Quemcunque Miserum Videris Hominem Scias
Whomsoever you see in distress, recognize in him a fellow man.
Motto of The Royal Life Saving Society
The Lifesaving Society
The Lifesaving Society is a full-service provider of programs, products and services
designed to prevent drowning. We work to prevent drowning and water-related injury
through our training programs, Water Smart® public education, aquatic safety
management services and lifesaving sport.
We are a national volunteer organization and registered charity composed of tens of
thousands of individual members, and over 2,000 affiliated swimming pools, waterfronts,
schools and clubs. We are a leader and partner in the delivery of water safety education
throughout Canada and around the world.
The Society operates globally in over 40 countries. We represent Canada internationally
in the Royal Life Saving Society and the International Life Saving Federation.
In Canada, we have been teaching water safety and water rescue to Canadians since
1896. Established in England (1891) as The Swimmers’ Life Saving Society, we became
The Royal Life Saving Society in 1904. Today, Canadians know us as simply the
Training Programs – Teaching Canadians to save themselves and rescue others
Annually, over half a million Canadians participate in our swimming, lifesaving,
lifeguard and leadership programs. Each year, we certify thousands of instructors who
provide the leadership for our training programs. Over 25,000 Canadians earn our Bronze
Medallion each year. As Canada’s lifeguarding experts, we set the standard for lifeguard
training and certify all of Canada’s National Lifeguards.
Public Education – Making Canadians Water Smart®
Our drowning research enables us to focus Water Smart® drowning prevention efforts on
people most at risk – like men fishing in small boats – or on those who can make a
significant difference, such as parents of young children. We deliver Water Smart®
messages through our Swim Program, through the media and through various community
action channels. Our Swim to Survive® Program provides the essential minimum skills
required to survive an unexpected fall into deep water.
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Aquatic Safety Management – Setting the standard
The Lifesaving Society establishes aquatic safety standards and consults on aquatic
safety issues for the aquatic industry, governments and the judiciary. The Society offers a
suite of services to help aquatic facility operators maintain and improve safe pool and
waterfront operations. We perform aquatic safety audits and serve as experts in legal
cases involving aquatic safety.
The Lifesaving Society is the Canadian governing body for lifesaving sport – a sport
recognized by the International Olympic Committee and the Commonwealth Games
Federation. We organize annual championships for age-group, senior and masters
athletes and coordinate Canada’s National Lifesaving Team participation in international
Origin & Development of the Society
In 1887, the Royal Humane Society was approached by William Henry, a talented
swimmer, and asked to undertake the water rescue instruction using its own organization
and staff. There was little interest in the proposal, but he and his friend Archibald Sinclair
followed it up with a letter, setting forth a scheme for forming classes of instruction in
the most approved methods of lifesaving.
Henry and Sinclair then approached the Amateur Swimming Association. On 11 May,
1889 an ASA committee formed for the purpose recommended that a central committee
of seven should be appointed, that classes should be held, local arrangements being made
by local swimming clubs, and that lecturers should be provided by the committee.
Demonstrations of restoring the apparently drowned would be carried out, and that
societies and schools would be brought into the scheme.
After the committee reported, nothing further was done. Nevertheless, Henry and
Sinclair were not deterred and on January 3, 1891, there was a meeting at Anderton’s
Hotel in London, of seven persons interested in everything that pertained to swimming.
This was the nucleus of the worldwide organization that was soon to be the pre-eminent
The “Swimmers’ Life Saving Society” was formed in London, England in 1891 by
William Henry, Archibald Sinclair, H. Hewitt Griffin, F.W. Moses, E.W. Stafford, W.
Brickett, C. Val Hunter. A committee of 12 – all swimmers – was appointed to draw up
rules. The Society’s purpose was to give training in water rescue techniques and reduce
the number of drownings prevalent in the United Kingdom. The Society flourished in the
United Kingdom and, in 1904 by command of King Edward VII, it became styled the
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 3
“Royal Life Saving Society” with His Majesty as Patron, although no Royal Charter was
issued until 1924 by King George V.
In 1894, Arthur Lewis Cochrane, who had emigrated from England, was made the
Society’s Honorary Representative in Canada. Through Cochrane’s efforts with a small
group of like-minded citizens, the Ontario Branch of the Society was established in 1908
with the Lt.-Governor and Governor General as Honorary Patrons. The formation of the
Quebec Branch followed in 1909 and Branches were formed in other provinces soon
By the end of World War II, the Society’s volunteer leaders in Canada saw the need for
an organization which could be national in scope and which could adapt the training and
awards of the Society to Canadian needs. A license issued in 1947 by the London-based
Society authorized the formation of a Canadian Council of Branches. Similar licenses had
been granted previously to Australia and New Zealand. In Canada, the governor-general
agreed to become the national Patron of the Canadian Council of Branches.
In 1960, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II granted a Supplementary Royal Charter which
provided for reorganization of the Society to be headed by a Commonwealth Council
with National Branches in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the United
Kingdom. In Canada, the Society became officially designated “The Royal Life Saving
Society Canada.” Within two years a complete reorganization and a new constitution for
the Canadian Society was adopted under the guidance of H.E. Hershorn, O.B.E., and the
Honorable George A. Drew. From this point on, National Technical meetings were
initiated bringing together national officers, representatives from the provincial branches
and delegates from the national affiliates – Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP.
As early as 1896, the first formal lifesaving classes were taught by A.L. Cochrane,
“Honorary Instructor,” at Upper Canada College in Toronto. Eighteen students were
awarded the Bronze Medallion, the first recorded Bronze Medallions earned in Canada.
A.L. Cochrane, founder of the first private boys camp in Canada, Camp Temagami,
became the second President of the Ontario Branch in 1919. He succeeded Arnold
Morphy, who was the Bursar at Upper Canada College.
