History – John M.S. Lecky UBC Boathouse

The spectacular John M.S. Lecky UBC Boathouse, the home of the UBC Thunderbirds rowing program, officially opened on September 30, 2006, in Richmond.

The 11,000 sq. foot, two-tiered structure was constructed in dry dock up-river in Delta before being towed to its permanent home, on the Middle Arm of the Fraser River north of the Dinsmore Bridge. Now fully operational, the Boathouse houses four boat bays and will service the Thunderbirds, as well as high performance rowing programs, St. George’s School, and community rowing and paddling programs.

The project is the result of nearly five years of dedicated work and vision on the part of the Gold for Life Committee, chaired by former Thunderbird rower and Canadian Olympic gold medallist George Hungerford.

The John M.S. Lecky UBC Boathouse, named in memory of the former UBC rower who won a silver medal in the men’s eight at the 1960 Rome Olympics, represents the first ever UBC Athletics facility funded entirely by outside sources. John Lecky passed away suddenly in the spring of 2003.

The first donation was made in 1995 but it wasn’t until 1999 that the campaign really took shape. In 2001, the Gold For Life Committee was formed and approximately 340 donations have been made to date. Around $2 million has come from the friends and family of John Lecky, another $1.45 million from UBC alumni, $1.35 million from St. George’s School, and $1 million from the BC Government. The City of Richmond has contributed land worth $2.5 million.

Five thousand metres of uninterrupted water, free from mechanized boat traffic, makes the location ideal for head-race style rowing, and the dike trail stretches the entire length of the course, providing a perfect viewing opportunity for thousands to watch regattas and community events.

Prior to the John M.S. Lecky Boathouse, the UBC teams trained in False Creek in less-than-ideal conditions, storing equipment in the parking lot near Vanier Park.

The Thunderbirds hosted their first home event in more than two decades on October 14, 2006, welcoming the University of Victoria for the Head of the Fraser.