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The Royal Canoe Club celebrates 148 years

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According to their website, the Royal Canoe Club (RCC) is “The world’s oldest canoe club.” It is located on the Thames in Teddington, England, a few miles from central London. On July 25, 2014, the (RCC) will celebrate its 148th anniversary.

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The (RCC) credits adventurer John MacGregor as the founder of their club. “John MacGregor, a Scottish Lawyer, living in London launched canoeing as a recognized sport and recreation in the late 1800s. He went on extensive tours on the lakes and rivers of Central and Northern Europe.”

Mr. MacGregor toured in a craft, which he designed, built, and named ‘Rob Roy’ in honor of a famous (infamous) ancestor. His boat is at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London. The museum also has numerous personal effects belonging to Mr. MacGregor, the "father of modern canoeing."

Some of these personal possessions include letters, contracts, diaries, notebooks belonging to MacGregor and his fellow travelers. They even have a “Seaman’s Identification card.” MacGregor kept a detailed account of all of his journeys.

As he gained experience, Mr. MacGregor became more adventurous. He went on extended expeditions to the river Jordan and the Suez Canal. He recorded all of his adventures in a series of books like A Thousand Miles in the Rob Roy Canoe. These books captured the imagination of several influential “gentleman.”

According to author Mary Evans, “In canoes of his own design MacGregor made remarkable journeys and wrote quaintly boastful books about them. The books caught on with sportsmen on both sides of the Atlantic and started a vogue for pleasure canoeing, races and all that has lasted to this day.”

Through his books and lectures, John MacGregor formed a group of interested men who met in the Star and Garter Hotel in Richmond on, July 25, 1866, to form the Canoe Club, “The first such club formed in the world.” Membership included Diplomats, Doctors, Lawyers and Businessmen. “They all apparently used ‘Rob Roy’ craft and encouraged others to participate in their chosen sport.”

According to the (RCC) “The first recorded Regatta was held at Thames Ditton on April 27, 1867, 15 canoes took part in a paddling race.” That same year, Edward Prince of Wales (later to become King Edward VII) became Commodore of the Club and in 1873, by command of Queen Victoria, the Canoe Club became the ROYAL CANOE CLUB.

“Please check out the links on the site for more information about the canoe club. New members are always very welcome at Royal Canoe Club. Read on for details of how to join the club.”