Cranbrooks Gyro Swimming Pool: Early Gyro Club History
The first community oriented, non-fraternal club to organize in Cranbrook was the Cranbrook Rotary Club. It was launched on February 17th, 1922, at an afternoon meeting in the Cranbrook Hotel. Twenty business men assembled and organized themselves into what was billed as perhaps "the most influential body in the city." The community goals of Rotary were very similar to what the soon-to-be-founded Gyro Club would assume.
On April 23, 1924, a group of young men met at the Cranbrook Y.M.C.A. with Mr. Al Knight of the Cranbrook Drug and Book Company in the chair. He explained Gyro as a purely social institution working toward closer relations between the English-speaking countries of North America. Mr. Knight stated that Gyro's interest was in promoting efforts directed toward the good of the community, province and Dominion at large. The only caveats were that all candidates for Gyro be of good moral character and have a desire to play the game of life squarely. Gyro was a young man's club that fostered a love for wholesome pastimes and promoted a more sympathetic understanding of the great qualities of their fellows.
Twenty-four young men answered the call. Mr. Knight was elected president pro tem and Mr. Stuart Black was installed as secretary. All in attendance agreed to function as a local social club while Gyro headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, was petitioned for permission to organize as an official Gyro club.
On the evening of May 29th, 1924, a banquet was held in the Knights of Pythias hall on Norbury Avenue in Cranbrook, with the object of inaugurating the Cranbrook Gyro Club and installing officers. Thirteen members of the Nelson Gyro Club, headed by President Bill Myers, motored over for the inaugural ceremony. District Secretary-Treasurer Alf. Williams of Calgary and George Lamont of Victoria came to assist the Cranbrook club, as did Alan Graham, Vice-President of the Cranbrook Rotary club and W.R. Grubbe of the Board of Trade.
Alex Hurry of the White Lunch served up a sumptuous repast. Clarence Lougheed of Calgary, Governor of International District No. 6, officiated in installing the first set of officers for the Cranbrook Club. These were: President, Al Knight; First Vice-President, Bert Collins; Second Vice-President, Dr. W.A. Fergie; Secretary, J.S. Black; Treasurer, Fred Burgess.
The complete list of members of the new club, all business and professional men, included: T.W. Bailey, W.J. Barber, J.S. Black, A.W. Burch, F.W. Burgess, R.J. Collins, D.J. Doolan, Rev. J.P. Ehmann, Dr. W.A. Fergie, Jas. H. Hartley, A.L. Hay, H.W. Herchmer, A. Hogg, A. McKnight, A.W. McDonald, J.P. McLaren, J.M. McLean, I.J. McNaughton, R. Potter, C.A. Reade, B. Robinson, R.E. Sang, F.A. Small, G. Sutherland and G. Thomas.
One of the Gyro Club's first large undertakings was assisting the Rotarians with the planning and presenting of the 1924 four-day Playground Carnival. This huge fundraising event was designed to secure money for the purchase of playground equipment for the children of Cranbrook. The work culminated in the establishment of what is now Rotary Park. One of the large undertakings was the Carnival Queen contest, with one of the four contestants being Miss Norma Wallinger, "Princess Cheerio of the St. Eugene" sponsored by Cranbrook Gyro. The Gyros were also responsible for putting on the boxing tournament at the Carnival, and this division of efforts may have been one of the reasons that "Princess Cheerio" finished fourth in the four candidate field. The Gyro Club did learn how to organize and promote events, and this early community undertaking set the club up for the huge project that they would soon assume - the funding and construction of the "largest outdoor pool in Western Canada."