Fairfield Canoe Club
2019 Centenary Year

History Snippets

The ‘ups-and-downs’ of our beloved Yarra have created a variety of problems and opportunities over the years. 2022 sees us hurriedly lifting the tinnie and canoe polo boats to higher ground for safe keeping. This practice of “raising the boats” has been undertaken on many occasions over our 103 years. It was reported proudly in […]
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The History Group recently received news of a former FCC member’s involvement in a North American version of dragon boat racing ….’War canoe racing’! It transpires that Jonathan & Jenny Mayne’s daughter, Samantha, has lived in Los Angeles for 30 years and works as a guide at Disneyland where they hold canoe races each year. […]
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Having acted as a volunteer scrutineer at the Paddle Victoria ‘Tay Creggan’ event several weeks ago, I wondered about the history of this association. The Paddle Victoria website indicates that: “The Victorian Canoe Association Inc., (Paddle Victoria) formed in 1930 and was incorporated in 1984. It is the State body responsible for the management, co-ordination, […]
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Girls took a ducking – but they were soon paddling again in midstream. As reported in the 3rd July, 1958 “Australasian Post”. “Every year an adventurous band of young Australians set out on a water holiday that's thrilling, different and often, dangerous.  They are members of canoe clubs scattered all around Australia whose holiday highways are any swift-flowing […]
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You may have watched the Moomba Masters Water skiing events with all manner of skiers being towed behind high performance purpose-built powerboats, but are there alternatives available in these days of global warming?   Answer: Yes! During the course of an interview with Neil Grierson, he was describing the speed and power of the Australian K4 […]
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Feb
13
2022
5th Brunswick Scouts attended a "Come and Try" day at the club on 13 February. Eighteen scouts spent more than three hours trying out kayaking, canoeing and canoe polo. Club coaches Caitlin, Wen, Dee and Rowan did a great job running the session. (See photos below.) Hamish Ewing, our intrepid club historian and author, has found out that Fairfield has […]
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Right from the earliest days of our original clubhouse build, our club members have been actively involved in recycling materials. Read-on to discover our heroic efforts fighting against waste (or is it simply obtaining unaffordable materials?). The original clubhouse was constructed over the best part of four years and It just so happens that in […]
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“A Yarra Tour Upstream from Fairfield”, as reported to Victorian Amateur Canoe Association, by H De La Rue (written in about 1930)  "A cruise upstream on the River Yarra from Fairfield to Heidelberg Bridge is a delightful series of pleasant surprises in beauty and the number of bends in the river are an ever changing source […]
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Whilst interviewing Wayne Cook recently, we unearthed a wonderful gem he was very keen to show us all. This find, whatever it is, came in response to the simple question;” Are you still paddling?” Wayne responded: “As a result of COVID I have been a bit hamstrung. However, I’ve been paddling one of Zoli’s paddling […]
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History Snippet – “Elke Sager - a FCC Champion” Elke Sager appeared in our “Tokyo Olympics – a Paddler Report” where she was included in a photo alongside our FCC representatives – Marg Buck, Vid Juricskay & Fred Wasmer. As you will discover in this snippet, Elke was so very nearly a member of this team […]
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“The ongoing saga of the Clubhouse trolley system continues” (see Snippet 22) Dear Readers, as you will recall, it was reported in The Advertiser (Hurstbridge) in 1927: “Arrangements are already in hand for an electrically controlled railway for the transport of canoes from the clubhouse to the river; this will be a great boon to […]
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History Snippet – “Paddler Report on Tokyo Olympics………..” For those of you yearning for more live-to-air 'Tokyo action' we can now deliver a paddler report ………………………………………………dredged-up from those in our club who competed back in 1964! Our Olympians those 57 years ago were: L to R. Marg Buck, Fred Wasmer, Elke Sager (non-Olympian), Vid Juricskay […]
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Farewell John Doak – Fairfield Canoe Club remembers and salutes our 1984 Olympian. First is a tribute from his brother Bob and sister Margaret published on Paddle Vic website May 18, 2021. We would like to let the paddling fraternity know that sadly our brother John, passed away on 31st March 2021, he was aged 62. Flat […]
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One of our champions of yesteryear, Ivan Gaal, recently approached the History Committee with two programmes of the Henley-on-Yarra, 1947 & 1948, that were found stashed away in his in-laws cupboard. “What have they to do with our club you might ask?” They are of particular interest as they reflect the dual occupation of our […]
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Three intrepid FCC paddlers (Tony Payne, Michael Loftus-Hills & Mick Kane) recently reported on their paddling exploits on a wind and rain-swept Lake Pedder. However, they were not the first, nearly 100 years ago, and long before Lake Pedder was flooded for the Upper Gordon hydro electricity scheme in 1972, two of our club members […]
