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"A Brief History of the Life-Saving
(This first appeared
in The Canadian Badger, June 1998 Vol. 23 No. 2)
The Canadian Badger
11420 - 73rd Avenue
Delta, British Columbia
After seeing the pages sent in by John (C0944) which he had also sent
me, I thought that as a fellow Badger and a member of The Salvation
Army, I might send in a brief history of the Life-Saving Scouts and
its founder, Col. Rufus T.Spooner. Col. Spooner came to Canada in
1904, at the age of 18, and moved to Manitoba. He became a Salvation
Army minister in 1912. In 1914, he was a fortunate survivor of the
Empress of Ireland disaster. Using his St. John Ambulance Brigade
training, he saved the lives of many of his fellow passengers.
On April 5, 1915, he was given the task of organizing the Life-Saving
Scouts in the Canadian Territory. The next year, he aided the launch
of the Life-Saving Guards. He was well versed in Scouting, having
been a Baden-Powell Scouter in Western Canada. The first location for
a Life-Saving Scout Troop was the Yorkville Corps in Toronto. Being
close to the Salvation Army Headquarters, this troop became known as
the Headquarters' Troop. Twenty boys attended that first meeting in
the spring of 1915. The movement spread quickly to other Toronto
Corps such as Toronto Temple, Dovercourt, Riverdale, and Lippencott.
One member of that first Troop, Carl Richards, eventually went on to
become one of the first Salvation Army Scout Organisers for Great
It was not long before the first camp was held at Clarkson, just west
of Toronto. Jackson's Point, on Lake Simcoe, was the next location to
play host to the Life-Saving Scouts. Having only been acquired
recently, the Scouts helped the early development of this camp by
uprooting stumps and pulling weeds. Every year, a brass band was
formed by Scouts. To this day, this camp is used by Scouts, Guides,
and countless thousands of underprivileged and inner-city
The Life-Saving Scouts even had their own song:
Song of The Salvation Army Life-Saving
country, from ocean to ocean,
The Life-Saving Scouts you will see,
Filled with love and unselfish devotion,
Everyone full of life, you'll agree;
But there's one thing we'll always remember,
In sunshine or shadows to observe
That we're banded together with a motto
Our slogan, "To Save and to Serve.
"To Save and to Serve,"
Our slogan, "To Save and to Serve,"
We're banded together with a motto,
Our slogan, "To Save and to Serve."
shirk any duty or waiver,
We'll be faithful to principle and pledge,
With King Jesus, our mighty Scout Leader,
We'll develop body, soul, as well as head.
We'll fight 'neath the Army's dear old banner,
And be loyal to the Red, White and Blue;
Then at last when all scouting is over,
We'll hear, "Well done, Scout, you were true."
Rufus Spooner met
Baden-Powell during the Chief Scout's visit to Canada in 1935.
Spooner had also had the privilege of attending the coronation of
King George V in 1911, as a representative of Canada, along with his
Baden-Powell Scout troop. Col. Spooner's "ceaseless labours" earned
him the Order of the Silver Wolf, presented to him by the Earl of
Early in 1935, the council the dealt with the Life-Saving Scouts
received a letter from England stating that the Life-Saving Scouts
there had reached an agreement with the Boy Scouts Association. The
General, (international leader of The Salvation Army), decided that
the Canadians should approach the Boy Scouts Association of Canada,
and try to reach an agreement that would make common the "systems,
purpose, and spirit" of the two organizations, while preserving the
identity of the Life-Saving Scouts. An "Agreement of Co-operation"
was reached on May 23, 1935, but it wasn't until April 24, 1937, that
the actual signing of the "Memorandum of Agreement" took place. This
agreement stated that the two organizations should work more closely
together, but affirmed that the Life-Saving Scouts were "an
autonomous body...quite apart from that of the Council."
This Agreement has been resigned numerous times since the inaugural
signing back in 1937, with the most recent signing taking place in
late 1997, making this affiliation between our two great
organizations 60 years old.
More about the Life-Saving Scouts and Col. Rufus T. Spooner can be
found in the book by J. Gordon Wilder, Rufus T. Spooner and the
Yours in Scouting,
Deryck N. Robertson
Troop Scouter, 15th Peterborough Salvation Army Scout Group
Assistant Rover Advisor, 1st Wooler Rover