About Us

Chronological Timelines


  • Inaugural meeting of The Swimmers’ Life Saving Society is held on January 3, in London, England. William Henry, a champion swimmer of his day, is named Chief Secretary. A few months later, Society changes its name to The Life Saving Society.
  • Society publishes first Handbook of Instruction.
  • Certificate of Thanks is instituted to recognize service as an instructor.


  • Bronze Medallion award is instituted.


  • HRH the Duke of York (later King George V) becomes first President of Society.


  • Arthur Lewis Cochrane of Birmingham immigrates to Canada. He is appointed Honorary Representative of Society in Canada.
  • First English Branch (Manchester) and first Australian Branch (New South Wales) are formed.
  • 334 Bronze Medallions are earned in United Kingdom.


  • First formal lifesaving classes are taught by Cochrane at Upper Canada College in Toronto. For this work, Society sends Certificate of Thanks to him, with the following inscription and signature: “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 Honorary Secretaries
  • Society introduces Diploma Award.


  • Arnold Morphy (later first President of the Ontario Branch) passes examinations for Society’s awards and becomes examiner. He actively spreads adoption of the Society’s work in various swimming organizations—much of the promotion of lifesaving is due to his early efforts.


  • Great impetus is given to work of Society when Central YMCA (Toronto) adopts its programs, due to efforts of its enthusiastic Physical Director, John Howard Crocker. He passes examinations for Society’s awards and conducts classes there. Crocker later becomes fourth President of the Ontario Branch.


  • King Edward VII becomes Patron of Society and grants permission for the Society to use title “Royal.” However no formal Charter is issued until 1924.


  • Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) is instituted to recognize Society’s volunteers. Bronze, Silver and Gold Stars to DSM are awarded for subsequent service. DSM is replaced by Service Cross in 1941.


  • Society adopts Schafer Method of artificial respiration (until then, Silvester Method had been recommended).


  • Inaugural meeting of first Canadian Branch (Ontario) is held on December 10, at law offices of Jenkins and Hardy (15 1/2 Toronto Street) in Toronto. First Executive is elected as follows:
    • Arnold Morphy, President (Morphy was Bursar of Upper Canada College)
    • Arthur Lewis Cochrane, Vice-President and Instructor-in-Chief (Cochrane was on physical education staff of Upper Canada College)
    • John Howard Crocker, Secretary-Treasurer (Crocker was Physical Director of Central YMCA, Toronto)
    • Arthur J. Hardy, Honorary Secretary-Treasurer
  • Individual Membership fees are set at $1.00.
  • Honorary Membership fees are set at $2.50.
  • Examination for Bronze Medallion fee is set at $0.75.
  • Cochrane made member of Order of St. John of Jerusalem in recognition of his pioneering work.
  • Society introduces Award of Merit.


  • William Henry, Chief Secretary of Society visits Canada. He gives addresses and demonstrations in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Brantford and Temagami.
  • Henry examines Cochrane for Diploma award. He passes with honours, thus earning first Diploma award in Canada and first outside United Kingdom.
  • Quebec Branch is formed.
  • First New Zealand Branch is formed.
  • Harrison Baths opens in Toronto—first public municipal swimming bath in Canada.


  • Manitoba Branch is formed.
  • His Majesty King George V consents to become Patron of Society.
  • Lord Desborough of the United Kingdom (Acting President since 1901) becomes President and remains so until his death in 1944.
  • Saskatchewan Branch is formed by T.W. Sheffield, formerly of Hamilton, Ontario and member of Ontario Branch Executive. But Central Executive in London, England receives no correspondence from Branch and decides in 1912 to strike Branch off record books. Saskatchewan Branch is not revived until 1965.
  • Boy Scouts Association becomes affiliated with Lifesaving Society through efforts of Assistant Commissioner T.W. Sheffield.


  • British Columbia Branch is formed.


  • W.F. Darnell, Vice-President of Central Executive in London, donates the Darnell Challenge Cup for lifesaving competitions among Canadian Branches. Quebec Branch wins it this first year. Cup subsequently becomes subject of correspondence between Ontario and Quebec Branches regarding its whereabouts and status. Its whereabouts is still unknown.


  • Beginning of Nova Scotia Branch formation.


  • First issue (June) of Society’s new Swimming Magazine—official organ of Society: “it is 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.”
  • Arthur Lewis Cochrane visits Cornell University to give lectures and demonstrations on lifesaving techniques. Appoints S.A. Mumford, staff member of the university, as Honorary Representative of Royal Life Saving Society in Canada.


