Entertainment

Overview

With all of the time and energy that it took to get all of the farm and housework done, families did not have a lot of time for entertainment. Pioneer families faced hard times, but they found some joy in life through entertainment. Entertainment for the early settlers included socializing, games, special occasions, community picnics, church, and music.

Two couples are standing on the side of a 1920's looking car and smiling for the photo.

Taking a trip to town was an opportunity to socialize.

Children’s Games

At school, children played games like Follow the Leader, Blind Man’s Bluff, Red Rover, Mother May I, and Hide and Seek. They played circle games like Duck-Duck-Goose and Drop the Handkerchief and variations of tag (Freeze Tag, Elbow Tag, Pom-pom-pull Away, and Mr. Wolf).

Four childen are playing games  together.

Kids play games together for entertainment.

Older students played ball, dodge ball, and Ante Over while younger students played hopscotch and jump rope games. When the teacher rang the bell, students rushed to the door of the school and lined up.

 

Three girls are playing jump rope.

Younger kids would play jump rope games.

If the weather kept them indoors, they played I Spy, Simon Says, Seven-Up, Hot or Cold, or Who’s Got the Button. These are just a few of the games they played.

In the winter, children built snow forts or slid down snowbanks. When the yard was covered with freshly fallen snow, a game of Fox and Geese was enjoyed by all.

Children are playing various games outside of a one-room schoolhouse.

Kids had a lot of fun playing games during recess at school.

Adult Socializing

Adults were very busy with all the work to be done on the farm and did not have very much time for socializing. When neighbours came for a visit, the adults enjoyed a game of cards, checkers or horseshoes. Going to church and taking a trip to town was an opportunity to socialize with other adults. Any outing that the adults had was their opportunity for socializing.

Three men are playing a game of cards at a table.

These neighbours are playing a game of cards.

Two women and a dog are standing in front of a wooden house on a homestead.

These women are visiting outside one of their homes.

Three men are casually standing in front of a log house visiting.

Three men meeting for a visit.

Special Occasions

Occasions that brought people together were weddings, square dances, box socials, picnics, and school concerts. Work parties called ‘bees’ were organized for building homes, schools, churches, or barn raisings. There were also quilt making and sewing bees for the women. Bees provided a chance to get together with neighbours. After the work was completed, there was often a meal followed by singing or dancing.

A man and woman are in wedding clothing and smiling for a wedding portrait.

This couple was married in 1937 in Saskatoon, SK.

Community Picnics

Everyone looked forward to a community picnic. It was a day filled with fun. Picnics would be hosted by families or groups at houses, schools, churches, or other locations where a group of people could gather for the day. Families would arrive wherever the picnic was being held in the morning with their baskets of food.

A woman is holding a basket of bread.

Baskets were filled with plenty of food to feed families at the picnic.

During the day there were races, ball games, tug-of-war and other contests. Lunch was a time to share food with others. Picnic baskets were filled with plenty of sandwiches, ham, chicken, salads, cakes, pies, and cookies. Then there was singing and maybe even dancing. At the end of the day, everyone got back on their wagons and went home.

A group of sixteen people have gathered for a community picnic and they are standing for a photo in front of a wooden building.

Everyone looked forward to a community picnic because it was a day filled with fun for all ages.

Church

Attending church services was one way that people were able to meet their neighbours. It was the church that helped to create a sense of community among the settlers. Before an actual church was built, people would often gather at someone’s home or at the school for church services. The early churches were very cold in the winter with a small stove providing the only heat.

A church amongst a few other houses is being shown with the words 'Wolseley Sask' at the bottom of the photo.

This is a church being built in Wolseley, Saskatchewan.

A wooden church is shown with a cross on the top of the building and a stained glass window.

Church helped people settle into their community.

Music

European immigrants brought their musical instruments with them when they came to Canada. Each immigrant group had their own songs and dances.

The violin (fiddle) was one of the most popular instruments because it was small and lightweight. A fiddler played the fiddle and supplied the music for many gatherings where people could enjoy singing and dancing.

Other instruments that were brought by immigrants included the harmonica, button accordion, guitar, banjo, mandolin, plus brass, and woodwind instruments.

A young girl is standing by a house playing a fiddle.

This young girl is playing a fiddle.

The French Canadians, Scottish, Métis, and English Canadians had different styles of fiddling. Immigrants from Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, and other areas of Europe had their own fiddling styles.

A settler woman is playing a fiddle.

Many different cultures had violins (fiddles).

The first harmonicas were produced in Germany. The harmonica became popular because of its small size, low cost, and high availability. It was perfect while travelling because it fit in a pocket.

A man plays a harmonica while wearing a 1920s hat and suit.

Harmonicas were small enough to fit in a pocket.

Concertinas were similar to accordions and were played by stretching and squeezing the instrument between their hands. The concertinas were produced in England and Germany. Immigrants from England, Germany, and Italy brought the instrument with them. The concertina was played for folk dances and songs.

The accordion was popular with the German, Polish and Czech immigrants for playing waltzes and polkas.

A group of six men and women are standing together as they play various band instruments including an accordian, guitar, drums, and trumpets.

This band from 1948 is seen playing a variety of instruments including an accordion, guitar, drums, and trumpets.

German immigrants brought brass and woodwind instruments which were used in German bands. German bands also had concertinas or button accordions for playing dance music including the polka, schottische, and waltz.

The mandolin was popular with Italian immigrants. Mandolins and similar string instruments were brought by immigrants from many countries. The instruments were used for traditional folk and classical music.

A group of twelve nicely dressed men are standing together with various band istruments including drums and trumpets.

Many European immigrants learned how to play instruments in their home country.

When immigrants from Scotland came to this country, they brought many of their traditions with them. One of these was the bagpipe. Pipers played bagpipes at weddings, dances, and funerals.

These couples are enjoying themselves dancing and listing to the band play music.

Music was very important to the Métis people. Music and dancing were a part of their social gatherings. The fiddle was the most common instrument. Other instruments were the concertina, harmonica, hand drum, mouth harp, comb, and spoons. A fiddler was often accompanied by someone playing the spoons or drumming on a pan to supply the rhythm. Métis music and dance were influenced by their Scottish, Irish, French and Indigenous roots. Métis dances included the jig, reel, square and round dance.

An illustrated Metis man is wearing a vest with flowers on it as he plays the fiddle.

The fiddle was the most common instrument used by Metis people.

Learn about how important music was to the Metis culture.

People are gathering for a community picnic on a homestead. Fiddles are being played, people are dancing, a woman has a basket of bread, men are playing cards, women are visiting, and children are playing games.
Music & Dancing
Settlers enjoyed music and dancing as entertainment.
Children’s Games
Children played games with each other for entertainment.
Playing Instruments
Many settlers enjoyed playing instruments.
Socializing
Settlers enjoyed visiting with family, neighbours, and friends.
Playing Games
These men are playing cards with each other as entertainment.
Community Picnic
These settlers are having a community picnic and this woman has brought a basket of bread to share with everyone.