MP Del Mastro, Senator Ruth, commemorate Marilyn Bell's historic swim across Lake Ontario



    TORONTO, July 27 /CNW Telbec/ - Mr. Dean Del Mastro, Member of Parliament
for Peterborough, and Senator Nancy Ruth today unveiled a Historic Sites and
Monuments Board of Canada plaque commemorating the crossing of Lake Ontario by
Marilyn Bell in 1954.
    "Our Government is proud to honour Marilyn Bell's world-record-breaking
athletic achievement," said Mr. Dean Del Mastro. "Through this designation,
she will remain a true inspiration to Canadian women, having succeeded where
no one had before her."
    On the evening of September 9, 1954, Marilyn Bell set a world record for
the longest marathon swim, 51.5 km (32 miles) across the cold waters of Lake
Ontario. The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) had offered favoured American
swimmer Florence Chadwick $10,000 to swim the lake as a publicity effort for
Toronto's annual exhibition. Bell, who felt the offer snubbed Canadian
swimmers, took on the challenge without pay. Winnie Roach Leuszler, a Toronto
swimming star had also joined the challenge.
    Starting out near Youngstown, New York, on September 8, Bell quickly took
the lead in the competition. Florence Chadwick and Winnie Roach Leuszler were
forced to quit the race before 6:00 a.m. on September 9. Despite strong
currents, cold waters and lamprey eels attacking her legs and arms, Bell
persevered. By the time she finished her crossing, a crowd of approximately
100,000 people had assembled at the CNE to welcome her arrival. Marilyn Bell's
great courage and determination inspired Canadians, especially Canadian women,
by demonstrating that women were physically and mentally capable of rigorous
competition.
    "At the young age of 16 years, Marilyn Bell became known as the First
Lady of the Lake. Her legendary 21-hour swim attracted both local and
international attention and deserves our recognition today," concluded Senator
Nancy Ruth.

    Created in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advises
the Minister of the Environment on the national historic significance of
places, people and events that have marked Canada's history. Canada's national
commemoration program recognizes the vision of Canadians who built our nation
and how their actions, the places they built, and the events they were part
of, have influenced the values we share today. The placement of a
commemorative plaque represents an official recognition of historic value. It
is one means of informing the public about the richness of our cultural
heritage, which must be preserved for present and future generations.




For further information:

For further information: Robert Roe, Curator, Woodside National Historic
Site of Canada, Southwestern Ontario Field Unit, Parks Canada, (519) 571-5684;
(Also available on the Internet at www.pc.gc.ca under Media Room.)


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