Hardest task

The front page of the Toronto Daily Star for November 22 1946 included this story, which can only be described as sad and tragic:


A Google search turned up this entry from the British National Archives site, which indicates that Mr. Long’s death sentence was commuted. Records on this case are sealed until New Year’s Day 2023.

New classes

Here’s a small ad in the November 19 1948 edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail that caught my attention for some reason:


I looked the Reilly Institute up in the Toronto city directories. It appears in the 1948 and 1949 directories as the Reilly Institute of Effective Public Speaking. The institute doesn’t appear in the 1950 directory, and Leonard M. Reilly is listed in the 1951 directory as the president and manager of Reilly’s Lock Corporation. He has that listing in 1955 as well, so he might have been more successful at locksmithing than he was at teaching public speaking.

Going back in time: the Reilly Institute appears in the 1944 and 1946 directories. But the 1943 directory lists him as vice-president and manager of Reilly’s Lock Corporation Limited. So he always had locksmithing as a Plan B if public speaking didn’t work out.

The “Dr. M. M. Lappin” listed in the ad is almost certainly the Reverend Maitland M. Lappin, who appears in the 1949 and 1950 directories. I didn’t trace him further than that.

Completes a circle

Here’s a photo from the November 19 1948 edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail, showing Toronto’s oldest practicing lawyer at that time.


Mr. Brown would have been born in 1855, making him 12 years older than the country he was living in.

Since I was ghoulishly curious, I traced him in the Toronto city directories. He appeared in the 1953 city directory, so he made it into his 98th year, but he doesn’t appear in the 1954 directory.

I also looked back in old city directories. There is a Merritt A. Brown working as a barrister, notary public and patent attorney in the 1900 city directory. And he placed an ad in the 1902 directory:


He might go back even further, but that’s as far as I looked. Even then, he would have been considered middle-aged: he would have turned 45 at the turn of the 20th century.

Why not a movie about illicit love?

Here’s an ad from the November 14 1957 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that was an example of that era’s equivalent of clickbait:


Woman in a Dressing Gown is a British film. It won four awards at the 7th Berlin International Film Festival, and won the 1958 Golden Globe Award for best English-language foreign film. Despite this, and despite favorable reviews, the film lost money at the box office.

The Digital Fix has a review of this film on their website.


What did he really think?

The November 14 1957 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad for Maclean’s magazine, featuring an article about Toronto by a Canadian-born British member of Parliament, Beverley Baxter.


Beverley Baxter (1891-1964) served as a Conservative member of the British Parliament from 1935 until his death. Among other things:

  • During the Great Depression, he suggested that poor British people could emigrate to other countries of the British Empire.
  • He strongly supported appeasement of Hitler (though he later became a strong supporter of Winston Churchill).
  • He supported the abolition of capital punishment.
  • In 1961, he supported a Conservative backbench amendment to restore corporal punishment for juveniles.

Charles and Alfred

The November 14 1957 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included this portrait of Prince Charles on his ninth birthday:


When this photograph first appeared, several readers of Mad magazine noticed that the Prince’s features resembled those of Alfred E. Neuman, the Mad mascot. When this resemblance was mentioned in Mad’s letters to the editor, apparently the Prince himself wrote in to dispute this: “Dear Sirs No it isn’t a bit – not the least little bit like me. So jolly well stow it! See!”

Actually, I think this picture does look a bit like Alfred E. Neuman, but not that much. But you decide!

The Splendid Road

The November 11 1924 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included this ad for a serialization of a novel in McCall’s magazine:


Vingie E. Roe (1879-1958) wrote more than thirty novels, specializing in Westerns. She once proudly proclaimed, “I have never written a dirty sex story and I never will.” (Well, okay then.)

The Splendid Road was adapted into a silent film in 1925; the film is now lost.

The Oklahoma State University library maintains a collection of her work. Project Gutenberg includes two of her novels, which are available for free download.

Governor Len Small

Here’s another photo from the November 11 1924 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


Lennington “Len” Small (1862-1936) appears to have been quite a piece of work. Among other things:

  • He was indicted for embezzling over a million dollars in a money-laundering scheme while he was the Illinois state treasurer. He was acquitted, but eight jurors got state jobs, leading to suspicion of jury tampering.
  • He pardoned or paroled over 1000 convicted felons, including white slaver Harry Guzik.
  • He released bootlegger Edward “Spike” O’Donnell from prison, who (not surprisingly) went back to bootlegging.

This all eventually caught up to him, as he lost in the 1928 Republican “Pineapple Primary”, so-called because over sixty bombings took place in Chicago and Cook County during the election campaign.

Mrs. Flora Drummond

The November 11 1924 edition of the Toronto Daily Star continues to be a good source of blog posts! The photo section of this paper included this photograph of a former British suffragette leader:


Flora Drummond (1878-1949) originally trained to become a postmistress, but was not tall enough – she was 5’1″, and the minimum height was 5’2″. I’m not sure why postmasters and postmistresses had to be a certain height, but obviously this would discriminate against women, who tend to be shorter.

As a suffragette leader, she was called The General, as she tended to lead marches wearing a military uniform and riding on a large horse. (And why not?) She was committed to the cause: she endured arrest, imprisonment, and force-feeding following hunger and thirst strikes. After 1914, she focused on public speaking (which she was good at) and administration, as her health had been damaged by her earlier efforts.

Adam Simpson was a cousin of Ms. Drummond’s; he was killed in 1944 in an air raid.