Uncovering a piece of history


A Petrolia couple has uncovered a piece of history in their own backyard.

Richard and Kelly Poore bought a home on Crescent Park recently knowing there was a “swimming pool” in the backyard that had not been used for some time.

What Poore discovered was the pool was likely the first cement-poured in ground pool in town.

Sylvia Fairbank, who lived on Crescent Park when she was a child, says the pool was actually a therapy pool built for her friend Jane Atkey. When the polio epidemic hit the area in the mid 1950s, the then 15 year old became ill.

As she recovered, Fairbank recalls the local Scouts decided to help out and came to her home and dug the small four-foot deep hole. The cement was poured and Atkey began her therapy.

“It was amazing,” says Fairbank. “ Water therapy was one of the best things…it could assist you or resist you…Jane probably used it every day in the summer and fall.”

But Atkey wasn’t the only person in the water. Fairbank says the pool became a gathering point with neighbourhood children getting a chance to go for a swim after Atkey’s therapy sessions. “A lot of us got to use the pool.”

Atkey grew up and became a physiotherapist and was a “fighter” and an advocate for those with disabilities.

For their part, the Poores plan to keep the cement therapy pool – which is still in good shape and without cracks – intact filling it with pea stone and creating a pond. Poore says landscapers have assured him that will preserve it in case someone wants to use the pool again.