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Following the recent snippet on hiring out the FCC clubhouse to raise funds we have successfully confirmed the fact that the clubhouse was very much part of the local tether car action in 1947. The powers of the internet led Ron Savage to contact us. Ron is a tether car enthusiast and he has generously […]
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What did you all get up to this Easter break? Ninety-five years ago our club members joined the inaugural VACA Easter Camp held at Warrandyte. The Victorian Amateur Canoe Association was re-formed in 1925 with FCC being a leading-light in this forebear of Paddle Victoria. The inaugural Secretary of both FCC & VACA was one C.H. […]
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The club recently received a number of well-aged pennants from the estate of Arthur Howard, just like that sported by our club boat in the 1920’s & 30’s above. Check out the sporty club cap too! We now have: - a very ‘tired’ Fairfield Canoe Club pennant (FCC) an equally ‘tired’ Rudder Grange Canoe Club […]
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A recent conversation with a former club member turned-up an interesting piece of information…..the old Clubhouse was the setting for “Tethered-car racing”! What on earth is this about and can it be true? Our oral history interviews have certainly revealed that in the decade after the Second World War the club was in serious financial trouble. […]
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Christmas will behind us all too soon……what then? No longer do we have the Murray Marathon to occupy our members in the Christmas –New Year week. How did our club members entertain themselves before 1969?     As reported in the Stawell Times: Ingrid expects to go overseas in April and is in training while here […]
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Saturday December 5th is our Annual Christmas Event, although a little smaller than we'd like due to Covid restrictions. What have past events looked like? Our first contribution is a photo Christmas card produced by our founding member Alf Lucke who was both a champion paddler and class boat builder. (See earlier snippet) We clearly need to […]
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Q. How many of you go fishing the Yarra reaches near our clubhouse, let alone camp overnight on one of the nearby (now non-existent) beaches? This has not always been the case as researching our old photos and oral histories reveal. There has been many a good catch, if our Club Legends are to be believed! First we […]
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 On October 23,2020, the Chairman of the FCC Board declared: ”River is high, FAST, furious and swirly. After tonight's rain it will rise again.  If you are not confident in these waters ... wait until the flow and level go down”. Question:”So what if I am not confident ‘in these waters? What can I do […]
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If you do remember this event, your memory is clearly failing you! This photo is of the Chipperfield’s Floating Kiosk on the River Yarra upstream of the Chandler Highway Bridge at the confluence of the Yarra & Connor’s Creek. “Read-on and enjoy a bit of Yarra history as recorded by some of our club Legends.” […]
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Macaulay’s Boathouse – as remembered by Kevin Hannington Having recently explored some of the history of Rudder Grange, it seems timely to research some of the other boathouses that used to inhabit ‘our stretch of the Yarra’. One of these was “Macaulay’s Boathouse”, which is now called “Mole End” and changed hands for a mere […]
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The bright and sparkling waters of the Yarra. So you are probably thinking that this can’t be our beloved Yarra River, but yes, this was how the river was experienced by people of the Kulin nation, particularly the Woiwurrung/Wurundjeri,  after 40,000 to 60,000 years of their custodianship. It is also how it was observed and reported by one […]
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Our Club has created history at this year’s AGM by holding the meeting, for the very first time, courtesy of the wonders of the Internet  - a ZOOM Meeting. I bet they had not considered this break from tradition 100 years ago! Better still, it was better attended than many recent years with 43 members joining the […]
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This photo, of course, is of the former site of a famous riverside boathouse and tearooms of yesteryear. The photo was taken at the bottom of Alphington Street where Rudder Grange was sited, the tree being the ‘canoe tree’ that stood proudly adjacent to the Rudder Grange Boathouse. Today, all that remains are some history plaques […]
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This is a tribute to Rimvydas Švambarys, who was a member of FCC for more than 40 years. Rim, who died in 2014, left $10,000 to the club as a bequest in his will. The TC2 Toro (painted in British racing green) that Rim built with Bob Pierce is still in use today as part of […]
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Many FCC paddlers have ventured up to NSW to do the "Hawkesbury 100" and invariably have stories of pain and suffering. Typically they will recall the hazards of the Hawkesbury as the distance (~111km) and hence sore backside, the tides, the wide river, the fact that it is held overnight and the boat crushing cables […]
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What is this fabled event of the past that both Jonathon Mayne and his paddling partner Jim Simpson mention? Time for some research. First discovery. “The Hawkesbury-100” continues to this day as “The Hawkesbury Canoe Classic” and is the fourth longest paddling marathon in Australia – sitting behind the 404 km Murray Marathon, the 208 km Riverland Paddling Marathon and the […]