  • Central Executive in London grants Honorary Associate Certificates “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.” (Criteria for this award remains in place until 1966.)
  • First Canadian Honorary Associate Certificates are awarded to Ernie Chapman and William W. Winterburn. (Chapman later becomes the third President of Ontario Branch and Winterburn its Secretary-Treasurer.)


  • Winterburn, who is Physcial Director at University of Toronto, is elected Secretary-Treasurer of Ontario Branch. He holds this office until his retirement in 1932.


  • Arthur Lewis Cochrane is elected President of Ontario Branch.


  • On July 14, Royal Charter is granted by King George V (formerly HRH the Duke of York; see 1893).
  • Alberta Branch is founded.
  • Honorary Life Member award is instituted for volunteers who have a minimum 20 years of service.
  • Honorary Life Governor award is instituted for those who hold the Honorary Life Member award and have minimum of 25 years of service, which includes national or international experience.


  • Over 2,000 posters are distributed, showing methods of rescue and artificial respiration.


  • First recorded use of what later becomes moto of Royal Life Saving Society Canada (RLSSC). From Ontario Branch report of 1930: “Quemcunque Miserum Videris Hominem Scias/Whomsoever you see in distress, recognize in him a fellow man.”


  • Society produces instructional film Saving Life From Drowning. Copies are made and used in Ontario and Nova Scotia.


  • Victoria Branch is formed (it is dissolved in 1960 and amalgamated with British Columbia Branch).
  • Bar to Bronze Medallion examination is instituted.
  • Life Guard Corps is inaugurated (prerequisites, 18 years of age and Bronze Medallion).
  • J.M. (Olive) Pretty becomes Secretary-Treasurer of Ontario Branch; she holds this post until retirement in 1956. (Mrs. Pretty is mother of David Pretty, former Governor of Ontario Branch.)RLSSC archives at PanAm Pool in Winnipeg are named in her memory: The Olive Pretty Archives.


  • Resuscitation Certificate examination and Bar to the Award of Merit are instituted.
  • Life Guard Cadet award is instituted (prerequisites, 14 years of age and Bronze Medallion).


  • Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) report of 1936 notes Quebec Branch’s production of 16 mm film depicting Swimming and Swimming Strokes and Methods of Life Saving.
  • RLSS report also carries slogan: “Every Swimmer a Life Saver.” Phrase is 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.”


  • RLSS report mentions that celluloid “button badge” for Resuscitation Certificate is now being manufactured.
  • Society institutes Recognition Badge for volunteer service of at least five years.


  • Society publishes On Guard for Life Guard Corps awards and Schafer Artificial Respiration manual for new resuscitation program.


  • Quebec Branch produces film Land Drill and Artificial Respiration. It is shown at annual Examiner’s Dinner in Ontario and copies are made by Ontario Branch for use in that province.
  • Society replaces Distinguished Service Medal (introduced in 1906) with the Service Cross. Bar to Service Cross is introduced in 1953.


  • Society issues “Token Certificates” due to government war restrictions on metal. These paper promissory notes are redeemable after war for Bronze Medallions.
  • There is increasing demand between 1938 and 1942 for revision of existing life saving and swimming programs in Canada. Need for made-in-Canada award scheme is mentioned.


  • RLSS United Kingdom acquires new permanent headquarters (named Desborough House after Lord Desborough who died in 1944).
  • Lord Louis Mountbatten of Burma becomes President of Society.
  • Society introduces the Bronze Cross award.
  • Canadian Red Cross Water Safety Service is formed, and their swimming and water safety programs begin. M.G. Griffiths and other members of RLSS are instrumental in organizing these programs, which are designed to teach fundamentals of water safety and basic swimming skills (to youth in particular) and to complement opportunities available in RLSS. Griffiths, to support this new venture, writes and organizes technical material. He also supervises first National Instruction Program, under Chairmanship of R.W.I. Urquhart, honorary Medical Director of Royal Life Saving Society Ontario Branch.
  • Bredin Stapells, who later becomes President of Ontario Branch and subsequently RLSSC, is one of candidates on first course.


  • Society publishes the 21st revised edition of the Handbook of Instruction.


  • Society institutes Bar to Bronze Cross award.


