Toys and Games in Canada

Photograph of a girl sitting on a mattress, holding a doll.

Girl with doll, Piper family. Source

The joyful holiday season is the perfect time to introduce you to the Library and Archives Canada collection of photographs related to games and toys.

Although toys and games have existed since the dawn of time, it was only in the 19th century that the ‟toy” really came into its own in Canada. It was also
during the Victorian era that toys and diversion were deemed beneficial to children, thereby kick-starting the mass production of playthings. At first,
toys mainly came from England, Germany and the United States, but between 1860 and 1915, some 20 Canadian companies began to manufacture them as well. They
were made of wood and generally mimicked miniature furniture, cars or horses.

The First World War slowed toy production in Europe, giving the Canadian toy industry the opportunity to flourish. New toys were produced, particularly
battleships and construction sets. This is also when manufacturers started using a wider variety of materials, which resulted in copper, tin, iron, lead,
and rubber toys. Plush dolls and animals, small lead soldiers, bugles and trumpets, rubber balls, hockey pucks and even humming tops could also be found.

In the 1940s, plastic was introduced in toy manufacturing; it was used to make rattles, beach toys, tractors, trucks and construction sets, as well as an
array of tools. In subsequent years, large multinational companies emerged and completely diversified the toy-making industry.

Various outdoor games, such as croquet and lawn bowling have become popular. Children also enjoy games of strength, string, and chance, which are featured
in our new Flickr album.

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

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