Banker’s son and his bride

The February 4 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of a newly married couple:


Neither Gilbert W. Kahn nor Miss Sara Jane Heliker have a Wikipedia page, but I did find  a few things:

  • Here’s a honeymoon photo of the newlyweds.
  • The marriage did not last. The former Miss Heliker remarried in 1945, marrying a man who once shot down nine Japanese planes in one day.
  • The Internet Broadway Database lists Ms. Heliker as appearing in one show on Broadway.
  • Mr. Kahn passed away in 1975.

Musical comedy star secretly wed

Here’s a publicity photograph from the February 12 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


Hannah Williams (1911-1973) remained married to Roger Wolfe Kahn for only two years; they divorced in 1933. Ms. Williams then married Jack Dempsey, former heavyweight champion of the world; they had two children before divorcing in 1943. YouTube has footage of Dempsey and Williams shortly after they married, and of her singing “Get Happy”.

Roger Wolfe Kahn (1907-1962) was more than just a son of a New York banker: he was a musician, bandleader, and aviator. Here is a recording of his band from 1925.


Church of the Motorist

The February 12 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of an automobile receiving a blessing:


The Holy Family Church still exists in New York City, assuming that this is the same one (the website indicates that the church was founded in about 1925). There is no current indication that this church was ever the Church of the Motorist, and a Google search for “Church of the Motorist” turned up empty.


Vesuvius’ tremors

Here’s a bit of filler in the February 4 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about the recent volcanic activity of Mount Vesuvius:


At the time of this article, Mount Vesuvius’s last major eruption had been on April 5 1906, killing more than 100 people and forcing the city of Naples to give up the 1908 Summer Olympics. The next major eruption was on March 18 1944.


Influenza in 1920

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, there was a significant influenza epidemic in Toronto one hundred years ago on Valentine’s Day. The Toronto Daily Star included several articles and ads related to this epidemic.

During the previous 24 hours, there were 26 new hospital admissions and seven deaths in hospital from the flu:


Nurses were at serious risk during the flu epidemic, as a total of 59 of them were ill from the disease.

One of the horrible tragedies of this strain of flu was that its victims tended to be in the prime of life: 


I assume that older people had encountered a related strain of flu earlier in their lives and therefore had partial immunity to this particular variety.

Things had gotten bad enough that the phone company discouraged people from making calls unless absolutely necessary:


And makers of bread and Shredded Wheat extolled the virtues of their products in the fight against disease:



The most unusual ad related to the flu was this one:


The Branston Generators were examples of violet ray devices, which were devices that applied electric current to the human body for supposedly therapeutic purposes. The Museum of Health Care at Kingston has one in their collection, and you can read the Branston Generator owner’s manual.

The Charles A. Branston Company continued manufacturing electrical devices of some form or another until at least 1955, though the Toronto city directory listing for them stopped mentioning violet ray devices after a while.


Valentine’s Day 1920

100 years ago today, Valentine’s Day was not considered a sales opportunity for merchants in Toronto, as neither the Toronto Daily Star nor the Toronto Globe contained an ad related to the day.

The Daily Star had two Valentine contributions. One was a long collection of poems dedicated to various politicians:



Some references in these poems:

  • Tommy Church was mayor of Toronto from 1915 to 1921.
  • The “Robert” in “To An Absent One” refers to Robert Borden, then the Prime Minister of Canada. (At the time, newspapers often referred to the “Premier” of Canada.) As it turned out, he was voted out of office the following June.
  •  “Melinda Bay” is almost certainly a reference to the Toronto Telegram, whose offices were at the corner of Melinda and Bay Streets. (I would love to have online access to old Telegram editions!) The Torontoist has an article on the Telegram here.
  • Charles Maguire went on to succeed Tommy Church as mayor of Toronto, holding office from 1922 to 1923.
  • J. George Ramsden served on Toronto city council from 1903 to 1936. Ramsden Park, near Rosedale subway station, is named after him.
  • R.H. Cameron served on Toronto city council off and on between 1914 and 1929. He ran for mayor twice, losing each time.

The Daily Star also included this Valentine poem:


The Toronto Globe’s February 14 1920 edition had only one reference to Valentine’s Day: a drawing on the Circle of Young Canada page, which was a page that appeared every Saturday and was geared toward younger readers.


Readers of the time would have been far more interested in the influenza epidemic that was affecting Toronto at the time than they would have been in Valentine’s Day. Details in tomorrow’s post!


Light beam catcher

Here’s a promotional photograph from the February 4 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, featuring radio star Vaughn de Leath:


Vaughn de Leath (1894-1943) was known as “The Original Radio Girl”, and the “First Lady of Radio”, a designation she was attached to: when Kate Smith tried calling herself the “First Lady of Radio”, she sued.

By the time of this photo, her career was just about to go into decline. After this, she had financial problems and began drinking heavily, which caused her to die young.

Among her many recordings is a version of “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”, recorded in 1927, which Elvis Presley covered in 1960.


Get $500 for fall

The February 4 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a brief article on the resolution of a dispute between neighbours.


I was curious, so I looked up the plaintiffs and the defendants in the Toronto city directories. I wanted to know: how long did the feuding litigants remain neighbours after the judgement?

The 1932 city directory lists John E. Robinson and George Fuller at 144 and 146 Eastwood, as the article states. This directory also lists Elias Taylor at 143 Eastwood, which is almost directly across the street, so I will assume that this is the Taylor mentioned in the article.

The Taylors appear to have left the neighbourhood almost immediately after the settlement: in the 1933 directory, 143 Eastwood is listed as Vacant. Mr. Robinson and Mr. Fuller remained neighbours at least through 1938, as they appear in that directory at the same addresses. Perhaps they were now bound by common misfortune and/or common remorse.

Here’s the Google Street View photo of 144 and 146 Eastwood. I think these are still the original houses (though perhaps 144 Eastwood has been remodelled).


Proves film find

Here’s a promotional picture that appeared on the front page of the February 4 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


A search for Ann Ross turned up her Internet Movie Database page. She did not have as successful a film career as she might have hoped – she had two other film roles in 1939, but that was it.

A search for Ah-Na-Wake revealed that it has a number of meanings, depending on who you ask: it could mean Prairie Flower, Bright Eyes, or Medicine Woman.


New camera study of Miss Wright

The January 27 1931 edition of the Toronto Daily Star continued its habit of printing a photo of a young woman with her name and address listed:


As in other pictures of this sort (see previous blog entries here and here), I wondered whether the unfortunate young lady was hounded by people who had tracked down her address in the paper. I was especially intrigued by this picture: was there really a Miss Wright living on Wright Avenue?

I looked Miss Wright up in the Toronto city directory for 1931 and discovered that there was no one named Wright at 190 Wright Avenue. There was a Charles Wright at 139 Wright Avenue, and a Joseph Wright at 301 Wright Avenue, but they are probably unrelated.

Perhaps Miss Wright was clever enough to give a fake address when they took her picture, or perhaps she boarded at 190 Wright and the city directory didn’t list her. There is an Evelyn B. Wright in the 1931 directory at a different location, but there is no way of knowing whether it was her. She covered her tracks well, then and now. Perhaps she eventually met Mr. Right. (Sorry.)