Eight first-class credits

In 1927, if you got eight first-class credits in your high school matriculation examination, you got your picture in the paper, if yesterday’s and today’s photos from the August 18 1927 Toronto Daily Star are a guide.

Here’s a photo of another such successful student:


I looked him up. His full name was Percy Penturn. His father ran a real estate business, and that became his life’s work too. He was still listed as a rental agent in the 1969 city directory, which is the last one that I have access to.


Clever collegiate student

The August 18 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of a young man who had earned 8 first-class credits at Bloor Collegiate Institute:


His name was unique enough that it was possible to trace him in the Toronto city directories. He first appears in 1930 as a student, and eventually became an accountant, starting a firm with Morris Birstein, who was presumably his brother.

He was still listed as a chartered accountant in the 1969 city directory, which is the last one for which I have online access, though he wasn’t running his own firm then. He was part of a close-knit family: the 1946 directory lists six family members at the same address.


English Channel swimmers

The August 18 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of three people who were hoping to swim the English Channel.


The Channel Swimming Dover website maintains a record of people who attempted to swim the channel. From this site, I learned:

  • Hilda Harding attempted to swim the channel later in the month, on August 30, but was pulled out of the water after lapsing into unconsciousness at the 6 hour, 5 minute mark. She swam a little over 10 1/2 miles. A Google search turned up this photo series of her in her flooded town in December 1929 and this picture of her in May 1927.
  • Ivy Hawke (not Hawkes) fared better: though she had previously failed on September 9, 1922, and failed again on August 30 of this month after seven hours of swimming, she succeeded on August 19, 1928. British Pathé has footage of her success, and I also found this photo of her on this third attempt.
  • Ishak Helmi was fortunate enough to be independently wealthy, which meant that he could spend all of his time training and hanging out with other swimmers. (In 1925, he apparently rented one of the two hotels in Cap Griz Nez, the Channel swim start location, for the entire summer.) He tried to swim the Channel a total of seven times between 1924 and 1929, including two attempts in 1926; he succeeded in 1928. His successful swim time was the slowest until 1949, but it’s impressive to have succeeded at all.

Girl swimming channel

The August 10 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a brief article about a young woman attempting to swim the English Channel:


Ethel “Sunny” Lowry (1911-2008) did not succeed in her first attempt to cross the English Channel when she attempted to go from England to France. It took her support team 45 minutes to find her in the water, which must have been extremely traumatic.

Ms. Lowry also failed in her second attempt, which was from France to England on July 27 1933. She didn’t give up, and succeeded in her third attempt, from France to England, on August 28 1933.

What might have helped her was that she didn’t wear the heavy one-piece bathing suit that was in common use at the time. She wore a lighter two-piece suit, and was criticized for it. (The suit can be viewed here.)

She was eventually awarded an MBE, and passed away at the age of 97.


Here he is folks

The August 10 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featured this photograph of lightweight boxer Frankie Genovese, who was competing in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.


Frankie Genovese (1915-1998) was just 16 when he competed for Canada at the Olympics. After winning his first match, he lost his second match to Mario Bianchini of Italy.

He turned pro later that year. According to BoxRec, he fought 64 matches, eventually ending up as a welterweight. He won 45, lost 12, and drew 7.


Health and energy for every child

Here’s an ad from the August 10 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that featured a photo of a child along with his name and address:


I wonder what happened to Walter when this ad went in. Did he become more popular, or did everybody at school taunt him?

As usual with information like this, I looked up the family in the Toronto city directories. James F. Whitehead appears in the 1932 directory at 154 Glebeholme – he worked as a superintendent of stores for Ontario Hydro. Going forward:

  • He was at the same job in 1937, but had moved to 170 Aldwych.
  • In 1939, he was at 40 Oakdene Crescent.
  • In 1940, there was sad news: James F. had passed away. The directory listed his widow, Lillian, at 40 Oakdene.
  • The 1942 directory lists Lillie Whitehead, widow of James, at 30 Woodmount.
  • She was in the 1945 directory at the same address, but was now employed at Canadian Sales Check Book.
  • She was in the 1950 directory at 30 Woodmount, but was no longer employed. Walter is now listed too – he was working as a messenger for the Imperial Bank.
  • In 1951, the last year I traced them, Lillie was now working as a packager for L. D. Caulk and Company. Walter had moved out, and was working for the Imperial Bank and living on Malvern Avenue.

I hope that mother and son continued to live happy lives, and that drinking the milk helped.


Sadly, they were right

Here’s the headline from the front page of the August 8 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, which really needs no further comment.



Wins high honors

The August 8 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this picture of a successful insurance agency superintendent:


I looked up R. H. Freeman in the Toronto city directories. His given name was Russell, and he first appears as a London Life agent in the 1931 directory. In 1932, he was listed as a superintendent, the year before he won the Efficiency Plaque described above.

Mr. Freeman appears to have latched on to a stable career. I looked him up at five-year intervals, and he was listed as a city manager for London Life in the 1938, 1943, 1948, 1953, 1958, and 1963 city directories. In the 1968 directory, he was listed as simply a manager; he was still there in the 1969 directory, which is the last one that I have online access to. So his career spanned at least 38 years with the same employer. That’s rather impressive.


Charming two-year-old daughter

Here’s another example, from the August 6 1930 Toronto Daily Star, of a photograph containing someone’s Toronto address:


Normally, you would be worried about poor Camilla Elizabeth Joy’s privacy, but the toddler is safe in this case: there is no such place as 15 Oakville Avenue. In the 1930 Toronto city directory, I found A. F. Harvey working as a designer for Eaton’s and living at 16 Oakview Avenue; this might be the right one, especially since the photo was taken at the Eaton Studio.

Arthur F. Harvey (later directories give his first name) appears in city directories up to 1936, but isn’t listed in 1937. 16 Oakview Avenue still stands, and is near High Park; it looks like a nice place.


Interesting camera study

The August 6 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this “interesting camera study” of a Toronto businessman:


I looked Mr. Davis up in the Toronto city directories, and it turned out that his name was actually Edwin T. Davis – the Daily Star had his middle initial wrong. Sadly, his story is a short-lived one:

  • The 1930 directory is the first edition that I could find him in. He is living at 292 Oriole Parkway, which had just been built; he is listed as the “genl mgr” of Standard Paving, which I assume is the same as being president.
  • In the 1932 directory, he is not only the president of Standard Paving – he is also the president of the Harbour Administration Building. He is still at 292 Oriole Parkway.
  • In the 1933 directory, his occupation is just listed as “contr”. This might mean “contractor” or “controller”, I guess. The firm that he was working for was not listed.
  • In 1934, he was just listed under his home address, with no occupation.
  • In 1935, his widow, Florence H., is listed at 292 Oriole Parkway. Mr. Davis doesn’t look terribly old in the photo, so some sort of tragedy must have struck him.

292 Oriole Parkway still stands – it’s a nice house in an upscale neighbourhood.