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Nudists bare all for journalist June Callwood

The Story

"What does a nudist do in the winter?" asks journalist June Callwood. The unclothed couple she's interviewing says they wear clothes when it's cold, of course. Callwood is at the Sun Valley Gardens nudist camp near St. Catharines, Ont., speaking to Karl and Marlies Ruehle, owners of the camp. In this 1961 report from CBC-TV's Close-Up, the wholesome couple tells Callwood all about the principles behind nudism, their experiences as nudists and the rules of the camp, including their strict no-alcohol policy. "Nudity and alcohol just don't mix," says Karl.

Medium: Television
Program: Close-Up
Broadcast Date: Nov. 5, 1961
Guest(s): Karl Ruehle, Marlies Ruehle
Host: J. Frank Willis
Reporter: June Callwood
Duration: 13:53

Did You know?

• Sun Valley Gardens opened in 1954 with just 18 adult members. A few years later, the club membership had grown to more than 300. According to Au Naturel: The History of Nudism in Canada by James Woycke, "The phenomenal growth stemmed from Ruehle's active, indeed aggressive publicity campaign. He distributed press releases, bought paid advertising, and appeared on talk shows and TV programs."

• Woycke writes that Ruehle's most successful publicity tools were the open house days described in this 1961 clip. The first open house occurred in 1956, writes Woycke: "In early May he invited the press out to discuss his plans for the event, and Toronto Telegram reporters Ron Collister and Ian Paterson duly wrote about 'a warm naked welcome,' although the lone reporter for the tabloid Hush explained that the Telegram sent two men so that one could keep an eye on the other, and cautioned Ron Collister against greeting nude young ladies with an overly enthusiastic 'Wowie!'"

• By the 1970s, under the threat of dwindling membership, Ruehle began to relax his somewhat strict moral rules. The camp began admitting more single people (they had previously wanted mainly married couples as members). They reversed a number of other policies as well, according to Woycke: "Body contact and even sex were permitted, if not encouraged. Moreover, Sun Valley offered a health club with communal bathing and massage; a social club for dances and parties; and a camera club with nude models in exclusive photo sessions and confidential photo-developing services."

• Despite the relaxed rules and new attractions, membership continued to dwindle and the camp closed in 1982.

• A 2010 article on CBCNews.ca discussed how declining memberships were forcing numerous nudist (or "naturist") camps and clubs in Canada to shut down. But Canadian naturists quoted in the article said this didn't mean the movement itself was declining, it just meant it was evolving and adjusting to the 21st century. The Crocus Grove Sun Club was a Manitoba naturist camp that had had been around for 40 years but had changed into a regular campground in 2010 due to dwindling naturist memberships. Owner Susan Ryynanen pointed to the Internet as one cause for the shift. As the article explained, "naturists no longer feel the need to gather in an official resort to shed their clothes. With just a few clicks of a mouse, naturists can find a beach or park where being nude is tolerated - and no rental or membership fee is required."



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