On a sweltering hot summer day, nothing beats the cooling effect of fresh running water.
Before the time Maple Ridge had built outdoor or indoor swimming pools, local people found their way to the refreshing waters of the North and South Alouette rivers, Kanaka Creek and Whonnock Lake.
The chilly North Alouette River is fed by snow melt, and the slightly warmer South Alouette River drains the south end of Alouette Lake.
There are swimming holes at various locations along the South Alouette before the two rivers join in Pitt Meadows.
One of the most spectacular and popular places to swim is Davidson’s Pool, located a little way upstream from Maple Ridge Park.
An earlier name for the swimming hole was Smedly’s Pool, changed to recall the next landowner, J. Davidson.
In earlier days, long before there was a dam controlling the flow of the South Alouette River, the Katzie First Nations fished the waters of Davidson’s Pool. They were careful to keep their canoes and paddles from colliding with the natural rock formations, in order not to disturb the spirits of the place.
After the arrival of European settlers here, loggers used the swift flowing waters to float logs downstream.
Today’s photo of the crowd at Davidson’s pool was taken in the 1940s by the late George Clark. You will notice a cement block supporting a diving board, located over the deepest part of the pool.
A 1935 photo in the Maple Ridge Museum collection shows a log bridge built over the river, but it was swept away by high winter water.
Another attraction that people remember was a rope tied to an overhanging tree on the north side of the pool. Daring young people would swing out over the water for a quick splashing entry.
The diving board was used and abused, with some daredevils riding their bicycles down the path, along the board and into the pool, with no regard for swimmers below.
The Maple Ridge parks department took over the dilapidated row of Cross’s Cabins on the north bank of the river to create a parking area and a picnic park.
The district also made a small parking place on the south side, with interpretive signage provided by the Maple Ridge Community Heritage Commission.
Probably with fear for public safety, the district removed the diving board and fenced off the cement platform. People still follow their irresistible impulse to dive or jump into the pool.
Another favourite way to enjoy the cool waters of Davidson’s Pool is to drift downstream on an innertube or other flotation device.
People enter the South Alouette River further upstream, then float downstream, bumping into the occasional rock.
The sun heated ‘hot rocks’ around the pool offer the perfect warming or sunbathing place.
Thanks to the tree growth nearby, there is always a shady retreat as well.
Despite all the other swimming options now available around Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, Davidson’s Pool remains a cherished and well-used summer retreat.
Sheila Nickols is past president of the Maple Ridge Historical Society.