Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Swimming Crocketts

My grandmother, Lucy Millicent Crockett, and her siblings lived in Stourbridge, Worcestershire, England before emigrating to Canada and they were all involved in some form of aquatics. The picture on the left is of my grandmother's brother, James William Crockett. Uncle Jim is shown wearing some of the swimming medals that he won in England. Jim and his wife, Emily emigrated to Canada in September 1912.

I remember my father relating a family story that my grandmother's brothers were all strong swimmers and they had an undefeated water polo team in their home town of Stourbridge. There is no proof of their prowess at water polo, but there is no doubt that my grandmother and her siblings all were born with the love of water sports. The following quote is from a Stourbridge newspaper: "those giants of local swimming circles, the Crocketts. It is evident that the family has no mean reputation"

Edmonton, Alberta was a raw prairie town when the Crocketts arrived in the years 1911 and 1912. The only swimming pool available was at the YMCA, a four-story brick building in the heart of the city with the pool in the basement. James William Crockett worked at the YMCA as a swimming instructor from 1916 until 1922.

The first of several outdoor pools that would make Edmonton a swimming Mecca opened on Edmonton's south side on August 3, 1922. Jim Crockett was the superintendent of the South Side pool (also known as the Civic Swimming Pool, Riverside, and later, Queen Elizabeth Pool) from 1922 until the second world war. The following is part of an article about the pool's opening in an Edmonton newspaper: "In regard to Mr Crockett, it should be said that he is a swimmer and instructor with years of experience, He is a native of Birmingham, England, and held positions in swimming baths and clubs there that have particularly fitted him for the post that he now occupies. He comes of a swiming family, all the members are experts, both men and women."
By 1924 there were three pools: South Side, West End, and Eastend at Exhibition Park. Richard Herbert Crockett was superintendent of the West End Pool from 1925 until he moved to Fergus, Ontario in 1930. See previous article on Richard Herbert Crockett

In 1928 my grandmother, Lucy Millicent Crockett Davies, was employed at the West End Pool under her brother, Bert. In 1929 their father, Amos Crockett was an employee at the Eastend Pool as well as his daughter, Ada Annie How. As the 1920s drew to a close, the only Crockett siblings not employed at the swimming pools were George and Tom.

George, who was with the Edmonton Fire Department from 1923 until his retirement in 1954, started the learn to swim sessions at the Eastend Pool with his father, Amos "Dad" Crockett, in the late 1920s. George also ran similar classes at the West Side Pool with his brother, Bert Crockett, . Throughout the 1930s, George instructed swimming at the YMCA. Tom Crockett seemed to be less involved with swimming but he was an expert diver.

An article in the Edmonton Journal this week made me think of this topic:

The old South Side pool has been closed for several years and is to be replaced with a new multi-million dollar outdoor swimming complex. The picture below shows Don Crockett and his wife, Lynn, at the presentation described in the newspaper article linked above. Don is Jim Crockett's son; he and Lynn are on the left side of the picture.

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