National Treasure #95: Jolly Jumper

Full disclosure: Neither of my children enjoyed the Jolly Jumper® much.

Nevertheless, many babies do, I understand, and anything that keeps babies safely and happily occupied is not just a national treasure, but a boon to humankind.

Its inventor, Olivia Poole, was born in Minnesota in 1889 and grew up there, either on or near the White Earth Indian Reserve. She was part Ojibway, or maybe Chippewa.

“What’s the Canadian connection?” you might wonder.  It’s this. 

Olivia moved to Brandon MB to study music and there she married and had seven children.  Starting with her first child, born in 1910, she used what I’d call a jury-rigged jumping device inspired by something she’d seen growing up: Aboriginal women hanging papooses by leather straps from tree branches (to sway in the breeze and to bounce gently with the baby’s motion) while they worked in the fields.

When she moved to BC in 1942, she was making jumping devices for her grandchildren.  In 1948 she started commercializing what would become the Jolly Jumper.

In April 1954 she and her first child, Joseph, applied for a Canada patent for her “baby supporter and exerciser,” which was granted in January 1959.

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