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 A History of Storybook Gardens in London, Ontario, Canada, by Public Historian Carling Marshall-Luymes    
 Author:  admin
 Dated:  Saturday, February 23 2008 @ 04:28 PM EST
 Viewed:  21,318 times  
Storybook Gardens in London, Ontario, Canada: A History


ADMINISTRATOR'S NOTE: During the recent debate at city hall regarding the future of Storybook Gardens, I came across the name of "Carling Marshall" on the Community and Protective Services Committee agenda in a staff report.

Apparently, Carling (a woman) had prepared a history of Storybook Gardens when she was living in London a few years ago and attending the University of Western Ontario.

Figuring that this history would be a document that I would like to read, I Googled her name and landed on her blog. Carling was kind enough to e-mail the following research paper to me a few days later.

A History of Storybook Gardens

Copyright © By Carling Marshall-Luymes, a Public Historian
To visit Carling's blog, The Reflections of a Public Historian, CLICK HERE

London’s Waterworks Commission and the Development of Springbank Park

STORYBOOK GARDENS will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2008, marking a half century of history behind its castle walls. Storybook Gardens was originally advertised as an attraction where families could spend part of their day while visiting Springbank Park; thus, Storybook Gardens is also an important part of the history and ebb and flow of visitors to London’s Springbank Park.

On December 26, 1877, a special session of London City Council passed a by-law authorizing the construction of the municipality’s first waterworks, and in 1878 the Board of Water Commissioners for the City of London was formed. Coomb’s Springs, located on the south side of the Thames River three-and-a-half-miles west of London, was chosen as the site to install the waterworks for London and the 29 hectares of springwater-rich land in Westminster Township was purchased.

Soon after the waterworks were constructed, the Board of Water Commissioners realized the area could be developed as a recreational attraction. Several paths were laid out and brush and stumps were removed. In 1880, Mike Ward constructed a summer hotel on the grounds, which became popular with visitors and a popular stop for steamboats operating on the Thames River.

The park was a popular visiting spot for visitors traveling by steamship, and Londoners could catch steamships from the foot of Dundas Street traveling to the waterworks site. The site remained popular for steamboat visitors until the “Victoria” overturned in 1881, en route to London from Victoria Day celebrations at the waterworks site, resulting in the deaths of 182 people.

In 1894 the waterworks property officially became a park. Two years later, the London Street Railway Company laid tracks to the property and street car service became available, significantly improving access to the site and facilitating a renewal of visitors to Springbank Park after the “Victoria” sinking. In 1897 the London Street Railway built a theatre at the park, and though it soon burned down, the city replaced the theatre with a pavilion and dance hall.

London Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Develops Zoo at Springbank

In 1912, all parks in London had come under the management of the Waterworks Commission and in 1914 the Waterworks Commission became the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). In 1915, the basis of a zoo at Springbank Park was formed by the PUC; three raccoons and three owls were acquired for exhibition at the site. The following year four deer were added. The zoo eventually came to include beavers, foxes, bears, buffalo, elk, monkeys and various wild birds, including hawks and herons. By the 1930s, the zoo’s bears and monkeys were its great attractions and thousands of children visited each summer.

Popular Attractions at Springbank Park Followed by Decline in the 1930s

In addition to the zoo, a miniature steam locomotive at Springbank Park was a popular attraction. The miniature steam locomotive hit the rails in 1919 when Sarah Stevenson, inspired by a miniature railway at Crystal Beach (about 60 kilometers southeast of Grimsby Ontario), provided the money to purchase a steam locomotive. With the help of Jim Kennedy, a former engineer with the Great Northern Railroad of Ireland, Stevenson set up the miniature railway at Springbank Park. Children could ride in one of three carloads pulled on half of a mile of narrow-gauged track by conductor Kennedy for the original fare rate of $0.05.

A dance pavilion, located east of the miniature railway and built in 1892, was a popular summer attraction in the 1920s and 1930s. A privately run merry-go-round was also located at the site. Park attendance had declined beginning in the 1930s due to the elimination of the street railway service and deterioration of the zoo; some Londoners felt the zoo was a disgrace.

Though Springbank Park continued to be enjoyed by picnickers and sight-seers into the 1950s, it lacked adequate attractions for the young as, by the 1950s, all that remained of the zoo were the bird and monkey cages.

