When I was a little girl I was obsessed with Barbara Ann Scott. I would spend every spare minute I had skating in the laneway between our house and the neighbours. It sure was no skating rink, nor was the surface smooth. Oh my I was going to perfect THE TEA POT, AND THE ART OF TWIRLING. It was cold and in no way did that discourage me, I was going to be Canada’s next champion. I would be out skating long before my parents got up and the Milkman delivered his milk to our home, I do think he was somewhat concerned.
I can say that the Milkman came back to the house one day and spoke with my Mom. “You know he said, someone could kidnap that child and no one would know for a good while”. I would then get “the lecture” and had to promise not to do it again, but it was bigger than me and I was obsessed with skating. Out I would go with an extra pair of socks in my skates that were far to big.
It did not matter that I had second hand skates, that did not always fit, I was going to become a Canadian Champion. There was never any doubt in my mind. But as soon as I learned that Champions had top notch equipment including skates, and they also had trainers I realized it was never going to be in my future. I decided it didn’t matter and I could enjoy myself on the rink in the laneway and continue to dream. If only I could do better, I could be a Champion, in my thoughts I was.
Seeing I could not be a champion skater, the next best thought was a Barbara Ann Scott, Doll. Now this was almost an impossibility as they were very expensive, and the price far exceeded what could be afforded by my parents. It seemed to me that if it was to do with skating or Barbra Ann Scott, my luck wasn’t good.
An option came to be, and it was with an advertisement on the cereal box. A BARBARA ANN SCOTT DOLL, just so many dollars, and some box tops off the Cereal. Oh maybe, just maybe that could be managed, and I could have her.
Up the street, around the corner, a few houses down, lived a lady who I became friends with. She would stop and talk to us on our way to school and she was such a nice person. The lady always took an interest in how you were doing at school, and what you were thinking. One day in my conversation, I mentioned my love for a Barbara Ann Scott Doll. Mrs. Paquette was such a wise lady, and thoughtful as well. She looked at me and said, “You leave your thought with me and maybe we can come up with something”.
The next day on my way home from school, I dropped in to see her. She said she had a plan and maybe we could find a way to get the doll. She asked me how many box tops were needed and how long it would take to get those box tops. I told her I would ask my Mom, she told me to tell her to save them. She also said that I could earn some money by helping her out with some of her household tasks. She said I could dust the furniture and down the stairs and maybe do a few other little chores. I could help tie up newspapers and maybe some weeding in the garden.
Now Mrs. Paquette was a task master and said she would keep the money until we had enough. I was also supposed to bring her the box tops. I would stop off each night after school and see if she had anything she wanted done and that is the way I ended up saving enough money. We also had to mail the money and the box tops to the company, that would require a stamp. It took me about six weeks to earn the money and collect enough box tops. It was not hard to get the box tops as there were four children and we all ate cereal. Mom made sure that we only bought the kind of cereal we needed for the doll for as long as we needed to. Mom and Mrs. Paquette worked together making the time go a bit faster. It was funny how little jobs all of a sudden you would be paid for. I do have to admit I enjoyed this project and did not find my tasks were hard.
Oh my, the day came to mail the request for the doll and I must say I was excited and did not think that the doll would ever arrive. About a month later my BARBARA ANN SCOTT doll arrived. What joy, when she came I took her up to Mrs. Paquette to show her, she was excited as I was and we did display our happiness. She had a doll stand I think her husband made it, when he heard the doll story.
Oh Barbara came everywhere with me, and when I would sit on the “Big Stone” in the front yard, so did she. One day after school, I came home from school and went looking for the doll, she was no where to be found. I do have to tell you this was very upsetting to me, and for the life of me I did not know what happened to her. I went to Mom she had not seen her and she asked me if I had left her somewhere and I could not say I did or didn’t. That was the end of my hard work, my saving, my saving box tops, and I was heartbroken and we never did find her. Nor did we know what really happened, and the mystery was never solved.
Mrs. Paquette said we could save again, but the time limit was about to run out and we would not have enough time. Lesson to be learned pay attention next time where you leave your treasures.
From the Pen ✒
Just a little note:
A few years back I would run across a Barbara Ann Scott Doll, at a Flea Market. She was in bad, bad shape and they were asking far too much money, We did not buy her although the childhood memories came rushing back.
By the way, I continued doing little chores for Mrs. Paquette and we did manage to save for other items. She was a great women, yes a task master, and when you did something you did it right.
Barbara Ann Scott Doll
This is what my doll was like. Today they are asking $450.00. Oh where Oh where did you go.
Made by the Reliable Toy Co., Toronto, Ontario; composition body and head; costume of lace fabric with synthetic lining, marabou trim; skates have plastic boot, cast-metal blade; 38 cm. high CMC 983.29.23
Children opening the Eaton’s catalogue of 1950-1951 would have instantly recognized this doll on skates. Barbara Ann Scott, “Canada’s darling of the ice lanes”, had a career as brief as it was extraordinary. In 1948 she won, within a five-week period, the European, World, and Olympic figure-skating championships. Seventy-thousand fans gave Barbara Ann a superstar’s welcome when she returned to her home in Ottawa.
The Reliable Toy Company was quick to recognize the marketability of a doll in her image and sold them from 1949 to 1955, dressed in a variety of costumes. In the meantime, Barbara Ann had become the star of an American ice show, but retired from skating a few years later. Her legacy? A few surviving dolls, the memory of a petite blonde champion twirling on an outdoor rink, and a generation of Canadian women named Barbara Ann.
The Reliable Toy Company of Toronto sold Barbara Ann Scott dolls like this one from 1949 to 1955. Canada’s “Queen of the Blades” had an extraordinary career, which reached its peak in 1948, the year Scott won the world’s top five figure skating titles: Canadian, North American, European, World and Olympic.
Here’s one of Barbara Ann Scott in a parade, passing in front of the Chateau Laurier in 1948 (with the Daly Building in the background).
1948 was the year Barbara Anne won the Canadian, European, World, and Olympic Championships.