The Society’s work was given great impetus when in 1903, the Toronto Central YMCA
adopted lifesaving classes, due to the efforts of its enthusiastic physical director, John
Howard Crocker. Crocker, a well-known figure in the history of Canadian recreation and
Olympic sport, conducted lifesaving classes and passed examinations for the Society. In
1935 he became the third President of the Ontario Branch.
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The Royal Life Saving Society demonstrated its early leadership in giving aquatic
direction to other organizations in 1945, when its members helped form the Canadian
Red Cross Water Safety Service. This was the beginning of the water safety program of
the Canadian Red Cross Society, which was designed to teach youth the fundamentals of
water safety and basic swimming skills, and intended to complement the opportunities
provided by the Royal Life Saving Society.
In the middle of this century, the Canadian Society began working towards a “made-in-
Canada” awards scheme tailored for the reality of Canadian aquatic environments. After
the reorganization of the Commonwealth Society and the Supplementary Charter granted
by the Queen, the Society’s awards programs and standards have been determined
exclusively by the RLSSC. Commonwealth Conferences and international technical
meetings continue to provide forums for sharing and learning among RLSS colleagues.
If the 1950s was the decade of made at home awards programs, the 1960s and 70s will be
remembered for the development and expansion of a sophisticated leadership training
scheme including formalized instructor training courses and the creation of specialized
lifeguarding training which continues to set the standard for lifeguarding today – the
National Lifeguard Service program. The 1980s will likely be remembered for the
Society’s comprehensive research into drownings and water-related injuries and the
launching of major public education activities under the Water Smart® Campaign banner.
Also – the revamping of the leadership system, and the successful implementation of
community-based delivery of leadership training courses.
Development of Lifesaving Awards and Methods
Lifesaving awards and methods have developed significantly since the Society’s
inception over 100 years ago. The most widely known Bronze Medallion Award was
instituted as early as 1892 in England. The examination fee for the Bronze was set at 75
cents in 1908.
Since that time there have been continual additions, changes and skill requirements in the
program. Today the Society administers many different award programs ranging from
learn to swim, water rescue, and first aid and resuscitation to specialized aquatic
activities and leadership awards.
The Society has demonstrated its leadership in lifesaving techniques by continuously
researching and adopting new and more efficient methods of artificial respiration. The
earliest “Schafer Method” of 1907 was replaced by the “Holger Neilson Method” in
1952. Seven years later, the Direct Method (“mouth-to-mouth”) or Rescue Breathing was
adopted. Today, participants in the Society’s program learn airway obstruction
techniques and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
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Affiliations & Work with other Agencies
The RLSSC gained much of its early strength through endorsement by established
organizations in the country. The Central YMCA (Toronto) gave the Society its first
impetus when it adopted its lifesaving swimming programs in 1903. Since then,
organizations to be named National Affiliates included the Boy Scouts Association
(1910); The Canadian Armed Forces (1962); the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (1962);
the National Council of YMCAs (1973); the Canadian Red Cross Society (1975); St.
John Ambulance (1981), and most recently Swimming/Natation Canada (1982).
In addition, the Society works closely with other organizations and partners in pursuit of
Water Smart public education. Associate Members of the Water Smart Campaign
include: the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons, Canadian Safe Boating Council,
Canadian Watercraft Training Centre, the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs,
Ontario Medical Association, Ontario Provincial Police, the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police and SportSmart Canada.
Most recently the Lifesaving Society welcomes TYR Sport as a major partner in
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Significant Dates & Events
Inaugural meeting on January 3rd, of “The Swimmers’ Life Saving Society”
in London, England: William Henry, a champion swimmer of his day was
named Chief Secretary. A few months later, the Society changed its name to
“The Life Saving Society”.
First Handbook of Instruction published by the Society.
Certificate of Thanks instituted to recognize service as an instructor.
The Bronze Medallion Award instituted.
HRH, the Duke of York (later George V) becomes the first President of the
Arthur Lewis Cochrane of Birmingham emigrates to Canada; appointed the
Honorary Representative of the Society in Canada.
First English Branch (Manchester) and first Australian Branch (New South
334 Bronze Medallions earned in the United Kingdom.
First formal lifesaving classes taught by A.L. Cochrane at Upper Canada
College in Toronto. For this work, a Certificate of Thanks from the Society
was sent to Mr. Cochrane:
“For excellent assistance rendered to the Society in promoting its aims and
objects, also for acting as Honorary Instructor to the Upper Canada College
Life Saving classes, eighteen of which were successful in obtaining the
Proficiency Bronze Medallion during the months of March and June, 1896.”
(Signed) Archibald Sinclair and William Henry
The Society introduces the Diploma Award.
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Mr. Arnold Morphy (later the first President of the Ontario Branch) passed
examinations for the Society’s awards and became an Examiner. He was
active in spreading the adoption of the work of the Society in various
swimming organization and much of the promotion of lifesaving was due to
his early efforts.
Great impetus given to the work of the Society through its adoption by the
Central YMCA (Toronto) due to the efforts of its enthusiastic Physical
Director, Mr. John Howard Crocker, who passed examinations for the
Society’s awards and conducted classes there. J.H. Crocker was later to
become the 3rd President of the Ontario Branch.
King Edward VII became Patron of the Society and granted permission to use
the title “Royal” although no formal Charter was issued (until 1924).
The Schafer Method of Artificial Respiration adopted by the Society (hitherto
the Silvester Method had been the recommended method.)
The Distinguished Service Medal instituted to recognize the Society’s
volunteers. Bronze, Silver and Gold Stars to the DSM could be awarded for
subsequent service. The DSM was replaced by the Service Cross in 1941.
