Coroner investigations

The February 2 1928 edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail contained a grim little sidebar listing the 844 violent and sudden deaths investigated by Toronto city coroners in 1927:

The most startling to (my) modern eyes: 12 people died of accidental gas poison, seven died while under anesthetic, and four women died during abortions.


Consumers Distributing

The February 19 1959 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained an ad for the then relatively new Consumers Distributing catalogue store:

The Wikipedia entry for Consumers Distributing lists them as opening their first store in 1957, but their first appearance in the Toronto city directories is in 1956, when they were listed at 1304 Eglinton Avenue West as “cookware distributors”. They moved to their Castlefield Avenue location in 1959.

Consumers Distributing did not expand right away: the 1965 city directory still lists only the one location, though it was now 1200 Castlefield, not 1260 Castlefield. By 1967, they had opened a second branch at 1536 Midland Avenue in Scarborough, and by 1969 had added two more branches at 320 Kipling Avenue South in Etobicoke and 660 Eglinton Avenue East in Leaside. At its peak, the chain operated 243 stores in Canada.


Free tea towel

In 1955, makers of laundry detergent were competing with one another by offering a free tea towel, included in the box.

The October 26 1955 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained two ads for detergent with towels:



Vel was a Colgate-Palmolive brand; it was retired in 2002. (“Vel” is the middle syllable of “marvelous”.) Breeze was from Lever Products (now Unilever); the brand is still in use in Asia.


Foxhall Daingerfield

The March 15 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained an excerpt from The Linden Walk Tragedy, a novel by a man named Foxhall Daingerfield:


Because Mr. Daingerfield has such an awesome name, I looked him up on Google. There have been actually at least two Foxhall Daingerfields in existence. The older Daingerfield is mentioned here – he appears to have been an ancestor of the younger Daingerfield, who lived a comparatively short lifespan: 1887 to 1933.

The Linden Walk Tragedy was eventually published in 1929. Another of Daingerfield’s works, The Southern Cross, is available online.




Up until the 1920s, men (and occasionally) women used to wear spats as ankle guards to protect against mud and rain. They fell out of fashion when city streets became mostly paved.

Spats were still common enough in 1927 that the March 15 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained two ads that mentioned them.

The first was an ad for a dry cleaners and dye works:


Parker’s Cleaners still exists today in Toronto (I’m assuming that it’s the same firm).

The second ad was for a cleaning fluid:


Carbona cleaning products still exist today too. I first heard of them when I heard The Ramones’ Carbona Not Glue.


Blasphemous libel

The March 15 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star led with this article about a man who was convicted of blasphemous libel (the article is long, so I had to slice it into multiple parts):




Some of the statements put forward by the presiding judge and the prosecuting Crown Attorney would seem startlingly out of place in our more secular modern society.

I looked up the following day’s paper: Mr. Sterry was sentenced to sixty days in jail and deportation to England (which apparently he welcomed). He was already serving a four-month term plus an indeterminate term of six months at the Ontario Reformatory for stealing $200 from a man named Joseph Ying; this sentence was tacked on to the end of that one.


Groundhog Day 1928

Recently, I took a look at the February 2 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star to try to find out: was there a 1928 equivalent of Wiarton Willie who predicted whether or not there would be six more weeks of winter?

The answer appears to be no. The editorial cartoon for that day references Groundhog Day:


And there was a story about a family of bears that emerged and declared that winter was over:



But there was no famous winter-predicting groundhog as yet.

By the way: I’ve never understood the concept of “six more weeks of winter” as being a bad thing. That would mean that winter ends on March 16th, which actually seems pretty good to me. What I don’t want is for winter to extend into April, and it always does.



Occasionally, I’m reminded that it was standard practice until relatively recently to use the term “girl” to refer to a mature woman as well as a female child. (It’s still used occasionally here and there.)

The May 15 1956 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had two examples of this. One was a want ad for waitresses at Fran’s restaurant:


There are still Fran’s restaurants in Toronto, but not at Yonge and Eglinton any more.

The other is in an ad for clothes for tall women:


In the mid-1950s, the average height of Canadian women was a shade under 5′ 3″. In 1914, it was 5′ 2″, and in 2014, it was 5′ 4″.

The 1956 Toronto City Directory lists this clothing store as “Tall Gals Regd”. They stayed in business until at least 1968; I only have access to city directories up to the end of the 1960s, so I don’t know how much longer they stayed at Yonge and Dundas. That side of Yonge eventually became the Eaton Centre, so they might have lasted until then.