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The Canoe Assoc. Award Card states that this event was held on the 20/10/1957. It’s a long time ago and I recall that race as one of the most significant events I ever paddled. Jim Simpson and I were magic together, particularly in the rapids. Jim  and I paddled from Wonga Park to Princes Bridge. I […]
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“Winter Series Postponed” – Who would have thought it possible? Well it has happened three times now! Our One Hundred Year Club history has been bookended by event-cancelling catastrophes, WWI & Spanish Flu and now the COVID-19 pandemic. Time has passed; much has been written and reflected in our archives. Whilst exploring the club newsletters, […]
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As discussed in the last snippet (Evolution of Club Newsletter) most articles reported upon were serious or informative. However, right from earliest editions humour and ‘scuttlebutt’ was included. This took on a more regular format in 1989 when there started to be some more light-hearted content included, with cartoons, gossip (not always politically correct) and […]
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As part of the FCC History Group’s activities we have been endeavouring to track down all the old club newsletters. In the first two decades of our history, it seems that club activities were reported in the press of the day rather than a club generated product., FCC activities are regularly found reported in ‘The […]
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The story so far………..  About one year ago, the 88 year-old member of our club (1948-1953), Melva Purves, made contact with us and offered some photos. In February 2020, Melva was visited and an interview recorded. While discussing one of the photos a ‘FCC’ jumper was spotted and the story behind the jumpers that were […]
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Photo top: Bill Purves, Melva’s husband, took this photograph. Keith is on the far right, together with Glen and Tom Ohman in Victorian State colours. Keith was clearly a top-ranking paddler in the early fifties. Winning the State title for C2 10,000 m with clubmate Glen Croft.         This recommendation was supported in […]
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I recently had the great privilege to interview Melva, who with her husband Bill Purves, were members of FCC from 1948 to 1952. They then married and moved to Deer Park. Melva, now in her late eighties, discovered our website when trawling the Net! This led to the transfer of numerous wonderful images used in […]
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Richard Tracey, the then Commissioner of the Royal Commission into Aged Care, died 11thOctober, 2019. Perusing his tributes it is clear that not only was Richard Tracey a distinguished jurist of both  State and Federal Courts, but also a man who gave wholeheartedly of himself to other causes; Newman College, the Defence Forces, and back in […]
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There was great excitement for cyclists recently as the upgrade of the old Chandler Highway bridge was completed and the opening of the new multi-lane bridge brought a smile to the faces of many motorists. All good so far……….until a gentle paddle upstream just before Christmas revealed….NOTHING! All the accumulated history of cavalier paddlers and […]
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Recently hung in the clubhouse is this iconic photograph of the foundling Fairfield Canoe Club gathered at their “home” at Willow Dell (Fairfield Boathouse). We do not know the names of those photographed, other than the little girl framed by the lifebuoy and the man seated behind her. The girl is Kathleen and the gent, her […]
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Riffling through our collected photos we uncovered some extraordinary shots of sailing dinghies on the Yarra, one even taken at the Pipe Bridge. Evidently, according to Bob, in earlier times this was a not uncommon site, especially further upstream (above Darebin Creek inflow) at Wilson Reserve where there was a large beach with associated broad reach […]
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photo: Museum Victoria website One of the great attractions of paddling at Fairfield is the seemingly endless opportunities to spot wildlife in and around the river. There are a multitude of birds and at different times of the year you are likely to spot turtles, water rats and water dragons and perhaps an elusive platypus. […]
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It transpires that this ‘skeleton’ is the ‘mould’ for a new canoe. We could not fathom how the mould could be removed if the canoe was built on the outside of the mould, as one does for a fibreglass canoe. All is revealed in a three-part series published in 1934 in The Age newspaper…..the canoe […]
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Recently I was proudly sharing our “FCC Centenary in Photographs “ with some friends when one, upon espying the NDRC rowing pair, announced “I think my father-in-law rowed for Heidelberg”. I immediately, & carefully, leafed through the membership list for the Northern District Rowing Club (NDRC & later to become, Heidelberg City Rowing Club) and […]
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During a recent interview with FCC Board Member, Foster Rossetto, a poorly recognised and, seemingly, unrecorded funding source for our club was’ brought to the surface’. Foster reports that in 1986 they noticed  there was a cardboard boat race coming up. This new event was part of the Moomba Festival and was to be held […]