Inaugural meeting of the first Canadian Branch (Ontario) on December 10,
1908 at the law offices of Jenkins and Hardy at 15 1/2 Toronto Street. First
executive elected as follows:
Arnold Morphy, President (Morphy was the Bursar of Upper Canada
Arthur Lewis Cochrane, Vice President and Instructor-in-Chief (Cochrane
was on the physical education staff of Upper Canada College)
John Howard Crocker, Secretary Treasurer (Crocker was the physical
director of the Toronto Central YMCA)
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Arthur J. Hardy, Honorary Secretary-Treasurer
Members of the Executive Committee were: Ernie A. Chapman, P.G. Might,
Henry A. Sherrard, Charles. A. Norris and Mr. C. Johnson
Individual Membership Fees set at $1.00
Honorary Membership Fee set at $2.50
Examination for Bronze Medallion $0.75
A.L. Cochrane made member of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in
recognition of his pioneering work to date.
The Society introduces the Award of Merit.
William Henry, Chief Secretary of the Society visits Canada giving addresses
and demonstrations in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Brantford and
Henry examines Cochrane for the Diploma: he passed with honours and thus
earned the first Diploma Award in Canada and the first outside the United
The Quebec Branch formed.
First New Zealand Branch formed.
Opening of Harrison Baths in Toronto – the first public municipal swimming
bath in Canada.
“Swimming” by T.W. Sheffield published in Toronto.
The Manitoba Branch formed.
His Majesty King George V consents to become patron of the Society
Lord Desborough becomes President (acting president since 1901) and
remains so until his death in 1944.
The Saskatchewan Branch formed by Thomas William Sheffield, formerly of
Hamilton, Ontario and a member of the Ontario Branch executive. But the
Central Executive in London, not receiving any correspondence by 1912,
decided to strike the Branch off the record books. Saskatchewan Branch not
revived until 1965.
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Boy Scouts Association became affiliated through Assistant Commissioner
British Columbia Branch formed.
W.F. Darnell, a vice president of the London Central Executive, donates the
Darnell Challenge Cup for lifesaving competitions among Canadian Branches.
The Cup was won in its first year by Quebec Branch. It subsequently becomes
the subject of correspondence between Ontario and Quebec regarding its
whereabouts and status. Its current whereabouts is unknown.
Beginning of the Nova Scotia Branch formation.
First issue (June) of the Society’s new “Swimming Magazine” – the official
organ of the Society:” a medium of intercommunication and cooperation and
forms an up-to-date textbook on the much diversified and ever improving arts
of swimming and diving.”
A.L. Cochrane visits Cornell University to give lectures and demonstrations
on lifesaving techniques. Appoints Dr. S.A. Mumford, a member of the staff
of the university as the Honorary Representative of the RLSS.
The First Honorary Associate Certificates awarded to Ernie Chapman and
William Winterburn. (Chapman is to become the 3rd president of the Ontario
Branch and Winterburn its Secretary-Treasurer.)
Honorary Associate Certificates were granted by the Central Executive in
London “as an appreciation of services, to those who have devoted their
energy and ability to further the welfare of the Society, taken a prominent part
in the establishment of instruction Classes, and successfully taught at least 20
candidates for the Bronze Medallion.” (The criteria for this award remained in
place until 1966.)
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William W. Winterburn elected Secretary-Treasurer of the Ontario Branch:
holds this office until his retirement in 1932. (Winterburn is the Physical
Director at the University of Toronto.)
A.L. Cochrane is elected President of the Ontario Branch.
A Royal Charter is granted by King George V (formerly the Duke of York,
see 1893) on July 14.
The Alberta Branch founded.
The Honorary Life Member honour is instituted for volunteers who have a
minimum of 20 years service.
The Honorary Life Governor award is instituted for those who hold the
Honorary Life Member award and who have lengthy service (minimum 25
years) which includes national or international experience.
First presentation of the Cochrane Cup in Ontario to the Affiliate with the
largest lifesaving program – Willard Hall. (The Financial Statements of 1925
shows the cup cost $85.00)
Ernie Chapman elected President of the Ontario Branch. (Mr. Chapman was a
staff member at St. Andrew’s College and the founder of Camp Kagawong.)
Distribution of over 2,000 posters showing methods of rescue and artificial
respiration. (We do not have any examples of this poster.)
First recorded use of what was to become the RLSSC slogan. From the
Ontario Branch Report of 1930:
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 11
TO RESCUE THE DROWNING
Use a boat if available.
A life buoy if no boat is available.
Yourself when equipment is not at hand
Learn how NOW.
Join a Life Saving class in your community.
The Society’s “2,700 foot” instructional film “Saving Life From Drowning” is
produced. (First mention of this is in the Ontario Branch minutes 1934.)
Copies made and used in Ontario and Nova Scotia, but we have no extant
The Victoria Branch formed (dissolved in 1960 and amalgamated with the
British Columbia Branch).
The Bar to Bronze Medallion examination instituted.
The Life Guard Corps inaugurated (prerequisite 18 yr. & Bronze Medallion).
Mrs. J.M. (Olive) Pretty became Secretary-Treasurer of the Ontario Branch:
held this post until her retirement in 1956. Mrs. Pretty is the mother of David
Pretty (Governor Emeritus of the Ontario Branch). The RLSSC archives are
named in her memory – The Olive Pretty Archives.
First mention of the Certificate of Thanks (in the Ontario Report), although
we have a Certificate of Thanks for A.L. Cochrane as early as 1896.
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Mr. John Howard Crocker became President of the Ontario Branch. Crocker is
a well known figure in the history of Canadian recreation and sport: he rose
through the ranks of the YMCA to the National level; Managed the first
Canadian Olympic Team to the 1908 Olympic Games in England and served
in some capacity on the Canadian Olympic Committee until his death in 1959.
On his retirement at the age of 60 from the National Council of YMCAs, he
became head of the University of Western athletics program and laid the
groundwork for the University’s School of Physical Education.
