In a ceremony July 7, Sail Parry Sound honoured its founding president, Marianne King-Wilson by naming its waterfront observation deck for her. The striking stainless steel and aluminum structure which wraps around the club’s building overlooking the Big Sound, will henceforth be known as the King-Wilson Deck.
In his dedication speech at the unveiling, current President of Sail Parry Sound Terry Johnson described King-Wilson as “The creator and the main driving force behind Sail Parry Sound,” serving as its founding president for ten years.
Johnson noted that, “Marianne got five people together who shared her idea of creating a sailing community. Larry Woolner and I were part of that original group who joined Marianne to incorporate the club. Marianne gave it the name Sail Parry Sound. It turned out she was ahead of the crowd. Other clubs followed, and even the Canadian Yachting Association is now Sail Canada. “
Johnson welcomed King-Wilson’s sisters Pamela and Susan from Vancouver, and brother James from England and recalled learning recently that their father, Pat King-Wilson had chaired major old-fashioned regattas on the same point of land in the 1950s.
Marianne King-Wilson was the Regatta Chair for all Sail Parry Sound’s regattas while serving as president of the club. As Johnson pointed out, among the first few members, “There was just one problem — none of us had sailed in a regatta, let alone organized one. There was no organized sailing in Parry Sound 20 years ago. Marianne is the supreme networker; she worked with the retired racing director from the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, an Olympic level race manager who came and taught us all. Mayor Nancy Cunningham and the Town supported our early initiative.”
“The ultimate regatta was the Shark Worlds with 54 boats including crews from Austria Germany the UK and the US. Keep in mind we had no venue, no facilities, but we had help from Sound Boat Works, Big Sound Marina and attracted more than 100 volunteers, most of whom I think were conscripted by Marianne. That regatta was a huge success, bringing in more than 300 people for a full week resulting in an economic benefit to the area of more than $1.5 million. “
Paul Henderson, president of the International Sailing Federation, opened the Shark Worlds, and thereafter offered his vocal support for Sail Parry Sound as an ideal Olympic sailing venue.
ohnson described the Shark Worlds as a pivotal point for Sail Parry Sound. If this newly formed upstart sailing club could manage a regatta of that magnitude, professionally, it was serious.
The next challenge, he said, was to find a property and build a facility, which Sail Parry Sound could use as a base. “We had a proposal for this building and the boat yard estimated to cost $550,000 and we needed to raise $175,000 locally to trigger additional funding.
“Once again Marianne as president was the fundraising driver; we managed to raise $175,000. People and organizations recognized that sailing was contributing to a better community and they were generous.”
“Marianne was recognized by the community in 2009 when she with Sail Parry Sound was inducted into the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame as ‘Builder’ ”.
“But the Sail Parry Sound Board wanted a permanent marker to remind future members of Marianne’s monumental contribution to Sail Parry Sound.”
The engraved plaque, designed by past president Larry Woolner, is made of aluminum, and features the Sail Parry Sound logo in blue, with text beneath it.
“I am grateful for this tremendous honour, as is our family, because it places our family name back on the waterfront again,” said Marianne King-Wilson. “But I accomplished nothing alone. We had a tremendous team of volunteers, and an experienced and visionary Board of Directors. Both Terry Johnson and Larry Woolner have been there since day one. The current Board has a remarkable skill set. And the community has always backed us. Without all that support, Sail Parry Sound could not exist.”