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General Store Site 12294 Harris Road Pitt Meadows, B.C.

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Swimming Through History,

Swimming Through History

Every year in an effort to beat the heat, residents look forward to the opening of the spray park and of course our beloved little pool. As we take a moment after a fun day swimming, have you ever wondered how the pool came to be in our little community? It was a lot of work, dedication, and community pride.
The Pitt Meadows Athletic Association was formed in 1938 with the object of having a park and playground and providing “for all kinds of athletic sports, recreational facilities, games and entertainment for the benefit of its members.” The association purchased from Frank Harris more than seven acres of land on the northeast side of Pitt Meadows – Harris Road Park. It would be on the far side of this park that they would build the pool.
Although the records are missing, the pool was part of the overall park improvement project and according to their 1950 AGM minutes, the Athletic Association was able to complete the swimming and wading pools in time for the opening in the summer of 1949. Much of the credit for getting the job done was given to their vice president R. Koopman “through whose enthusiasm the pools were completed and enjoyed during the past summer.”
Additional cement work around the pools was completed in the fall of 1950 and again in 1953. In 1954, work was started on the dressing room area and by 1956 the pool was heated, but the water remained cold due to an inadequate filtering system that required regular draining and refilling of the pool.
During the early years of the pool, the Parent Teacher Association supervised the facility from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Vancouver Sun swim instructors were procured, and two of the Athletic Association directors, Dick Koopman and Ted Ming, drained and scrubbed out the pools on a weekly basis during the summer season giving rise to the health inspector’s comment it was the best-kept pool in the Fraser Valley.
By 1961, at the Annual General Meeting, the association recognized that the pools were showing their age.  Some cracks needed repair, a new filtration system that required installation, and the general feeling their ability to maintain the pool and surrounding park was slipping.
There was discussion about the need for Municipal Tax Dollars to help maintain the facility as well as the option of simply turning the park and pool over to the municipality. A year later, the discussion came up again with a decision made to adjourn and call a new meeting the following month to vote on the issue.
The following month the membership voted 27 to 6 in favour of having the municipality take over the operation of the pool. At a meeting the following month the motion was further improved and included the whole athletic park with all fixtures to be sold to the Corporation of the District of Pitt Meadows for $1 to ensure proper maintenance, administration and financing.
Today, we still talk about the pool. With the lack of funding available for needed upgrades or even a new indoor pool, it is a wonder that this old girl is still running. Every year it seems that the pool is put out of commission for a few weeks as much-needed maintenance and upgrades take place, but it makes one wonder for how long will we be able to band-aid this old pool before we can finally have the funding for a new one.
Folks who worked at the Pitt Meadows Pool – memories of Gerri and Cathy Laseur
What follows is a wonderful history from Gerri and Cathy Laseur. Please get in contact with us if you want to share your history of the pool as well.
“As children, we took swimming lessons from late ‘50’s through the ‘60’s.  We were pool rats swimming almost every afternoon of the summer.  Parents could buy a family pass and crests were sewn onto your bathing suit.  Other swimming was in the Sturgeon Slough (by my aunt and uncle’s house in the Pitt Polder),by the “Silver” bridge and Neaves bridge. 
I remember Mary Seed as being a swim instructor, as well as her daughters, Leslie and Sidney (sp.?).  Sydney married John White and still lives in Pitt Meadows … I believe that members of the Pitt Meadows Athletic Association volunteered at the pool as well.  I don’t know exactly when the Municipality of the District of Pitt Meadows oversaw the hiring etc. for the pool.  I do know that when I was hired in 1969, it was mandatory that one had been certified by the Red Cross (swim instructor) and the Royal Life Saving Society (lifeguard).   I took my courses out of CG Brown pool in Burnaby.
When I worked, we followed the Canadian Red Cross Swim Lesson program.  Badges and certificates were ordered from them.  As instructors, we administered the “exams” but for the Senior level, an examiner came from “town” for the exam day.  One whom I remember was Jan Engemoen, who later in her career went up the ladder with the BC Red Cross branch and later became the Executive Director of BC/Yukon Branch of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. 
During the time I was working in Pitt Meadows, pool and park maintenance was done by Fred Kvaas and Henry Gjaltema, both of whom worked for the Municipality.  Fred was with Public Works and Mr. Gjaltema was also the custodian of the Pitt Meadows Hall. 
We know that folks swam at night illegally and dangerously/mostly on a Saturday night … jumping onto the pool building’s roof and then down to the deck.  We would find the “evidence” the next morning and had to clean up … clothing items, beer bottles, once human waste, and a few times the lifeguard chair in the deep end.  We had our “suspects”; I wonder if anyone would admit to it now, many years later.  
As lifeguards during Cathy and I’s time, we also had to check for crests and collect money (10 cents to swim),bring the cash to the Hall (Mrs. Crampton was the secretary in the Municipal Hall) once per week.  Brought the money home; to risky to leave in the guard shack re break ins),first aid in and around the pool if needed, monitor water quality with a little kit (stressful at times as the chlorine injector wasn’t that great and the inspector from Public Health would come by every few weeks).  But we always “passed”. 
There was a standpipe to which a fire hose could be attached.  To fill the pool, to hose off the decks and change rooms each day.  Liquid chlorine mixed in a watering can sprinkled all over … then hose everything down.  Other problems were two large cedars very near the pool; lots of needles/debris in the water which had to be skimmed off.  When heating was finally put in the pool, the cement deck was raised and widened to accommodate the pipes; one of the trees was taken down and the stump became a seat.  A few park benches for parents to sit on … a little too close for comfort during lessons, so after that the parents had to sit outside.
When I (Gerri) was hired in spring of 1969 … Joe Antalek (Clerk) and Oscar Austring (Mayor) interviewed/hired me.  I don’t know how many applicants there were, probably just Laurie S. and me, and the policy was to hire local. 
A lot of duties … we had to organize a swim lesson registration day ahead of time … we sat in the Council Chambers in the Hall (now Heritage Hall).  The contract in 1969 was for $500. Each for July and August (until Labour Day),open 7 days per week.  Lessons from 8:00 to noon, open swim from 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm.  Up to 50 people, one lifeguard and over 50 two lifeguards, so sometimes that was a lot of hours per week.  Lessons ran for two weeks, 4 sessions in total, both of us working.
Pre 1968 – Leslie Seed, Sydney Seed and ????
1968 -  Leslie Sharpe and  Sharon Longmuir
1969 – Gerri Laseur and Laurie Sharpe
1970 – Gerri Laseur and Wayne Docksteader
1971 – Gerri Laseur and Leslie Sharpe
1972 – Cathy Laseur and Janet Granger
1973 – Cathy Laseur and Janet Granger
1974 – Cathy Laseur and
1979 –
1980 –
Post 1980 -
I recall that Cordell and (his brother) __________ were lifeguard/instructors when my children used the pool in late ‘80’s … .  Cordell’s brother very tragically died in a boating accident near Tofino/the outdoor basketball court at Pitt Meadows Secondary named after him.
Another lifeguard/instructor was Preet Bhatti , now a Pitt Meadows dentist.  Will have to ask him for his memories too.  We knew him via Haney Neptunes Swim Club.
There was a time when lifeguard/instructors were hired in a shared program with Maple Ridge Parks and Leisure.  Now, I believe the program is contracted out.  “
If you have any memories of the Pitt Meadows Pool, please let us know. You can email us, or even leave a history on the Community map.