Clarke’s Pool

Clarkes Pool

The photographs of Clarke’s Pool are described as a walk down memory lane for “three generations of Castlegar kids who learned how to swim.”  Well he’s partially right.  It was also the training ground for the suburban kids like my brother Rich and me who hailed from Ootischenia (pop. 856).

Rich’s recollection of the pool was that it was “one of the scariest places he’d ever seen.”  Ominous.  Large.  Deep.  Dark.  Intimidating.  With a “giant” slide coming down high above from the rooftop.  My memories were frighteningly similar.  Yet, the picture today certainly doesn’t align with the Stephen King-like depiction of the darkness banging around our heads.  The pool was smaller.  And shallower.  And brighter.  With a kiddy slide jutting off the side of the garage.

The prize?

swimming badge, red cross, swimming

Here they are.  A Canadian Red Cross Junior Swimming badge and a completion certificate.

To pass the final exam (and to get a badge), you needed to tread water in the deep end for 90 seconds.  An eternity.

The final exam loomed large with the completion of each weekly lesson.

For Rich, half boy – half inner tube, 90 seconds elapsed in a snap of the fingers.  If you pass him a sandwich or two every few hours, he could lie on his back for 90 days.

For DK, his older brother, this was dread.  Fear vacuumed air from his lungs before jumping in. He flailed about.  His head bobbed in and out.  And he choked on the heavily chlorinated water.

The Brothers were wrapped in towels.  Collected their badges.  And were whisked home never to return to Clarke’s Pool again.

And one could ask, after the passage of 40+ years:

1) What made you think of this story today?
2) Why is this story relevant today?
3) Why did you keep these momentos of this wonderful experience?

And one would answer:

Absolutely no idea.

Swimming Pool Image Credit.


  1. David, it’s funny the things we remember…and it’s hilarious the way you describe some things. I think I can laugh only because I can relate so well. You’re a good man, Kanigan San. Thanks for sharing another little bit of your life. 🙂


  2. LaDona's Music Studio says:

    Laughing! Love the story, Dave. I remember treading water in a cold, dark, dirty LAKE in northern Saskatchewan. A tortured eternity indeed (maybe it wasn’t that cold, dark and dirty but in my imaginative recollection thereof…)

    I admit I had just a twinge of trepidation as I saw there were QUESTIONS to answer following the story. In a flash – I was thinking – oh no, what if I misunderstood the whole point?


  3. That’s a great memory! I love stories like that.


  4. So funny. The diving coach at our local university thought at age six I needed to scale the high dive. I showed potential. My belly flop and my potential were rewarded with a long metal hook pole retrieving me out of the deep end. The end of my diving career needless to say but a walk down memory lane thanks to your story.


  5. Dear David, what memories Clarke’s Pool has left for so many “young” people, even now our boys also talk about Clarke’s Pool, the trampoline they visited quite regularly and the friends that gathered there. Well, now all our grandchildren had their swimming lessons, birthday parties and just going for a swim. Evelyn Clarke still has the pool, but she closed it down a few years ago, but for special friends and occasions she does let people come and enjoy the swims and fun times. Eve’s daughter and son-in-law have moved in with her, she turned 85 in early Nov. and enjoys her children. Her grandson Cole Stanbra is a figure skater and is skating on one of the cruise ships this winter, maybe you have heard of him?? Anyway, you did stir up some memories for us, so I thought I would get in touch!! Take care!!


    • Amazing story and color Verna. Thank you. I forgot all about the trampoline. And not, have never heard of Cole Stanbra…thanks for the background. Dave


    • Dina Tazelaar nee Oosting says:

      I was back in Castlegar this past summer as my brother and sister in law now reside there….I mentioned Clarkes pool to my brother in law and he said he had seen an article about the pool and we did a drive by on our visit…we lived in in Castlegar in the late 60s and I took my first swimming lessons at Clarkes pool….I remember everything about the pool….I received my Floaters badge there and I have great memories of swimming for hours and then going up to the rooftop to bathe in the sun…still to this day the smell of tar and hot ashphalt shingles reminds me of those summer afternoons laying on our towels in the hot sun to dry off before the walk home…I was only 4 years old then but the memories of those days are as clear as yesterday….some of the best days of my life….thanks for sharing your memories


      • OMG, wonderful description…”the smell of tar and hot ashphalt shingles reminds me of those summer afternoons laying on our towels in the hot sun to dry off before the walk home” – you so took me back. Thanks for sharing.


  6. richardkanigan says:

    Great memory Dave. I do recall the stress of the treading water exercise in order to get the badge. And just to be clear, it wasn’t just sandwiches that kept me in the water, cookies worked just as well.


  7. When time changes we grow and when we grow then we laugh at our prior fears. The best part is memories make you feel as if it has happened today =) Isn’t it?


  8. Evokes memories for a lot of us clearly…I love memories like this that bubble up from what seems like nowhere. Yet they appear – to make you wonder, and smile. Nice badge by the way.


  9. Janice Babineau, East Coast blogger, @JaniceBabineau says:

    That’s a fantastic memory! Thanks for sharing and we, at the Canadian Red Cross, love that you kept your badge all these years.


  10. I don’t swim and despite all the wonderful lessons and teachers we refer to my efforts as drowning. I even put on weight believing, incorrectly, that fat would keep me afloat. Alas, it does not. My best bet is still frozen water in various forms.


  11. Only one word came to mind when I first opened your post…..terror!! So bad that I’ve blocked it from my memory. I don’t think that I ever passed, but I did continue at the Kinnaird pool and finally passed and received my badge. Mom made sure I didn’t give up!!


  12. Idyllic scene. 1971, year I graduated from college. Relevance? If you can’t answer those three questions (and who could?), you must be getting close to the Truth.


  13. It’s great to relive some memories, David. I’m impressed with your certificate. 🙂 Well done.


  14. Laughing, great story David. Like so many others, I love how these stories bubble up unbidden from the depths of memory. I was digging through some old things the other day and came across one of my Brownie Scout sashes with the patches sewn on. Within seconds I was an 8-year-old in a “poop brown” jumper and knee socks that cut off the circulation at mid-calf, fretting about whether or not I’d be allowed to “cross the bridge” to become a Girl Scout. Lord help me…. 😉


  15. Dina Tazelaar nee Oosting says:

    I still have all my red cross badges…the cute little flipped up hair dude and the cross….first badge at clarkes pool 1968…


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