WHERE WERE YOU IN 1976?

By Geoff McCord, Founding President (From Provinz March 2016 page 24)

January Social

Photo by Michael A. Coates

Having been a member of PCA and UCR for over 40 years, I can tell you things have definitely come a long way since thoughts of an Ontario-focused region first germinated back in the summer of ’75. I never gave much thought to the long-term future of UCR and had no idea the Region would achieve the many successes it has had over the past forty years. All of the tireless volunteers, Region executives and past presidents have contributed to that success—and I, on behalf of the founding members, thank them for making our early efforts survive and blossom into the significant Region that UCR is today.

Where were you in 1976? I had just started my first full-time employment at a major accounting firm, married my high school sweetheart, bought a house, and had been a PCA member for about two years.

Upper Canada Region was officially chartered in July 1976 at the Brainerd, Minnesota, Parade. Steve Megill (later UCR’s third president) and I attended with our wives. It was an over­whelming event, even in those days, and it was very special to receive the Charter on behalf of our new Region at the Parade banquet. One of the great memories of that trip was exercis­ing our 911s on the road from Sudbury to Thunder Bay, but that’s another long story and I won’t admit to anything here! That September, we organized the local UCR presentation at the Port Hope Golf Club, attended by Chuck Stoddard, PCA National Vice President, and Zone One representative Doug Troyer. I believe it was the first UCR multi-day event that included an autocross on Sunday. It was a big deal at the time, but let me give you a little history on how we got there.

I was recently asked by Mike Bryan how UCR came to be created. Forty years has a way of letting some details slip away, but here’s my best recollection of how it all began.

Being a member of the Niagara Region, I decided to attend their Concours in Rochester in the summer of 1975. My 911T had no business being in a concours, but it gave me the oppor­tunity to get to know the members and inquire if they thought a PCA Region could be created in Ontario. They thought it was an interesting idea and encouraged me to contact PCA National Office. There were no issues as far as PCA was concerned—just get 25 members, pick a name and complete the application. It was a pretty formal process and not without the occasional setback.

I knew there were a fair number of Porsche owners in Ontario, but had no idea who among them might belong to PCA. Fortunately, Niagara Region opened their membership list to Ontario residents, to target for our Region application. Because Steve Megill was also a Niagara member, and actually had a similar idea about an Ontario based Region, we met early on and worked together on building the future Upper Canada Region.

How could we reach the local Porsche enthusiasts? Back in those days, it was definitely not as easy as accessing Porsche forums, sending email broadcasts out, or posting on social media. No, it was snail mail and the personal approach! We advertised in the Toronto Star—seeking enthusiasts interested in establishing a Porsche Club here in Ontario. I don’t recall how many responded, but certainly enough that we were encouraged to continue. When we reached what we thought was a reasonable starting point, we arranged a meeting at the German Harmony Club on Sherbourne Street for all those who had responded to our ads and personal contacts.

While discussing the merits of creating a PCA Region, we also discussed resurrecting the Porsche Club of Canada— which had become inactive by the early 1970s. However, it was pretty easy to see the benefits of belonging to a much larger and well established organization, so the decision was made.

It is important to recognize the contribution of the Niagara Region in helping us to create the Upper Canada Region.  Their transfer of at least 12 members to our charter member list enabled UCR to be created in what I recall was a very short time frame—driven by the approvals necessary prior to the Brainerd Parade, where it was to be granted. Niagara Region was always supportive and inter-Region participation happened quite regularly.

In preparing this article, I obtained a faded xerox list of the UCR Charter Members, thanks to PCA National Office.  Among those listed are six who are still active UCR members, in addition to myself. Sorjo Ranta, a PCA member since 1958, was a great help in establishing UCR. He served as the Region secretary the first year and is responsible for the “Upper Canada” Region name. I have been able to get some suggestions, but the origin of the name “Provinz” is one of those details that can’t be reliably verified. Perhaps one of our long-term members can provide a more definitive recollection of this?

Speaking of Provinz, in the first few years, it was nothing more than a few xeroxed pages—and it was always a challengeto find a copier that we could use, free of charge, to get it out. Having a small membership that contributed roughly just $7 per member to the Region’s bank account kept spending to an absolute minimum. It was also a monumental effort to get it distributed with envelopes and stamps. Remember no email back then.

Events in the first few years consisted of member meetings as well as autocrosses and an annual Concours, both of which were sometimes held jointly with other marque clubs, such as Ferrari, BMW, and Corvette. I remember very well losing the 356 class award at the Downtown Fine Cars Concours to Ken De Rooy’s Speedster because he had a VW toolkit and I had none. We still joke about that somewhat questionable outcome after 38 years!

Regrettably, I haven’t actively participated in UCR over the years aside from a few DE and Club Racing events. Mike’s encouragement to attend the January social meeting and Randy’s soft touch to do this short history of UCR has sparked a renewed interest. I hope to see many of you at some of the 2016 events.

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