In the year 1875 a group of Wyandotte men led by one John McKnight met to form a boat club. The Wyandotte Boat Club was officially organized and purchased a ten-oar barge out of Detroit. The first home of the club was at the foot of Pine Street in a shed behind the summer home of a resident of Wyandotte. A small boat house was erected at the foot of Vinewood to shelter the barge. It was a two story wooden structure, roughly constructed of wide boards with some trim at the top. Around the building were wide verandas where young ladies vied for seats of honor when the town was competing on the broad river below. It was the first official home of the Wyandotte Boat Club. They put in long hard days at the steel mill and boat works and rowed to relieve the tensions of the day. They competed against The Detroit Boat Club and The Ecorse Boat Club located to the north of Wyandotte. At that time the only means of transportation was to row to the race and row back home. The club's second home was in a one bay shell house behind the Legion on Vinewood. The rowers launched from a dock directly in front of the Legion building. The rowers rowed out of the legion until a new club was constructed in 1944.
WBC 1892 Mens Four
The Old Club
In 1944, through the efforts of William E. Kreger, who has been a life long rowing enthusiast and benefactor, the boat club was incorporated as a non-profit corporation. Soon after, the Wyandotte Chemical Corp. deeded a seven and a half acre parcel at the foot of Mulberry St. to the club. The parcel of land included a small body of water known at the time as Burrell Slip. Through donations only, the club built a new boat house on the site. It was 90 ft by 36 ft and although it had been expanded over the years it was the home of the Wyandotte Boat Club for fifty years. The old club featured a two bay shell house with a locker and shower room. It was all built with donated materials. A complete club house was also built on the river and in 1953 it was leased to The Wyandotte Yacht Club. The revenues of that lease went to support the club's rowing programs as it does today.
The Bay In 1900
Support of High School Rowing
In the mid 1940's, the boat club began a program to sponsor rowing for high school students. The purpose was to promote the sport of rowing. Theodore Roosevelt High School was the first followed soon after by Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School. In May, 1947 The Wyandotte Boat Club hosted the 13th Annual National Schoolboy Regatta. Bleachers were set up along the river for 3,000 spectators although many more were expected. Entries had been received from crews throughout the east and mid-west including St. Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia, Buffalo, St. Catharines Ont. and Hamilton Ont. Since that time, the boat club has brought three other local schools into it's family, Riverview High School, Carlson High School and Grosse Ile High School. Today the club supports rowing at elementary, middle and high school levels. The school programs are open to all students and there is no charge to the student or the school for participation in the sport or use of the facilities. The high school oarsmen are known both nationally and internationally as a force to be reckoned with in the rowing arena.
Some names are unavailable. Top Row, Left to Right - Sid Fogel, WBC President, John Fisher, Bourassa, Lee Philport, Rod Kreger, Len Jezak, Carl Baltosiewiecz, Ed Hebda, Joe Carolla, Cully Bourassa (Coach). Bottom Row, Left to Right - Melhouse, Unknown, Unknown, Ron Janvery, Curt Burkett, Ron Sedliar, Jim Johnston, Unknown, Bob Giannola.
Picture Curtesy of Bernie Hebda
1955 R.H.S. Crew
From left to right - Bill Leibengood - Lee Philport - Jim O"Guinn - Rod Kreger - Cox kneeling - George Moore.
1956 W.B.C. Crew
Some names are unavailable. Top Row, Left to Right -Cully Bourassa (Coach), Kreger, Unknown, Unknown, Ed Urbanek, Unknown, Ed Hebda, Bill Smoke, Unknown, Ron Padolak, Mike Baltosewicz, Unknown, Irvin Irwin, Ron Lapinski, Carl Bufe, Unknown, Unknown, Len Mosczynski, Ed Kalisewicz (Coach). Bottom Row, Left to Right - Unknown, Ron Sedlire, Bob Kunitz, Unknown, Frank Toth, Unknown, Unknown, UNknown, Ted Borowicz, Walt Chojnowski (Boatman). Pictures Curtesy of Bernie Hebda.