  • Central Executive in London grants license for formation of Canadian Council of Branches with authority to adapt RLSS awards to Canadian needs.


  • Society introduces Distinction award.


  • Inaugural Mountbatten Medal for bravery in water rescue is awarded to Robert Wardle of Alberta.
  • Society adopts Holger Nielsen method of artificial respiration and produces filmstrip on newly adopted method.


  • Canadian Council of Branches introduces new poster on lifesaving and artificial respiration (printed by Eaton’s).
  • Film No Time to Spare on artificial respiration, is produced by Chetwynd Films with technical assistance by Ontario Branch. Canadian Life Insurance Offices Association sponsors film.


  • Ontario Branch celebrates 50th anniversary.
  • Society institutes Affiliation Certificate.
  • Society publishes first Canadian Examiner’s Handbook and first issue of RLSSC newsletter, which later becomes Lifeliner.
  • First use of Canadian logo: 10 leaves added to RLSS logo, but no crown.


  • Groundwork is done for reorganization of Society.


  • Society publishes the first Canadian Handbook of Instruction.
  • First drafts of Life Guard Service course are under consideration.
  • RLSSC adopts mouth-to-mouth method of rescue breathing.
  • Program Training Committee and Technical Committee are established.
  • M.G. Griffiths Award (for recognition of rescue) is instituted.
  • Society introduces blue enamel Junior Artificial Respiration pin.


  • Queen Elizabeth II grants Supplemental Charter bringing into effect new Commonwealth organization of Society with five National Branches: United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa.
  • RLSSC Council assumes responsibility for issuance and recording of awards earned in Canada.


  • First RLSS Commonwealth conference is convened in London, England.
  • Nova Scotia Branch is founded (its first year of operation is 1962).
  • Society introduces Artificial Respiration Instructor Certificate.
  • Society pilots a Canadian Lifeguard program.


  • Prince Edward Island Branch is founded.
  • The Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are formally accepted as National Affiliates.
  • The Society in Canada is reorganized: new Canadian Constitution is adopted in December.
  • Lt. Gen. Guy Granville Simonds becomes President of National Society.


  • RLSSC publishes first Canadian Lifeguard Manual (December) with Richard Carlton as editor. Manual subsequently goes through nine printings and remains in use until 1974, when it is replaced by Alert: Aquatic Supervision in Action.
  • Society revises the Bronze Cross award.
  • Kenneth D. Howlett of Alberta is awarded Society’s Mountbatten Medal.


  • National Lifeguard Service® (NLS) program is officially launched.
  • Queen Elizabeth II, at Lord Mountbatten’s request, approves use of Royal crown on RLSS logo.
  • Malaysia National Branch is formed.
  • Lynda Dann of Alberta is awarded Mountbatten Medal.


  • Saskatchewan Branch is formed again (see 1910).
  • Society publishes first edition of Canadian Life Saving Manual in five volumes.


  • 2nd Commonwealth Conference is convened in London, England.
  • Bar to Distinction award is instituted.
  • Bronze Medallion becomes prerequisite to Bronze Cross award.
  • Honorary Associate Award is revised and becomes Honor Award.


  • New Brunswick Branch and Newfoundland Branch are founded.
  • Combined instructor training program is instituted with Canadian Red Cross Water Safety Service.
  • Jocelyn Palm is first full-time staff person hired by Society; she becomes Executive Secretary of Ontario Branch.
  • Elementary Award is discontinued as of December 31.


  • RLSSC National Constitution is revised.
  • RLSSC program revisions are undertaken (to be implemented in 1971).
  • Policy of instructor-evaluated awards is adopted for Elementary, Intermediate and Junior Artificial Respiration awards.


  • 3rd (quinquennial) Commonwealth Conference is convened in London, England.
  • RLSSC publishes a National Examiner Handbook. It is agreed that it will eventually become Volume 6 of the Canadian Life Saving Manual.


  • NLS revisions are adopted. RLSSC assumes responsibility for NLS program.
  • National Council of YMCAs becomes National Affiliate of RLSSC.
  • RLSSC becomes a member of World Life Saving.


  • Society publishes first edition of Alert: Aquatic Supervision in Action. It is authored by Jocelyn Palm, who is now National Executive Director.
  • RLSSC produces a new public education film called Into the Water.
  • RLSSC Safety Equipment Service is formed.


