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Exhibition at the City of Toronto Archives

September - December 2017  |  March - August 2018

Regulating children's use of public space: 

Reformers and the Settlement House

Reformers including Charles Hastings, Elizabeth Neufeld, and J.J. Kelso worked to address the housing, public health and social challenges faced by those living in neighbourhoods like The Ward. They wanted the children off the street.  One central program of intervention was the Settlement House movement. The Settlement House, through multiple programs for children and adults, focused on creating a sense of neighbourliness among immigrant communities, and on collective interests. Their programming promoted inclusion and integration of different cultural and religious groups.  Simultaneously they promoted the assimilation of “Anglo-Canadian” personal, residential and social practices (James, 2001).  Alongside social services, language classes, citizenship and cultural activities, Central Neighbourhood House promoted the playground as a space for (directed) collective encounter. It was believed that investing in the neighbourhood children would positively influence newcomer families to adopt “Canadian ways” (Central Neighbourhood House Newsletter, 1913). 


Above are three Central Neighbourhood House Charity Brochures from a fundraising campaign titled “The Key to Happiness”. These brochures were sent to wealthy community members requesting donations to support the work of the Central Neighbourhood House. Donors were offered a visit to Central Neighbourhood House in exchange for a donation of $12.50. 


Key to Happiness, appeal for funds brochures

Central Neighbourhood House

Between 1920 and 1940

City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1005, Series 2424

Civic Engagement of Children in Early 20th Century Toronto


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