Automobile Tourism Responds to the Baby Boom: Fairytale Amusement Parks

During the first three decades of automobile tourism, tourist attraction owners catered largely to adults. However, following the Second World War, the tourism industry responded to the baby boom by developing attractions for children, targeted at the family. One of the earliest roadside attractions developed for children was Rock City Gardens, Georgia, which put a roof over a long rock crevice in 1948 and named the resulting artificial cave Fairyland Caverns.

Fairyland Caverns was home to sculptures lit with black light depicting fairytale scenes, including Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White and Seven Dwarfs. The fairytale park soon sent shockwaves through the tourism industry.

Similar fairytale parks, outside of a cave environment and without black light, developed rapidly across the continent following the Second World War. Old fairytales were not copyrighted and from approximately the mid-1950s to the early 1960s more than 25 fairytale-themed children’s parks were constructed as family tourist destinations from California to Massachusetts, South Dakota to Florida. Several were constructed in Canada in addition to Storybook Gardens in London, including Fairyland outside Charlottetown, PEI, The Enchanted Forest in Revelstoke, BC, Storyland Valley in Edmonton, Alberta, and Storybook Park in Owen Sound. Many fairytale parks developed similar exhibits and attractions as those of London’s Storybook Gardens, including petting zoos, indigenous animals, pumpkin shaped concession stands, large Old Woman’s Shoes, Humpty Dumpty and other fairytale sculptured figures, whale slides and castle-front entrances [see: Appendix A].

Storybook Gardens: PUC Origins

In 1957 Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Commissioner Earl Nichols and Vice-Chairman Elmo Curtis conceived of an idea to develop a children’s fairyland amusement park in London. The same year, Nichols and Curtis had attended a Parks Convention in Seattle and had become interested in the Fairyland Children’s Park operating in Oakland California. After visiting fairytale parks in Oakland and San Francisco, Nichols and Curtis became convinced that a similar attraction would be beneficial for London.

A Committee of the Commission for Development of Parks and Recreation was formed within the PUC and its first project was to get a children’s fairyland for London underway. The advisory committee, consisting of representatives from the Public Library and Art Museum, the Board of Education, The London Free Press, and the Commission’s Engineering, Parks and Recreation departments, developed the fairyland’s design and collected ideas from similar fairylands, such as Oakland’s Children’s Fairyland [see: Appendix B] and Les Jardins des Merveilles (Garden of Wonders) in Montreal [see: Appendix C]. PUC staff also studied pictures of fables and children’s stories that might be brought to life.

Though held up by late delivery of fiber-glass, in December. 1957, a large model of Humpty-Dumpty was built in PUC shops upon which the PUC based their cost estimates for the entire park. By January, 1958, the PUC department had prepared a scale model of the fairyland, including fairytale figures, sea lions, whale structures and toadstools.

On January 21, 1958, London city council approved, in principle, the PUC plan to turn a section of Springbank Park into a $150,000 fairyland amusement park for children. By March, construction of a deer enclosure had begun. By May, construction had started on the sea lion pool and the Old Woman’s Shoe.

On April 15, 1958, the Board of Education announced an invitation for all London-area elementary school students to suggest names for the Springbank fairyland park. In June, The London Free Press announced 13-year-old contestant Mary Okkerse from North Dorchester school’s $25 prize-winning name: Storybook Gardens. Second prize had gone to Kenneth Philbrook’s entry, PUCk’s Forest and third to Linda Blackey’s entry, The Fairy Bowl.

Slippery the Sea Lion Escapes & Storybook Gardens Opens to the Public

On June 16, Slippery the sea lion escaped from his Storybook Gardens pool and into the Thames River after arriving in London only the day before from California. Construction at the park had fallen behind and the perimeter fence around the park was unfinished, the railing around the sea lion pool was not screened in, and the sea lion pool’s water level was higher than expected. When Storybook Gardens’ two sea lions were put in the pool, the water level raised the sea lions to the pool’s edge, providing Slippery with opportunity to escape.

The PUC recorded sea lion barks hoping to lure Slippery while hunting for him up and down the Thames River. Soon reports of Slippery sightings were made: he was spotted in the Thames River going into Lake St. Clair, dodging traffic in the Detroit River, traveling down Ohio’s Maumee River, in Lake Erie, near Marblehead Ohio, at the mouth of the Portage River and at Port Clinton. On June 20, The London Free Press sponsored a $200 prize to whoever could return Slippery to Storybook Gardens. The same day, Phil Skeldon, Director of the Toledo Zoo, began following Slippery with a crew by boat, attempting to catch him, but never getting close enough.