First W.B.C. Womens Crew 1972
The New Wyandotte Boat Club Facility
The WBC of Today
In the early 1990's, with the expansion of women's rowing programs, the club once again found itself out of room. The shell house was full to capacity and the club continued to have winning seasons. Due to its success and the surge in growth, the club found itself in need of larger facilities or it would be put in the difficult position of refusing young people interested in the sport. The club being in need, went to its long time friends and benefactors BASF Corp. and Bill Kreger for help. Working with the City of Wyandotte and many other groups, the club embarked on a process of designing a new world class, Olympic caliber facility which currently stands. Over the 125 years of the club's existance it has come full circle and is once again located at the foot of Pine Street where it all began. to be built one mile south of its present location on the Detroit River, on land generously provided by BASF and the City of Wyandotte. The new 1.8 million dollar facility has enabled the club to increase its rowing family to include six local schools that have rowing programs. The funds for construction were raised through tax deductible donations and bank loans. On January 14, 1997, after sixteen months of construction, the first high school and club crews began winter training in the new facility. The success of the project was primarily due to the cooperation between community leaders, the City of Wyandotte, and the dedicated members of the Wyandotte Boat Club. The Wyandotte Boat Club was inaugurated 127 years ago in 1875 and it has always held a position high in the annals of rowing. It has grown from a small shell house on the Detroit River to multi-million dollar facility on the Detroit River's Trenton Channel. It has been the aim of the club and its officiers to build a bigger and better facility for the young people of Southeastern Wayne County and to encourage them to flourish physically, mentally and morally.
2009 Ellwood Hebda We regret to inform you that Ellwood Hebda has passed. Ellwood along with his brothers Ray and Ed Hebda are originators of the Hebda Memorial Cup Regatta sponsored by the club for over forty years. Ellwood was a long time dedicated member of the club. Ellwood was a past board member and served on numerous committees over the years. He was most noted for his excellent announcing of all of the club and high school regattas. His resounding voice will be missed. Please keep his family on your thoughts. Services will be at Czopek Funeral Home at 11:00 am. on Wednesday December 16th.
Ben Wahowiak - We are saddened to report today that Ben Wahowiak has passed on at 86 years of age. Ben was a long time member and past Board Member of the W.B.C. Ben was very active in the club during the mid and late Seventies and worked very hard to promote the sport of rowing and the club. Services are at Chopek Funeral Home on Wednesday and Thursday with a funeral Mass at O.L. Mt. Carmel on Friday at 10:00 a.m.
Milt Crassweller - Today we report the passing of our dear friend and fellow W.B.C. member Milt Crassweller. Milt has been a dedicated member for over fifty years. He has rowed and coached both club and high school crews over the years. Milt was a leading figure in bringing the sport of rowing to Riverview High School in the early seventies. He was a strong proponent of high school rowing and worked tirelessly for the W.B.C. Milt was always ready with a joke or funny story to cheer us up, his humor was notable. He spent many hours at the club working for rowing and he will be missed.
The Boat Club mourns the sudden loss of our active member Sally Gacioch, wife of past president Ron Gacioch. Sally was an active W.B.C. member who chaired the Scholarship Committee for the last five years. She and her committee processed scholarship applicants to receive the Club's Foundation awards. Sally attended and supported many W.B.C. social functions. She was a school teacher in the Wyandotte system for many years and will be missed not only by her many students but many W.B.C. members. Our sympathy goes out to Ron and her children Michael and Bethany.
The Boat Club mourns the sudden loss of our good friend and active member Len Jezak. Len rowed for the Club with the Hebda brothers and has been an active club member since those days. He worked the finish line at every regatta and was always eager to help wherever needed. Recently, Len was most proud of his grand daughter who rows for the Roosevelt Crew. We express our deepest sympathy to his entire family. Len was a loyal member and will be missed by all of us.
On Saturday December 9, 2006 Ed Bruto lost his couragous battle with cancer and passed away. Ed was a member of the club since the early 1970's and helped coach Roosevelt High school and W.B.C. crews to numerous victories. Ed was dedicated to the kids who row at the Club going out of his way to encourage them to better themselves. He was an example of the work ethic we try to inspire in the kids, he saw a job and did it, no questions asked. In his sickest hours he still made it to the club on Friday mornings to chat with the guys. His enthusiasm and cheerfullness will be truely missed by all of us. Rest in Peace our friend.
The Wyandotte Boat Club membership mourns the loss of Ed Kalisewicz who along with Marion Sawicki and Marion Jewsewski have passed within the last seven and a half months. They, along with Bill Kreger who survives them, are among the last of the "Old Timers" who rowed in the 1940's and continued their support of the WBC until their shell rowed away from the docks for the last time. They were instrumental in forming the WBC as we know it today. We will keep them in our thoughts and prayers and hope to serve the club as they have done so well. Below are pictures of the W.B.C. Honor Guard