Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This study examines sport in two small Ontario towns, Ingersoll and Woodstock, between 1838 and 1895. During this period urbanization and industrialization socially and structurally changed Ontario. Changes in sport illuminate structural changes in class, gender and age relations.;Before 1850 the towns had both similarities and differences. Their societies were pre-industrial, parochial, and constrained by a subsistance economy. Sport was informal and communal, bound by kinship and neighborhood. Unlike Ingersoll, Woodstock had a group of retired British officers who viewed England's gentry as its reference. They engaged in exclusive gentry sport to express their social station.;By 1853 railway communications ended both towns' inland isolation. Each was transformed into a complex urban-industrial centre. In the process their subsistance class and Woodstock's gentry class declined in importance; a middle class of merchants, professionals, and artisans, and an unskilled wage-earning class arose; and gender, age-group, and social class relationships became more differentiated.;Sport also changed. Gentry sport disappeared with Woodstock's officers and traditional sports gradually yielded to highly regulated team sports. While nominally open to anyone, team sports excluded both workers, who lacked time and financial resources to participate, and females. Inter-urban competition broke down earlier parochialism and sport became increasingly disorderly: rowdyness marked civic holiday celebrations, and gaming, professionalism, and rigged competition plagued horseracing, Caledonian competition, and team sports.;Faced with rowdyness and disorder, middle class males expressed their newly-felt social prominence by reforming sport through amateurism, muscular Christianity, and institutionally regulating civic holiday celebrations and ongoing competition. They achieved only partial success. Certain groups, such as juveniles, professional athletes, gamblers, and workers, resisted their efforts.;A demon from within also checked their success. If reform led the middle class to embrace amateurism and muscular Christianity, competitiveness led them to marry inter-urban team sport to boosterism. Focusing on winning over playing the game escalated levels of competition, and subsequently professionalism, betting, and player and spectator violence crept back into sport. In the heady atmosphere of nineteenth century urban boosterism, the middle class notion of playing for "the love of the game and the honour of the town" did not comfortably fit.



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