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Sports & Play

Rowing clubs in Toronto

Posted by Guest Contributor / May 27, 2012

Rowing Clubs TorontoRowing clubs in Toronto might be the next step once you've mastered that rowing machine at the local gym. Of course, it's important not to confuse the sport of rowing with canoeing, kayaking, dragon boating or anything dubbed "paddling". We're talking about rowing here, Canada's most successful Olympic sport. If you're having trouble visualizing, think the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network.

Whatever your frame of reference or inspiration, nothing compares to being on the water while watching a sunset on Toronto's skyline. There's no denying the beauty, grace and peacefulness of the sport and an hour row will fly by as the surrounding scenery distracts you.

All rowing clubs listed below offer 3-4 week introductory Learn to Row courses for roughly $300, which develops the basic rowing skills. While teaching you the basics, these courses will prepare you to continue rowing the rest of the summer (and beyond). Most importantly, if you love spandex like me, just remember it's the recommend attire.

Argonaut Rowing Club
The Argonaut Rowing Club is one of Canada's oldest rowing clubs, founded in 1872, located in the Western Beaches. Learn to Row courses book up quickly so sign up as soon as possible. There can be boat traffic here, veering around sailboats and fighting dragon boaters for good water, so you have to be extra cautious rowing to avoid any collisions.

Bayside Rowing Club
If you've ever had the urge to release your inner barbarian, then check out Bayside Rowing Club, at Leslie and Lakeshore. Primarily known for their corporate rowing program, companies sign up for a corporate challenge in a Viking Boat race and in return support the opportunity for inner-city youth teams. This kind of rowing doesn't require much technical skill, and is more about getting you and your co-workers sweating beside each other. If you're a beginner looking for recreational rowing, Bayside's rates are the lowest in the city at only $130 per season and, for-non-Vikings, they offer a full compliment of traditional rowing classes too. Best of all, Bayside has Toronto's only completely sheltered body of water: calm and free of all other traffic from any other recreational users.

Don Rowing Club
If you're in Mississauga, Don Rowing Club rows out in Port Credit, on the Credit River. With the sheltered location you can always be sure you can get out for a row, even on the windiest day. Don Rowing Club has the best-kept boathouse, with clean showers and change rooms, lockers, a fitness room, and lounge/kitchen area. Congestion on the river can also be an issue since the water is shared with Mississauga Canoe club, however you might get to scope out some good looking kayakers in the mean time.

Hanlan Boat Club
Hanlan Boat Club lies deep in the Port Lands, just east of Cherry Beach. This is one of three clubs (the others are Bayside and Argos) that will offer a subsidy towards membership fees after your Learn to Row course, encouraging you to continue with the sport. Hanlan offers smaller group Learn to Row courses in boats of 4 people. At first, the club doesn't seem too impressive - they lack a complete boat house and have no running water, which means you're stuck doing you business in port-a-potties. However, Hanlan proves you don't need all the gimmicks to be successful, as Upper Canada College rows out of the club and produces one of the top rowing programs in the country.

Writing by Lauren Brown. Photo by Caro Kronlachner.



Binky / May 28, 2012 at 11:05 am
Life is short... Stroke hard!
Nick / September 22, 2012 at 01:03 pm
Could you clarify what this $130 rec program at Bayside is that you mention? Their website says the annual rate for rec rowing is $700 (, which puts them up there with the Argonauts. Hanlan actually seems to be cheapest at $475.
torontorower / October 25, 2012 at 07:59 am
In regards to Bayside's Learn To Row program described on your web site where I payed my $300 as, "for adults who are looking to learn the basics of the sport of rowing in a comfortable and friendly environment".

For an adult coming in with no prior boating experience, I was expecting to be taught the basics of a sport, that despite my experience at Bayside, I still think I may very much enjoy. I was NOT expecting to be yelled at for making mistakes - something all beginners do; this is a natural part of learning - and continually spoken to in a more-than-condescending tone by two high school students/coaches. If I were in training for a race of some sort, the yelling might make sense - trying to toughen people up for competition, etc - but that was not what I signed up for.

Teaching 101: if I were to attempt to teach you Chinese, I would not yell at you every time you mispronounced a word, and hope that by continuing to yell louder and louder, you might finally pronounce it correctly. I would calmly and patiently work with you, perhaps trying a couple of different methods, in an attempt to impart my knowledge of the language. If at the end of seven weeks, I put you in front of an audience to give a speech in Chinese, and you froze up and choked on your words, I wouldn't continue to yell at you, roll my eyes and wonder out loud how anyone could be so stupid; I would ask myself what I did wrong as your teacher and what I could do differently to help you learn the basics of Chinese. In my case, "a comfortable and friendly environment" was all that would have been required.

Aside from the misrepresentation of the teaching environment of Learn To Row, I arrived at or before 6 p.m. on all weeks - the start time given on the web site when I signed up - and not once did the class start on time, most weeks starting later than 6:30, leaving me and others in the group to sit awkwardly in the cold waiting either for the instructors to finish with another group or to decide if more people were going to show up, which would dictate which boat we went out in; strangely, the group I was in quickly dwindled from 10 to 8 to 3 to the last day where I was the only person in attendance. Perhaps some of the evenings it was cold that kept people away, but at least two of the nights were beautiful weather, and only three people including myself attended those evenings.

