Surrounded by the waters of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario as it is, it should come as little surprise to anyone that the city of St. Catharines in Ontario is a mecca for aquatic activities. But even this title really does the city little justice; in fact, St. Catharines is a world renowned destination for rowers of all ages and experience, international and domestic.
In any discussion of St. Catharines and rowing, Martindale Pond will be central. This pond is two kilometres wide and part of the system that drains Twelve Mile Creek and the Welland Canal into Port Dalhousie on Lake Ontario. The pond is large enough to have its own small island, which is the namesake of one of the most famous Dragon Boat regattas in the world, as well as the Historic Henley (or the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta).
This incredible event was first started in 1880 as the championship event for the Canadian Amateur Rowing Association. The Championship course is a full two kilometres long.
The establishment of the Henley Rowing competition meant that St. Catharines was able to hold world class rowing events, and has been the site of prestigious competitions including the World Rowing Championships in 1999. The Henley itself continues to grow each year in both numbers of competitors and spectators.
Currently, the Dragon Boat Races include several events, the main one being the championship. Like the Henley, the Dragon Boat races continue to grow in popularity with the eighth annual event taking place July 28, 2007 and attracting record numbers.
St. Catharines is a destination for rowers outside of their big events as well. The largest rowing club in the world is located on the pond, which is known all over the world as including the very finest rowing course that there is. In addition, the annual CSSRA World Championships are held in the city. This event draws high school athletes from all over the USA, Mexico, and Canada.
Fans of rowing and those interested in rowing competitively will both find that St. Catharines Ontario is truly a rowers paradise.