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Our octagenarian pool...still kicking!
The Rossland Pool is celebrating its 80th Birthday this summer! To celebrate the historic pool, the Recreation Department has created a video. If you have photos, videos or newspaper articles you would like to add to the video, please contact our office at 250-362-2327 or by email at email@example.com. We’ll continue to add to the video all summer and release the final version at the Birthday Party Bash, in August.
The idea for a pool was born after a group of Rossland citizens decided that our mountainous community needed an aquatic presence. The Rossland Pool Society was formed and the group worked hard to accumulate donated labour and materials, including the land which was donated by the City, the pump which was donated by Teck and the shipping costs to deliver the pump from Chicago, by CP Rail. The Society also drew heavily from the local population of eager volunteers - including children who were rallied to help carry tools, refill water for the men, remove debris and generally help keep the site orderly – in exchange for free swimming when the pool opened, later that summer.
The late Jock Irvin recounted his memories of the summer of 1932 to me, several years ago, and described the enthusiasm and excitement that gripped the community. Jock was a child - I think he said he was seven years old - and one of many local boys who were asked to help the workers each day. He lived across the street on the bluff that overlooks Pioneer Park. At that time the land was a large farm, complete with horses and cows. Jock was able to watch the pool being built from his farm and each day ran to the worksite to help build the pool.
The construction started in the Spring of 1932 and was completed on August 7 of the same year. According to newspaper articles of the time, the community celebrated the opening of the pool with a noisy regatta that lasted the entire day.
The Rossland Pool continued to be run by the Society for the majority of its 80 years – drawing on the skills, expertise and dedication of local citizens. In the late 1960’s the Province introduced new safety standards for pools that had to be in compliance by 1974 – when the new Health Act was released. The upgrades to the Rossland Pool were valued at $40,000 and included; a new filtering device, a new basin, gutters, lifesaving equipment and play equipment.
With the possibility of losing their precious community pool, the citizens of Rossland banded together to find the funds. Donations came from organizations such as; the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Rossland Teen Town, Rossland Rotary Club, the Royal Canadian Legion, the City of Rossland and the United Appeal. Additionally, the Society put on several large and successful fundraisers. By May of 1972 enough money had been collected to begin the renovation to the Pool.
From the Rossland Miner, Thursday May 21, 1970
“Society President Don Barry commented that the city will have a good swimming pool when the project has been completed. The new decking will be built up to deepen the pool by eight inches and underwater lighting will be installed. The new filter and heating systems put in last summer have proven very satisfactory, improving the quality of the water and making the temperature more comfortable”.
The reference to the filtration system and heating is interesting because many of the Province’s oldest outdoor pools did not have any true circulation and heating until the mid to late 1970’s. According to conversation with the Vancouver Parks Board last week, their three outdoor pools; Kitsilano, 2nd Beach and New Brighton, did not have filtration, circulation or heat until thirty years after they were built and only to become compliant with the Health Act of 1974. We know that the Rossland Pool had a pump and are trying to verify whether it also had filtration and heat.
The famous Vancouver outdoor pools were all built in 1931 – only one year before the Rossland Pool, but they were built with a large concrete wall that stretched out into the ocean – effectively creating an enclosure that kept swimmers in and ocean life out. The wall had two “bathtub drains”, one at the bottom of the wall and the other at the top. During low tide, the top plug would be pulled out and the pool would drain through the hole. To refill the pool, the bottom plug would be opened and as the water came back in, the pool would fill. This pattern was repeated weekly, to ensure clean ocean water for the patrons.
This interesting conversation with the Vancouver Parks Board got us thinking – could our lovely old pool be the oldest, true outdoor pool in BC? If you have any photos or newspaper articles form the 1930’s, we’d love to see them! Similarly, if you know of an old, outdoor pool in BC, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 250-362-2327 and we’ll look into it. We’ll keep the community updated as to what we find out!