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Settler Kaponga 1881–1914 — A Frontier Fragment of the Western World

A Golden Age?

page 279

A Golden Age?

By the mid-20th century many Britons looked back on the Edwardian age as a glorious summer that was followed by the long winter of two world wars and a world depression. Kaponga residents of that vintage may well also have looked back from mid-century and felt that these had been the sunshine years. Had not their pioneer parents then reaped a prosperous reward for their earlier hardships? Had not they themselves enjoyed a youth of reasonable comfort in a confident, maturing community, enriched with a vibrant social and sporting round? With the long years since marred by war and depression, and their district's commercial self-sufficiency and independent spirit drained away as markets and decisionmaking shifted to regional and national centres, nostalgia must have given the Edwardian years the glow of a golden age.

The sources indeed show them as years of kaleidoscopic richness in community life. A wide range of sports flourished; diverse social and entertainment occasions competed for the use of the town hall; the several churches, the lodge hall and the school made their varied offerings. Homes, shops, library, farms, and the Mountain House all from time to time had their community occasions. It was a considerable achievement that a population of little over a thousand kept up such a varied programme in what was still a fairly primitive world. In assessing their achievement we will first discuss whether this was indeed a golden age for community sports and recreations, and then consider the quality of life that women and girls experienced both at home and abroad.

For sport and recreation we take a close look at the year from April 1908 to April 1909, by which time all three of the sports-minded ‘professionals’ introduced in Chapters 8 and 9 (Maclagan, Matheson and Scott) were having an impact. We set these 12 months within a more general survey of the years before and after.