The Wilmette Harbor Club, located north of Chicago on Lake Michigan, includes a clubhouse with both indoor and outdoor dining, a gas dock, and mooring for several hundred boats. Since 1929 the Wilmette harbor's Sheridan Shore Yacht Club has hosted sailboat fleet racing during the summer months. Wilmette harbor is also home to the Sheridan Shore Sailing School for both adults and children.

Wilmette Harbor Club

Join us on Sunday, February 16th and Sunday, March 15th for the first two in our series of Wilmette harbor Club Lecture Series!

• Admission is free, seats are first-come, first-served.
• The Buccaneer Bar will be open throughout.
• The lecture series is open only to current members of the WHC and their guests. Non-members must be accompanied by a member.


Sunday, February 16, 2020 @ 1:30pm

Water Justice or Water Just for Us?: A Local Resource with Global Implications

—Debra Shore, Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

In the Great Lakes region, we are the stewards of 20% of the world’s surface freshwater supply. What does this mean in the context of growing worldwide demand for freshwater and a changing global climate? How are we managing the challenges of climate change here in Cook County, and what do we need to do to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead? What is the role of government—local, state, and federal—in preparing for these challenges, and what responsibilities do we have as citizens and consumers? What threats do the Great Lakes and the Chicago area waterways face, and how can we manage these threats? What is “water equity” and how do we balance considerations of equity and justice with other pressing demands? Finally, what does it mean to “think big” about water?

Debra Shore, Commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater ChicagoAbout the Speaker

Debra Shore was elected to the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago in 2006, and was re-elected in 2012 and 2018. A strong advocate for resource recovery and cleaning up the Chicago waterways, she received the Public Officials Award from the Water Environment Federation in 2013. Debra lives with her partner-in-life, Kathleen Gillespie, in Skokie, Illinois. She has climbed 42 of Colorado’s 54 mountains more than 14,000’ high.


Sunday, March 15, 2020 @ 1:30pm

Lost on the Lady Elgin

—Valerie van Heest, Underwater Explorer, Historian, and Author

When she touched a musket lying in a field of debris among the wreckage of the once palatial sidewheel steamer Lady Elgin, it ignited an passion for the study of the tragic circumstances of her sinking in Lake Michigan in September 1860, which resulted in the deaths of more than 300 people, most from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Valerie van Heest brings the audience back in time: To the golden age of Great Lakes passenger travel; to the eve of a presidential election; to the brink of Civil War; and to a dark, stormy night when 400 excursionists on board the Lady Elgin were awakened in the middle of the night by a terrible crash when the vessel was off Highland Park, Illinois. Within just a few hours, most of them would perish in the deadliest disaster on the open waters of the Great Lakes. One hundred sixty years after this tragic accident, Valerie shares her exploration of the wreckage, her involvement in a lengthy court battle, some fascinating artifacts from the wreck and the lessons she learned. 

Valerie van Heest, Underwater Explorer, Historian, and Author of Lost on the Lady ElginAbout the Speaker

Wilmette native, Valerie Olson van Heest is an underwater explorer and historian who has been involved in the discovery and archaeological documentation of numerous historic Great Lakes shipwrecks. Combining her passion for maritime history with her professional writing and design experience, Valerie shares her adventures through award-winning books, films, lectures, and museum exhibits in ways to educate, entertain and inspire. She is an inductee in the Women Divers Hall of fame and the recipient of a Michigan State History Award for her work preserving and promoting the state’s submerged maritime history.


Download the WHC Lecture Series Brochure