The Resuscitation Certificate examination instituted.
The Bar to the Award of Merit instituted.
The Life Guard Cadet Award instituted (prerequisites 14 yr. & Bronze
The first Examiners Dinner held by the Ontario Branch at the Granite Club in
June (30 Examiners attended). The Examiners Committee was the only
Committee at the time and handled all the work of our current, Examiner,
Instructor, Program and Technical Committees.
Life Saving Medal competition introduced in Ontario. Awarded to each of the
winning pair in a life saving race, the race to be conducted as part of the
program in any public swimming exhibition or competition conducted by an
Affiliate of the Branch. Minimum number 4 pairs of contestants: The “second
method of rescue” to be used over 2 lengths.
The RLSS Report of 1936 notes the Quebec Branch production of a 16 mm
film depicting “Swimming and Swimming Strokes and Methods of Life
Saving”. We have no extant copies.
The RLSS Report 1936 carries a slogan: Every Swimmer a Life Saver. This
phrase is also attributed to ‘Commodore’ Wilbert E. Longfellow who initiated
the American Red Cross Life Saving Service in 1914. There are two versions:
“Everyone a swimmer, every swimmer a lifesaver”, and; “Every American a
Swimmer, Every Swimmer a Lifesaver.”
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 13
The RLSS Report mentions that a celluloid “button badge” for the
Resuscitation Certificate is now being manufactured.
The Society institutes the Recognition Badge for volunteer service of at least
M.G. (Maynard Glynn) Griffiths becomes President of the Ontario Branch
until his retirement in 1957.
The Society publishes On Guard for the Life Guard Corps Awards.
The Society publishes a Schafer Artificial Respiration manual for the new
The Quebec Branch produces a film, Land Drill and Artificial Respiration.
Shown at the annual Examiner’s dinner in Ontario and copies were made by
Ontario Branch of use in that province. (We have no extant copies.)
The Society replaces the Distinguished Service Medal with the Service Cross
(see 1906). A Bar to the Service Cross was introduced in 1953.
The Society issues “Token Certificates” due to government war restrictions on
metal. These paper promissory notes were redeemable after the war for the
Increasing demand during the period 1938-1942 for a revision of the existing
life saving and swimming programs and mention of a need for a made-in-
Canada award scheme.
RLSS United Kingdom acquires new permanent headquarters (Desborough
House after Lord Desborough who died in 1944).
Lord Louis Mountbatten of Burma becomes President of the Society.
The Society introduces the Bronze Cross Award.
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The Canadian Red Cross Water Safety Service is formed: beginning of the
swimming and water safety program under the Canadian Red Cross Society.
M.G. Griffiths and other members of the RLSS were instrumental in
organizing the program which was designed to teach youth in particular, the
fundamentals of water safety and basic swimming skills. This program was to
complement the opportunities available in the RLSS. Mr. Griffiths, in
supporting this new venture wrote and organized technical material and
supervised the first National Instruction Program in 1945, under the
Chairmanship of Dr. R.W.I. Urquhart, the honorary Medical Director of the
RLSS Ontario Branch. Bredin Stapells, later to become president of both the
Ontario Branch and subsequently the RLSSC, was one of the candidates on
this first course.
The Society publishes the 21st revised edition of the Handbook of Instruction.
“The revised Handbook of Instruction was received with anything but
enthusiasm by Canadians interested in the RLSS and adversely affected the
fall program.” (Ontario Branch Minutes, 1946)
The Society institutes the Bar to Bronze Cross Award.
The Central Executive in London grants a license for the formation of the
Canadian Council of Branches with the authority to adapt RLSS Awards to
The Ontario Branch inaugurates the Chapman Cup.
The Society introduces the Distinction Award.
The inaugural Mountbatten Medal for bravery in water rescue is awarded to
Robert Wardle of Alberta.
The Society adopts the Holger Nielsen method of artificial respiration.
The Society produces a film strip on the Holger Nielsen method.
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 15
The Canadian Council of Branches introduces a new poster on lifesaving and
artificial respiration (printed by Eaton’s).
The film No Time to Spare on artificial respiration is produced by Chetwynd
films with technical assistance by the RLSS Ontario Branch, sponsored by the
Canadian Life Insurance Offices Association.
The Area Representative system is introduced in Ontario.
The Ontario Branch appoints its first summer Field Representative – Mr. Kirk
50th Anniversary of the Ontario Branch.
The Society institutes an Affiliation Certificate.
First issue of an RLSS newsletter – later to become Lifeliner.
The Society publishes the first Canadian Examiner’s Handbook.
First use of the Canadian logo: ten leaves added to RLSS logo, but no crown.
1955 - 1959
The groundwork is being laid for the reorganization of the Society.
The Society publishes the first Canadian Handbook of Instruction.
First drafts of the Life Guard Service course are under consideration.
RLSSC adopts mouth-to-mouth method of artificial respiration.
The Program Training Committee and Technical Committee is established.
The M.G. Griffiths Award (for rescue recognition) is instituted.
Introduction of a blue enamel Junior Artificial Respiration badge.
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 16
Queen Elizabeth II grants the Supplemental Charter bringing into effect the
new Commonwealth organization of the Society with five National Branches:
United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa.
The RLSSC Council assumes responsibility for the issue and recording of
awards earned in Canada.
The Bronze Cross and Unigrip Awards are discontinued in the Canadian
Richard Bredin Stapells, President of the Ontario Branch remarks in the
Annual Report: “This Branch has retained its Presidents so long that there is
now only one living Past President. The Branch will be much healthier when
it can call upon a large council of Past Presidents rather than one.”
The first RLSS Commonwealth Conference is convened in London.
The Nova Scotia Branch founded: first year of operation is 1962.
The Society introduces the Artificial Respiration Instructor Certificate.
