Remembering Niagara Falls’ Cyanamid swimming pool built in 1932

By

Published May 20, 2022 at 1:16 pm

A local Niagara page on Facebook recently posted a picture of the Cyanamid swimming pool in Niagara Falls, which opened in 1932 and finally closed in 1971, and for many, it brought back some pretty fond childhood memories.

What is now the entrance to the Gale Centre Arena in Niagara Falls, the pool, 105-feet-wide by 210-feet-long, used to sit.

Here’s how the pool came to be. About 100 years ago, there was a Cyanamid chemical plant built there, which you can still see in the background from the above. Chemical plants need water for cooling purpose so this plant brought it in through a deep ditch connected to the Hydro Canal.

One day, the plant manager, George Cox, noticed a bunch of boys had slipped under the fencing and were swimming in the ditch to cool down in the summer heat.

Before long, Cox had that ditch dug longer and wider so it could accommodate a pool that size and so it began in 1932. When the weather cooled down, he had a pool constructed there with the canal water coming in one end and out the other towards the plant – once a hour, a half million gallons would flow in and out again.

Like most pools, it was shallow at one end, deeper at the other. But Cox wasn’t done just yet. He brought in dozen of dump trucks filled with sand, which created a beachside effect and plants large rows of tree for shade. He build change rooms and an emergency stand.

The pool would open on the last day of school in June and closed after Labour Day weekend. As many as 150,000 people would come to that pool in that span of slightly more than two months.

By the mid-40s, volleyball pits and horseshoe areas were built. In the early 1950s, a concession stand was added and according to many posters, eventually a French Fry truck eventually parked just outside the fence.

While it finally closed in 1971, it is considered not forgotten by locals, posting their memories on Facebook.

“Went every day I could!” enthused one. Added another, “Every Saturday morning, I was driven from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the pool for my swimming lessons.”

And the water temperature, well, that depended on the day. “I love this view. I remember freezing at early morning swimming lessons. Brrrr,” said one. To that, another added an interesting fact, “That was a given every morning. Always looked at the chalkboard to see what the temperature was.”

Seems the water was all always cool. “That pool was always cold but oh so refreshing on a hot summer day. There were picnic grounds, a diving board and delicious French Fries to top if off. Good memories!”

Of course, some of the former staff were remembered fondly. “One of the lifeguards was an excellent high board diver. His name was Benny Jackson. He was a treat to watch when he was on a break. Thanks for posting I lived nearby and literally lived there. Dammed chip truck outside the gate was my downfall – tasty but my downfall.”

But in the end, it was more than just a pool to many. It was a community gathering spot. “Not just swimming, but picnics, barbecues and special occasions with friends and family. Beautiful memories!”

INsauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising