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Freedom to Play

We Made Our Own Fun

Edited by Norah L. Lewis
Subjects History, Social Science, Sociology, Canadian History, Sports & Recreation
Series Studies in Childhood and Family in Canada Hide Details
Paperback : 9780889204065, 224 pages, October 2002
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554587315, 224 pages, September 2010

Table of contents

Table of Contents for
Freedom to Play: We Made Our Own Fun, edited by Norah L. Lewis

List of Illustrations



Go Outside and Play

The Fair Land | Anna V. M. Robinson

Happy Mountaineers | Anna V. M. Robinson

Good Times at Oakville | Fanny Heeks

The Absolute Freedom We Had | Don Clay

A Trip on a Steamer | Helga Erlindson

Wild Flowers | Wild Rose

We Were Free to Roam | Eileen Scott Campbell

Untitled | A Farmer Boy

We Always Found Something to Do | R. B. Green

I Was Into Everything When It Came to Sports | Earl Sherman

Songs to Sing, Games to Play, and Places to Explore | Peggy Sherman

When Our Parents Were Away | Rex G. Krepps

Growing Up in North-Central British Columbia | Dick Saunders

Rattles and Steadies: Memoirs of a Gander River Man | Gary L. Saunders

I Can’t Remember a Dull Moment | Judy Wells

The Effects of a Distant War | Paul Barker

My Games Parallel My Life | Kim Gosse Hilliard

Playing Is Playing When Shared

Maple Leaf Club Picnic | Ethel Swan

Strange Bedfellows | Chick/p>

The Kay Children

Scouts and Smoking

The Very Best Time for Us | Barry Broadfoot

School Field Day | Janet McNab

Sports Were Fine | Byron Kingsbury

Went to Picnic in an Ox Cart | Ellsworth V. Griffin

Going to Make a Playhouse | Margaret Muskett

Boys’ Farming Club | Reggie Meeks

From Small Town to Big City | Ann Thrasher

Camp Fire Girl | Hattie Morrill

A Charivari | Iola Crouse

How I Had Fun as a Kid | Ivy Moulton

We Had Freedom Galore | Dawn McKim

More Praise for the Red Cross | Wilhemena Rosin

Being Youngest Had Its Advantages | Bill Wells

Growing Up in the Ottawa Area | Janet Reid

Cut Outs and Other Games | Janet Marshall

Dauphin Fair | Olga Kudurudz

Untitled | Mary Kett

Camping with the Guides | Nellie Mailie

Boy Scout Week | Pathfinder-in-Chief

A Very Busy Childhood | Jean Wilson

Through the Eyes of a Newcomer | Tony Plomp

Paper Doll Poems | Polly King

Playing Is Playing Games

We Knew How to Have Fun | Henry Barone

Lefty Wilson and the Naked Lady | Hal C. Sisson

A Fine Coasting Tray | Mariposa Lily

Made a Pair of Skis | Clarence Orser

Tennis and Golf | Anemone

The Games Kids (Used to) Play | Ida Trudgeon

A Game of War | Laura Whitelaw

A Skating Party | Ruth Pinder

Making a Rink | Theodore Holden

We Organized Ourselves | Freda Mallory

Every Season Had Its Activities | Margaret Walker

A Skating Party | Gwyneth Davies

Games of War | Fred Greaves

Scotch Games at Banff | Walter Kenyon

Palying Marbles the St. John’s Way | Helen Porter

Childhood Games in the Yukon in the 1930s | Hugh and Jim McCullum

Growing Up in Quebec | Margaret Nichols

There Were Lots of Playmates | Lis Schmidt Robert

Spring Sport

Seems Like Old Times | Helen Hansen

A “Mulligan” Roast | Olive Kataskuk

Creating Their Own Equipment

Insect Collection | Evan Shute

A Mechanical Leaf | Simon Gaudet

Enjoys Doing Fretwork | Danny Goosen

Building Boats Along the Skeena | E. H. Harris

Birds Returning | Margaret Dwyer

Whoopie Ti Yi Yo! | Carl Victor Friesen

Infected by a Radio Bug | Rolland Lewis

Alone but Not Lonely | Marilyn Barker

It Was a Magical Time | Audrey Kendall

Try Crab-apple Pie | Hollyhock

I Made My Own Toys | Glen Sullivan

Seepeetza Gets a Doll | Shirley Sterling

Animals: Friend, Foe, or Food

Hunting Gophers in Saskatchewan | Harold Zwick

Very Special Friends | Ken Strong

A Young Sportsman | Fred J. Bicknell

Fond of Hunting | Arthur Kay

Our Duck Hunt | Lloyd Essex

Bunny for a Playmate | Everett Sharpe

A Wonderful Pony | Hazel M. Buckler

Feeding the Birds | Richard Asher

Jottings for My Family | Laurena Saunders

There Was Always Something To Do

A Picnic Excursion | Johnstone Willett

A Bob Sled | Ernest Q. Herne

A School Picnic | Gladys M. Davidson

Christmas in a Prison Camp | Shizuye Takashima

Celebrating Chinese New Year | Sing Lim

Oh! My Poor Duck | Andy MacDonald

Space, Freedom, Active, Love | Ian and Lee Rennie

Victoria Day in Ponoka | Lis Schmidt Robert

A Lot of Strenuous Outdoor Fun | Norman St. Clair-Sulis

Fun Was Seasonal in Edmonton | W. J. Phillips

Across the Prairies on a Pony | Rural

My Favourite Pastime Was Going Trouting | Nick Green

A Very Special Time | Donna Palmer Ebbutt



“When we were children we made our own fun” is a frequent comment from those who were children in pre-television times. But what games, activities and amusements did children enjoy prior to the mid-1950s?

Recollections of older Canadians, selections from writings by Canadian authors and letters written to the children’s pages of agricultural publications indicate that for most children play was then, as now, an essential part of childhood. Through play, youngsters developed the physical, mental and emotional skills that helped them cope with life and taught them to get along with other children.

In both rural and urban settings, children were generally free to explore their environment. They were sent outdoors to play by both parents and teachers. Their games were generally self-organized and physically active, with domestic animals acting as important companions and playmates. Children frequently made their own toys and equipment, and, since playing rather than winning was important, most children were included in games. Special days, holidays and organizations for children and youth provided welcome breaks from daily routines. Their lives were busy, but there was always time for play, always time for fun.

Norah Lewis has provided an entertaining view of the toys, games and activities in Canada and pre-confederate Newfoundland from approximately 1900 through 1955. Her book will be of interest to historians, educators and sociologists, as well as anyone who lived through, or wants to know more about,those early years in Canada, and the games children used to play.


``Freedom to Play is a useful addition to the historiography of childhood in Canada. As a general reference, the book will undoubtedly prove practical to historians; to a researcher in the field of children's play it is essential reading; and for instructors of the History of Childhood or the History of Education, there are myriad possibilities for using the documents it contains. ''

- Brian J. Low, Historical Studies in Education, 16:1, 2004

``The Wilfrid Laurier University Press series, [Studies in Childhood and Family in Canada], under the general editorship of one of Canada's leading historians of the family, Cynthia Comacchio, is clearly an important part of [the] resurgence [of] interest [in the history of the family]. ''

- R.W. Sandwell, Canadian Historical Review, 85:3, September 2004

``Freedom to Play is an original, scholarly, and highly recommended contribution to Canadian History reference collections and Canadian Popular Culture Studies reading lists. ''

- The Midwest Book Review, February 2003