7 Things you did not likely know about Joe Fortes
If you’ve been in Vancouver a while, you might hear the name Joe Forte, which many associate with a restaurant Joe Fortes found on Thurlow Street between Robson and Alberni. (They have a good lunch special by the way.) There’s also a library named after him.
However, Seraphim “Joe” Fortes was the Vancouver Park Board’s first lifeguard. When I happened upon an article about him in BC Magazine‘s Spring 2011 edition, I was fascinated to find that the Canadian immigrant experience is old than we thought. Consider these 7 facts about Joe Forte.
- Born Barbados 1865
- Mixed African/European parentage
- Lived in Liverpool England until age 17.
- Emigrated to BC in 1885.
- In the 1890s, he taught swimming for free in English Bay and performed duties of a lifeguard. He was very popular with kids.
- Worked until his death from pneumonia in 1922 with 29 saved lives to his credit.
- Alexandra Park in English Bay has a memorial drinking fountain for him.
It sounds like Joe had a life worth having lived and I’m glad we remember him.