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Summer Pleasures in Guelph

Bonnie Durtnall 0 99 Article rating: No rating

“Summer time and the living is easy.” This was certainly true for the upper echelons in Guelph during the 19th and early 20th centuries. There were summer soirees to attend, “At Homes” and even a Regatta or two. For exercise, the youth played tennis on the courts and lawns of local homes. Guelph formed a Lawn Tennis Club on April 7, 1884. It held meetings and played other local teams.

For the working class, summer did not mean lengthy holidays. In the foundries and factories, Guelph’s workers slaved away under stifling conditions. In woollen mills, the windows remained shut; in foundries, the heat continued to creep higher, resulting in necessary water breaks. Yet, for the working class, summer did offer some opportunities for enjoying the weather. These ranged from casual, unorganized events to annual affairs.

Swimming

Cooling down was an easy option. Guelph’s rivers and dams made water accessible for most people. Guelph’s youth took advantage of the Speed River at Goldie's, Spence's, Gow’s and Allan's Dams - diving into the water on the hot days. The Guelph newspapers report on seeing children in the river. There are also “Letters to the Editor” concerning the dress of these youths. They were particular enraged that the law did not enforce the Bathing By-Law on proper bathing attire - it must cover from the neck down). Many complained that they dressed improperly that the dress code “has been violated” with impunity. One person wrote “About Bathing”

Several complaints have been made about boys bathing just below the footbridge and annoying the neighbours with their unearthly racket….Young men and boys have been frequently seen bathing near Gow’s mills, right off the highway. The bylaw provides that no person shall bathe within 100 feet of any bridge or roadway, and they must wear proper bathing suit, either during the day or at night… Take warning, boys. Conduct yourself properly and no person will object to your bathing or learning that most useful accomplishment via the art of swimming. The temptation to go in too frequently and remain in too long should be guarded against, as it is very, weakening and dangerous.

 

The Origins And Aftermath Of May Day: The Workers' Holiday

Bonnie Durtnall 0 170 Article rating: No rating

On May 1, 1886, workers across the United States walked off their jobs in support of the eight-hour day. In Chicago, the event resulted in what is known as the Haymarket Affair. When the three day period was over, several police and workers lay dead and 8 Anarchists were facing murder charges. Eight innocent men were hanged. This action, eventually, resulted in the declaration of May Day as a Global day of working class protest. 

Deadly Construction: Scaffolding

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Construction sites were one of the most dangerous places to work in late 18th and early 20th century Guelph, Ontario. Ditch digging and working on Scaffolds could be and were fatal. Legislation did not cover scaffolding until 1911. In Guelph, a Scaffold Inspector was not appointed until 1913. This resulted only after the many complaints of the Guelph Trades and Labour Council and several deaths during 1912 and 1913.

Guelph Industries: Northern Rubber

Bonnie Durtnall 0 411 Article rating: No rating

 

This is the first in a series of articles on Guelph Industries. Northern Rubber operated from 1920 into the 1940s, manufacturing rubber footwear. What began as a small local operation with about 60 employees grew to  provide work for between 300 and 600.

    All pictures are courtesy of the Guelph Civic Museum

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