  • RLSSC Program Revisions (to be implemented in 1976) result in introduction of three new awards (Lifesaving I, II and III) to replace Elementary and Intermediate awards. Other specialty awards are introduced, including Lifesaving Fitness, Scuba Bronze and Boat Rescue. Victim simulation/recognition and cold water self-rescue skills are introduced into Canadian program.
  • Mountbatten Medal is awarded to Gordon Penner of Manitoba.
  • Canadian Red Cross Society becomes National Affiliate of RLSSC.


  • In May, Society convenes its first National Symposium (held in conjunction with Society’s Annual Conference), on the subject of Cold Water.
  • 4th Commonwealth Conference is convened in London, England.
  • Society publishes pamphlet Don’t Challenge Cold Water.
  • RLSSC operates rescue boats for Olympic sailing events in Kingston, Ontario.
  • Service National des Sauveteurs (SNS) is incorporated in Quebec, to operate RLSSC program.


  • In May, first Canadian Lifeguard Championship is held, in Winnipeg, in conjunction with RLSSC Annual Conference.
  • Society creates NLS Canada Corporation.
  • Society organizes Alcohol and Aquatics Symposium.
  • First time that over 100,000 awards are earned in Canada.


  • Society hosts a National Symposium on Aquatic Emergency Care.
  • Aquatic Emergency Care award is introduced.
  • Society employs its first National Technical Director, Bev Greene.


  • Society produces new training film Aquatic Emergency Care.
  • National Symposium, Challenge on Water, is held at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.
  • Society revises its National Constitution.
  • Revised National Examination Guidelines are published.


  • Society revises its program, for implementation in 1981.
  • Aquatic Spinal Injuries is title of Society’s Symposium, held in Sudbury, Ontario.
  • Society publishes It’s Your Neck pamphlet.


  • 5th Commonwealth Conference is convened in London, England.
  • National Symposium, on boat rescue, is held in Victoria, British Columbia.
  • Several publications are completed and released: public education brochure on boat rescue, revised Safety Equipment catalogue, 4th edition of Volume 1 of the Canadian Life Saving Manuel and 2nd edition of Examination Guidelines.
  • St. John Ambulance becomes National Affiliate of RLSSC.


  • NLS program is revised (for implementation in 1983).
  • National Symposium, titled Focus on Lifeguarding is held in Saskatoon.
  • Society produces set of five posters with funding from Fitness Canada (“Recognize-React-Rescue,” “Fitness,” “Lifesaving I, II, III,” “Lifeguard” and “Check-Tilt-Blow”).
  • Society adopts first five-year long range plan.
  • Canadian Amateur Swimming Association (now Swimming/Natation Canada) becomes National Affiliate of RLSSC.
  • Society launches (in October) first National Fundraising Campaign for permanent National Office.


  • Society celebrates 75th anniversary of founding of first Branch in 1908. For this occasion, Society produces special 75th Anniversary Bronze Bar, poster, plaques, button and 1908 certificate. Society also hosts 75th Anniversary Gala Dinner/Dance at King Edward Hotel in Toronto—site of annual Examiner’s Dinner in earlier years.
  • This year’s National Symposium is Aquatic Programming for Today’s Participants.
  • Canada hosts, in Ottawa, first meeting of Commonwealth Technical Advisory Committee held outside London, England.
  • M.G. Griffiths dies on March 30.
  • Admiral Pullen, National Governor dies.
  • New program brochure and poster are produced: Every Swimmer a Life Saver.


  • Society hosts special symposium in Toronto, to look at cross-infection. Symposium titled Issues in Resuscitation Training.
  • Society publishes first national edition of Notes for Instructor Trainers..
  • New slide/tape and video productions, of Every Swimmer a Life Saver are released.
  • Symposium on Communicating Life Saving (about learning, teaching and evaluating) is held in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
  • Mall and transit shelter posters are produced, with Mediacom’s sponsorship.


  • RLSSC Annual Conference featuring Self-Rescue Symposium is held in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
  • Society publishes Scuba Life Saving by Al Pierce.
  • Program revisions are adopted, for implementation in January 1986.
  • Proficiency skills are dropped; Bronze Medallion age is lowered from 14 to 13 years; age prerequisites are dropped from Award of Merit, Distinction and Diploma; Scuba Bronze is revised into basic and advanced levels; and development of Basic Life Saver award (non-aquatic) begins.
  • 5th edition of Volume 1 of the Canadian Life Saving Manual containing examination guidelines is released.
  • Introduction of Dura 5 spineboard designed by Richard Brault and Dianne Croteau of Studio Innova.
  • My American Cousin film fundraiser is held at Ontario Science Centre, Toronto, in October.
  • One Magic Christmas film fundraiser and gala is held at King Edward Hotel, Toronto, in December.


