Our History

Saving lives for over 100 years.

The Lifesaving Society has a long and proud history of teaching lifesaving skills to Canadians.

We trace our roots back to the late 19th century in London, England where we began as The Swimmers' Life Saving Society in 1891. In 1894, Arthur Lewis Cochrane brought the lifesaving skills he learned in his homeland to Canada. And he passed them along to students at Upper Canada College in Toronto. In June 1896, 18 of his students were the first recipients of our distinguished Bronze Medallion award, the first award created by the Society.

In the 1950s, we were the 1st Canadian organization to adopt mouth-to-mouth as the method of choice over manual methods of artificial respiration. We started our first CPR training program in the 1960s.

In the 1980s, we initiated a project to design an economical CPR training manikin -- now known as the ACTAR 911; and we launched a public education campaign to make all Canadians Water Smart®.

In the 1990s we developed safety management services for pool and waterfront operators; and organized the international symposium on ice safety and ice rescue. We introduced innovative new programs like Boat Operator Accredited Training, the Junior Lifeguard Club and the Canadian Swim Patrol Program. We expanded our First Aid training programs and completely revamped the Bronze medal and the National Lifeguard training programs to suit the needs of the new century.

In 2001, we defined the Canadian Swim to Survive® Standard and subsequently launched our Swim to Survive Program to teach Canadians the minimum essential skills they need to survive an unexpected fall into deep water. Our learn-to-swim program is our latest drowning prevention initiative.

We became The Royal Life Saving Society under the patronage of King Edward VII in 1904. Her Majesty The Queen is the Commonwealth Patron of the Society and HRH Prince Michael of Kent is Commonwealth President. (www.princemichael.org.uk).

Today, we are known to Canadians simply as the Lifesaving Society, a national volunteer organization and registered charity. And while we've expanded our strengths over the past century to include research and public education, we haven't forgotten the ideals that formed the foundation of our organization.

The Lifesaving Society has always been - and will continue to be - Canada's lifeguarding experts.