A moment in history: Nov. 1, 1930

A moment in history: Nov. 1, 1930

· The Pulse

On this day in 1930, Edmonton was recovering from a particularly rowdy All Hallow's Eve.

Halloween has long been a popular observance in Edmonton. The spooky holiday, with roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, arrived as a children's celebration with Scottish and Irish immigrants in the 1880s. Edmonton's earliest known Halloween party was in 1902, held as a fundraiser for the local hospital. It included the kinds of things we'd expect at any modern Halloween party — costumes, games, and, of course, sweets.

By the 1920s, going door-to-door for goodies had become a solid part of the holiday's traditions. Back then, costumed kids would often call out "Halloween apples!" when the door was opened. Edmonton might hold claim to the coinage of a different call: A 1922 Edmonton Bulletin headline referring to "Treat or Tricks" is, so far, the oldest recorded reference to the "ultimatum" at the heart of trick-or-treating.

Tricks were a big part of Halloween in the early 20th century. While modern pranksters might use toilet paper or eggs in their shenanigans, old Edmonton revellers could get more extreme with their pranks. Outhouses would be tipped over. Gates would be stolen. And roads would be blocked by stolen items.

Some homeowners would go to great lengths to defend their homes from Halloween hooligans. Many people put guard dogs to work, but at least one person in 1927 was said to have used "trained bees" to ward off pranksters.

Newspapers published after Halloween often had accounts of the holiday damage. Things were particularly wild in 1930: Newspaper reports list hundreds of street signs torn down, a street car derailed, and at least one person injured on Halloween. Eventually, severe pranking and vandalism began to fall out of favour. That, combined with increased police presence on the night of the 31st, meant Halloween pranks began to decline in the later part of the decade.

Pranks might not be as big a part of Edmonton's Halloween as it used to be, but the spooky spirit remains strong in the city. A lot of that comes in the forms of elaborate displays and haunted houses, some of them massive undertakings, which are peppered throughout the city.

This is based on a clipping found on Vintage Edmonton, a daily look at Edmonton's history from armchair archivist @revRecluse — follow @VintageEdmonton for daily ephemera.