History Matters Looks at Sports

May 7, 2015 | Miriam

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This spring, as a nod to the PanAm games in Toronto, the popular History Matters series takes a sidelong look at sports. We began with a talk on the gladiators of Rome, and tonight we leap ahead a few millenia to Toronto and the earliest years of women's involvement in sport. Our speaker is Bruce Kidd, himself a former Olympic track and field athlete, and his talk is entitled Toronto: The Cradle of Women's Sports (6:30 pm at the Lillian H. Smith branch, on College St. and Spadina, near U of T). 

As in many other areas of life, women were long excluded from participation in sport. Reasons varied--women were deemed too frail physically; sport and athletics were immoral. Today, although women are seen in virtually every sport, they are still excluded from some and endure discrimination in others. Olympic ski jumping is but one example--it was not until the Sochi games in 2014 that women's ski jumping became officially sanctioned (you can read more here: Why It Took 90 Years For Women's Ski Jumping To Make The Olympics).

   Women-1924ish   Women-Runners
 Women playing baseball, ca 1924 (Toronto Archives).

 Women running on Toronto Island, 1907 (Toronto Archives). 


Bruce_Kidd_11_11_14Today Bruce Kidd is the principal of University of Toronto Scarborough campus. From 1991 to 2010, he was the founding Dean of the  university's Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. Throughout his academic life, Bruce Kidd has written many, many books and articles on the history of sport, with a particular focus on  sports and society. 

Tonight Kidd looks at the obstacles women in sports faced in Canada, and in Toronto in particular. It took until after World War I before women's sports got off the ground in Canada. Bruce Kidd will explore how a small group of Toronto women created local and provincial organizations and the Women's Amateur Sport Federation of Canada, and won Canadian women the right to enter international competition. 

Do mark your calendar for the final talk in this series, with Jenny Ellison, on May 27: Five Things You Don't Know About Terry Fox. 6:30 pm at the Danforth/Coxwell. You can read more about it on Jenny's blog: Jenny Ellison, PhD