The Society is piloting a Canadian Lifeguard program.
The Prince Edward Island Branch is founded.
The Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force,
Royal Canadian Mounted Police are formally accepted as National Affiliates.
Reorganization of the Society in Canada: a new Canadian Constitution is
adopted in December.
Lieutenant General Guy Granville Simonds becomes President of the National
The RLSSC publishes the first Canadian Lifeguard Manual (December) with
Richard Carlton as editor. This text subsequently went through 9 printings
and was in use until 1974 when it was replaced by Alert: aquatic supervision
The Society reintroduces the Bronze Cross Award in a revised form.
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 17
Kenneth D. Howlett of Alberta is awarded the Society’s Mountbatten Medal.
The National Lifeguard Service (NLS) program is officially launched.
Queen Elizabeth II, at Lord Mountbatten’s request, approves the use of the
Royal crown on the RLSS logo.
The Malaysia National Branch formed.
Lynda Dann of Alberta is awarded the Mountbatten Medal.
The Saskatchewan Branch formed (again – see 1910).
The Society publishes the first edition of The Canadian Life Saving Manual in
5 volumes with Richard Carlton as editor. (The cost was .60 cents per volume
and $3.50 per Manual including binder.)
The 2nd Commonwealth Conference convened in London.
The Bar to Distinction Award instituted.
The Bronze Medallion becomes a prerequisite to the Bronze Cross Award.
The Honorary Associate Award is revised to be an Honor Award.
The New Brunswick Branch is founded.
The Newfoundland Branch is founded.
Beginning of combined Instructor training program with the Canadian Red
Cross Water Safety Service.
Jocelyn Palm is the first full-time staff person hired by the Society; she
becomes the Executive Secretary of the Ontario Branch.
The Elementary Award is discontinued as of December 31.
Revision of the RLSSC national constitution.
RLSSC Program Revisions (to be implemented in 1971) reinstates Bronze
Cross and the Elementary Awards.
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 18
Policy of Instructor-evaluated awards adopted: Elementary, Intermediate and
Junior Artificial Respiration.
The Ontario Branch organizes the first Provincial Lifeguard (Pool)
Championship in Mississauga.
The 3rd (quinquennial) Commonwealth Conference convened in London.
The RLSSC publishes a National Examiner Handbook. It was agreed it would
eventually become Volume 6 of the Canadian Lifesaving Manual.
National Lifeguard Service revisions adopted. The RLSSC assumes
responsibility for the NLS program.
The National Council of YMCAs becomes a National Affiliate of the RLSSC.
The RLSSC becomes a member of World Life Saving.
The Society publishes the first edition of Alert: aquatic supervision in action,
authored by Jocelyn Palm who is now the National Executive Director.
RLSSC produces a new public education film called Into the Water.
The RLSSC Safety Equipment Service is formed.
RLSSC Program Revisions (to be implemented in 1976) introduces three new
awards (Lifesaving I, II, III) to replace Elementary and Intermediate. Other
specially awards introduced in this revision included Lifesaving Fitness,
Scuba Bronze and Boat Rescue. Victim simulation/recognition and cold
water self-rescue skills are introduced into the Canadian program.
Gordon Penner of Winnipeg is awarded the Mountbatten Medal.
The Canadian Red Cross Society becomes a National Affiliate of the RLSSC.
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 19
The Society convenes its first national symposium (held in conjunction with
the Society’s Annual Conference) in May, 1976 on the subject of Cold Water.
The 4th Commonwealth Conference convened in London.
The Society publishes a pamphlet Don’t Challenge Cold Water.
The RLSSC operates Rescue Boats for the Olympic Sailing events in
Le Service National des Sauveteurs (SNS) incorporated in Quebec to operate
the Royal Life Saving Society Canada program.
The first Canadian Lifeguard Championships held in conjunction with the
Annual RLSSC Conference in May in Winnipeg.
The Society creates NLS Canada Corporation.
The Society organizes the Alcohol & Aquatics symposium.
For the first time, over 100,000 awards are earned in Canada
The Society hosts a national symposium on Aquatic Emergency Care.
The Society introduces a new Aquatic Emergency Care Award.
The RLSSC employs its first National Technical Director – Ms Bev Greene
The Society produces a new training film Aquatic Emergency Care.
A national symposium Challenge on Water is held at McMaster University in
The Society revises its national constitution.
The Society publishes a revised National Examination Guidelines.
The Society revises its program for implementation in 1981.
Aquatic Spinal Injuries is the title of the Society’s symposium in Sudbury,
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 20
The Society publishes It’s Your Neck pamphlet.
The 5th Commonwealth Conference is convened in London.
National Symposium in Victoria, BC on Boat Rescue
Public education brochure on boat rescue is published.
Revised Safety Equipment catalogue released
The 4th edition of Volume One is published.
The 2nd edition of Examination Guidelines is published.
St. John Ambulance becomes a National Affiliate of the RLSSC.
Revision of the National Lifeguard Service program (for implementation in
National Symposium on Focus on Lifeguarding in Saskatoon.
The RLSSC produces a set of 5 posters with funding from Fitness Canada
(Recognize-React-Rescue; Fitness; Lifesaving I, II, III; Lifeguard; Check-
The Society adopts its first 5-year Long Range Plan.
The Canadian Amateur Swimming Association (now Swimming/Natation
Canada) becomes a National Affiliate of the RLSSC.
The Society launches (in October) its first National Fundraising Campaign for
a permanent national headquarters.
The Society celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the founding of the first Branch
in 1908. For the occasion, the Society produces a special 75th anniversary
Bronze Bar and a 75th Anniversary Poster, plaques, button and 1908
Certificate. The Society hosts a 75th Anniversary Gala Dinner/Dance at the
King Edward Hotel in Toronto – the site of the annual Examiner’s Dinner in
The National symposium is Aquatic Programming for Today’s Participants.
