Operation for Vivian

The July 14 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a bit of filler that was either poorly edited or the UP reporter was being snarky:


Vivian Duncan (1897-1986) combined with her older sister Rosetta to form a vaudeville act called “Topsy and Eva”. They appeared together as late as 1956, when they were on Liberace’s television show.

Rex Lease (1903-1966) led a busy life: he appeared in over 300 movies, mostly westerns, and he was married at least five times.

Irène Bordoni

Here’s another photograph from the July 11 1924 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


Irène Bordoni (1885-1953) was originally from Corsica, and appeared in films and plays in Paris as a child actor. She emigrated to the United States in 1907, and appeared in a number of plays, including Cole Porter’s musical Paris in 1928. This musical featured the song “(Let’s Do It) Let’s Fall in Love”. At her peak, she had homes in New York, Paris, and Monte Carlo.

YouTube has a recording of her singing Porter’s “Let’s Misbehave”. It’s fun, once you get used to Ms. Bordoni’s singing style.

Miss Gilda Gray

Here’s another photograph from the July 11 1924 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


Gilda Gray (1901-1959) was best known for popularizing a dance known as the “shimmy” in 1920s films and theatre productions. She appeared in a number of films in the 1920s, and was part of the Ziegfeld Follies in 1922.

Miss Gray’s real name was Marianna Michalska; born in Poland, she did much to help the country of her birth during the Second World War. After the war, she brought six Polish citizens to America and subsidized their education.

She had health problems relatively early in life, including suffering a heart attack in 1931. She passed away from a second heart attack in 1959.

YouTube has footage of her doing the shimmy and of her on Liberace’s show.

Miss Dusolina Giannini

I found a few photographs of interesting people in the July 11 1924 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, so that’s what’s going to be in the next few blog posts.

Here’s a photo of Dusolina Giannini, an American soprano. (The Star, or the wire service that the Star got the photo from, had her name wrong.)


Dusolina Giannini (1902-1986) was just starting her successful career when captured in this photograph. During the 1930s and before and after the Second World War, she performed in Chicago, Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna, London, Paris, and as part of the Metropolitan Opera company, where she appeared from 1935 to 1942.

She was from a musical family: her sister was a voice teacher, and her brother composed operas.

There are a number of recordings of her voice on YouTube. One example is Pace Pace Mio Dio from 1945.

Sir John Henry Dunn

The July 9 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of a man who was simultaneously a British baronet and a member of a theatre company playing on Broadway:


Wikipedia has an entry for Sir William Dunn, who was the 1st Baronet of Clitheroe and a former Lord Mayor of London. The page mentions that his son, Sir John Henry, had been located working in a coal mine near Barnsley. I don’t know whether this was before or after he was in the Revue Company.

Searches for John Henry Dunn didn’t turn up anything else, as there was at least one other, more notable, person with that name.

Scarboro staff makes merry

On July 8 1926, the entire staff of the township of Scarborough and their families had their annual picnic at Silver Fern Park. The July 9 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star captured the event in photographs.


I could find no reference to Silver Fern Park anywhere. The town of Agincourt has long since been swallowed up by what is now the city of Scarborough; it is bounded by Kennedy Road on the west, McNicoll Avenue on the north, various streets from McCowan to Markham on the east, and Highway 401 on the south. Presumably, the park was turned into housing developments long ago.


One of the common features of the business section of a newspaper is photos of people who have just been promoted to an important position. This has been going on for some time – for example, here’s one from the July 9 1926 edition of the Toronto Star.


Just for fun, and because Mr. Prittie has a distinctive name, I decided to trace him in the Toronto city directories. (What do you do for fun, dear reader?) I didn’t go year by year, so I might have missed some things. Here’s what I found, in chronological order:

  • The patriarch of the Prittie family was George W. Prittie, a builder. In 1900, he lived at 1 Scollard Street. Edgar Prittie also lived there, and worked as a clerk; he was probably George’s son.
  • The 1905 directory lists Harry H. Prittie (our hero protagonist) as a clerk at A. McKim & Co. (the company that promoted him to be the manager of their Toronto office in 1926). George is still a builder, and Edgar is now a salesman.
  • By 1910, the Pritties had moved to 24 Hazelton Avenue, which would be their home base for some time. Harry H. is now listed as a clerk, location unknown, and George is still a builder. Edgar is not listed, but another Prittie, Arthur G., is listed as a clerk at A. McKim, Ltd.
  • In 1915, Harry H. is listed as an advertising solicitor (I think that is what “adv solcr” expands to) for A. McKim, Ltd. George is still a builder, and Arthur is now a student. I didn’t check whether any of the Pritties fought in the Great War.
  • By 1920, Harry is no longer listed – as the photo above suggests, he was probably in Montreal. George is still working as a builder, and Arthur doesn’t have a listed occupation (which doesn’t necessarily mean that he was unemployed, of course).
  • The 1926 directory doesn’t list Harry yet – his promotion and relocation to Toronto must have happened after the directory was published. Arthur is now clerking again, and George now does not have an occupation listed, so maybe he retired. There’s also a new Prittie, Eleanor, living there.
  • Harry H. appears in the 1927 directory, with his occupation as “mgr A McKim”. Arthur, Eleanor, and George are still there.
  • Fast forward to 1932: George is still at 24 Hazelton Avenue, but Harry H is now at 124 Grenadier Road. He’s still a manager.
  • 1936 brought changes. George is still at 24 Hazelton, and Arthur, Edgar, and Eleanor have all returned to living there. Arthur is an insurance agent, Edgar is the secretary of the Landlord’s & Property Owner’s Association, and Eleanor has no listed occupation. Harry is now the secretary-treasurer of William C Mountain & Associates Ltd, and has moved to 423 Lake Shore Road in Mimico.
  • Sadly, by 1939, George is no longer listed. Arthur, Edgar, and Eleanor are still at 24 Hazelton, doing what they were doing three years before. Harry is still in Mimico, but is now an account executive at Jas Fisher Co.
  • In 1942, Arthur, Edgar, and Eleanor are still living together. Arthur no longer has a listed occupation. Harry is not listed.
  • In 1947, Arthur, Edgar, and Eleanor are still at 24 Hazelton. Edgar is still the secretary of what is now the Property Owners Assn of Toronto. Harry is now living there too – he is the secretary for Gunflint Iron Mines Ltd. 1948 is the same as 1947.
  • In 1949, Arthur, Edgar, and Eleanor are there, but Harry is not.
  • In 1952, we still have Arthur and Edgar, but not Eleanor or Harry.
  • In 1954, Arthur and Edgar are still hanging in at 24 Hazelton. The Harry situation is now a bit confusing: there is a Harry Prittie at 24 Hazelton, and an H H Prittie working as a secretary at Berwick Securities Ltd. These might or might not be two different people; the Harry at 24 Hazelton might be the son of one of the other Pritties. I’ll never know.
  • In 1955, Arthur and Edgar are still at 24 Hazelton; Edgar is now the secretary of the Canadian Federation of Property Owners Associations, so he’s branched out. Harry is now a “statistitian” at Newling & Co., and H H is still at Berwick Securities Ltd.
  • In 1956, Edgar has now moved back to the Property Owners Assn of Toronto, Arthur is still also at 24 Hazelton, and Harry is still there, with no listed occupation. H H is gone.
  • In 1960, Arthur and Edgar are still where they’ve been since at least 1936. Harry is there, and now works as an “advertising man”. At this point, I’m reasonably sure that this is a next-generation Harry, as our original Harry was gainfully employed in 1905.
  • By 1963, there is sad news: Edgar is still at 24 Hazelton, and so is Harry (who is now listed as being in “advtg”), but the directory now lists Edith, the widow of Arthur G. Arthur’s passing makes me feel a bit sad, given that I have traced Arthur and Edgar down through the years.
  • In 1965, there are no Pritties at 24 Hazelton in the Names section of the directory. There are six people with that last name in the city directory, but they might or might not be related. The Streets section of the directory lists 24 Hazelton as vacant.
  • 1969 – the last year for which I can access an online directory – brings one final change. Harry H. is now back in the directory, but is now at 28 Hazelton, and is the only Prittie listed there; I guess he wanted to move back into the old neighbourhood. Either this is the second-generation Harry, or our hero protagonist has outlasted everybody.

24 Hazelton Avenue still stands, though it has been remodelled some; it is now the Ingram Gallery. The gallery has a website, which lists its location as a “historic brownstone”. Sadly, they don’t mention the Pritties, since presumably they don’t know about them.