Blessed with many ravines, wooded lots and parklands, early Toronto residents were able to enjoy many winter outdoor activies right in their own neighbourhoods. Sleighing, tobogganing, bobsledding, skating, curling, hockey, skiing and snowshoeing were all popular forms of winter recreation. As the city grew and prospered, clubs and associations formed, championships were organized and new facilities were built to meet the demand.

In High Park, Toronto, Canada
Postcard, 1912
PC 2428

Horse drawn sleighs were used to transport goods from farm to city stores in wintertime and wealthy businessmen had them in their stables. Toronto companies would occasionally decide to reward their employees by organizing group horse sleigh rides in High Park.

Toronto Toboggan Club
Letter, 29 December 1883
1883 Toboggan

Tobogganing became a popular sport in the late 19th century. Enthusiasts built artificial runs or slides for competitions . In 1883, Torontonians could pay $1.00 for an annual club membership or $15.00 for a lifetime.

Riverdale Park
Gelatin-silver print, 190-?
T 31249

Hockey players gathered on the Don flats for a game. The frozen Don River also beckoned to skaters. And daredevils could try out the more than a mile long bobsled run in Riverdale Park.

Ontario Hockey Association
Badge of delegate to admit to annual meeting, 1902
Robertson Scrapbooks; B 4-1c

Young men throughout the province organized local hockey teams many of which applied to join the Ontario Hockey Association. The Association came into existence on November 27, 1890 at the Queen’s Hotel in Toronto. Its objective was to enforce the rules of the game and organize Cup competitions for the championships of Ontario.

High Park
Gelatin-silver print, 1923
T 32378

High Park’s hills were long enough for bobsled enthusiasts as evidenced by this photograph, published in The Globe, Toronto, 5 January 1923, p.8 :
‘Down the Long Hill on “Bobs”.’

Hallam’s Sporting Equipment, Fur Garments, Ready-to-wear, Fall & Winter, 1924-1925
Art Room Canadian Trade Catalogue

Sports enthusiasts in Toronto could equip themselves for outdoor activities by subscribing to this Toronto company’s mail order catalogue.

Toronto City Directory, 1904
Might Directories, ltd.
Baldwin Room

This page from the 1904 Toronto city directory provides the names of the executive members of the Victoria Skating and Curling Association and the Parkdale Hockey Club.

Toronto Skating Club. 27th Annual Meeting
Minutes, 12th April 1921
Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club Papers, S87

The Skating Club of Toronto was formed in 1895, incorporated in 1913/14, and amalgamated with the Toronto Cricket Club (1832? - 1957) and then the Toronto Curling Club (1836 - 1957) to form the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club. The Papers of the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club contain correspondence, accounts, minutes, programs and colourful costume designs for the annual ice Carnival.

Victoria Skating & Curling Association Limited, Est’bd 1887
1889 Season Ticket

When the Skating Club of Toronto was first organized, its skaters were allowed exclusive use of the popular Victoria Rink (Huron Street) on Monday evenings and Friday afternoons. At that time, membership was limited to 300 active members and 200 associate members. Later in 1921, the Club built its own artificial ice rink and clubhouse on Dupont Street.

Toronto Skating Club; Carnival, at Arena Gardens, Mutual Street, w. side, between Shuter & Dundas Sts.
Gelatin-silver print, 1923
T 32399

The Toronto Skating Club’s popular annual winter Carnival was held in the Arena Gardens. Built in 1912 for $500,000, it was the largest indoor arena in the country at the time. The Arena was used for hockey, roller skating, curling and wrestling through the years. It was renamed the Terrace before closing in April 1989. A few months later it was demolished.

Some other virtual exhibitions from the Toronto Public Library to explore:
The National Game: Lacrosse.
Frozen Ocean: Search for the North-West Passage.
Celebrating Toronto’s 175th anniversary.
Gone Fishin’

Or... click here to explore all our virtual exhibits.

Source: Special Collections, Toronto Public Library.