Canada hosts in Ottawa, the first meeting of the Commonwealth Technical
Advisory Committee outside of London.
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 21
M.G. Griffiths dies in March 30, 1983
Admiral Pullen dies – National Governor
New Program Brochure and poster Every Swimmer A Life Saver
The Society hosts a special symposium to look at cross-infection in Toronto
on Issues in Resuscitation Training.
The Society publishes the first national edition of Notes for Instructor
New slide/tape and video production of Every Swimmer a Life Saver
Symposium on learning, teaching and evaluating held in Sherbrooke, PQ
Communicating Life Saving.
Mall and transit shelter posters produced with Mediacom’s sponsorship
National Conference features the Self-Rescue Symposium at Halifax.
The Society publishes Scuba Life Saving by Al Pierce.
Program revisions are adopted for implementation January 1986
Proficiency skills are dropped; the Bronze Medallion age is lowered to 13
from 14 years; age prerequisites dropped from Award of Merit, Distinction
and Diploma; Scuba Bronze is revised into a basic and advanced levels and
work begins to develop a Basic Life Saver Award (non-aquatic).
New 5th edition of volume one is released containing examination guidelines.
Introduction of the Dura 5 spineboard designed by Richard Brault/Diane
Croteau of Studio Innova.
My American Cousin film fundraiser at the Ontario Science Centre in
One Magic Christmas film fund-raiser with gala at the King Edward Hotel in
Catch the Life Saving Spirit, youth brochure published.
New Canadian Lifesaving Program Awards (chart) poster issued.
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 22
New program brochure What Swimmers Do Next released.
The RLSSC hosts the world at Rescue ‘86 in Vancouver in May: RLSSC
Annual Conference and Canadian Lifeguard Championships; World Life
Saving General Assembly, Congress and International Lifeguard Competition.
RLSSC assumes responsibility for WLS: Ed Bean becomes secretary-general
of WLS; Marlin Moore becomes WLS President for a two-year term. WLS
Secretariat moves from Sydney, Australia to Toronto.
Waist pac product introduced
75th anniversary of the Manitoba and British Columbia & Yukon Branches
The Bronze Club organized and launched in October ‘86 as the Society’s first
attempt at organized personal giving campaign.
Commonwealth Conference convened in London in June.
Society begins comprehensive drowning data research in Ontario.
Ontario Branch begins investigation of possibility of developing an
inexpensive manikin for rescue breathing teaching. Eventually this leads to
the development of the ACTAR 911 manikin created by Studio Innova’s
Richard Brault and Dianne Croteau.
National Symposium in Burlington, Ontario Water Accidents: the community
The Society purchases its first permanent national headquarters at 191 Church
Street in Toronto. The Society’s Patron in Canada, Governor-General Jeanne
Sauvé officiates at the opening in October.
The Society publishes The World of Lifesaving, highlights of Rescue ‘86
The Society publishes Rescue Smart developed by the Ontario Branch as the
first non-aquatic basic water rescue program.
The Society develops the Water Smart public education campaign with the
creation of a special national task force.
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 23
Volunteerism: Your Key To Success is the theme of the National Annual
Conference held in Edmonton. West Edmonton Mall wavepool is the site of
the Official Launch of the National Water Smart® Campaign.
World Life Saving hosts Rescue ‘88 in Australia: First time for major
Canadian (97 Canadians) delegation to overseas competition/meetings.
Society publishes national Instructor Notes and develop Award Pacs (Award
Ontario Branch releases its first annual report on drownings and water-related
fatalities in Ontario.
National Conference hosted in Quebec City.
Introduction of revised NLS program.
Society publishes NLS Award Pac (Award Guide)
Ontario Branch hosts Scientific Symposium on Drowning and Near-Drowning
at York University in June.
Ontario Branch launches Water Smart drowning prevention campaign with
significant sponsorship from the Brewers of Ontario and the Ontario Ministry
of Tourism and Recreation
Ontario Drowning Report published.
National Annual Conference held in St. John’s, Newfoundland; Water Smart
is the symposium theme.
Program revision decisions are made for implementation 1991: Award of
Merit; Scuba Bronze retired
Ontario Drowning Report (2nd edition) published on 1988 data.
National Annual Conference held in Saint John, NB
The Society’s National office relocated to Ottawa from Toronto in December.
The Toronto headquarters sold and a new one purchased on MacArthur
Avenue in Ottawa.
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 24
Ontario Drowning Report (3rd edition) published on 1989 data.
The Ontario Branch hosts a delegation from its twin Branch – Victoria Branch
National Annual Conference held in Regina, SK. The symposium, Uncharted
Waters, examined demographics and their impact on the future of the Society.
Ontario Drowning Report (4th edition) published on 1990 data.
Society undertakes first national comprehensive drowning data research.
National Annual Conference held in Charlottetown, PEI with a symposium on
Atmospheric Change and Aquatics.
Ontario Drowning Report (5th edition) published on 1991 data.
National Drowning Report published for the first time. The Lifesaving
Society and the Canadian Red Cross Society collaborate on data collection for
the drowning report.
CPR guidelines revised by Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation and
implemented by training agencies including the RLSSC.
National Annual Conference held in Winnipeg includes symposium Exposure
‘94 on Hypothermia.
Society publishes a new edition of Alert: lifeguarding in action
Ontario Drowning Report (6th edition) published on 1992 data.
National Drowning Report (2nd edition)
The Ontario Branch relocates to larger premises at 322 Consumers Road in
North York. (January).
Society hosts Behavioural Change Symposium at Annual Conference in
Society adopts new national board structure with “strategic units”.
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 25
Society releases a new edition of the Canadian Lifesaving Manual, published
as a single text (instead of separate volumes & binder).
