VIEW-13479 | Pool, Y. M. C. A., Westmount, QC, 1913-14

Pool, Y. M. C. A., Westmount, QC, 1913-14
Wm. Notman & Son
1913-1914, 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
20 x 25 cm
Purchase from Associated Screen News Ltd.
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Architecture (8646) , beach (94) , building (531) , Figure (1339) , Figure (1339) , Photograph (77678)
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Keys to History

That city residents were swimming in polluted and often dangerous waters was not the only problem facing municipal authorities. They also had to contend with swimmers' affronts to public decency. In summer, newspapers were full of complaints against bathers who appeared in public "in complete and utter nudity," despite fines as high as $40 for the offence (by comparison, the average annual salary of a worker at the start of the 20th century was about $400). Such complaints diminished as soon as cities began opening public baths, which were, it should be noted, not initially intended for recreational purposes but to improve public hygiene. In any case, visits to public baths were highly regulated; men and women swam at different times, proper swimming suits were required and bathers were not allowed to loiter after they had finished.

  • What

    This interior pool, with its narrow surrounding walkway meant to discourage loiterers, is typical of those built during the period.

  • Where

    Interior swimming pools were immediately popular because they offered heated and chlorinated water.

  • When

    Until the 1930s, especially in Montreal, women had less access to public baths than did men.

  • Who

    In 1913, at just one of Montreal's ten public baths, 1,240,050 people used the facility - mainly children and workers.