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Parks, playgrounds and the voluntary agencies Required readings: Gene Homel, Torontos Sunday Tobogganing Controversy of 1912, Urban History Review (1981),

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Presentation on theme: "Parks, playgrounds and the voluntary agencies Required readings: Gene Homel, Torontos Sunday Tobogganing Controversy of 1912, Urban History Review (1981),"— Presentation transcript:

1 Parks, playgrounds and the voluntary agencies Required readings: Gene Homel, Torontos Sunday Tobogganing Controversy of 1912, Urban History Review (1981), 1-12. Leila Mitchell McKee, Natures Medicine: The Physical Education and Outdoor Recreation Programs of Torontos Voluntary Youth Organizations

2 Stages in the evolution of the municipality in recreation Regulation Encouragement of particular activities Designation of cemeteries as public parks Creation of public parks Creation of public playgrounds

3 Public park movement in Ontario Began in the 1840s. First parks were located on federal land Stimulated by the work of Frederick Law Olmstead Strengthened by the Public Parks Act of 1883, which encouraged municipalities to create parks and provided the legal and managerial framework for them. Buoyed by the creation of Canadas first national park in 1885, the legislation protecting Niagara Falls, also in 1885, and the establishment of Ontarios first provincial park, Algonquin Park in 1893. Obtained major expansion of municipal parks in the 1890s and 1900s

4 Questions: What was the economic, social and demographic context for the creation of municipal parks in Ontario? Who were the major players? What stamp did they give to the parks they created? How did the creation of parks resonate with the other developments we have studied in this course?

5 From J.R. Wright, Urban Parks in Ontario (Ottawa: Media Productions, 1984), p. 9.

6 The playground movement Led by middle-class reformers Concerned about conditions of urban crowding, delinquency, etc., especially among working- class and immigrant children Imbued with the spirit of rational recreation Supported by leaders of the respectable working class Linked with similar groups across North America and western Europe

7 The struggle for public playgrounds 1902 City of Toronto initiated the public use of schools, including school yards 1905 Toronto Council of Women began a vacation school, hiring teachers to serve as supervisors 1907 Board of Education assumes responsibility, supervises three summer playgrounds, but reformers frustrated with slow rate of expansion, lack of equipment and active programming 1909 Kelso and TCW form a voluntary association, Toronto Playground Association, to pressure City. St. Andrews Playground opened by City, staffed by TPA.

8 The achievement of municipal recreation 1913 City Parks Department assumed full responsibility for playgrounds, and rapidly expanded them. 1914 City playground budget increased to $49,000.

9 Today 1,470 parks 141 community centres 131 swimming pools 839 sports fields 756 tennis courts 177 arenas and ice pads 6,500 FT and PT staff

10 The playground Plenty of room for dives and dens (glitter and glare and sin Plenty of room for prison pens (gather the criminals in), Plenty of room for jails and courts (willing enough to pay!), But never a place for the lads to race (no, never a place to play). Plenty of room for shops and stores (mammon must have the best), Plenty of room for the running sores (that rot in the citys breast), Plenty of room for the lures that lead the hearts of youth astray, But never a cent on a playground spent (no, never a place to play)…. Give them a chance for innocent sport, give them a chance for fun; Better a playground plot than a court and jail (when harm is done), Give them a chanceif you stint them now, tomorrow you will have to pay A larger bill for a darker ill, so give them a chance to play! --Dennis McCarty, The Playground, June 3, 1909

11 Big questions about effectiveness: To what extent did these programs succeed in –Recruiting working-class children and youth? –Converting them to the reformers values?

12 Big questions about power and hegemony: A humanitarian intervention or upper-class social control? Are these institutions examples of assimilative reform ? (Rob Pitter) Are there ways of planning/programming that minimizes the power dynamics of such interventions?

13 Questions for your reading To what extent did the development of camping and the youth voluntary associations, such as the YM and YWCAs and the Royal Life Saving Society, resonate with the development of parks and playgrounds? In what ways were their activities different? What have been the legacies of the pre-WW1 effort to shape youth development through physical education in the public and voluntary associations?


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