Development of the Jeune Sauveteur Program in Quebec.
Development & piloting of the Junior Lifeguard Program in Ontario.
The Ontario Branch celebrates the 25th anniversary of provincial lifeguard
Mississauga hosts first-ever Junior Lifeguard Games.
Introduction of the LIFEGUARD brand uniform in conjunction with
sponsorship of TYR Sport
Society in Ontario publishes Waterfront Safety Guidelines
Ontario Drowning Report (7th edition) published on 1993 data
National Drowning Report (4th edition) published.
Ontario outdoor poster campaign features “Within Arms’ Reach” message
Le Service National des Sauveteurs corporate identity in Québec is replaced
with la Société de Sauvetage.
The Society adopts a new business style – the Lifesaving Society / la Société
de Sauvetage – and introduces a new logo.
The Society issues a redesigned Bronze Medallion to commemorate the
centenary of the first Bronze Medallion earned in Canada.
The Society National Annual Conference is held in Victoria, BC with
Interaction ‘96 as the symposium title.
Ontario Branch publishes Guide to Ontario Public Pools Regulation.
Ontario Branch publishes Water Smart Action Guide.
Ontario Branch publishes Ontario Drowning Report (8th edition).
Ontario Branch releases Backyard Pool Safety video.
Ontario Branch pilots a new PWC Rescue Course for Lifeguards.
Waterloo hosts 2nd Junior Lifeguard Games.
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 26
The Society organizes an international symposium in Toronto on Ice Safety &
Ice Rescue. (January)
Ontario Branch hosts May 1997 National Conference “A Capital Event” with
a policy forum Standing on Guard – taking a stand on issues that matter. The
first-ever Canada Junior Lifeguard Games is staged at Carleton University.
Ontario Branch publishes Ontario Drowning Report (9th edition)
Etobicoke hosts 3rd Junior Lifeguard Games.
BC & Yukon Branch purchases a provincial headquarters.
Ontario Branch pilots new Canadian Swim Patrol and Bronze Star Award.
Ontario launches Aquatic Safety Management Services in four key areas:
aquatic safety audits; court & inquest findings; aquatic management training;
aquatic safety standards.
Ontario organizes first-ever Junior Lifeguard TeleGames (December).
Ontario Branch launches Canadian Swim Patrol and Bronze Star Award.
Nova Scotia Branch hosts “Storm the Coast”, national conference and
Canadian Lifeguard Championship (Halifax, May).
The Society publishes Ice: The Winter Killer on ice safety & rescue.
Ontario Branch celebrates 90th anniversary of first meeting.
Ontario Branch publishes a new catalogue in June – The Lifeguard Store.
The Society releases its new corporate brochure.
The Society publishes the Ontario Drowning Report (10th edition).
Quebec Branch hosts annual conference in Montreal. Lifesaving Society hosts
meeting of International Life Saving Federation.
Lifesaving Society launches new Boat Operator Accredited Training (BOAT)
Program, accredited by Canadian Coast Guard under new federal government
regulations introduced April 1, 1999.
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 27
Ontario enters into leadership service agreement with newly amalgamated
City of Toronto under which all instructors for Toronto leadership courses are
hired by the Lifesaving Society.
The Society publishes the 11th edition of the Ontario Drowning Report.
Saskatchewan hosts the national annual general meeting and Canadian
Lifeguard Championship in Regina.
The Ontario Branch website – www.lifesavingsociety.com – goes live at 2:40
pm on Wednesday, December 20, 2000.
The Society publishes the first edition of the Standards Journal cataloguing
court cases, coroners’ inquest findings and Lifesaving Society positions on
aquatic safety issues not addressed in legislation or regulation.
The Society in Ontario introduces Automated External Defibrillation (AED)
training for lifeguards.
The 2000 edition (12th) of the Ontario Drowning Report (on 1998 data)
reports drownings have been cut in half from their high-water mark ten years
earlier – the year the Society launched its Water Smart® public education
The Society releases BOAT Instructor Notes including the 20-min video: Stay
in the Water and Don’t Crash into Anything.
First ever Canadian National Lifesaving Team medals in Rescue 2000 – the
World Lifesaving Championship in Sydney, Australia and qualifies for the
Goodwill Games in August-Sept. 2001 in Brisbane.
The Ontario Branch drafts Swim-to-Survive® position statement calling for all
Canadian children to learn to swim and defining the minimum essential skills
required to survive an unexpected fall into deep water.
The National Society adopts the Swim-to-Survive® position statement.
Ontario Branch releases its first Standards Journal.
The Society launches comprehensive revised first aid training program: retires
Junior and Senior Resuscitation and Aquatic Emergency Care in favour of
Basic, Emergency and Standard First Aid together with CPR – A, B, C and
Airway Management and AED.
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 28
Appointment of John F. Bankes as National Governor replacing Robert Lord
who retired after years as chairman of the national board of governors.
The Society hosts the May Moose Meet in Toronto at Douglas Snow Aquatic
Centre where Australia’s National Lifesaving Team competed with Canada’s
just prior to both departing for the Commonwealth Championships in
England. Australia won both competitions. Canada took 2nd place overall in
the Commonwealth Championships.
Canada’s National Lifesaving Team participated in the Surf Lifesaving events
at the 2001 Goodwill Games in Brisbane Australia.
The Society releases its new binder replacing the “Leadership” binder that
carried the old visual identity.
The Society produces its new Within Arms’ Reach backyard pool safety video.
The national Society adopts a new governance structure with a national board
of directors of 7 members elected by the Branch Presidents.
Ontario assumes responsibility for the production of national core literature
under a service agreement with the national Society.
Ontario changes its provincial lifeguard championship structure and events to
include international events and broaden participation.
Alberta hosts the first Canadian Lifeguard Championship and Junior
Lifeguard Games (in Edmonton, May) independent of the Society’s national
meetings. Both featured the new international events.
