Guns wanted

Here’s a small ad from the September 19 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star from a company that wanted to buy your guns:

Larway, Temple & Cooper Limited were a new firm at the time of this ad: they weren’t in the 1935 Toronto city directory. The 1936 directory lists them as a sporting goods retailer, with Gilbert C. Temple as president, J. Ross Larway as vice-president, and Frank Cooper as assistant secretary. (I’m fascinated by the fact that Mr. Temple was the president, but Mr. Larway’s name was listed first in the company name. This seems like the result of a negotiation.)

Sadly, the firm didn’t last long. The 1940 directory still lists them at 45 Adelaide East, though Mr. Cooper is no longer listed as one of their managers. By 1941, the firm was gone; J. Ross Larway was working as a salesman, and Gilbert C. Temple was not listed at all.

The Toronto Reference Library has a copy of their 1937 catalog.


His last race

Here’s a photograph from the September 19 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a midget car race crash that fatally injured a driver.

A search for Harry Jastroch turned up his Find a Grave entry. From this, I learned that he had been 22 years old and married for two weeks when he was killed. I couldn’t find out anything else about him, other than that his nickname was “Jastrow”; presumably, this was because that was what his last name was pronounced.



Here’s an item from the photo page of the September 19 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, featuring the commander-in-chief of the British home fleet.

Roger Backhouse (1878-1939) was the fourth son of a baronet, and served on his first Royal Navy ship when he was 14. He gradually moved higher and higher in the ranks until he became commander-in-chief of the home fleet at about the time of this photograph.

Admiral Backhouse went on to become First Sea Lord in November 1938. While in office, he determined, quite sensibly, that sending a major fleet to Singapore to combat Japanese aggression was not as important as keeping the fleet close to home to combat Nazi aggression. Sadly, he was not First Sea Lord for long, as he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and passed away just before the start of the Second World War.


Doesn’t smoke and doesn’t want to be a star

Here’s a short article from the September 19 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about an English actress who was in Toronto visiting her sister.

Davina Craig (1912-2002) was the stage name of Davina Smith, who became Davina Whitehouse when she got married in 1941. She was signed by Twickenham Studios in Britain in 1932, and appeared in a number of movies for them between 1933 and 1939.

In 1952, she emigrated to New Zealand, becoming the executive producer of radio drama for the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation. She had a long and distinguished career as an actress and producer in New Zealand, and was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1985.


Canada’s outstanding gun value

At earlier times in Toronto’s history, guns were more easy to buy than they are now. As proof, consider this ad from the September 12 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

The firm of Allcock, Laight & Westwood turns out to have been a long-term fixture in Toronto, with their primary specialization being fishing tackle. This blog post indicates that the firm first opened its doors in the city in 1854. The 1867 Toronto city directory lists it as Allcock & Laight. By 1880, Benjamin Westwood had added his name to the firm; he remained in charge of the Toronto operations of the company until about 1920.

The firm moved to its 230 Bay location sometime in the 1920s after being at 78 Bay at the start of the decade. It remained at 230 Bay until about 1960. By 1963, it was operating out of its factory location in Leaside; by the end of the decade, it was gone.

The Toronto Public Library has a collection of some of the firm’s catalogues.


Stephen Leacock’s new home

Here’s a photograph from the September 12 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of the palatial new home of humorist Stephen Leacock.

Stephen Leacock (1869-1944) was widely considered the most famous English-speaking humorist in the world between about 1915 and 1925, and is still considered a Canadian cultural icon by many. His most famous work is probably Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, published in 1912.

His political viewpoints were controversial and possibly even contradictory. He opposed giving the vote to women and was staunchly pro-British to the point of being racist. On the other hand, he strongly supported social welfare and wealth distribution legislation.

The house shown in this photograph is now the Stephen Leacock Museum. Tours are available.


Peggy’s fifth capture

Here’s a photograph from the September 12 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featuring a Scottish peer who was possibly about to marry again.

The “Peggy de Joyce” mentioned here is almost certainly Peggy Hopkins Joyce, who had been married four times by 1928 and was single at the time this photograph was taken. (She has appeared in this blog before.) But David Carnegie, the 11th Earl of Northesk (1901-1963) did not marry her – he married Elizabeth Vlasto in 1929.

The Earl won a bronze medal in the 1928 Winter Olympics in the skeleton event. During the Second World War, he served in the Intelligence Corps. He died childless; his cousin succeeded him as the Earl of Northesk.


Wedded fifty years today

Here’s a photo from the September 12 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featuring a couple celebrating their golden wedding anniversary.

As usual when I see one of these, I look them up in the Toronto city directories. I found Joseph McGraw in the 1928 directory at 103 Givens Street. Interestingly enough, McGraw was listed as a boarder there. If he and his wife wanted to receive friends, they probably would have first checked with their landlord, a man named Frank H. Belz.

The McGraws weren’t on Givens Street for much longer, unfortunately. Joseph McGraw appears in the 1929 directory at that location. The 1930 directory lists two other people named Joseph McGraw at different addresses; they were both listed as employed, so they were probably different people. I couldn’t find a listing for his widow, so I don’t know for sure what happened to them. Givens Street is now called Givins Street; the name was changed in 1947.


Queens of the air

Here’s a photograph from the September 12 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a woman who wanted to become part of the history of early aviation.

(The “at right, oval” part of this caption was because the caption was off to the left of the photo in the original – I’ve moved it over.)

Mabel Boll (1893-1949), who started her adult life selling cigars in Rochester, New York, became a society figure in 1922 when she married her second husband, Hernando Rocha, a Colombian coffee tycoon. During their marriage, he presented her with over a million dollars worth of jewels, including a 46-carat diamond named after her. She became known as the Queen of Jewelry for her habit of wearing lots of it.

At about this time, Ms. Boll became interested in aviation, and offered a prize of 100,000 francs to any pilot who would fly her across the Atlantic Ocean. Considering that she was sometimes a temperamental passenger – she once hit a pilot with a handbag for making a premature flight in bad weather – not everyone was enthusiastic about having her on board. She did not achieve her goal: while her crew was in Newfoundland preparing for their trip, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic (strictly as a passenger on this trip). Disappointed, Ms. Boll still generously gave $500 to the Harbour Grace Airport Trust to further the cause of aviation in Newfoundland.

Ms. Boll then commissioned an aircraft named “Queen of the Air” and attempted to become a passenger in another record-setting attempt. (This aircraft is pictured in the photo above.) Unfortunately for her, the 1928 flying season ended before this attempt could be made, and the plane was eventually sold.

Ms. Boll was married to Count Henri de Porceri between 1931 and 1933, briefly becoming a countess. She made headlines again in 1934 when her boyfriend at the time shot himself on her lawn. She died of a stroke in 1949 at a psychiatric hospital on Wards Island in New York City, which suggests, sadly, that the last years of her life did not go well.

The Conception Bay Museum web site has a long article on Mabel Boll and her attempt to become the Queen of the Air. This Getty Images photograph shows her with her plane.


To dance at Japan coronation ceremonies

Here’s a photo from the September 12 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a ballet artist who was heading to Japan to dance there.

Ruth Page (1899-1991) went on to have a distinguished career as a ballerina and choreographer. Among other accomplishments, she choreographed a version of The Nutcracker that was performed annually between 1965 and 1997.

The Ruth Page Centre for the Arts, located in Chicago, offers training, fitness classes, and performances. She is interred in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago, approximately five feet away from Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks.

The coronation ceremonies at which Ms. Page danced were those of Emperor Hirohito, who remained the emperor of Japan until his death in 1989.