The History of the Polar Bear Dip

Every year, thousands of selfless humans take on the brave challenge of the Polar Bear dip for a plethora of causes ranging from mental health, youth programs, and communities at a disadvantage. The first recorded Polar Bear Dip, took place on January 1st 1920, and was founded by a man named Peter Pantages. Coming from an affluent family in Vancouver who owned notable businesses such as the Pantages theatre chain, and the Peter Pan Cafe (which Pantages himself founded), Pantages believed that everyone should swim at least once a day no matter the day, and the Polar Bear Swim began as a testament to that. He started with just five of his close friends and with his influence, he was able to grow the amount of swimmers yearly.

This coming New Year will mark the 100th anniversary of the Polar Bear Swim Club and the impression it has left on the country is evident. After his death in 1971, members of the Pantages family have continued to host the event and have also added a 100-yard race to the swim with trophies for the winners in Peter’s honour. To this day, his children and grandchildren still participate in the annual swim. The impact of the Polar Bear Swim has far exceeded Pantages’ reach and now many Canadians throughout the country have adopted the tradition for different causes each year.

Here at Bather, we want to encourage our customer to be more involved in their respective communities; as we all can. Whether that means participating in an existing plunge near you, or starting your own, the events are a fun and interactive way that we can all participate for a cause. The polar bear dip in Toronto started in 2005 and has been supporting child and youth advocacy groups annually, with a growing list of dippers each year. To support our local heroes, we’ve created a limited run of products to bring awareness to the event and show our appreciation to those contributing to the cause.

History of the Polar Bear Swim in Vancouver

Peter Pan Cafe owned by Peter Pantages

The first polar bear dip

Photo credits: Stuart Thomson from the Vancouver Archives


Starting December 11th, we’ll be giving away this exclusive t-shirt and swim trunk set to 10 lucky winners. If you’ve ever participated in a polar bear dip, or are registered for an upcoming one, head to our Instagram to find out how to enter! Winners will be selected on Friday, December 13th.

Bather polar bear dip and brainfreeze event hosted by

Toronto Polar Bear Dip and Brainfreeze event

Bather t-shirt and swim trunks for the Polar Bear Dip

Bather t-shirt and swim trunks with swimming polar bear


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