Ontario launches its Officials Certification Program with a Level 1 clinic prior
to the Moose Meet. Development continues on Level 2 and 3.
Ontario secures a Trillium Foundation grant to develop a 3-level Coaching
Certification program and community lifesaving clubs.
The Society revises the Canadian Lifesaving Manual to incorporate the new
international resuscitation and CPR guidelines.
Ontario Branch inaugurates the Hilary M. Weston Bronze Medallion Award.
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 29
HRH Prince Michael of Kent, RLSS Commonwealth President, visits Toronto
in March and presides at special Lifesaving Society Awards Presentation
Ceremony at King Edward Hotel.
In May, Toronto hosts Avant Guard – the 2002 National Conference, 2002
Canadian Lifeguard Championship and 2002 TYR Canadian Junior Lifeguard
May visit of ILS President Alan Whelpton to Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.
The Society publishes Jeune Sauveteur Award Guide and related materials.
Jeune Sauveteur is the French version of Canadian Swim Patrol.
The Society retires Award Guide 1 and revises other award guides to
incorporate the new resuscitation guidelines.
The Society publishes Backyard Pool Safety Guidelines, Wading Pool
Guidelines, and Dragon Boat Race Event Organizers Safety Procedures
Society publishes new Within Arms’ Reach brochure to complement the 2001
video of same name.
The Society releases new Lifesaving Society banner and “wind dancers”.
Canadians participate in Rescue 2002, ILS business meetings and the World
Lifesaving Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida. Canada’s National
Lifesaving Team places 12th overall and 7 other teams compete in the
interclub and masters championships. Canadian volunteers officiate.
Society publishes first edition (November 2002) of the new Pool Operations
Ontario Branch Governor David W. Pretty retires after 20 years in this office.
Society releases the Bronze Medals Award Guide containing Bronze Star, and
the revised Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross Awards.
Society publishes the first edition of the comprehensive and authoritative
Canadian Competition Manual defining the Rules, Standards and Procedures
for competitive lifesaving in Canada.
Society appoints Marc Neeb as the new Ontario Branch Governor.
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 30
Mississauga hosts the 2003 Canadian Lifeguard Championships – Pool in
May. Barrie / Wasaga Beach Provincial Park host 2003 Canadian Surf
Lifesaving Championships in August.
Gerry Young, Archives Chair, begins collection of 100 Bronze Medallions
(1908-2008) in preparation for 100th anniversary of founding of Ontario
Following a May Workshop for Master Coach Facilitators, the Society pilots
first Level 1 Coach Courses as the first initiative in the introduction of its 3-
level Competitive Lifesaving Coaching Certification Program. Publishes
Introduction to Coaching and Introduction to Coaching Workbook, together
with the 1st edition of the Facilitators Guide.
The Society releases revised National Lifeguard Award Guide with new NLS
The Society launches its new Swim Program with four modules: Parent &
Tot; Preschool; Swimmer; and Adult Swimmer. Richmond Hill, Markham are
The Society publishes new Fitness, Boat Rescue, Distinction, Diploma Award
The Society publishes 2nd edition (revised) of its Guide to Ontario Public
The Society publishes the Standards Journal 2.
The Society edits and publishes City of Toronto Instructor Manual, 2nd
Ontario forms task force to make recommendations concerning future location
of the Ontario headquarters when current 10-year lease expires in December,
Mississauga hosts TYR Canadian Junior Lifeguard Games (Pool) in July
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 31
Ontario publishes 2 Swim Program Award Guides: Parent & Tot, Preschool;
Swimmer, Adult Swimmer.
Ontario leases an additional 5,000 square feet at 302 Consumers Road and
renews lease at 322 Consumers Road pending decision regarding relocation of
Society publishes new Canadian First Aid Manual (joint project of Alberta &
NWT and Ontario Branches).
Society pilots (Mississauga) and officially launches its Swim-to-Survive®
Campaign with June news conference in Toronto with Stephanie Gaetz
Keepsafe Foundation as Founding Sponsor.
Society publishes Lifesaving Coach Level 2 support materials including
Coaching Lifesaving and a lifesaving sport skills DVD.
Society revises literature to incorporate 2005 international resuscitation
Canada participates at Rescue 2006 in Geelong and Lorne Australia.
Canada participates in 2006 Quinquennial Commonwealth Conference in
Ontario government (Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health
Promotion) gives $1 million dollars to Ontario Branch for Swim to Survive
Ontario Branch office relocates at end of June to 26,000 square feet at 400
Ontario Ministry of Education provides over $900,000 in additional funding
for the Swim to Survive School Program.
National Executive Director Rick Haga steps down after 17 years of dedicated
service to the Society.
Development and launch (in Alberta) of the Society’s national Swim for Life®
Historical Backgrounder – Updated May 2008 32
Society preparing to celebrate 100th anniversary of lifesaving service to the
people of Canada in 2008.
Society publishes Canadian CPR-HCP Manual.
Ontario Branch edits 4th edition of ILS Competition Manual and ILS World
Ontario Executive Director, Doug Ferguson becomes Secretary General of the
Americas Region of the International Life Saving Federation.
In October, Timothy Feher becomes CEO of the national Society.
Ontario Branch assumes responsibility for the Water Incident Research
Alliance (WIRA), January 1, 2008.
Ontario hosts Canadian Lifeguard Championships and Canadian Lifeguard
Emergency Response Championships (March); the Lifesaving Society
National Annual Conference (May); the Canadian Surf Lifesaving
Championships (August) – all in Toronto.
Ontario delegates (competitors, coaches, officials, business delegates)
participate in ILS Rescue 2008 in Berlin and Warnemünde, Germany (July-
Society revises its Canadian Swim Patrol Program to align it with the Swim
for Life® Program.