Pastimes of Yesteryear, 1840-1867
Snowshoeing excursions, lacrosse games, skating, tobogganing, cricket and soccer: a host of leisure pursuits had emerged in Canadian cities within less than 30 years. The English elite, both civil and military, popularized numerous recreational and sporting activities. More and more sports imported from the British Isles or adapted from Native cultures were being played on the private grounds of the rich, on public squares and in areas not yet urbanized at the city limits. The ever-growing urban populations attracted road shows that crisscrossed the continent with their various attractions. And some of the most competitive sports turned into virtual spectacles, often giving rise to behaviour that upstanding citizens found reprehensible. A few small steps had been made towards democratizing and changing the elitist, exclusive nature of recreational activities. Significant change, however, came about very slowly, and until the late 1860s, most urban leisure pursuits were the exclusive domain of the upper class.