  • Catch the Life Saving Spirit, youth brochure, is published.
  • Society issues new “Canadian Lifesaving Program” awards poster.
  • New program brochure, What Swimmers Do Next is released.
  • In May, RLSSC hosts the world in Vancouver at Rescue ‘86, which includes RLSSC Annual Conference and Canadian Lifeguard Championship and World Life Saving (WLS) General Assembly, Congress and International Lifeguard Competition.
  • RLSSC assumes responsibility for WLS: Ed Bean becomes Secretary-General of international organization and Marlin Moore becomes President for two-year term. WLS Secretariat moves from Sydney, Australia to Toronto.
  • Waistpac product is introduced.
  • Manitoba and British Columbia Branches celebrate their 75th anniversary.
  • Society organizes and launches Bronze Club, in October, as first attempt at organized personal giving campaign.
  • Commonwealth Conference is convened in London, England, in June.
  • Society begins research to compile comprehensive drowning data in Ontario.
  • Ontario Branch investigates possibility of developing inexpensive manikin for teaching rescue breathing. Eventually leads to development of the ACTAR 911® manikin created by Studio Innova’s Richard Brault and Dianne Croteau.


  • National Symposium is held in Burlington, Ontario: Water Accidents: the Community Responds.
  • Society purchases first permanent National Office at 191 Church Street in Toronto. Society’s Patron in Canada, Governor General Jeanne Sauvé, officiates at opening in October.
  • The World of Lifesaving, highlights of Rescue ’86, is published.
  • Rescue Smart, developed by Ontario Branch, is published as first non-aquatic basic water rescue program.
  • Society develops Water Smart® public education campaign, with creation of special national task force.


  • Volunteerism: Your Key To Success is theme of Annual Conference held in Edmonton, Alberta. West Edmonton Mall wave pool is site of official launch of the national Water Smart® campaign.
  • WLS hosts Rescue ‘88 in Australia; first time that a major Canadian delegation (97 Canadians) goes to overseas competition and meetings.
  • Society publishes national Instructor Notes and develops Award Pacs (Award Guides).


  • Annual Conference is held in Québec City, Quebec.
  • Revised NLS program is introduced.
  • 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 its Water Smart® drowning prevention campaign, with significant sponsorship from Brewers of Ontario and Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation.


  • Annual Conference is held in St. John’s, Newfoundland, with Water Smart® as Symposium theme.
  • Program revisions are made, for implementation in 1991: Award of Merit and Scuba Bronze are retired.


  • Saint John, New Brunswick is the site of this year’s Annual Conference.
  • Society’s National Office is relocated to Ottawa from Toronto, in December. National Office in Toronto is sold and new one is purchased on McArthur Avenue in Ottawa.


  • Annual Conference is held in Regina, Saskatchewan. Symposium, Uncharted Waters, examins demographics and their impact on future of Society.
  • Society undertakes its first national, comprehensive drowning data research.


  • Annual Conference is held in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island with Symposium on Atmospheric Change and Aquatics.
  • National Drowning Report is published for first time. RLSSC and Canadian Red Cross Society collaborate on data collection for drowning report.
  • CPR guidelines are revised by Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation; revised guidelines are implemented by training agencies including RLSSC.


  • Annual Conference is held in Winnipeg, Manitoba, including Symposium Exposure ’94 (on hypothermia).
  • Society publishes new edition of Alert now titled Alert: Lifeguarding in Action.
  • National Drowning Report (3rd edition) is published.


  • Society hosts Behavioural Change Symposium at Annual Conference, in Banff, Alberta.
  • Society adopts new national Board of Directors structure, based on “strategic units.”
  • New edition of Canadian Lifesaving Manual is published, in single text format (instead of as separate volumes and binder).
  • Jeune Sauveteur program is developed in Quebec.
  • Society develops Junior Lifeguard Program and pilots it in Ontario.
  • Ontario Branch celebrates 25th anniversary of provincial lifeguard championship.
  • Mississauga, Ontario, hosts first-ever Junior Lifeguard Games.
  • LIFEGUARD brand uniform is introduced, with sponsorship of TYR Sport.
  • National Drowning Report (4th edition) is published.
  • Ontario outdoor poster campaign features “Within Arms’ Reach” message.


