Soap ads from 1927

The September 27 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained three different ads for soap.

The first one was geared for more garden-variety use, as it was recommended by the “Medical Profession”:


There is a Wikipedia page for Wright’s Coal Tar Soap. It was first manufactured in 1860, and was originally known as Sapo Carbonis Detergens (you can see that name on the label in the ad). The soap still exists, but no longer contains coal tar, as the European Union has banned its use in non-prescription products.

Ad #2 was for Lux Toilet Soap, and pitched it as a more upmarket product:


An exquisite new toiletrie! Lux soap was the first mass-market soap in the world, first offered for sale in 1925. It was created by Unilever, who still manufactures it.

The third and final ad was for people who wanted to keep their schoolgirl complexion:


Palmolive is still around today, of course.

Vilma Bánky (1901-1991) was a Hungarian-born silent film actress who starred opposite Rudolph Valentino and Ronald Colman, among others. She left the business in the early 1930s after she married actor Rod La Rocque. Sadly, no one came to visit her in her final years, so she directed her lawyer to make no mention of her death, which was not announced until 1992.

Bile Beans

The February 22 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad:


Wikipedia has a long article on Bile Beans. It was a laxative and tonic that was first manufactured in the 1890s. It was supposedly created by a chemist named Charles Forde based on research on a vegetable source known only to Aboriginal Australians; in reality, Charles Forde did not exist, and the compound consisted primarily of cascara, rhubarb, liquorice, and menthol, all of which were commonly available.

In 1905, a Scottish court ruled that the Bile Bean Manufacturing Company had deliberately defrauded the public by making false statements about Bile Beans. Despite this, the product remained on sale through the 1980s, and its business owner was able to purchase Headingley Castle in Leeds with the firm’s profits.

Death In The Back Seat

One thing that I discovered when I started looking at old newspapers is that they used to include serialized stories, with a new episode every day or every week.

Here’s (part of) an example, from the March 20 1939 Globe and Mail:


I love that this serial features the eccentric Luella Coatesnash.

Dorothy Cameron Disney (1903-1992), later known as Dorothy Disney MacKaye, started off as a mystery writer and then became a marriage advice columnist, writing “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” for the Ladies’ Home Journal. Death In The Back Seat was published in novel form in 1936.

Her Washington Post obituary is here. A review of her detective novels is here.

King Edward VIII

For the last few days, I’ve been posting articles from the July 10 1936 Toronto Daily Star. At the time, Edward VIII was in the middle of his brief reign as King of England, before abdicating in December. There were two items in the paper related to the King.

The first was an ad for a portrait of the King, available to anyone who had bought at least one container of Bee Hive Golden Corn Syrup and one container of Durham Corn Starch:


The portrait was specifically designed for framing!

The other article was a bit of filler that described a vote of censure on Richmond Hill school trustees:


The King’s birthday was on June 23, which would have been close to the end of school term. Perhaps the Richmond Hill school was scheduling final exams during that week.

Helen Stephens

The July 10 1936 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained an article on Helen Stephens, an American athlete.


The article isn’t exactly flattering (and contains an unfortunate typo of “bed” instead of “bet”). The woman she was compared to, Babe Didrickson, was a gold-medal winner at the 1932 Olympics and became a successful professional golfer and to pitch in two major-league baseball spring training games.

Ms. Stephens, who was 18 at the time, went on to compete for the United States at the 1936 Olympic Games, winning the 100 metre dash and anchoring the women’s 4 x 100 metre relay team. She had to endure having to pass a “gender test” after being accused of not actually being a woman. After her race, she met Adolf Hitler, who apparently pinched her bottom.

She later owned a women’s semi-professional basketball team, and passed away in 1994.


The July 10 1936 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included some sayings listed as Chinese proverbs:


The one that I liked was “Do not remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with a hatchet.” A Google search for this saying listed several mentions of it as being a Chinese proverb, so maybe it actually is a Chinese proverb.

The “New Outlook” was probably the final version of The Outlook, a literary magazine based in New York City. It had already ceased publication by the time this article appeared; its last edition appeared in 1935.

Hot hot hot

During the second week of July 1936, Toronto was hotter than it had ever been before or has ever been since. According to the Environment Canada records, the temperature reached 40.6C on July 8, 9, and 10.

Naturally, the heat was the leading topic in the Toronto Daily Star for July 10 1936:


By July 10, 22 people had died in Ontario. The temperature had reached 103.7F by the time the Daily Star went to press (it was an evening paper at the time).

In Hamilton, it was even worse, as the temperature peaked at 108F, and factories were forced to cut back or shut down to protect their workers:


Five cities in Ontario topped 100F (assuming they got Brantford right, which was listed at both 99F and 100F). And several cities in the United States also hit three digits, and some western Canada cities pushed into the 90s:


It was so hot that:

  • Touching a cold bottle could cause it to shatter in a person’s hand.
  • Bees became homeless when wax from honeycombs melted and sealed the entrance to their hives.
  • Railway workers had to wear gloves to be able to handle steel rails.
  • And, yes, someone was able to fry eggs and bacon:


The Star’s editorial page listed the previous days that had gone over 100F since 1911. There hadn’t been many:


Naturally, advertisers were eager to offer suggestions on how to deal with the heat. Movie theatres that were air-conditioned proudly advertised the fact. And the makers of Eno’s Fruit Salt offered this suggestion for “coolth”:


The overnight low for July 10 was 25.6C, which was the highest overnight low temperature of the heat wave. This meant that the July 11 Toronto Daily Star headline featured more grim heat-related news:


The heat wave continued for several more days after this, with the highs for the next six days being 35.6C, 33.3C, 37.8C, 33.3C, 30.6C, and 31.1C. July 29 would have seemed blissfully cool, as the high that day was only 20C.

No meat available

The September 7 1947 Toronto Daily Star contained this sad news for deli lovers:


1947 was when the last of the wartime food rationing ended in Canada, and restaurants stopped featuring Meatless Tuesdays and Meatless Fridays. Either this shortage was because of the rationing, or because rationing had ended and all the supplies had been bought up already.

Guns, guns, guns

I was looking through the September 5 1947 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there were more guns around in Canada in those days than there are now.

For example, you could buy guns at Simpson’s back then:


And the same paper had an ad for a gun seller on York Street:


And here’s a report of a bank robbery in Caledon East. Naturally, the robbers had guns – that was to be expected. What was noteworthy about this was that the postmaster had a gun (shown), the proprietors of the store opposite the robbed bank had a gun, and the accountant at the bank had a gun:


That’s a lot of guns. My theory is that lots of people went away to war and needed to learn to fire a gun, so everybody was used to guns.