100 Eskimo Suits

100 Eskimo Suites.jpgBuried in this mornings update, Women Objects to Soldiers in Schools,  was an item that referenced the Board of Educations’ approval of 100 Eskimo suits from Eaton’s for the open-air rooms at the Orde street school.

This struck me as odd.  Why did the children need Eskimo suites? What is an open air school room and why did they have them in Toronto?

My curiosity was piqued, but luckily it didn’t take long to track down the answer, because the Orde Street School has a fantastic overview of it’s history online.  Here is the story in brief:

“In March 1916 over 50 children, all either recovering from or deemed susceptible to tuberculosis, were admitted to Orde Street’s “Open Air School.”  The school, on the top floor, was described at the time as “an example of a modern school building built and arranged in every detail for open-air school work.”  There were two classrooms – one for primary students, the other for junior students – a kitchen, a dining room, a playground, restrooms, and a medical dispensary.   All the students took their lessons in rooms with open windows, often bundled in blankets, and what were then called “Eskimo suits,” in the belief that fresh air was good for their weakened lungs.”

If you want to dig deeper Saving Sickly Children: The Tuberculosis Preventorium in American Life, 1909-1970, looks like a good bet.

20160121 - Photo

Orde Street Open Air School, October 31, 1919 (Toronto Archive Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 32, Item 613)

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