Looking Back


School Maps and Chocolate Bars

Some astute salesman had a vision back in the bad times of the 1930s. Kids didn't have money but the little they had could spent on ... chocolate bars! And how do you reach the kids? Why, at school, of course!


William Neilson started a dairy in Ontario, moved on to ice cream and then got into chocolate. In 1924 the Jersey Milk chocolate bar was launched. In the 1930s the school book publisher Copp Clark Publishing of Toronto mailed letters to schools telling them that they could receive a map of Canada or a map of the world "absolutely free". What school could reject this offer?

William Neilson Limited supplied these maps and mailed them, but there was a proviso. In small print but still visible on the map is a notice:


"This map is given to this school with the distinct understanding that it is to remain in the school and must not be taken away and that the lettering on the map will not be removed or\obliterated in any way. The secretary of the school board or teacher in charge accepts the map on the above understanding."


Thus Neilson's Jersey Milk, Crispy Crunch, Malted Milk and other treats became accepted parts of classrooms across the country. The large wall maps had a wooden bar at the top and bottom and most often were placed above the blackboard and rolled up unless they were being used. They were used not only to teach geography but, during World War II, to point out where battles were raging. Kids who were reading a novel could try to find the exotic places that came up.


The map of Canada has altered somewhat since 1956 when these maps were printed: cities like Port Arthur in Ontario no longer exist and the Northwest Territories has shrunk in size. The world map, however, has changed considerably.


Take a stroll through Onoway Museum and make time to look at the many maps throughout the building.


Canada Map 1956
Neilson Map of the Dominion of Canada (1956)

World Map 1956
Neilson Map of the World (1956)

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Last updated: July 25, 2018