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In 1970, young Joe Alia was working at Ericssons when he and some workmates learned of some Scouts rafting down the Murray. Needless to say, this sowed the seed of an idea amongst ‘the lads’ – “Let’s build a raft and float down the Murray next summer”. This they did, after-hours in the works yard. […]
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History Snippet - Zoli’s Straight Zoli’s Straight ‘appeared’ in 1977 as a direct result of the construction of the Eastern Freeway. History Originally designated F-19 under the 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan during its construction in the early 1970s, it was supposed to be linked to the then-new Tullamarine Freeway, as well as taking traffic off the Maroondah Highway. Protests […]
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A recent interview with FCC Legend, Geoff Allen, revealed that a number of alternative ‘sporting’ endeavours were ‘regulars’ on the Club programme, especially throughout the winter months when not engaged in repairs to boats and clubhouse. As Geoff relates, “During the winter months there was a lot of activity at John Ohman's place. He used […]
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Tom Ohman our 1956 Olympic canoeist was no doubt bemused by this beast! What on earth has he discovered? ……………….read on to find out. Answer: The Ballarat Council’s ‘Wendouree Submarine’ used to remove weed from Lake Wendouree.   Clearly the weeds were a major headache for the Ballarat Council. It was later reported that “Olympic-conscious […]
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History, we are told, has the great capacity to repeat itself.  Here are two FCC tales to prove this very point!We believe that these tales also carry a particular message for those partaking of a restful beverage mid-paddle, The Cappuccino Run! The first story begins in the December 1926 edition of ‘Water Sports’ (see Snippet Number […]
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Rummaging through Arthur Howard’s old scrapbook of newspaper cuttings relating to canoeing, we came across this “classic” from the POST that verifies our earlier snippet on this willow-covered enterprise. As reported by Yvonne Wilson April 30, 1953. “Circumspect Melbourne doesn’t quite know what to make of the frequency with which some of ots young people […]
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We all consider that our era is a time of the most intense sporting competitiveness. Dredging the newspapers of old through TROVE  would suggest that this is not the case (sandpaper ball-tampering aside!) and a FCC boat is evidence of  this. “It was the second time the “Sally” had been extensively  damaged just before an […]
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Enjoying your History Snippets? Why not get along to “Life on the Yarra”- a really interesting Photo Exhibition in Darebin Library – FCC features!  Lots of photos courtesy Arthur Howard's estate. Dates:    Jan 7  – Feb 23   Northcote Library (Separation Street opp. Plaza)                Feb 26 – Mar 28  Fairfield Library (121 Station Street) 
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What have you been doing this January? Given the article that surfaced at our Legends Lunch in November, perhaps this should be titled “What you should have been doing this month”! Two of our Legends guests were Bev and Otto Griesmayr, longstanding members of the Essendon Canoe Club and frequent visitors to FCC. They brought […]
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Tuesday 20th November found twenty Club Legends from the 50s & 60s gathered together by our two living Life Members, Marg Buck and Jonathon Mayne, to share a lunch to re-connect and unearth old memories to aid our Centenary History Group broaden our knowledge of the Club from a very different time.Needless to say, the […]
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The Advertiser (Hurstbridge, Vic) Friday 7 October 1927  "Fairfield members have not entered any races for over two years”… Why you ask?......read on! “Work of completion is still in hand at the clubhouse, which is a rather large undertaking. Twenty-seven months have now elapsed since the first sod was turned in the preliminary excavation work; this […]
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Since the first Murray Marathon was run in 1969 FCC members have been regular participants – either as individuals, relay teams or land crews. As part of the History project, members Kel and Joan McMeeken (Murray marathon 1980) presented us with a copy of “The story of the first Murray River canoe marathon 1969” written […]
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Having attended the AGM this week, I thought that it may be of interest to see the first recorded Annual Report. This is a handwritten, illegible in parts, record of our first season of racing and much more! Read and enjoy. I wonder what has become of the trophies? First Annual Report transcribed from a […]
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Copies of the sports journal “Water Sports” were found in a collection of papers kept by Arthur Howard. The excerpts below  reveal an interesting exchange between the Journal Editor and our Club secretary which finally gives a sense of the important role FCC played in the early days of paddling in Melbourne, and perhaps Australia. […]
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We recently were made aware of a personal reflection by Jessie Howard that paints a very different era of courtship on our stretch of the Yarra and beyond, in the early years of the Club. Jessie and her husband Arthur were members of Rudder Grange, a Boat House that used to sit at the river […]
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The FCC Centenary History Group recently received a wonderful collection from the estate of Arthur Howard. Arthur is viewed by many as ‘The unofficial Historian of Canoeing in Victoria’, through both his writings and collected photographs. Many of our collection of FCC photos were taken by Arthur in the 1930’s. It is of note that […]
