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April 2017 Artifact
April’s artifact of the month is a distinctive Grande Prairie souvenir. This light blue, round, ceramic plaque with the City of Grande Prairie crest mounted in the centre were sold by The Kinsmen Club in the summer of 1961 to raise money for the Bear Creek Swimming Pool.

The pool, located in Muskoseepi Park, opened in early June of 1962, shortly after the former City Hall, located at 99 Ave. and 101 St. Over 800 patrons “tested the waters” on the first weekend of operation. Admission rates at that time ranged from 15 cents a day for a child to $16.00 for a seasonal family pass.

The public Bear Creek Pool operated on a specified schedule for the various user groups. During the remainder of June 1962, afternoons were reserved for school groups only. During July and August, the pool offered public hours in the afternoon and early evening, but 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. was reserved for adults only. From 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursdays, the pool was reserved for “business men” and at the same time on Wednesday and Fridays, the pool was reserved for “ladies only”.

Until 1975, Bear Creek was the only pool in Grande Prairie. The pool closed in 2013 when cracks were discovered in its basin rendering the pool unfit for use. Due to increase interest from the community to re-open the outdoor pool, the facility is expecting to undergo major reconstruction beginning this summer with plans to re-open in summer 2018. 

The City of Grande Prairie crest used on the plaque was designed by the Herald Tribune photo-engraver, Borodin Jerchel. In 1960, Grande Prairie held a competition and along with placing first, Mr. Jerchel received a $50.00 award. His design depicts a swan swimming on a river surrounded by fields covered with stooks of grain, oil derricks and trees. The design symbolized the foundations of the region’s economy and inspired the current City Crest, adopted in 1991.

The plaque is comprised of the City Crest attached to the front and a hanger affixed to the back. A local company is likely to have put them together but the Wheeling Tile Company of West Virginia produced the round ceramic element. This firm operated from 1913 to 1960 denoting that this plaque, issued in 1961, was created using obsolete parts. 

The Grande Prairie Kinsmen Club formed in 1942. Their motto, “Serving the Community’s greatest Need”, has led them to support many community projects. Not only did they raise funds for the Bear Creek Swimming Pool in 1961, but they had previously raised $24,000 in 1946 for an earlier community pool located downtown. These are just two examples of the many community projects this group has supported over the years.

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Last updated: 2/20/2018 2:16:13 PM