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Our Story

VBC is not just a boating club.  We’re a swim club, social club, dining club, educational facility and whole lot more.  Based on our history, we’ll be even more in the future as we strive to be a better club every week … every month … every year.

Here is a brief look at our history:

The Beginning

The Vermilion Boat Club is a boating and yachting club with over a century of history.  It was started on June 27, 1913 by F. W. Wakefield and Tom Ball serving as its first Commodore.  Dues were set a $1.00 per year and the club grew to 50 members in its first year.  The club also joined the Inter-Lake Yachting Association (I-LYA). 
Our Story Slideshow

The Early Years

In the early 1900’s, sailing regattas were very popular.  From 1906 – 1913, the Lakewood Yacht Club, which later merged with the Cleveland Yacht Club, came to Vermilion every year to hold regattas up until the Vermilion Boat Club was formed.
From 1914-1920, the club held canoe races, swimming and dining events.  The club also continued the annual regattas in Vermilion.  The first regatta in 1915 was call the “Open Regatta”.  The 1916 regatta was called “South Shore Regatta” and remained for the following years.  During these early years, people from all over would flock to the Vermilion Rive on weekends to what the regattas and have parties in the streets.  These parties were the very early versions of what would transform in later years into what is now known as the Vermilion Fish Festival.


For nearly 50 years, the VBC did not have a permanent home and met in many locations in Vermilion.  The first location was in the Mayor’s office on Main Street.  Over the years, the club met in several locations on Main Street including the Nolan Saloon and the second floor of the Fischer building.  In subsequent years, the club met in the Sail Loft (now known as Chez Francois), above Hart’s Drug Store (now Big Ed’s Main Street Grill) and later on the second floor of the former McGarvey’s Restaurant.  In 1961, the VBC moved to its current location and permanent home on the
beautiful Vermilion River.

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John Heideman

John was born and raised in Jackson, Ml. He has a BS Degree from Michigan state ,Mathematics and an M. Ed. Degree from Wayne State University in Guidance and Counseling. John had a long career in IT Systems Application Development with the last fifteen years in full time employment as a Project Manager for British Petroleum and National City Bank.

He is currently partially retired and teaches Project Management for ES/ International, Inc. out of Arlington, VA. He and his wife Barb joined the VBC in March of 2000. John and Barb are not boat owners but enjoy the fine people and friends they have met at VBC.