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Rude to be Nude in 1935

“Anyone caught swimming in the nude will be liable to immediate arrest.”

Calgary’s in for a heat wave. When heat strikes, Calgarian’s know what to do – they grab a cold beverage, roll downhill and take to the rivers. Floating, fishing, swimming or even a toe dip – the cool waters of the Bow and Elbow are well embraced.

In 1935, this behaviour was much the same, except for one important detail – people were naked.

Nudity along the shores of the upper reaches of the Elbow River became such a problem that on July 24, 1935, Calgary’s local paper exposed the issue with the title “Night Bathers, Beware!” Informing locals that city police officers had instituted a patrol along the river.

Neighbourhood residents did not care for the bare and were particularly turned-off by their wiener roasts. “The celebrants light huge campfires, hold wiener roasts, shout, swear and sing.” Complaints from the Holy Cross Hospital were of even greater concern, stating that “Revellers in the vicinity have caused considerable distress and loss of sleep to patients in the hospital and to residents of the area.”

Acting on the numerous grievances caused by these cheeky individuals, Chief David Ritchie and City Commissioner T.B. Riley instituted a patrol along the main hot spots. The announcement stated “Persons caught creating unnecessary noise along the river during the night will be warned, and if the warning is not heeded, action will be taken. Anyone caught swimming the nude will be liable to immediate arrest.”

After receiving complaints, police believed that a number of the “offending persons were wearing merely abbreviated bathing costumes.” Perhaps the disapproval was a reaction to the drastic change in the evolution of bathing suites experienced during the 1930’s.

According to Wikipedia, “By the 1930’s necklines plunged at the back, sleeves disappeared and sides were cut away and tightened. With the development of new clothing materials, particularly latex and nylon, through the 1930s swimsuits gradually began hugging the body, with shoulder straps that could be lowered for tanning.” Such changes may not have suited many of the local population.

Tomorrow, it is predicted to hit the top of the scale at a whopping 32 degrees and maintain above 25 for the weekend. When the morning heat hits and it’s time to grab that cold beverage - before you roll down hill, remember to grab your bathing suit first. No one wants to be responsible for causing the city to lose sleep.

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