Jolley's Riding Toy Museum with its antique scooters, roller-skates, bikes, trikes, horses, carts, sleds, and pedal cars is one place you must visit when you're in the Owen Sound or Collingwood area. It has riding toys from the 1890's to the 1980's so you're sure to see something you recognize there.
Maybe it's just me but I was amazed at the sophistication of these antique riding toys.
Modern scooters and bikes may have better materials but mechanically are nothing by comparison.
For example, some old scooters running board were actually treadles that could power the toy on the flat when the rider rocked the board back and forth.
Some had various forms of brakes that provided much more control than is common on new ones.
The museum is about 1.5 km (1 mile) west of Meaford on 7th Line and about 0.5 km (0.25 miles) south of Hwy 26, the main road from Collingwood to Owen Sound.
For those who are looking for modern farming or other work-related toys for the younger members of the family, the Jolley family has a store on Hwy 26 at the junction with 7th Line. In the store you'll find all kinds of cars, trucks, tractors and earth-moving equipment toys for the young farmer or constructor in your life.
The store also includes some antique bikes and other toys but they aren't well-displayed or accessible, which is where the Riding Toy Museum comes in.
Rocking horses, carts and sleds were generally made of wood but bicycles aren't often considered as wooden riding toys. In the early days, however, a number of wooden ones made as you see in the photo where even the wheels were wood.
Curiously, this 'sustainable' material (folks in the olden days were very modern:-) returned during World War 2 when metal became scarce for makers of child riding toys.
These toy riding horses are examples of a long line of toys, like the rocking horse, that echo country pursuits or farm transport and remained popular even for city-dwellers.
Toy riding tractors too have had a long life but they haven't done away with the toy horse, which still holds its place in kids and parents' affections. Fond memories of, or a belief in, happier times and more natural lifestyles, perhaps.
If your boy wanted to grow up to be a railway worker, or if you just wanted him to have huge biceps, this toy rail-car was the perfect toy for him to start out on. Working the handle up-and-down makes the wheels turn, just like on the real thing. For me, this looks like a scary kind of toy. The real rail-car rode on level rails. The toy one would be used wherever the kids thought it would go fastest, like downhills, and I can foresee lots of broken limbs and heads in the owners' future (or in the past now, of course).
Sometimes, I'm amazed any kids ever grew up in days gone by.
The toy we almost all remember best, after our bikes, is the pedal car. If we didn't have one, we knew someone who did. Nowadays, of course, the pedal car is battery-powered and kids have to have gym membership or be part of a sports program to get fit. The riding museum has dozens of these old toys and they come in every shape and size, including some wonderful rocket-ship or jet-plane examples from the Fifties. This is one area the girls got to play too and there are some nice examples of ones made for them.
And not only are there pedal cars. There are pedal toys shaped like motor-scooters or motor-bikes and some very grand 'surreys-with-a-fringe-on-top' for those who, even as kids, longed for a more elegant lifestyle.
The riding toy museum has many riding toy oddities, such as a mini-carousel, a toy that spins you in a circle, three wheeled roller-skates that look like two mini-scooters for your feet, and an example of everyone's favourite bicycle -- the penny-farthing with its huge front wheel and tiny rear wheel.
Before you go to Georgian Bay, visit the Riding Toy Museum website for more details. Believe me, this is a great place for anyone who enjoys a stroll down memory lane and an opportunity to ride on some amazing old toys.
And for a hotel in Ontario or anywhere else:
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