Disciplining Children in Toronto Playgrounds in the Early Twentieth Century

  • Ann Marie F. Murnaghan
Keywords: playgrounds, childism, micromobilities, geographies of children


This paper examines how adults used playgrounds to discipline children in early twentieth-century Toronto. Using a close reading of playground texts from the period, the argument supports and elaborates upon Elisabeth Young-Bruehl’s discussion of childism and Michel Foucault’s arguments about the control of activity and the art of distributions in the discipline of children. Adult reformers used time and space in order to produce particular gender identities and also to fulfill their own narcissistic needs. The Toronto case illustrates the depth of social power that often resides in seemingly benign urban spaces and the ways in which the prejudice against children can control their micromobilities and geographies.


DOI: 10.1353/jeu.2016.0005

Author Biography

Ann Marie F. Murnaghan

Ann Marie F. Murnaghan, Ph.D., is a an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Ryerson University. She has written widely on social and cultural geographies, immigration and settlement, and issues related to children and nature. She recently co-edited the volume Children, Nature, Cities (Routledge, 2016). She is working on projects related to the effects of museums in children’s lives. She lives in Toronto.

How to Cite
Murnaghan, A. M. F. (2016). Disciplining Children in Toronto Playgrounds in the Early Twentieth Century. Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures, 8(1). Retrieved from https://jeunessejournal.ca/index.php/yptc/article/view/299
Articles for Special Issue on Mobility