Boat and Canoe Club History

Grand Rapids Boat and Canoe Club

Memories of Owashtanong and Grand Rapids Boat and Canoe Club

The Owashtanong Club had been organized in 1886 by John Homiller, a furniture manufacturer. His associates were George H.Perry, a former mayor, and A. B. Kennen and C. W. Chanucey. One of the popular sports was rowing. In 1902 the club was reorganized as the Grand Rapids Boat and Canoe Club and moved to North Park-on-the-Grand. At the time it had a membership of 150 which later increased to 400. Originally it had quarters south of the North Park Bridge but some six years later, the club moved into a new building just north of the bridge. Other sports were shell racing, competitive swimming, tennis and they also had a baseball team. Soon after the end of World War I, the automobile changed things. Members soon joined country clubs at the expense of the North Park club. In the 1902's the club was dissolved.

The Owashtanong Club at Reeds Lake came to a fiery end around 1920. It was succeeded by the former Grand Rapids Boat and Canoe Club, on the Grand River at North Park.

The first boathouse for the city's rowing club was built in 1910 at North Park St. NW and Monroe Ave. It was located at the current site of the American Legion, in the North Park business district at the north end of Grand Rapids.  (from MiGenWeb)

American Legion Boat and Canoe Club History

The City of Grand Rapids took over the property in 1929 and sold it to the Grand Rapids Coach and Motor Company which used it as a skating rink. The City took the property back in the mid 1930's and in 1941 sold it to the American Legion. Sadly, the elegant boathouse burned down in December 1964, and only the basement level remained.  The Post was rebuilt with changes that made it safer in flood times.

In 2009 the full service lounge was opened to members and their guest allowing the club to continue serving member with dances, charitable events and good camaraderie.

WWII Memorial Stone

The WWII Memorial Stone includes a plaque formerly located at the entrance to the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans Cemetery. The plaque on the stone remembers those who died during WWII from the North Park area and was dedicated May 30, 1948 by the people of North Park. It was moved to the grounds of The American Legion Boat & Canoe Club and placed on a permanent slab on Wednesday, May 17, 2017. 

Date of Installation: May 17, 2017

Memorial War Era(s): WWII