Ontario Black History Society

402-10 Adelaide St. E, Toronto, ON, M5C 1J3

Temporarily closed due to COVID-19

Contact us at admin@godaddy.blackhistorysociety.ca or (416)-867-9420

Charity Registration Number: 119930295RR0001



Joe Fortes was Vancouver’s first official lifeguard. He was born on February 9th, 1863, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. At the age of 17 he left Trinidad for England where he lived in Liverpool for 5 years. He learned how to swim at St. George’s Baths. He arrived in Vancouver on September 30th, 1885 and was a bartender, swimming instructor, and lifeguard. Around 1897, the city of Vancouver placed Joe on its payroll in recognition of his services as a lifeguard and instructor.