Ottawa

Canadian Toy Testing Council closes doors after 63 years

A non-profit organization that has been testing toys for children since 1952 has shut down after members were unable to secure financial backing.

Since 1952, group has produced an annual list of top toys and books

Children play during a 2010 Canadian Toy Testing Council event to announce its top toy picks. (Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press)

A non-profit organization that has been testing toys for children since 1952 has shut down after members were unable to secure financial backing.

The Canadian Toy Testing Council tested toys for durability, safety, design and play value since 1952. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
The Canadian Toy Testing Council has been putting toys to the test since 1952 through a network of families in the Ottawa region who would take the toys home and judge them on design, durability, safety and playability.

The group also produced an annual pre-Christmas list of top toys and books.

But last year the volunteer-run organization did not operate its toy testing program or produce its annual list because of what it described as funding challenges.

In a news release Tuesday, the organization said it had been under financial stress for several years.

Canada Revenue Agency filings for the council show the organization's revenue was cut in half from 2011 to 2012, to $52,328 from $98,743, and the group could not recover. The council reported revenue of $46,101 in 2014.

The group received some funding from the federal government and brought in revenue from toy sales, but after 2011 the organization lost a major sponsor, according to a Angela Bigout-Erhardt, chair of the council's board.

At the same time, a Trillium grant ran out, leaving the agency down by about $45,000 a year, she said in an interview with CBC News. 

"Over the past year, as part of our efforts to secure operational funding, we engaged an experienced funding consultant who conducted an exhaustive search of opportunities for funding, partnership and support," the group wrote in a statement on its website.

"Members of the board and other CTTC supporters also pounded the pavement in search of backing that would enable us to keep our doors open and our program running. Unfortunately, our efforts were not successful."

Bigout-Erhardt said eventually the group could not afford any staff — losing even the part-time worker who used to run the toy-testing program. It was too much to ask volunteers to run the program, search for funders and put together the group's annual publication, she said.

She said she didn't know what had changed that the charity could not attract donors or qualify for funding from foundations or other sources.

"If I knew the answer to that, I could have solved the problem," she said.

The council's board voted to dissolve the organization in March.

"There were a few tears shed at board meetings," Bigout-Erhardt said. "Some of our members have been part of a toy-testing family for two decades and into a second generation."

A final toy sale will be held on April 18 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at 1973 Baseline Rd. in Ottawa.

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