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1951 municipal election

When looking through the November 30 1951 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, I discovered that there was a Toronto municipal election in progress. If you think that modern municipal campaigns are tiresome, consider this: at the time, municipal elections were held every year. In fact, up until 1949, they were held on New Year’s Day!

Naturally, there were a number of campaign advertisements. The one for William C. Davidson was a model of efficiency, except perhaps for the asterisks:

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I particularly like the “ETC.”, and voters apparently did too – Davidson was re-elected. He remained in office until the 1964 elections, in which he lost decisively.

Mayoral candidate Allan Lamport’s ad was the most colourful:

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His ad was effective too – he won the election. He became the first Liberal mayor of Toronto since 1909, though apparently this was partly because incumbent Hiram E. McCallum and Nathan Phillips split the more conservative vote.

Lamport‘s original claim to fame was advocating that Torontonians be allowed to play sports on Sundays. He served as mayor for less than three years, winning two more elections, before resigning to join the TTC as vice-chairman and later chairman, putting forward the Bloor-Danforth subway. Later in the decade, he opposed the hippies in Yorkville, advocating that the street be demolished and replaced with a shopping mall. He died in 1999 at the age of 96.

Here’s the ad that I found was the most unusual:

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The ad refers to Ford Brand, who had finished fifth in the 1950 Board of Control race with 66,235 votes (the top four got in). When sitting controller John Innes passed away, Brand was not appointed in his place, which upset Mr. Probert. Brand wound up winning in 1951, but Probert finished a distant fourth in his race.

The Ward 4 alderman race was the most interesting, at least to me. One of the candidates was Norman Freed, a member of the Labor-Progressive Party, which was a successor to the Communist Party after it was banned in 1940. Freed held office in Ward 4 from 1944 until the December 1950 election, and was trying to return to office in 1951:

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Naturally, some of his opponents helpfully pointed out that one of the candidates in the riding was a Communist:

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Voters picked two candidates in each ward, which is why Mr. Chambers referred to two votes in his ad. As it turned out, Chambers was elected, and Freed and Campbell were not.

The last thing I found was the Daily Star’s endorsements for the election:

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Of the Star’s preferred candidates, their choice for mayor did not get in, but all four controllers did. All of the preferred alderman candidates got in except for Darrell Draper in Ward 4, and Frank Clifton and Lester Nelson in Ward 6.

Annual Toronto municipal elections eventually stopped happening: the term of office went up to two years in 1956, three years in 1966, and four years in 2006.

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