Elites and Orphans explores the diverging experiences of play for elite and poor children amongst Quebec City’s English-speaking population at the turn of the 20th century. This virtual exhibit complements a permanent display in the children’s section of the library at the Morrin Centre.

Most of the toys in the exhibit were donated by Mary Hilda Freeland Stephens (1911–1999), and once belonged to children of the upper town’s Protestant elite. They include miniature tea sets, toilet sets, kitchen sets, furniture, dolls, and horse-drawn vehicles. Stephens’ legacy brings to life the elite Protestant community of over a century ago.

It is worth remembering, however, that most of the city’s English-speaking children were not part of this elite. This exhibit thus also touches on the lives of orphans and poor children, many of whom worked in factories and as domestics in the Victorian era.



1. Mary Hilda Freeland Stephens


2. Dolls and Gendered Play


3. Playing House


4. Teatime


5. Horse-Drawn Transportation


6. Social Class in Work and Play

Exposition en français


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