Here’s an ad from the February 1 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a clothing store that was offering a sale.
D. Morrison has a fairly large footprint in the Toronto city directories, as he frequently took out ads there.
David Morrison first set up shop in the early years of the 20th century: the 1900 city directory does not list him, but the 1905 directory has him as “Dry Goods, Clothing, Boots and Shoes and Tailor” at 322 1/2 and 324 Queen Street West. By 1910, he was listed at 318 Queen West, where he was living at the time; he also had a branch at 573 Bloor West.
In 1920, he had only the single store at 318 Queen West, but had opened three store branches by 1925 and a fourth by 1929. He survived the onslaught of the Great Depression and in fact continued to thrive: by 1934, he still had four branch stores and he was living at 415 Rosemary Road in Forest Hill.
The 1939 Toronto city directory lists his 318 Queen West store and branches at 548 Danforth and 1020 St. Clair West, and lists his residence as in Markham. He is not listed in the 1941 directory; I don’t know whether he passed away or whether he retired to Markham. 318 Queen West used to have a ghost sign for his firm; it has been gone for some years now.
Here’s a photograph from the February 1 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a French inventor who claimed to be able to get plants to grow larger by channelling energy from the sky.
Justin Christofleau (1865-1938) has a Wikipedia page in French. In 1927, he published a book titled Electroculture which explains how his apparatus can (allegedly) be used to make plants grow larger; the Internet Archive has this book available for download. His invention attracted interest from newspapers of the time, but they gradually grew skeptical, as the caption from this photograph suggests.
Between 1905 and his death, M. Christofleau filed an average of several patents a year. He had been a baker when he was younger, so some of his patents related to bakery. He also patented motors, a number of electromagnetic devices, and a new type of aircraft, though it is not clear how many of these devices actually worked. He became a Knight of the Order of Agricultural Merit and won the National Industry Encouragement Society Gold Medal. His ideas have devotees in various corners of the Internet today.
Here’s a cigarette advertisement from the February 1 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featuring a Canadian singer.
This is not the first ad for Buckingham cigarettes featuring an endorsement from a French-Canadian artist that this blog has seen – Alfred Laliberté also endorsed them in 1928.
Ulysse Paquin (1885-1972) started his adult life as a bank manager before deciding that he would rather sing. He settled in New York for a while in the 1920s and sang in the United States, Quebec, Paris, and New England, among other places.
His biography in the Canadian Encyclopedia ends on a sad note. His wife, the former Luce Chamberland, passed away in 1932; according to the biography, he sharply curtailed his professional activities after her death. He appears to have never married again; if so, he was a widower for over 40 years.
Here’s a photograph and article from the February 1 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that featured Enrico Caruso Jr., son of the famous tenor, who was spending some time in Hamilton, Ontario:
Enrico Caruso Jr. (1904-1987) was attending military school in the United States in 1921 when he heard of his father’s death. He went on to have featured roles in two Spanish-speaking movies in the 1930s. After the Second World War, he became a businessman, working as a department head for an import-export firm under the name of Henry De Costa until he retired in 1971. He also co-authored a biography of his father. He was married four times and had two children.
The New York Times printed his obituary when he passed away in 1987. YouTube has some recordings of him singing, including this one from 1938. His father has previously appeared in this blog here.
Here’s a photograph from the February 1 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a long-time sporting goods employee:
This blog has encountered the R. S. Williams firm before. It was founded in 1849; the 1856 Toronto city directory lists R.S. Williams as a “melodeon manufacturer” at “144 Yonge-street”.
Normally, tracing somebody named John Brown in the Toronto city directories would be an exercise in futility – for example, the 1929 directory has 50 people with that name with no middle initial and another 46 with John plus an initial. But, fortunately, the John Brown from this photograph remained in one location.
The 1929 directory lists John Brown as a foreman at R. S. Williams and living at 696 Brock Avenue. The 1931 directory lists him as an engineer at R. S. Williams and at the same home address. This was the last year that he remained in employment, as the 1932 directory lists him at 696 Brock with no occupation. He appears in city directories up to 1939; the 1940 directory lists his widow, Mary Brown, at 696 Brock.
Since the caption of this photograph stated that Mr. Brown had been at the R.S. Williams firm for 45 years, I checked back in the 1885 directory. Sure enough, I found him: he was listed as working as a teamster at R. S. Williams and Son. So his was an old-time success story of starting at the bottom and working his way up.
Here’s a photograph from the February 1 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a provincial politician returning from vacation:
Forbes Godfrey (1867-1932) was a doctor whose medical practice was in the town of Mimico, which is now part of Etobicoke in Toronto but was then a separate town. He was first elected as a Conservative MPP in 1907 and remained in office for the rest of his life. He was the Minister of Labour from 1923 to 1930 and the Minister of Health from 1924 to 1930. He was Ontario’s first Health Minister and second Labour Minister.
The Etobicoke Historical Society has a detailed article on Dr. Godfrey. He suffered from pernicious anemia, which was then not treatable and which eventually killed him. Nowadays, it is treated with doses of vitamin B12. When he passed away, the town of Mimico observed a day of mourning.
Here’s a photo from the February 1 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a physician who was critically ill:
James Warren Rutherford (1875-1939) was not only a successful surgeon at the time of this photo: he was also the Liberal MP for Kent, a position he won in the 1926 general election after losing in his first try in 1925. While he survived whatever made him sick in 1929, he suffered a spinal cord injury in a 1935 automobile accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down.
Although he was eventually able to sit in a chair, he was not able to continue his medical practice. He did remain in Parliament, however, as he was re-elected late in 1935. In 1939, his condition deteriorated and he died while still an MP.
The Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website has a detailed biography of Rutherford.
Here’s a notice in the January 23 1936 of an upcoming store closure:
When Queen Elizabeth II passed away recently, she was greatly mourned, but I don’t think any stores closed.
Red & White and Leader were two popular grocery store chains, each with over two dozen branches. Red & White is listed in the 1936 Toronto city directory as a “voluntary chain”, and Leader was a subsidiary of National Grocers Limited.
Here’s an ad from the January 23 1936 Toronto Daily Star featuring amateur performers who had become successful:
The Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour was a popular radio program that ran starting in 1935. Edward Bowes (1874-1946) would select a number of amateur performers to appear on his show. The best performers were then invited to travel with one of the Major’s touring companies. Chase and Sanborn coffee was the sponsor of the show.
The odds against appearing on the show were enormous: over 10,000 applications a week were received, of which only 500 to 700 could be heard in auditions and only 20 selected for the broadcast. People travelled to New York by the thousands, sometimes selling their homes or hitching rides across the country. Unsuccessful contestants ended up adding to the city’s relief rolls. But the show was hugely lucrative for Bowes, who was making $2 million a year at the time of this ad.
Of the performers listed in the ad:
I found one other reference to Veronica Mimosa, child pianist – she is mentioned in the New York Times when she was performing in 1941 at the age of 15.
Rhoda Chase (1914-1978), whose birth name was Anna Blanor, was orphaned at the age of four and then endured a horrible childhood. Her stage surname was taken from “Chase and Sanborn”. After appearing in a Bowes touring company, she continued her music career until she met and married Mexico City nightclub owner Alfonso De la Barrera in 1947. They had three children and remained married until she passed away.
Steeplejack Kay is mentioned in a 1936 Radio Guide article on Major Bowes.
Bowes went off the air in 1945 and passed away the following year. Ted Mack then revived the Amateur Hour and held it on both radio and television. It appeared on radio until 1952 and on television until 1970.
John Dunning’s On The Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio has a detailed article on Major Bowes and his show.