Youth Boatworks under the original name “The Sea Hawks” was founded by the late George Pearce RCN who ran a sailing school on Toronto’s Algonquin Island from 1950 until late 2003. The late Mr. Pearce was badly injured in WWII on board a Tribal class frigate and was disabled for life; teaching kids to sail was his career and passion, he did it for 53 years until he died.
Sea Hawks didn’t operate the way a most yacht club sailing programs did as all the equipment was donated and was usually in need of repair. Kids who showed up for sailing lessons were also required to learn to fix boats and equipment. Most of the kids got involved with the Sea Hawks program through downtown Community Centres such as Trinity Bellwoods and other Parks and Recreation locations. Sea Hawks instructors were certified by the Canadian Yachting Association and taught the same programs offered at yacht clubs. No youth was ever turned away because their parents couldn’t pay, if there was room in the water taxi over to the island Mr. Pearce would take them.
After Pearce passed away, the Sea Hawks stopped operation for a few years until under the new leadership of Canada’s master boat builder and former Olympic rower Peter Code a new generation of volunteers started to step forward to re-invigorate the charity as a program focused on leadership and transferable job skills. The charity was then rebranded Youth Boatworks Canada (YBC) to reflect this new mission. Today the focus of YBC is developing the Atlantic Challenge program in Toronto and establishing a permanent nautical centre of education - a home for teaching boat building and a base for on water programming.