Address: 276 Home Street East
Also known as: Moose Jaw Aquatic Club
The Moose Jaw Aquatic Club is a non-designated heritage building at 276 Home Street East in Moose Jaw overlooking Wakamow Valley. The one-storey shingle clad building was completed in 1913.
The heritage value of the Moose Jaw Aquatic Club building rests in its association with the development of recreational and social life in Moose Jaw. The Moose Jaw River was initially dammed by the Canadian Pacific Railway in order to provide a source of water for steam locomotives. The dam created a small lake known as Plaxton’s Lake where Thunder Creek meets the Moose Jaw River. This site provided seasonal recreational opportunities and quickly proved popular among local residents such that by 1907 it was frequented by swimmers and had two boating clubs with 60 resident boats. In 1912 the Moose Jaw Aquatic Club, then led by well-known local photographer Lewis Rice hired local architect Sholto Smith to design a boat and club house. The two-storey design featured prominent gables and a waterfront verandah that led to a hall with a hardwood maple dance floor and fireplace. The building also contained modern amenities including boat storage, lockers and showers and soon proved an even more popular site for boating, water polo, swimming events and weekly dances during summer months. Originally situated on the south bank of Plaxton’s Lake, the Aquatic Club remained a hub of recreational activity until 1932 when the Natatorium heated mineral pool opened in nearby Crescent Park. The widespread ownership of cars in the post war period saw more residents travel elsewhere in search of larger beaches and lakes. In 1958 the building was sold to the South Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation for a clubhouse and shooting range. The club spent $75,000 renovating and moving the building up the hill to Home Street. Alterations involved the removal of the first floor boathouse. The building remains in use as the Sportsman Centre community hall and as park offices for the Wakamow Valley Authority one of whose goals is to restore the River valley to its status as a centre of recreation.
The heritage value of the Moose Jaw Aquatic Club building also lies in its association with swimmer Phyllis Dewar, Moose Jaw’s first Olympian and one of its most decorated athletes. Dewar learned to swim in nearby Thunder Creek and was a member of the Aquatic Club and frequently competed and dominated swimming events at the Club’s annual regatta. Unknown outside her own community and largely without the benefit professional coaching, Dewar surprised Canadians by winning four gold medals in her four events at the 1934 British Empire Games in London, England. Falling ill during the subsequent Olympic Games she did not repeat her strong showing. The outdoor pool adjacent to the Natatorium is named in her honour.
The heritage value of the Moose Jaw Aquatic Club resides in the following character-defining elements:
- its location in Wakamow Valley overlooking Plaxton’s Lake and the Moose Jaw River;
- the architectural elements of its design including its prominent gabled roof, shingle cladding and Tudor architectural-styled half-timbering.
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