  • Society adopts new business style—the Lifesaving Society/la Société de Sauvetage—and introduces new logo.
  • Society issues redesigned Bronze Medallion to commemorate centenary of the first Bronze Medallion earned in Canada.
  • Annual Conference is held in Victoria, British Columbia, with Interaction ‘96 as symposium title.
  • Waterloo, Ontario, hosts 2nd Junior Lifeguard Games.
  • Doug Trentowsky, of New Brunswick, is awarded Mountbatten Medal.


  • In January, Society organizes international symposium (in Toronto) on Ice Safety & Ice Rescue.
  • In May, Ontario Branch hosts Annual Conference “A Capital Event” in Ottawa, with a policy forum Standing on Guard—Taking a stand on issues that matter. First-ever Canada Junior Lifeguard Games are staged at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.
  • British Columbia & Yukon Branch purchases provincial headquarters.
  • Ontario Branch pilots new Canadian Swim Patrol and Bronze Star awards.


  • In May, Nova Scotia Branch hosts “Storm the Coast,” Annual Conference and Canadian Lifeguard Championship, in Halifax.
  • Society publishes Ice: The Winter Killer, on ice safety and rescue.
  • Ontario Branch celebrates 90th anniversary of first meeting.
  • Society releases new corporate brochure.


  • Quebec Branch host Annual Conference in Montreal, Quebec. Lifesaving Society hosts meeting of International Life Saving Federation. Dave Williams, Canadian astronaut, addresses banquet.
  • Lifesaving Society launches new Boat Operator Accredited Training (BOAT)™ program, accredited by Canadian Coast Guard under new federal government regulations introduced April 1, 1999.
  • Mountbatten Medal is awarded to Vanessa Bailey of Alberta.


  • Saskatchewan hosts Annual General Meeting and Canadian Lifeguard Championship in Regina.
  • First-ever Canadian National Lifesaving Team medals are won in Rescue 2000—World Lifesaving Championships held in Sydney, Australia. The Team’s eighth place finish in surf event qualifies team for Goodwill Games, held in August—September, 2001 in Brisbane, Australia.
  • Nova Scotia hosts 1st Canadian Surf Championship.
  • Special General Meeting is held in November to approve by-law revisions to establish new Board of Directors structure as set out in Organizational Renewal Project.
  • National Web site is revamped.
  • MBNA MasterCard program is initiated as a fundraising program for Society.
  • Ontario Branch publishes first edition of Standards Journal cataloguing court cases, coroners’ inquest findings and Lifesaving Society positions on aquatic safety issues not addressed in legislation or regulations.
  • Society introduces Automated External Defibrillation (AED) training for lifeguards in Ontario.
  • Society publishes 2000 edition of National Drowning Report and Boating Fatalities in Canada 2000: Special Report.
  • 2000 edition (12th) of the Ontario Drowning Report ( based on 1998 data) reports drownings have been cut in half from their high-water mark ten years earlier—when Society launched Water Smart® public education campaign.
  • The Society releases BOAT Instructor Notes including the 20-minute video: Stay in the Water and Don’t Crash Into Anything.


  • National Annual General Meeting is held in Ottawa, Ontario, and new Board of Directors structure (seven Board members elected by ten Active Member Representatives) is put into place.
  • Alberta hosts Canadian Lifeguard Championship and Junior Lifeguard Games (in Edmonton, in May). First time they are organized independently of Society’s national meetings. Both feature new international events.
  • Commonwealth Quinquennial Conference and Commonwealth Lifesaving Championship are held in Eastbourne, England.
  • Canadian National Team participates in Goodwill Games held on Gold Coast in Australia.
  • Society honours its volunteers through International Year of the Volunteer.
  • Bob Lord retires as Chair and member of Board of Governors.
  • Quebec Branch launches “Peaceful Waters” program—an indoor aquatic awareness program that wins Canadian Water Safety Awareness award for best water safety campaign.
  • Quebec Branch develops water safety awareness program for Grades 3 to 6 “Near, On or In the Water, Be Water Smart.”
  • Ontario Branch hosts 1st International May Moose Meet, just prior to Commonwealth Championships in England. Lifeguards from Australia and Canadian National Lifesaving Team participate.
  • Ontario Branch launches Officials Certification program with Level 1 clinic prior to Moose Meet. Development continues on Levels 2 and 3.
  • Competition Officials and Coaching Certification program is launched.
  • John F. Bankes is appointed National Governor and Chair of the Board of Governors to replace Bob Lord.
  • New Brunswick Branch hosts an Aquatic Conference in conjunction with Recreation and Parks Association of New Brunswick.
  • Society publishes National Drowning Trends Report since 1990, summarizing 10 years of drowning information.
  • National Strategic Planning meeting is held and five key strategic directions, or result areas, are identified for next four years.
  • Society releases new binder to replace the “Leadership” binder that carries old visual identity.
  • Society produces new backyard pool safety video, Within Arms’ Reach.
  • Society revises Canadian Lifesaving Manual to incorporate new international resuscitation and CPR guidelines.


