When looking at old newspapers, I find things that used to cause problems back then but don’t much any more. For example, here’s an article from the September 5 1913 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


Such horrible tragic ways to die: because you had a small pimple on your face, stepped on a nail, or picked at a mosquito bite.

Thankfully, this is mostly a thing of the past in developed countries: the tetanus vaccine was developed in 1924 and became generally available in the United States in the 1940s. If Master Dalton Woodside had waited until then to be born, he would not have been killed by the deadly disease.


Being healthier

Here’s another one from the May 1 1954 edition of the Toronto Star:


Lelord Kordel (1904-2001) was a self-proclaimed nutritionalist who tended to stretch the boundaries of truth a bit when describing his products: in 1971, after a long appeal, he was fined $10,000 and served one year in prison for fradulent health claims. One review of his book, Health Through Nutrition, claimed that it was “made up of such a weird concoction of science, pseudo-science, and dietary fads that it will be most difficult for the average reader to sift the authentic information from the unauthenticated claims, and to remain unaffected by the latter”.

Vitamin supplements are still being made under the Kordel brand; I have no idea if any of them are actually of any use.



Here’s a movie ad from the May 1 1954 edition of the Toronto Daily Star. Then, as now, movie ads followed a basic principle: sex sells.


A publicity photograph for the movie, later in the same edition, mislabelled it as “Rhadsody”:


Rotten Tomatoes was less than complimentary of this movie, giving it a so-so 59% rating. One reviewer’s comment: “Beautiful music, ravishing Elizabeth, pedestrian script.”


Elderly people, come to Victoria!

Here’s an ad from the May 1 1954 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


The Glenshiel Hotel still exists at this location – a sign at the entranceway boasts that it has been in existence since 1908. Their website advertises the hotel as “affordable living for independent seniors”. Keep this for future reference if you do not need it now!


Is there folk music in Canada?

When looking through old editions of the Toronto Daily Star, I discovered two competing viewpoints on the question of whether there is authentic folk music in Canada. On the “no” side, there is this article from the April 8 1940 edition:


Taking the “yes” side is this article from May 1 1954:IMG_0863

Boris Berlin (1907-2001) was a pianist and music teacher who taught at the Toronto Conservatory of Music for many decades. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2000, but passed away before the ceremony that honoured him.

Leslie Bell (1906-1962) did a bunch of musical things, including being the chair of the musical department at the Ontario College of Education from 1939 to 1948.

I have no idea whether these two men ever met. They were almost exact contemporaries, so it may very well have happened. I like to think of their meeting descending into a shouting match, especially since Dr. Bell described his opposing viewpoint as “a bit stupid”.


Structured strangely, headline

Here’s the headline from the November 21 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


Why does this not just say “Sinn Fein Vow To ‘Break England’s Back'”? Did somebody decide that the Break England’s Back part was most important, so it should go first? I’m confused.


Gina Lollobrigida in Toronto

A while back, I looked up newspaper articles for June 8, 1960, as that was the day when I was born. When I looked at the front page for the Toronto Daily Star on that day, I discovered that actress Gina Lollobrigida had just moved to Toronto with her then-husband and their son. (She apparently moved to Toronto for tax reasons and for legal status for her husband.) I find this fascinatingly incongruous: on the one hand, you have an Italian film star; on the other hand, Toronto in 1960. There seems no way that they could possibly match up.

The front page showed a picture of Ms. Lollobrigida being greeted by Toronto mayor Nathan Phillips:


The mayor appears to be staring at Ms. Lollobrigida’s cleavage in this photo. (By the way, Visitor 1 was Prince Philip, who arrived in Toronto that day from Ottawa.)

The Daily Star polled readers as to whether altogether too much fuss was being made over her arrival, and the general consensus appears to have been yes:


Her new neighbours didn’t think so as they badgered her for an autograph:


She and her family apparently moved into a home on Inglewood Drive, near St. Clair and Mt. Pleasant. It went up for sale in 2016; the asking price was a mere $16,800,000.

I couldn’t find out when Ms. Lollobrigida left Toronto, but she and her husband divorced in 1971, so it was probably before then.


Ruth Etting

From the November 21 1932 Toronto Daily Star:


Ruth Etting (1897-1978) was a singer and actress, popular in the 1920s and 1930s. She did not have an easy life, to put it mildly.

Her manager was her husband, Moe Snyder, who was aggressive and controlling; she divorced him in 1937, surrendering half her career earnings to him as a result. In 1938, Snyder, who didn’t like the idea of his ex-wife seeing another man, shot Etting’s new partner, pianist Myrl Alderman, and threatened to kill Etting and their daughter. Etting and Alderman later married, and remained together until his death in 1966.


Girl elopes with car thief

Sometimes, I find something that is just jaw-dropping. Here’s an entry from the November 21 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


According to this article, every poor immigrant girl’s dream is marriage to a prosperous Anglo-Saxon. Ugh.

The Mann Act was enacted in 1910, and its intended purpose was to prosecute people who transported a woman across state or foreign boundaries for the purposes of prostitution. In practice, it was often used to prosecute premarital, extramarital, and interracial relationships.


Power shortage

When looking through the November 22 1948 Toronto Daily Star, I discovered that Toronto’s electrical grid was having trouble meeting the demands of its residents, resulting in a power shortage.

Here’s an official announcement on the shortage, advising people how to install their own electricity supply safely:

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And the CCF (forerunner to today’s NDP) hosted a discussion of the shortage:

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Some venues had their own electricity supply, and boasted that they suffered no power cuts. One of these was the Horseshoe Tavern, which, last year, celebrated its 70th anniversary. Here’s an ad from the year after they opened, along with an ad for another entertainment option, the Embassy Tavern:

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The Horseshoe also offered television! The Embassy Tavern is long gone, by the way – Harry Rosen tailors is now there.