May not be heard again

Here’s an article that appeared in the December 31 1920 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, one hundred years ago today. It reported sad news:

Enrico Caruso (1873-1921) was an operatic tenor. He was one of the first singers to be recorded, which turned him into an intenational star, performing at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden in London and the Metropolitan Opera in New York, among others.

Unfortunately, his habits of smoking cigars and never exercising, along with a rigorous performing schedule, caused his health to break down. Suffering from pleurisy, he appeared to be recovering by May 1921, but allowed himself to be examined by an unhygienic doctor while recuperating in Italy, which caused a relapse. He passed away in August 1921. The Daily Star article shown here proved prophetic: he never performed again after 1920.

YouTube has a lot of Caruso’s recordings.

To be broken in ’35

Here’s an article from the December 26 1933 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that describes a prediction that turned out to be extremely incorrect.

Blanche de Paunac was known as La Mysterieuse, and had been performing for at least twenty years. This photo of her apparently dates to 1912, and a French magazine from 1935 lists her as appearing at 51 Rue Geoffrey-Saint-Hilaire between 2 and 6 pm every day (the reference is at the top left of page 10 of the PDF). I couldn’t find out anything else about her.

Her oracular powers, arising from her self-induced hypnotic sleep, also got it wrong about King Alfonso XIII – he never regained the Spanish throne.

In cast of play

Here’s a photo that appeared in the December 21 1935 of two young women in the cast of a play at Hart House:

This photo is of interest because Miss Helen Gardiner, at right, eventually had a theatre at the University of Toronto named after her. (I am assuming that this is the same Helen Gardiner. I suppose that there could have been two of them.) She passed away in 1999, and is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Oddly enough, Ms. Gardiner wound up at the intersection of two chicken empires. Her brother, George Gardiner, brought the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise to Canada, and she married Paul James Phalen, who founded the Swiss Chalet chicken franchise.

I couldn’t find out anything about the play “Wappin’ Wharf”, as a search turned up Wapping Wharf, which is a newly developed neighbourhood in Bristol, England.

A search for Nancy Pyper, the director of the play, turned up this link to her archives. She was mostly based in Winnipeg, and has an Internet Movie Database entry for a CBC television credit from 1952.

Twin sisters to observe

Here’s a brief article from the December 21 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that talked about twin sisters who were celebrating their 77th birthday:

Of the sisters, Eva Rose York is the better known: she was a composer, organist, and writer, and has an entry in the Canadian Encyclopedia. In 1920, she wrote an book about Redemption Home (mentioned in the Daily Star article) called Feathers With Yellow Gold. In 1935, she wrote an autobiography, When My Dream Came True, which the Canadian Encyclopedia dismissed as brief and unrevealing. The poem mentioned in the newspaper article, “I Shall Not Pass This Way Again”, can be read here and is analyzed here. She passed away in February, 1938.

Her sister, Ida Emma Baker, did some writing also: she produced a collection of poems and a book titled How They Found Jesus. I used the Toronto city directories to try to trace her, and discovered that she appears as late as 1949 at 77 Alberta Avenue, so she made it to her 90th birthday. However, she is not listed in the 1950 directory, so it looks like she outlived her sister by about eleven years.

Appearing on the stage

The entertainment page of the December 21 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included two publicity photos of groups of young women singing and dancing on Toronto stages.

The Imperial Theatre featured the McNally Sisters:

Searches turned up nothing on the McNally Sisters. They appear to be lost to history.

The Strand Theatre featured Lillian Strachan and her Sunshine Revue:

I didn’t have much luck here either. My searches turned up a couple of other references to Lillian Strachan from the early 1930s, but no details on who she was.

Will give her life’s story

The December 21 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included this notice of a travelling evangelist who was about to speak in a local church:

Many evangelists led a less than exemplary life before finding God, but Mattie Howard was an extreme example of this. Born in 1894, Ms. Howard was convicted in 1919 of second-degree murder. At the time, she was dubbed “The Bandit Queen of Kansas City”. During her murder trial, she met Irish president Eamon de Valera.

Paroled after seven years for good behaviour, she became a touring preacher. In 1937, she wrote her autobiography, The Pathway Of Mattie Howard, To And From Prison: True Story Of The Regeneration Of An Ex-Convict And Gangster Woman. The Goodreads web site has a listing for it, including one favourable review.

Christmas in 1920

The Toronto Daily Star did not publish an edition on Christmas Day one hundred years ago, so advertisers that wanted to wish their prospective customers a Merry Christmas had to do so in the December 24 1920 edition. Here’s the ones that I found:

Mayoral candidate Sam McBride placed an ad that appeared on the front page of this edition:

Despite the non-partisan tone of this message, Mr. McBride still lost the 1921 mayoral election to Tommy Church. (In those days, municipal elections happened every year on New Year’s Day.) He did eventually become mayor from 1928 to 1929 and then again in 1936, passing away while in office.

The Toronto Globe did publish an edition on Christmas Day 1920, but it didn’t contain many ads. The front page did contain a Christmas wish from the Globe:

Both papers included this ad from Eaton’s on their back cover:

‘Tis Christmas Eve

This is my third Christmas Eve posting in this blog. I’m going to post the same image that I did on the last two Christmas Eves, because I like it so much. It’s from the December 22 1928 edition of the Toronto Globe, and was part of the Circle of Young Canada page, which featured submissions from younger readers.

This Christmas, we are dealing with problems that would have seemed unimaginable a year ago. I hope that you and everyone that you care about have managed to stay safe and healthy through this extremely difficult time, and I hope that you have as happy a holiday season as is possible under the circumstances.

Thanks for continuing to read this.


First, last, and always

Here’s an ad for a hair salon from the December 11 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.

I was curious about this ad because I had no idea what a Eugene Frigidine Realistic Venusta was. After doing several Google searches on a number of variations on this phrase, I still have no idea what a Eugene Frigidine Realistic Venusta was. It cost $5, which is equivalent to over $77 in today’s money, so it was a serious financial commitment to hair care, whatever it was.

Looking at the ad, you can see that this was quite the beauty factory: the location boasted 100 booths, with 60 skilled operators, 24 marcellers, and 10 finger-wavers. That’s a lot of beauty!

I traced the Jones Beauty Parlors in the Toronto city directories:

  • The 1929 directory lists one location at 251 Yonge Street, with Sidney Jones as the proprietor.
  • He was about to attempt to build a beauty parlor empire, though: by 1932, he and William Jones had five locations in the city, and by 1935 there were nine.
  • There were nine locations in 1938 as well, but the 1940 directory just lists one location, at 264 Yonge.
  • They tried branching out again in 1942, with three locations: 487 Bloor West, 933 St. Clair West, and 2646 Yonge.
  • However, by 1945, S. H. Jones had one beauty parlor only, at 2336 Bloor West.
  • The 1950 directory lists the Jones Harper Method Beauty Shop at 2892 Bloor West in Etobicoke.
  • This firm was also there in 1955, and I didn’t trace them after that.

Will operate on the eyes

Here’s a photograph from the December 11 1930 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of an ophthalmologist who was going to perform eye surgery on the King of Siam.

Prajadhipok (1893-1941), also known as Phra Pok Klao Chao Yu Hua or Rama VII, was the King of Siam (as it was then known) from 1925 to 1935. As a result of a revolution in 1932, he became a constitutional monarch instead of an absolute monarch; he abdicated in 1935 over disputes with the new parliament. After abdicating, he moved to England, where he eventually suffered a heart attack and then passed away.

A search for J. M. Wheeler turned up a link to a November 1938 ophthalmology journal that contained both an article that he wrote and an article commemorating his passing away.