On Thursday, June 26, at 10 a.m., Storybook Gardens opened to the public. Despite pouring rain, approximately 2,500 visitors came through Storybook Gardens’ castle entrance. The park had been opened officially the previous evening, when the Honourable Robert McCauley, recently appointed vice-chairman of Ontario Hydro, declared Storybook open in front of about 100 PUC officials and guests huddled under a tent in torrential rain.

Advertised for children up to the age of 13, Storybook opened with exhibits including Humpty Dumpty, the remaining sea lion (now named Lonesome), Goldilocks and the Three Bears (with live bear cubs), the Jolly Miller’s House, the Old Woman’s Shoe, a Hickory Dickory Dock clock (with real mice), Old MacDonald’s Farm, and a Cinderella Pumpkin. Clare Bice, of Storybook’s Advisory Committee, described Storybook Gardens as a pleasant place to spend an hour when spending the day in the beautiful Springbank Park.

Storybook continued to make headlines the day after it opened to the public when Slippery was captured in a Toledo, Ohio boathouse by Skeldon, who had struck the sea lion with a tranquilizer dart. The story grew more famous when The London Free Press announced that the Toledo Zoo refused to return Slippery to London. Skeldon argued the sea lion had been caught in Toledo’s jurisdiction and thus belonged to Ohio; his claim was backed by an Assistant Attorney General, the Ohio Bar Association, and County Prosecutor each citing the law. London Member of Parliament Ernest C. Halpenny spoke on the petitions he had received about Slippery’s return: “I don’t think Canada will withdraw its diplomatic corps from Washington or anything as drastic as that, but if they don’t give it back I’ll get my secretary and a few others and we’ll picket the US embassy.”

The Toledo Blade announced on June 29 the Toledo Zoo’s intention of returning the sea lion, but not before a record-breaking audience visited the zoo over the July 4 weekend to see the now-famous sea lion. When Slippery returned to Canada, the sea lion and his party had been met by a crowd of approximately 2,500 people at the U.S. border and received a police escort back to London. Alongside Slippery was the baby puma, Lucky, a gift from the Toledo Zoo.

“Slippery Day” was announced by proclamation of London’s Mayor and thousands lined London’s streets to welcome Slippery back on July 6. Slippery’s procession was met in London by a parade of cars, brass bands, and the Majorettes. An official reception was held at Storybook Gardens, where young Susan Gratton presented a bouquet of flowers to Slippery, and a formal reception at the Cobblestone Inn followed, where London Mayor Johnston presented Skeldon with a large portrait of Slippery. Two beavers were presented to the Toledo Zoo as a friendship pledge by a delegation from London, including London Free Press staff, on July 11. Not until years later did Skeldon admitted his threat to keep the sea lion was a joke he and London PUC assistant chairperson Earl Nichols had conceived to garner publicity for the opening of Storybook Gardens.

Storybook Gardens’ Children’s Chapel

In April, 1960, The London Free Press announced the opening of Storybook’s miniature Children’s Chapel, complete with stained glass windows and a 24 foot copper spire. The gift of London contractor and developer H.J. McClure, the Chapel was inspired by a photo of the Oakland Children’s Fairyland Peace Chapel, mailed to the PUC by London resident Audrey Bell. The non-denominational chapel was built to serve as a place of meditation for Storybook visitors. Its dedication service was conducted by Rev. E.G. Turnbull, president of the London Council of Churches and McClure’s six year old son Brian cut the ribbon. On September 1, the Children’s Chapel’s first wedding took place as a London couple married in front of a full house of 35. In 1963, the PUC installed a carillon in the chapel and the electronic bells chimed for the first time on Christmas Day of that year.

One Million Visitors

Storybook Gardens continued to grow following its opening year. Animals were constantly added to Storybook Gardens and in 1959 a penguin pool was constructed. In 1960, Storybook opened a “Contact Area,” on the suggestion of Curtis, where children could interact with harmless animals such as a llama, a tortoise and a pony.