The majority of the members of my group also commented to me once or more on the lack of professionalism displayed at Bayside, as well as the disregard for our time and money.

I paid to learn to row. Being treated like an equal human being should go without saying.
Lauren / June 17, 2013 at 02:17 pm
In response to Nick, I wrote this article and for some unknown reason the Bayside description was edited before being posted without my approval or awareness. I did not write "Bayside's rates are the lowest in the city at only $130 per season and, for-non-Vikings, they offer a full compliment of traditional rowing classes too. Best of all, Bayside has Toronto's only completely sheltered body of water: calm and free of all other traffic from any other recreational users."

I don't know why BlogTO feels that they can edit guest writer's posts this way without verifying the source, but Nick you are correct and I don't believe that there is not a $130 per season program at Bayside.

I've heard mixed reviews about their LTR program, but do know many unhappy club members that have moved to Argos and Hanlan.
UhOh / June 19, 2013 at 11:50 am
If you sign up as an individual, it's about $130/person. If you sign up as a team of 7, then it's $700 or $100/person.

Not sure about the other rowing clubs, but Bayside is definitely disorganized.
Bayside Head Coach / April 2, 2014 at 03:48 pm
As Head Coach at Bayside, I'd like to respond to the above comments. I've only just become aware of them and wanted to reply right away:

1. First, our club is set up public school kids and inner-city kids (last year we hosted 500+ inner-city kids from the worst parts of the city... to see a photo gallery and learn more, please visit to se a video of the program, please click here:

We have been doing this for over 20 years and hosted over 10,000 rowers both young and old. In order to raise the funds necessary to make a difference with kids, we host several hundred adults every spring, summer and fall... with the vast majority of people having a great experience.

Obviously, there have been times when we made mistakes. During those times, we have apologized... and in instances where we couldn't solve something satisfactorily, we've issued refunds.

If our instructors in the past did not delivery the lessons in the way that was supportive, then the blame for that rests solely with me, as Head Coach, for not providing enough training for them to deal with all the situations that could come up (that also comes with time and experience). While all our instructors definitely have the expertise, it is obvious from your comment that they lacked the experience. For this I sincerely apologize. Please contact me at so that we can discuss remedies/solutions.

As for our instructors this year, we have hired two great women to lead the programs: Katie and Nina. Both are in their 20's and are varsity rowers at York University. They have lots of experience instructing lessons as both are swim instructors and lifeguards. Katie works at York U throughout the year organizing all the Clubs on campus and Nina is in her last year of Teacher's College and will graduate next year as a certified teacher.

We are very excited about the upcoming season and Katie and Nina look forward making 2014 the best year ever for our Learn 2 Row participants.

2. Regarding how our Learn 2 Row program works... it is broken down into a 3-step process: Viking Boat; Touring Shells; Racing Shells. The lessons learned at each level help prepare you for the next level. You can choose the typical Learn 2 Row that combines step 1 and 2... or you can just do step 1 in the Viking Boats.

As for the cost: our Viking Boat program is $130 (as is stated in the article) and runs once/week for 6 weeks. Like the last several years, we have run this program in a corporate challenge format with groups and individuals coming together for fun, fitness and a little competition (

The more complete Learn 2 Row is $300 and can be done once/week or twice/week with eight (8) lessons in total with four (4) in the Viking Boat and four (4) in the Touring Shells ( If however there are not enough registrants to fill a Viking Boat, then all the lessons take place in the Touring Shells (the more traditional method).

I'd like to close by saying that we're really lucky to have had SO many people come and try our sport and provide us the funds needed to make a difference with inner-city kids. To all the rowers and coaches in years' past: We couldn't have done it without you! A heartfelt Thank you! :-)


Dominic Kahn, Head Coach
UnHappy Customer / October 8, 2014 at 06:05 pm
Bayside rowing club is ridiculously disorganized. Having been a customer for a number of years, I've learned that Dom blames his disorganization on the idea that he is helping so many children. In reality none of the the money you donate/ spend will go there. Once or twice each summer young kids come and learn to row. Thats it. No lives changed, at least not in the last ten years.

If you decide to row in the old and broken boats, chances are Dom wont even be there teaching, it will be his staff. He will then show up late and scream at his staff of teenagers. Afterwards he will tell you all of the excuses you can ever imagine as to why he was not here and why you should feel bad for him. Then he will tell you he is the best coach in the country, and all about his elaborate plans to build a kids camp, which he is obviously way too focused on to ever but any time or effort into his own club.

Basically Bayside is a joke. Don't let Dom sweet talk you into believing anything else.
Traumatized and Scammed / January 9, 2015 at 04:49 pm
My experience with Bayside was one of the most horrible experiences of my life. Do not let this coach mislead you. Absolutely appalling behaviour from this man. The place is a safety liability the second you step on its grounds. I would never recommend this rowing club to anyone. Why did I pay taxes on a non-profit organization?

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