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Looking at the Minutes recorded for Committee meetings we discover that in 1954 “all requirements for Gents convenience be obtained and all broken windows be fixed”. No mention of facilities for women club members. .  By June 56, “the Girl’s Room and toilet has been repaired & painted, a wash basin has also been bought” […]
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Fairfield constitution in 1956 - "ladies racing" History snippet  A brief review of the Fairfield Canoe Club constitution and rules as amended in 1956 showed some very interesting differences to today’s club: New members paid an application fee £1/1/0, a full year membership of £5/5/0 and then were on 3 month’s probation! Interesting category of […]
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At Renewal Day I not only learned the answer to this odd question but also now know that they should be housed in the Display Cabinet rather than being threatened with demolition! Trish Rosetto recounts that in 1966 she attended the regular VACA Meetings held at our Clubhouse, as a representative of Ivanhoe-Northcote Canoe Club […]
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FCC History snippet 13 -   “Found Objects answered” 1933 was caught in the midst of the Great Depression (1929-1935), a time of 32% unemployment and significant social pressures resulting from this. Reading the Fairfield Club Minutes of the day, it is clear that there were significant financial  pressures on the Club with falling membership, […]
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You have all seen this tag-line? Have you ever wondered how it came about? Talking recently to our FCC Life Member, Jon Mayne, I learned a little more of the events of this summer’s day!  “It had been a week of rain, so at the weekend (when not at work) we grabbed a Canadian canoe, […]
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Henley Regattas’ were all the rage in the 1920’s. This description reflects that. Note the mixed of  rowing and canoeing events. Also note the inclusion of women on the card. Henley on the Maribyrnong River was held on Saturday under the auspices of the Essendon River League in bright weather, and, though nearly six years […]
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In 1988 seven Fairfield members paddled a very heavy C7 down a flooded Murray River at the Echuca Mini. Paddles hit  picnic tables and BBQs, as the canoeists cut corners on the Murray. In this history snipplet we tell the story of two the FCC C7's that paddled the Echuca Mini and two Murray Marathons. […]
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The History Interest Group has been busily beavering away researching FCC archived materials as well as cataloguing other unresearched material. This led us to explore the contents of the FCC display cabinet Have you ever looked into this cabinet? If you haven’t, you should! Lofty was photographing several trophies in the name of L.D.Turner, 1931. Who is […]
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History snippet 12 - Listen to Hamish interviews Jon about the paddle - see below. Seeing the Merri Creek in flood this week was an opportunity to visit the archives and learn from history.  Most of you will know that our latest Life Member John Mayne has many a story to tell of the early […]
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History snippet 11 Seeing the Merri Creek in flood this week was an opportunity to visit the archives and learn from history. Most of you will know that our latest Life Member John Mayne has many a story to tell of the early days of canoeing at the club. But one story that he hasn’t […]
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History Snippet 7 The FCC Minutes Book for 1921 details the many motions, both won and lost, taken to organise their carnival. It was no small event and one that required much aforethought. Planning appears to start Feb 22 when it was determined “to make a request to Heidelberg Council for permission to hold a […]
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March 16, 2018, sees the return of picture nights to 9, The Esplanade. History tells us to be aware and be on our best behaviour! In the heady pre-TV days of the 1940’s and 1950’s, the Club played a much broader role than simply canoeing on the Yarra, rather it was a social club of […]
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Answers to last newsletter questions 1. Wikipedia states - Table Talk was a weekly magazine published from 26 June 1885[1] until 1939 in Melbourne, Australia.[2] It was established in 1885 by Maurice Brodzky (1847–1919), who obtained financial assistance[3] to start his own publication after resigning from The Herald.[2] Table Talk was a social magazine for men and women[4] that included articles about politics, finance, literature, […]
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“The Fairfield Canoe Club closed their active outdoor season recently with their first Annual Club Championship Race. Mr.L.Cohen (Fairfield) kindly donated the trophy for the event. The race was run off in three heats, and the final resulted in a win for A.Lucke, by a length and a half from J.Reeves, with B.Kerr third. In […]
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You will all be well familiar with the remains of this Swimming Basin as you cruise upstream to Zoli’s Straight, but do you realise its importance to the community in years after the Great War? I attach some information taken from the Darebin Library Collection and also a photo collage of a fundraising effort in […]
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