By 1961, one million visitors had visited Storybook Gardens and the one millionth visitor, ten year old Janice Mann, received (among other gifts) a permanent pass to Storybook Gardens. The two millionth visitor, nine year old David Firth, visited Storybook Gardens in 1966 and was presented with a stuffed seal, season passes to Storybook Gardens, a felt Mountie hat, and a ride on the baby elephant.

Attendance continued to rise in the 1960s and into the 1970s as the number of Storybook exhibits and attractions expanded. A replica Tower of London Bridge was added in 1965 and in 1967 a giant statue of Jack and the Beanstalk was installed at Storybook. In 1969, Storybook Gardens’ popular Jack and Jill slide was installed.

An annual birthday party was held at Storybook Gardens for which children dressed in costume and participated in a parade. The twentieth annual birthday party was held in 1978 and was attended by the famed children’s performer, Mr. Dressup.

Storybook’s zoo population also grew, including wildlife from around the world: flamingoes from Chile and Cuba, sea lions from the coast of California, a giant tortoise from Africa, an Asian elephant, monkeys, bears from Western Canada, peacocks from India and Burma, a llama from Peru, beavers and otters from Northern Ontario, black swans from Australia, and cranes and storks from East and West Africa.

Rejuvenation: the 1980s

In 1979 the number of visitors to Storybook Gardens had begun to drop and in the early 1980s the PUC set to work at reversing the steady decline in visitor attendance and rejuvenating Storybook Gardens as an entertainment centre. Storybook Gardens had difficulty remaining relevant in an age where it was competing for attendance with new attractions such as Ontario Place in Toronto (1971) and Paramount Canada’s Wonderland (1981). In 1981, Total-Marketing Incorporated was contracted by the PUC to conduct market analysis to find ways of improving the park. Special directional signs designed by cartoonist Merle Tingley were installed at various locations throughout London. The same year, two members of the Storybook Advisory Committee resigned over a disagreement to include Star Wars type figures at Storybook.

In 1983 more entertainment was added, including Storybook Minstrels who performed original plays and the Storybook Animateurs, magicians, mimes and ventriloquists who performed around the park. Storybook Gardens sought to be more relevant at a time when families were expecting more from their tourist experiences. On April 13, 1983, the PUC accepted a proposal that would change the east end of Storybook Gardens into a McMagic Play area. In April, 1984, the London Free Press announced Storybook Gardens would be installing a $400,000 "Playworld," one of a series of McMagic Playgrounds developed and built my Eric McMillan Inc. of Toronto. In early May, the sod was turned for the construction of the new playground.

Saturday July 20, 1985, was the grand opening of the new Storybook Gardens “Children’s Playworld,” a new family play attraction which stimulated imagination and creative play, the cornerstone of Storybook Gardens’ rejuvenation. “Playworld” cost approximately $389,000, more than a third of which came from a Wintario Grant. The playground included fully supervised features and included attractions such as Ball Crawl, Beverly Bounce, Air Climb, Chicken Walk, Storybook Together Toys, Punch Bag Forest, Music Machines, Giant Tube Slides and Magic Mirrors. With the installation of “Playworld,” the average time spent at the park by visitors tripled. In May, 1987, a play area for preschool children officially opened. The Byron Optimist Paris playground pre-school area in Storybook Gardens had cost $35,000.

Tragedy struck Storybook Gardens on June 17, 1988, when a fire destroyed much of the new “Playworld.” Though no animals were injured, the new structure was gutted and the damage was estimated at $600,000. A pared down Playworld reopened the following year, including a batting cage, climbing rope, moon walk, and ball crawl, and in the late 1980s, large Tower Slides were installed as a new attraction.

On November 29, 1988, The London Free Press reported that an evening ‘romantic interlude’ between two London teenagers at the Playworld had led to the fire; a candle had tipped and landed in wood chips, and the teenagers had thought they had put the fire out.

Redevelopment and Capital Reinvestment

In the early 1990s, London’s PUC was abolished and management of Storybook Gardens was handed over to the city government’s Parks and Recreation Department. Storybook continued to struggle to remain relevant, as visitors had more often experienced (and expected) bigger, better, faster and more exciting attractions such as Disneyworld, Disneyland, Paramount Canada’s Wonderland and Six Flags. Though the pricing of admission to Storybook Gardens was significantly less and Storybook Gardens marketed itself as an unhurried, enjoyable family experience compared to these larger attractions, visitors’ expectations often did not alwlays translate accordingly.

