George Corsan

George 1

In 1915, The Public School Journal published these photos of George H. Corsan teaching swimming at Silver Bay. Corsan was the head swimming instructor of the YMCA and noted as the man who did more than any single person to popularize swimming in North America. He originated the massed method of swimming instruction; he once taught 1500 boys and girls to swim in just one week, and in California during World War I, he taught entire regiments to swim.

Corsan’s motto was “Paddle your own canoe, but first learn to swim.” He was the first swimming teacher to teach beginners the crawl stroke. He invented water wings. Below is an undated Jesse Sumner Wooley photo postcard of Corsan teaching at Silver Bay.

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In addition to being an advocate for swimming, Corsan was also a vegetarian and a nut farmer, raising more than 400 varieties on his farm outside Toronto, including butternuts, hickories, almonds, pecans, sweet chestnuts, Chinese walnuts, Japanese heart nuts, European filberts and Turkish tree hazelnuts, all of whose health benefits he extolled on frequent speaking tours.



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In this real photo postcard of a “Drive Near Silver Bay” by Jesse Sumner Wooley, I couldn’t quite make out what the two young women were holding until I enlarged the image. By gosh, it’s a Kodak!

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And they’re sharing it. Sumner had a photography shop in Ballston Spa, so it makes sense that he would have the latest camera equipment. I would guess these are his daughters.