Every parent wants a happy, healthy, bouncing baby girl or boy, and Olivia Poole was no different. When Poole’s first child, Joseph, was born in Ontario in 1910, she remembered that mothers at her childhood Ojibwa community in Minnesota would sometimes secure their babies in a papoose tied to a sturdy tree limb. They would then pull downward, allowing the baby to bounce gently.
To make her own baby bouncer, Poole used a cloth diaper for a harness, an axe handle for a spreader bar, and had a blacksmith forge a spring to allow for the bounce. She called the device a Jolly Jumper.
Born in the United States, Poole later moved to Brandon, Manitoba, where she studied music and met her husband. All of her seven children, and later her grandchildren, spent time in the Jolly Jumper.
After Poole’s family convinced her to try selling the device, commercial production of the Jolly Jumper began in 1948 in British Columbia. In 1957 Olivia and Joseph registered the patent, and today the baby bouncers are still made in Canada and sold under their original name.
— Kristen Fry