In the early 2000s, a Parks and Recreation capital budget for the renewal of Storybook Gardens was approved. Consultants, hired by the city, had recommended that the city invest in Storybook Gardens and open the park year round. The consulting firm had concluded that the Storybook brand remained strong in the community, that its animals were a significant attraction (though the park should refocus its zoological collection to indigenous species), and that the fairytale themes were irrelevant to contemporary youth.

The new Storybook Gardens concept was to include a variety of "chapters" around the Storybook Gardens grounds, in which the child visitor could play a role as a character in the storybook. Plans were developed and Storybook Gardens closed for construction between Labour Day 2002 and June 2003. The new, re-vamped $7-million Storybook Gardens opened with a free weekend in June 2003.

What was salvageable from the old Storybook remained, including the barn (though visitors could now enter and look around), the Swiss Chalet, the Tower Slides, the covered bridge and London bridge, and the Old Woman’s Shoe. The original castle entrance was razed and reconstructed.

The new Storybook Gardens contained eight new chapters, in which families with children ages two to twelve could create their own fairytale experience: Slippery’s Great Escape water-park, Pirate’s Island play area, Storybook Valley, Old McDonald’s Farm, the Enchanted Forest, the Village and Backwoods and Frog Pond.

Storybook Gardens continues to strive for increased visitor attendance. Many adult visitors have expressed disappointment in the missing features of Storybook Gardens that they had experienced in their childhood. Unfortunately, many such attractions had fallen into disrepair and were unsalvageable, while others no longer met contemporary safety and accessibility standards.

References: (Originally the following were numbered footnotes, but when copying the document from the attachment e-mail, somehow the footnote numbers disappeared in the translation)

  • “Fairytales Come True,” London Free Press (LFP), 21 June 1958

  • Robert Duff, London Parks and Recreation 1871-1973: A History of the Recreation Department, Public Utilities Commission of London, (London, Ontario: 1973,) J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC, 4-7; “Springbank Park Timeline,” LFP, 28 May 1994, C2

  • Ibid.

  • “Springbank Park Timeline,” LFP, 28 May 1994; “The Little Iron Horse,” Weekend Magazine, Vol. 6. No. 33, 1956

  • PUC 1915 Annual Report, The PUC fonds, J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC, 72. PUC 1926 Annual Report, The PUC fonds, J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC; PUC 1933 Annual Report, The PUC fonds, J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC, 93

  • PUC 1932 Annual Report, The PUC fonds, J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC, 69; PUC 1933 Annual Report, The PUC fonds, J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC, 71

  • “Springbank Park Timeline LFP, 28 May 1994, C2; “1919 Return Fare Cost a Whole Nickel, And On This Train, It’s Still a Nickel,” LFP, 10 August 1961. The Kennedys bought the miniature railway in 1944 after Stevenson’s death and ran it until Jim Kennedy retired in 1965. After Kennedy’s retirement Jim Thomson of the Supertest Gasoline Co. gave it to the London Central Lion’s Club. While the London Free Press article indicates the railway began operating in 1919, some discrepancy exists over the year the railway began operation, as some sources note 1920 and 1921. Duff, 94-95

  • “Fairyland Project Enhances Springbank Park,” LFP, 23 January 1958; Duff, 93; PUC 1937 Annual Report, The PUC fonds, J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC; PUC 1938 Annual Report, The PUC fonds, J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC

  • Tim Hollis, Dixie Before Disney: 100 Years of Roadside Fun (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999), 89-90

  • Debra Jane Seltzer, “Fairy Tale Parks,” Roadside Architecture.

  • “Children’s Fairyland Cost Being Figured,” LFP, 28 December 1957; “Springbank Fairyland Gets Council Approval,” LFP, 21 January 1958; Duff, 95-96; PUC 1957 Annual Report, the PUC fonds, J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC, 6; “Storybook Gardens Opens,” CFPL-TV, news story script (26 June 1958), CFPL TV fonds, Series F 4396-1-2, The Archives of Ontario (in the Doty fonds, ARCC)

  • “Children’s Fairyland Cost Being Figured,” LFP, 28 December 1957

  • “Springbank Fairyland Gets Council Approval,” LFP, 21 January 1958

  • “Start Springbank Fairyland,” LFP, 24 March 1958. Christopher Doty’s “Slippery” documentary contradicts the London Free Press and notes the construction start date of Storybook Gardens in January 1955. This date is likely untrue, as any discussion of a children’s fairyland amusement park does not occur in PUC annual reports until 1957 and architectural drawings of Storybook Gardens structures are not dated prior to 1958

