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Vancouver's first lifeguard to be honoured with new plaque at beach he spent decades caring for

He passed 100 years ago and thousands lined up to bid farewell

Vancouver's first lifeguard, Seraphim "Joe" Fortes, has been honoured in a lot of different ways, and now, over 100 years since he passed, he's getting another.

The Vancouver Heritage Foundation (VHF) is unveiling a new plaque Saturday, Oct. 1, in their "Places That Matter" series at English Bay Beach, the place Fortes spent years keeping people safe and teaching thousands of people how to swim.

A presentation for the organization's 93rd plaque will be held at the foot of Burnaby Street and Beach Avenue at noon on Oct. 1. After it's been unveiled there will be a short walking tour with author Lisa Anne Smith, who wrote a book about Fortes.

Fortes, who arrived in Vancouver in 1885, spent years at English Bay Beach, working and living there. He even lived for years in a little cottage at the foot of Bidwell Street, near where the Inukshuk stands today; a memorial fountain in his name is already installed at Alexandra Park.

Initially, Fortes volunteered his time as a swim coach and lifeguard, but the city eventually hired him. When he passed away in 1922 an estimated 10,000 people attended, overflowing the church and lining the streets, while schools held a five-minute silence for him. In 1986, the city's 100th birthday, he was named 'Vancouver Citizen of the Century.' 

Joe, Jill Haras & Jill Haras, provided by the National Film Board of Canada