British Journal of Canadian Studies

Contradictory mobility: child self-protection and automobiles in interwar Toronto’s Globe

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2016), 29, (2), 199–224.

Abstract

Twenty-first-century Toronto recapitulates its early twentieth-century self in one important respect: the automobilism of present-day Toronto injures and kills pedestrians in the same way – in the city’s crowded streets – and at roughly the same rate. The difference between the two eras lies in the types of injury and causes of death among children. Interwar Toronto endangered its children on increasingly crowded and automobilising streets, with virtually no municipal policy to protect them, especially those aged four and younger. The Toronto Globe determined that the next best thing to a policy option was to advance child self-protection. The newspaper’s ‘Just Kids Safety Club’ trained young pedestrians ‘to look up and down’ before crossing the street. In this, the Globe and the Torontonians who supported the paper contradicted decades of child protection discourse, which required all adults to protect all children.

Le Toronto du vingt-et-unième siècle récapitule celui du début du vingtième siècle à un égard: l’automobilisme du Toronto contemporain blesse et tue les piétons de la même manière – dans les rues bondées de la ville – et au même rythme. La différence entre ces deux époques réside dans les types de blessures et les causes de décès des enfants. Toronto, pendant l’entredeux guerres, mettait la vie de ses enfants en danger dans des rues de plus en plus bondées de gens et de véhicules, n’ayant pratiquement aucune réglementation pour protéger les enfants, en particulier ceux âgés de quatre ans ou moins. Le Toronto Globe détermina qu’en l’absence d’une telle règlementation, la meilleure solution était de promouvoir l’autoprotection des enfants. Le ‘Just Kids Safety Club’ apprenait aux jeunes piétons à regarder à droite et à gauche avant de traverser la route. Ce faisant, le Globe et les Torontois qui le soutenaient contredisaient des décennies de discours sur la protection de l’enfant selon lequel tous les adultes étaient responsables de la protection de tous les enfants.

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Mackintosh, Phillip Gordon