  • “Rhymes Come to Life at Springbank Fairyland,” LFP, 30 May 1958

  • “Students in Name Contest for Springbank Fairyland,” LFP, 15 April 1958

  • “Pick ‘Storybook Gardens’ For Springbank Fairyland,” LFP, 6 June 1958 Slippery the sea lion was aptly named after his escape from Storybook. The sea lion’s name and gender were unknown to Storybook at the time of the sea lion’s escape, thus the sea lion came to be known as Slippery. The American press, during the time of his escape and stay in Toledo, often referred to him as Cyril, while the Canadian press referred to him as Slippery. The second sea lion at Storybook Gardens, who did not escape, was aptly named Lonesome. Tingley, interviewed for Doty Doc “Slippery” /li>>
  • “Recorded Bark as Lure: PUC Hunting Runaway Sea Lion,” LFP, 19 June 1958

  • “Slippery: A Documentary.” Produced by Christopher Doty. 47 minutes. Doty Docs, 2003. One videocassette. J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC

  • “2,500 Throng Storybook Gardens on Opening Day,” LFP, 27 June 1958; “Ribbon Cut to Open Children’s Storybook Park,” LFP, 26 June 1958; “Rain Curbs Event: Storybook Park Officially Opens,” LFP, 26 June 1958. “Fairytales Come True,” London Free Press (LFP), 21 June 1958; “Storybook Gardens Opens,” CFPL-TV, year end new program (26 June 1958), CFPL TV fonds, Series F 4396-2-2, The Archives of Ontario (in the Doty fonds, ARCC)

  • “Slippery: A Documentary.” Produced by Christopher Doty. 47 minutes. Doty Docs, 2003. One videocassette. J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC

  • Orlo Miller, London 200: An Illustrated History (London: London Chamber of Commerce, 1992) J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC, 208

  • “Sad Attraction After Escapade, Zoo to Return Sea Lion to Canada Park,” Toledo Blade 29 June 1958; “Slippery: A Documentary.” Produced by Christopher Doty. 47 minutes. Doty Docs, 2003. One videocassette. J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC

  • “Crowds Cheer Slippery Along Dundas,” LFP, 7 July 1958; “Thousands Welcome Slippery and Puma Pal,” LFP, 7 July 1958; Ralph Soden, “Slippery Home in Triumph: Thousands Acclaim Roaming Mammal and Zoo Pal Lucky,” LFP, 5 July 1958; “Mayor Issues Proclamation: It’s Slippery Day Tomorrow,” LFP, 7 July 1958; “Slippery Saga” CFPL-TV, news story script (7 July 1958), CFPL TV fonds, Series F 4396-1-2, The Archives of Ontario (in the Doty fonds, ARCC)

  • M.J. O’Meara, “Present Beaver to Toledo Zoo - Renew Pledge of Friendship as Beaver Given Toledo Zoo,” LFP, 11 July 1958

  • Miller, 208; “Slippery: A Documentary.” Produced by Christopher Doty. 47 minutes. Doty Docs, 2003. One videocassette. J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC

  • “Londoner Will Build Chapel to Serve Storybook Gardens,” LFP, 25 June 1959; “Gift of Contractor: Dedicate, Open New Storybook Gardens Chapel,” LFP, 4 April 1960

  • “Storybook Wedding,” LFP, 1 September 1960; “Storybook Chapel” CFPL-TV, news story script (13 April 1960), CFPL TV fonds, Series F 4396-1-2, The Archives of Ontario (in the Doty fonds, ARCC)

  • “Storybook Gardens” CFPL-TV, news story script (25 December 1963), CFPL TV fonds, Series F 4396-1-2, The Archives of Ontario (in the Doty fonds, ARCC)

  • PUC 1959 Annual Report, The PUC fonds, J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC, 9; “Contact Area Opens,” LFP, 10 June 1960; “Storybook Heroes Glum in Winter But Slippery Clowns, Stays Warm,” LFP, 6 January 1960

  • “Slippery: A Documentary.” Produced by Christopher Doty. 47 minutes. Doty Docs, 2003. One videocassette. J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC

