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The Waskesiu Foundation partnered with Parks Canada to replace the existing play structure with the extremely popular Bears on the Beach playground. Planning and fundraising occurred in 2013 – 14 and community volunteers assembled the playground in June, 2015.
Two log beach houses provided changing and washroom facilities. Life guards used the tall white chairs for observing swimmers. They taught swimming lessons to hundreds of children over the years; beginners here in the shallows and more advanced classes from the breakwater. Read former life guard Barry Chapman’s account of life guarding and saving lives here.
Before the Bears on the Beach playground was built in 2015, children had other ways of having fun at the beach.
In days gone by, swings, teeter totters, and a merry go round occupied this same space. What is considered safe equipment to play on has changed greatly over the years.
Winona Potts considers the merry-go-round in light of today’s standards in Waskesiu Memories Volume I (edited by Dorell Taylor).
“The playground down by the Big Beach. Swings, teeter totters, and the marvelous merry-go-round. What fun that was, and what a dangerous contraption! It’s a wonder if there weren’t several twisted or broken legs as it went round and round. Sailing high, high up, and then down to the ground with a crash.”
Ronald Cripps, son of long time golf course foreman Jim Cripps, reminisces about log rolling and trying to find treasures on the beach near the playground in Waskesiu Memories, Volume II.
“My earlier years were spent at the beach and breakwater. There was a log anchored by the breakwater, and we spent many hours rolling on that log. I had countless bruises from slipping off its slippery surface. When we weren’t swimming at the breakwater, we were over at the beach, diving into whitecaps, finding a shiny rock underwater or whatever else enterprising eight year olds could come up with.“
“I started taking swimming lessons at the age of three from that great teacher, 'Pluke' Fournier. He had the smallest students swimming in no time. We all loved him. On cooler days, Pluke would build a bonfire on the beach and we would stand around it shivering, wrapped in towels and admiring each others’ [sic] blue lips!
"By age eight, I was deemed to be a competent enough swimmer to take diving lessons. At that time the diving platform was outside the only breakwater, and I remember the swim out there on a choppy day was a little intimidating for an eight year old. A few years later a new breakwater was built beyond the diving area that was then in protected waters. The new breakwater and diving area became the destination of choice for kids of all ages particularly teenagers.”
Glenna (Headley) Hughes, Waskesiu Memories, Volume III, edited by Dorell Taylor
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