  • Annual Conference Avant Guard is held in Toronto, in May. Conference includes educational sessions, business meetings, Annual General Meeting, Canadian Lifeguard Championship and Junior Lifeguard Games.
  • Canadians participate in Rescue 2002, International Life Saving Federation (ILS) business meetings and World Lifesaving Championships in Daytona Beach, Florida. Canadian National Lifesaving Team places 12th overall and seven other Canadian teams compete in the interclub and masters championships. Canadian volunteers officiate. Canadian delegates also participate in ILS Board and Commission meetings.
  • Canadian Surf Championship and Canadian Junior Lifeguard Games—Surf ware held at Risser’s Beach in Nova Scotia, in August. Competition takes place at junior, senior and masters levels.
  • The BOAT Study Guide Le Manuel BON is finalized and distributed as a nationally approved product.
  • Ontario Branch publishes Backyard Pool Safety Guidelines, Wading Pool Guidelines and and Dragon Boat Race Event Organizers Safety Procedures Handbook.
  • New Within Arms’ Reach brochure is published to complement 2001 video of same name.
  • New Lifesaving Society banner and “wind dancers” are released.
  • Society publishes first edition (November 2002) of Pool Operations Manual.
  • Society is honoured by visit from Alan Whelpton, President of ILS. He visits and meets volunteers and staff from Ontario and Quebec Branches, and National Office.
  • HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Commonwealth President of Royal Life Saving Society, visits several areas of Canada and presents awards to volunteers in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.
  • Content of Alberta Branch’s First Aid program is given accreditation by federal government and is made available to all Branches.
  • Revisions to Bronze family of awards are completed and implementation begins.
  • Junior Lifeguard Games Workshop is held in Toronto, in conjunction with Annual Conference and Canadian Lifeguard Championship. Workshop participants from seven Branches assist at TYR Junior Games after completion of the course. Then they return to their home Branches to promote and organize Junior Games.
  • Canada is represented at, and gives presentation at, World Congress on Drowning in Amsterdam and World Injury Prevention Conference in Montreal.
  • Society publishes Jeune Sauveteur Award Guide and related materials. Jeune Sauveteur’s French version of Canadian Swim Patrol.
  • The Society retires Award Guide 1 and revises other award guides to incorporate the new resuscitation guidelines.
  • Ontario Branch Governor David W. Pretty retires, after 20 years in this office.
  • Alberta launches its new Swim For Life Program as foundation for Canadian Swim Patrol program.