  • “Storybook Gardens” CFPL-TV, news story script (2 September 1961), CFPL TV fonds, Series F 4396-1-2, The Archives of Ontario (in the Doty fonds, ARCC); “Storybook Gardens” CFPL-TV, news story script (23 June 1966), CFPL TV fonds, Series F 4396-1-2, The Archives of Ontario (in the Doty fonds, ARCC); “Slippery: A Documentary.” Produced by Christopher Doty. 47 minutes. Doty Docs, 2003. One videocassette. J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC

  • “Tower Bridge Replica Set for Storybook,” LFP, 23 March 1965

  • “Storybook Gardens” CFPL-TV, news story script (19 July 1969), CFPL TV fonds, Series F 4396-1-2, The Archives of Ontario (in the Doty fonds, ARCC)

  • “Storybook Gardens” CFPL-TV, news story script (26 June 1976), CFPL TV fonds, Series F 4396-1-2, The Archives of Ontario (in the Doty fonds, ARCC)

  • “Storybook Gardens” CFPL-TV, news story script (24 June 1978), CFPL TV fonds, Series F 4396-1-2, The Archives of Ontario (in the Doty fonds, ARCC)

  • 1965 Annual Report p. 6; 1970 annual report; “How it all began,” London – PARKS (Springbank) Storybook Gardens. File of various documents on Storybook Gardens at J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC, 2

  • PUC 1979 Annual Report, The PUC fonds, J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC

  • PUC 1981 Annual Report, The PUC fonds, J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC

  • “Storybook Gardens” CFPL-TV, news story script (13 October 1981), CFPL TV fonds, Series F 4396-1-2, The Archives of Ontario (in the Doty fonds, ARCC)

  • Peter Geigen-Miller, “Storybook Gardens to get $400, 000 play world,” LFP, 28 April 1984, A6

  • “Storybook Gardens” CFPL-TV, news story script (13 April 1983), CFPL TV fonds, Series F 4396-1-2, The Archives of Ontario (in the Doty fonds, ARCC)

  • Caroline Cagampan, “Playworld aims to stimulate kids – and attendance,” LFP, 22 July 1985, C2

  • “Digging Right in at Storybook,” LFP, 2 May 1985

  • “Storybook Gardens London, Ontario Canada” pamphlet, 1985, London – PARKS (Springbank) Storybook Gardens. J.J. Talman Regional Collection, ARCC

  • “Photo: Byron Optimist Paris playground pre-school area in Storybook Gardens,” LFP, 18 May 1987

  • David Pugliese,“$600 000 damage in Storybook fire: Smoking youths suspected,” LFP, (undated: clipping in Scrapbook, in “Storybook Gardens Box 2.” City of London Parks and Recreation office, Market Tower);

  • “Playworld reopens Saturday,” LFP, 20 July 1989;

  • Kent McVittie, interviewed by author, 12 April 2007

  • “‘Romantic interlude’ between 2 London teenagers led to fire,” LFP, 29 November 1988

  • Kent McVittie, interviewed by author, 12 April 2007; “Attractions,” Storybook Gardens,

  • Kent McVittie, interviewed by author, 12 April 2007

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  • A History of Storybook Gardens in London, Ontario, Canada, by Public Historian Carling Marshall-Luymes | 1 comments | Create New Account
    The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
    A History of Storybook Gardens in London, Ontario, Canada, by Public Historian Carling Marshall-
    Authored by: Protestant on Sunday, February 24 2008 @ 04:26 PM EST
    My mom reinisced to me with fondness her teenaged dating days, post-depression, WW11 era, of catching the train in Parkhill and coming to Springbank Park, where they would meet the soldiers, all spiffed and polished in their uniforms with clean white hanki's and some with boquets of flowers waiting at the platform for the ladies to roll into the station. They would dance to a live band in the outdoor bandshell, drink clear cream soda's, not red pop like today, walk along the river under the stars...get kissed for the first time, make promises and pledges to meet again, write letters, keep in touch, then catch the train home.
    Sometimes they would catch the morning train, stop for awhile in London, meet up with their chaperone's and go on all the way to the stork Club in Port Stanley where liquor was served. Women were not allowed to go to liquor licensed establishments without an escort. Since most of the young men from these parts were either overseas or in the reserves Springbank park was the perfect for the ladies. She says most of the young couples she knew back then met, married and had children only because that train brought them to a meeting place.