No neighbourhood portrait of Toronto’s Beach community could ever be complete without one of the true institutions in the area: the Balmy Beach Club, a private social and athletics club founded in 1905, has been a real anchor of the local sports and recreational scene, and continues to thrive today as a favourite gathering place for many of its members. During a recent interview with Glenn Cochrane, he took me briefly into the Balmy Beach Club and stated that “this is the best patio on Toronto’s waterfront – bar none”. When I headed out on the patio and saw the sweeping 180 degree panorama of Lake Ontario with a view towards Toronto’s skyline, I simply had to agree. Combined with a beautiful setting inside a historic neighbourhood, surrounded by gorgeous mature trees, one would be hard-pressed to find a more perfect urban oasis in Toronto than the Balmy Beach Club.
To find out more about this revered institution I set up an interview with Ken Bingham, long-time member of the Balmy Beach Club, and the official historian of this institution. The Balmy Beach Club, a non-profit organization, is a social and athletic club that came into existence in 1905. It has about 1400 members in two membership categories: the social membership provides access to upstairs facilities, including the bar, lounge, patio and banquet hall. Social members are able to attend a wide variety of functions, for example the Superbowl Party, a Glen Miller Dance, Rock Star Karaoke, a Martini Night and many more. Members in the social category also participate at no extra cost in lawn bowling, volleyball and most social functions run through the club. In addition, members are eligible to rent the banquet facility for private functions such as birthday parties, anniversaries and weddings. Many local community organizations also use the club to hold special events or fundraisers.