M970.23.43.1 | Stuffed animal, elephant

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Stuffed animal, elephant
About 1907, 20th century
Wool? (plush, broadcloth), silk? (velvet), metal, glass
62 cm
Gift of Mrs. William Van Horne
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Animal (838) , Stuffed animal (14) , Toy (148)
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This stuffed elephant belonged to William Van Horne (1907-1946), the grandson of William Cornelius Van Horne (1843-1915), first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, who served from 1888 to 1899. A photograph of the boy playing with the elephant (1909) and taken by the Notman studio is in the photographic collection of the McCord Museum (see photo II-172906).

In the late 19th and early 20th century, many of the toys available in Canada came from Germany. Although it is not possible to determine where this elephant was made, it resembles some wheeled elephants produced by the period's most famous industrial manufacturer of stuffed toys, the Steiff company of Germany. Margarete Steiff, who began producing pincushions in the shape of an elephant in the 1880s, founded her toy company in 1893. Once it got on its feet, the company began producing different types of wheeled animals, such as this elephant, on a rigid frame that enabled children to roll it along and climb on its back. Steiff's company was, however, best known for the stuffed bears that it began producing in 1903.