Great joy, Sunday Blue Laws banned

Bob (Robert Chambers) Edwards (1864-1922) proclaimed “tidings of greater joy,” over an apparent end to Sunday Blue Laws. Edwards, Canada’s publisher of the satirical Eye Opener newspaper, is Western Canada’s best known humourist and satirist.


Many of the more dour of Canada’s early Scottish settlers “scotched” such Sunday activities as cards, games, music and even whistling or singing (except hymns in church). Theatres were shuttered and streetcars and railways came to a stop. Many sports were also prohibited under Lords Day Profanation Acts passed by several provincial and territorial governments. But when in 1903 Britain’s Privy Council declared such Acts null and void Bob Edwards proclaimed “tidings of great joy.” At least until a new federal Act could be passed. From The Eye Opener, High River, Alberta, August 8, 1903.

The little tinpot enforcers of a dull Sunday will now have to take a back seat until a special Act applicable to the Sabbath is passed by the Dominion Parliament…

There is now happily nothing to prevent the boys from indulging in baseball, football, cricket, polo or any rational form of recreation on a Sunday. Of course, we would not recommend the playing of games anywhere near a church while service was going on, but we think it will be freely admitted by all but the narrowest-minded bigots that this wretched custom of mooning about in black clothes and a long face by way of pretending to keep the Sabbath day holy (for it is only “make-believe” in nine cases out of ten) is the variest of rot.

Sunday was intended as a day of rest for people who work hard during the week, to most of whom indulgence in healthful outdoor sports would be the truest rest. Nor would it interfere materially with church attendance. There are always people anxious to hear how the Israelites crossed the Red Sea thousands of years ago. The craving for the latest news will always exist.

Out, then, with your polo sticks and baseball bats, ye sons of toil, and every fine Sunday look cheerful and sally forth for a good time. Better healthy exercise in God’s free air than moping at home reading Pilgrim’s Progress and talking about your neighbors.

Unfamiliar Canadian history stories 095


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