of its equipment and so, quickly established a positive working relationship with its neighbour, the Boulevard Club (formerly also Toronto’s original paddling club, Parkdale Canoe Club). This healthy relationship continues today and the two waterfront organizations often share resources and work together on important community efforts.
2006 International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) Worlds
In 2006 NDC partnered with Dragon Boat Canada (DBC) and the International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) to host the IDBF Club Crew World Championships. This was an enormous undertaking and NDC was pivotal in orchestrating the event. The event was the catalyst that sparked the $23 million dollar break wall improvement project, supported by all three levels of government. The Toronto paddling community continues to enjoy this watercourse on a daily basis during the paddling season. Without this event and NDC's participation and contributions, the break wall would never have been built.
2011 International Canoe Federation (ICF) World Championships
In 2011, NDC partnered with the International Canoe Federation (ICF) and Canoe Kayak Canada to host the ICF World Club Crew Championships. This event was a success and NDC is proud of its achievement in bringing paddlers together regardless of boundaries or affiliations. For NDC, who you are aligned with, in terms of governing bodies, should not limit your participation in this amazing team paddling sport.
Growth between 2006 and 2012
Between NDC’s formation in 2006 and 2012, NDC grew the sport of dragonboat to over 150 teams at its club alone - not to mention other teams and clubs that were influenced and established as a result of NDC’s activities and events. This 50% growth accomplishment took just six years. It was also during this time that NDC expanded its programming to also include outrigger, war canoe, sprint canoe/kayak, and stand up paddleboard. In 2012, NDC officially changed its name to Sunnyside Paddling Club (SPC) - to better reflect its location in the City of Toronto and the services that it now offered to its membership.
Sunnyside Paddling Club (SPC)
Today, Sunnyside Paddling Club (SPC) is the largest paddling club in Canada, and possibly North America, with over 3,000 active members participating in all types of paddle-sport. SPC is proud of its heritage, diversity, and its commitment to offer paddling to individuals of all abilities including those with mental and physical disabilities. SPC is proud to work closely with the Toronto District School Board and offer dragonboat paddling opportunities to youth and local communities that otherwise would not participate in paddling. Many of SPC's programs are subsidized to eliminate barriers for paddlers on the waterfront. SPC believes that paddling is a life skill, not only from a safety perspective, but that it also teaches networking, cooperation, friendship, and teamwork, which are all important skills to be successful in life.
Different Paddle Sports
In the future, SPC is excited to continue adding new disciplines of paddling that will be introduced into the community. SPC is confident that these new disciplines will help to provide paddling platforms for more and more people in the Greater Toronto Area and around the world.
SPC members and staff work to no end with the assistance of the City of Toronto to keep our water and beach clean. Garbage, ﬂotsam, and jetsam that wash up on the beach are routinely handled in the proper manner. If you have a beachfront clean-up initiative you need assistance with, let us know - we have boats, equipment, people, and the experience to help do what’s right.