Blood was thin, she felt weak

The July 19 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad for a patent medicine that claims to have cured the ills of a Toronto housewife.


When I see a name and address in a patent medicine ad, I like to look it up in the Toronto city directories to see if the person giving the testimonial really existed. In this case, there really was a Mrs. Mary Wilson at 210 John Street in 1928. However, she was not a housewife, as the ad claims: the Seneca Apartments were at that address, and she appears to have been living alone. She was there in 1929, but both she and the apartments did not appear in the 1930 directory.

Because she had such a common name, it was impossible to trace forward from there, so I thought I would try going back. The 1927 directory lists Mrs. Mary Wilson as living at 218 John Street instead of 210; I don’t think it’s too great a leap to assume that this is the same person. The 1926 directory also lists her at 218 John, and has an occupation for her: she was working as a serger at the Berger Tailoring Company at 256-260 Richmond Street West, which was very close by. But there was nobody named Mary Wilson working there or living at 218 John in the 1925 directory, so once again she is lost to history.

Husky and its proponent, A. G. Payne, are also lost to history – I could find no reference to either in searches. This is unusual, as a patent medicine seller often leaves a large paper trail. Mr. Payne isn’t local, either, as there is no one named A. G. Payne in the 1928 city directory.

To complete the collection of dead ends: 210 John and 218 John no longer exist. The block of John Street between Stephanie and Grange is now Grange Park.

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