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© McCord Museum
Phonograph (toy)
1930-1950, 20th century
44 x 45 x 34.8 cm
Gift of Mrs. Nora Murchison
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

At the turn of the 20th century, a movement in favour of children's education that began in the United States soon took hold in Canada, too. The provinces progressively adopted legislation on compulsory schooling (in Ontario in 1891, in Quebec in 1943). Reformers advocated a child-centred approach, focussing on motivation and individual growth. They debated different pedagogical methods, the practical aspects of teaching and the well-being of children at school. This approach had an impact on the teaching of music at school at a time when the radio and the gramophone were helping to bring music to the masses. It was in this context that even phonograph companies began producing educational material.


This phonograph played 78s, records designed to spin at 78 revolutions per minute. These first records would later be replaced by vinyl 45s and 33s.


Emile Berliner (1851-1929), the German inventor of the gramophone and the flat phonograph disk, or record, established a record manufacturing plant, the Berliner Gramophone Company, in Montreal in 1897, and later opened a recording studio on Peel Street.


In 1888 Emile Berliner invented the flat phonograph disk, a recording medium that would eventually replace the wax and metal cylinders on which voice and music had been recorded since 1877.


French inventor Charles Cros (1842-88) thought of the idea for a sound recording and reproduction device in 1877. That same year, American inventor Thomas Edison (1847-1931) filed a patent for the phonograph.

© Musée McCord Museum