  • Society releases Bronze Medals Award Guide, containing Bronze Star and revised Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross awards. (Award Guide 2 will be retired.)
  • National Boating Fatalities Report is published in May and National Drowning Trends Report 1991-2000 is published in September.
  • Alberta & Northwest Territories Branch hosts 2003 Annual Conference in Canmore, Alberta, May 7-10. Includes Business Managers Meeting, Annual General Meeting and related events.
  • Society organizes Caribbean Lifesaving Conference and Championship and logistics for ILS Board, Strategic Planning and Commission meetings in St. Lucia, April 25 to May 2.
  • 24 teams for total of 206 competitors take part in Canadian Lifeguard Championship (senior and masters divisions) hosted by Ontario Branch, which are held in Mississauga, Ontario.
  • Alberta & Northwest Territories Branch hosts TYR Junior Lifeguard Games in Edmonton, Alberta, April 5. Competition consists of 50 events for four age groups and is well attended, attracting 17 teams from Alberta, Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario.
  • Four individuals receive HRH Prince Michael’s Certificates of Merit to commemorate his 25th anniversary as Royal Life Saving Society Commonwealth President: Jean Lathwell, David Pretty, Bredin Stapells and Steve Beerman.
  • Society publishes first edition of comprehensive and authoritative Canadian Competition Manual defining rules, standards and procedures for competitive lifesaving in Canada.
  • New Bronze Medallion promotional campaign poster and take-ones, with the theme “Serious hardware for your wall of fame,” are made available to Branches, in both languages.
  • City of Barrie hosts Canadian Surf Lifesaving Championship (senior and masters) and TYR Junior Lifeguard Games (Surf) in Lake Simcoe’s Kempenfelt Bay and at Georgian Bay’s Wasaga Beach, August 24-27.
  • Canadian National Lifesaving Team competes in Commonwealth Lifesaving Championship with 19 other teams in Durban, South Africa, July 2-5. Canadian team, consisting of eight competitors, manager and three coaches places third overall. Society also sends five Canadian Officials to officiate at the Commonwealth Lifesaving Championship.
  • Gerry Young, Archives Chair, begins collection of 100 Bronze Medallions (1908-2008) in preparation for 100th anniversary of founding of Ontario Branch.
  • Following May Workshop for Master Coach Facilitators, Society pilots first Level 1 coach courses as first initiative in introduction of three—level Competitive Lifesaving Coaching Certification program.
  • Society publishes Introduction to Coaching and Introduction to Coaching Workbook together with 1st edition of Facilitators Guide.


  • Society releases revised National Lifeguard Award Guide with new National Lifeguard Service® (NLS) certification requirements.
  • Ontario Branch pilots and launches new Swim Program with four modules: Parent and Tot, Preschool, Swimmer and Adult.
  • Canada is well represented at Rescue 2004 in Viareggio, Italy by its national team, four interclub teams, one masters team, two independent masters competitors, eleven officials and seven delegates. Collectively, Canadians bring home 20 medals and break numerous Canadian records.
  • Quebec Branch establishes the Kelly-Anne Drummond Fund in memory of an outstanding lifesaving athlete and Society volunteer who dies tragically in October at age 24.


  • Society releases updated Notes for Instructor Trainers in January.
  • National Drowning Trends Report 1992-2001 is published in February.
  • National Web site is revamped in March.


  • The Swim for Life program is revised and launched nationally.


  • Alberta and Northwest Territories Branch hosts Edmonton 2009: RLSS Commonwealth Conference & Lifesaving Championships.


  • Society programs are updated to reflect the recommendations made by the International Liaison Committee On Resuscitation (ILCOR) in 2010 regarding first aid, CPR and AED training.


  • The National Lifeguard Service program is revised and becomes simply National Lifeguard. The official launch of the program is held alongside the Society`s annual meetings and the Canadian Lifeguard Emergency Response Championships in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
  • The Open Water Wisdom campaign is launched, reaching out to remote, rural, Northern and Aboriginal communities to provide water safety and drowning prevention messages along with lifejackets that can be sued by the community.
  • The first edition of the Public Pool Safety Standards (for Canadian Public Swimming Pools) is published.


  • The revised National Lifeguard program is delivered in all provinces and territories across the country and is recognized as the standard measure of lifeguard performance in Canada.


  • 50th Anniversary of the National Lifeguard program.
  • Canada wins the bid to host the World Conference on Drowning in 2017.
  • The World health Organization (WHO) released its Global report on drowning, addressing key recommendations for the future of the Drowning Prevention Movement.


  • The Swim for Life program is revised.
  • The new competency-based national Leadership program is completed with the release of the Lifesaving Instructor, National Lifeguard Instructor and Instructor Trainer Award Guides.
  • The Lifesaving Society establishes the Canadian Drowning Prevention Coalition made of up of over 30 participants representing Government, NGO (non-government organizations/not-for-profit), academic, industry and advocate sectors whose goal is to increase awareness of drowning risk and reduce drowning incidents through a multi-year plan that is consistent with the WHO Global Report on Drowning.


  • Society programs are updated to reflect the recommendations made by the International Liaison Committee On Resuscitation (ILCOR) in 2015 regarding first aid, CPR and AED training.
  • The Trainers reference manual is released in support of the new Lifesaving Instructor, National Lifeguard Instructor and Instructor Trainer programs.


  • The Lifesaving Society Canada hosts the World Conference on Drowning Prevention (WCDP 2017) in Vancouver.