The Largest Pool

Summer Expeditions & Fun-in-the-Sun

Joseph’s Prairie was blessed by an incredible array of mountains, wildlife and wide vistas. Perhaps the main detraction of the site, which would eventually become Cranbrook, was the lack of lakes. Joseph’s Creek flowed through the emerging townsite and had a couple of swimming holes. As the population grew, the creek was well-used by young and old but Cranbrook lusted after water, beach frontage and fun-in-the-sun.

One early scheme proposed building a siphon that would link Moyie Lake with the lowland slough now known as Elizabeth Lake. A strategic earth-fill dam would create a recreational paradise.

People did load up their families in buggies and wagons and journey north to Wasa Lake and sometimes south to Moyie Lake. These were summer expeditions, however, demanding the commitment of significant time and resources. These treks did not meet the mass need to cool down during summer’s heat.

With the advent of the automobile things changed in the Kootenay region, first slowly and then with increasing swiftness. The rapidity with which the auto spread, and the resulting pressure to improve and extend the highway system, made many things possible in a more speedy manner. Wasa Lake gradually became a focal point for those with cars. Then Green Bay at the north end of Moyie Lake became a resort destination and picnic place for Cranbrook.

An early development, spurred by the lust for water and the facilitation of the automobile was Cranbrook Beach. A developer excavated tons of sand and dumped it on the shores of Jim Smith Lake. At the same time he hired a surveyor to subdivide the property and began listing beach frontage within fifteen minutes of Cranbrook’s business section.

As with most change, many were left out. Cars were still beyond the means of most working people. Realizing a community need, the newly formed Gyro Club of Cranbrook began fundraising efforts to underwrite an undisclosed community project. Then, during the height of the Depression, they gifted the community with the largest swimming pool in Western Canada.

That is the story this site explores.

This project is sponsored by:

Gyro Swimming Pool, Cranbrook, BC
Postcard of Gyro Swimming Pool in Cranbrook, BC. Note the sand "beach" in foreground.
Gladstone and Cameron In Early Swim Suits
Gladstone Molrose and Cameron at Devils Lake, Sask. Submitted with Castlegar images. Unknown last name for Cameron.
Sylvan Dell Joseph's Creek at Cranbrook. B.C.
An early photo of Joseph's Creek which ran through the townsite of early Cranbrook and provided many pleasant swimming holes.
Moyie Lake Regatta c.1915
An outing on Moyie Lake in East Kootenay, c.1915. Moyie Lake became, and still is, a recreational playground for many…
The Modern Swimsuit, c. 1930
The modern swimsuit, possibly Castlegar on Columbia River.
Team and Buggy
Team and buggy, presumably in the Cranbrook area.