Cup stays in Canada

Here’s a photograph from the September 26 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a Canadian woman who had just won a golf trophy.

Searches revealed that the cup was for the Canadian women’s amateur championship, and that Ms. Kirkham, whose home course was Forest Hills in Montreal, was the first Canadian to win the trophy since 1926.

I couldn’t find out much else about her, except that she won some other tournaments in the 1930s and that she was leading after the first round of the 1936 championship. I don’t know what happened to her after that.

Ginger biscuits and dates

Here’s a photo from the September 26 1932 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a British postman who was hoping to swim the English Channel.

Alas, Mr. Cliff’s diet of ginger biscuits and dates did not get him across the English Channel. The Channel Swimming Association website provides a complete list of successful channel swimmers, and his name is not on it.

The list of swimmers revealed some interesting information:

  • Lots of people (comparatively) are doing it nowadays. There were 43 successful solo swimmers in 2020, and 48 in 2021.
  • By comparison, only 14 swimmers had ever achieved the feat at the time of Mr. Cliff’s attempt.
  • The first successful channel crossing was achieved by Matthew Webb in 1875. It was 36 years before anyone did it again.
  • No one made it across in 1932. In 1933, Ethel “Sunny” Lowry (discussed in this blog here) was successful.

Searches for W. J. Cliff turned up nothing, partly because searches for “cliff english channel” returned references to the White Cliffs of Dover. Mr. Cliff appears to be lost to history; presumably, he went back to delivering the mail.

This modern youth business

Fair warning: this blog will be spending the next few days in the world of September 26 1932, as I found a lot of interesting things in that day’s Toronto Daily Star. For example, here’s a photograph of an actress who apparently was good at handing cash customers the low down on this modern youth business:

Binnie Barnes (1903-1998) was 29 at the time of this photograph, so I guess she still qualified as a modern youth. Born in London and one of 16 children, she appeared in a short film in 1923 and worked as a chorus girl, nurse, and dance hostess before starting her British film career in 1931. Her filmography indicates that she moved to Hollywood late in 1934.

She was married twice; the second marriage, to film producer Mike Frankovich, lasted over half a century until he passed away in 1992.

Shute’s wife sues Pirates

Here’s a bit of filler from the September 19 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about a golf pro’s wife who was suing the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team after being hit by a poorly thrown baseball.

Denny Shute (1904-1974) earned 16 PGA Tour wins between 1929 and 1939, including three majors: the 1933 British Open and the 1936 and 1937 PGA Championship, back when it was a match-play event. The next golfer who won back-to-back PGA Championships was Tiger Woods in 1999 and 2000.

Shute married his wife, the former Hettie Marie Potts, in 1930; the couple had one daughter. I couldn’t find out what happened to her or to her lawsuit, but I did find a photo of her from 1937 in which she appears to have suffered no long-term damage from having been hit by a badly thrown baseball.

To make debut this season

I am endlessly fascinated by the society pages of old newspapers. For instance, the September 19 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, which I have been looking at lately, contained these social notices, among others:

Mrs. C. Gardner is entertaining this evening in honor of Miss Margaret Pountney, a bride-to-be.

Mrs. A. M. Ridge is holidaying in Vancouver.

Mr. and Mrs. T. W. Gilmore, Miss Pauline Ritchie and Miss Hilma Farquharson are in New York at the Hotel Vanderbilt.

Mrs. Arthur Cadwallader, Scarboro Rd., is visiting her daughter, Mrs. Lloyd Hill, in Wyandotte, Mich.

The society pages also would regularly introduce debutantes, who were young women now old enough to be included in these society pages. For example, here is a photo from the same September 19 1935 issue:

I grew curious about this picture because Miss Barbara Hodgson was listed as the daughter of Mrs. G. S. Hodgson, which led me to wonder what became of Mr. G. S. Hodgson. So I looked him up in the Toronto city directories.

Sadly, as I suspected, a tragedy had recently befallen the family. The 1932 city directory lists Gregory S. Hodgson working for Blake, Lash, Anglin & Cassels, barristers and solicitors, and living at 271 Russell Hill Road (which is being rebuilt in 2021). But the 1933 directory lists Isobel, his widow. I suppose that the only consolation was that Mr. Hodgson had passed away long enough ago that the surviving mother and daughter were not immediately grieving Mr. Hodgson’s death when Miss Hodgson was making her debut.

I checked the directories at two-year intervals, and Barbara Hodgson first appears with a listing of her own in the 1941 directory, still at 271 Russell Hill Road. She also appears in the 1943 through 1949 directories; in 1943, she is listed as working as a librarian at Simpson’s. The 1947 and 1949 directories list her as Barbara M. Hodgson.

She is not listed in the 1950 directory; presumably, she had gotten married and moved out of her childhood home. The 1950 directory still listed Isobel Hodgson, widow of Gregory S., at 271 Russell Hill Road.

Starting from at least 1947, there was a lodger living at the address as well – the 1947 and 1950 directories list Hilda Calvin at that address, and a later directory listed William Aylett, an employee at Shell. So, in a manner of speaking, Mrs. Hodgson was not enduring the years of widowhood on her own. And there were many of them – she appears in at least the 1955 directory, which was over 22 years after her late husband passed on.

Guns wanted

Here’s a small ad from the September 19 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star from a company that wanted to buy your guns:

Larway, Temple & Cooper Limited were a new firm at the time of this ad: they weren’t in the 1935 Toronto city directory. The 1936 directory lists them as a sporting goods retailer, with Gilbert C. Temple as president, J. Ross Larway as vice-president, and Frank Cooper as assistant secretary. (I’m fascinated by the fact that Mr. Temple was the president, but Mr. Larway’s name was listed first in the company name. This seems like the result of a negotiation.)

Sadly, the firm didn’t last long. The 1940 directory still lists them at 45 Adelaide East, though Mr. Cooper is no longer listed as one of their managers. By 1941, the firm was gone; J. Ross Larway was working as a salesman, and Gilbert C. Temple was not listed at all.

The Toronto Reference Library has a copy of their 1937 catalog.

His last race

Here’s a photograph from the September 19 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a midget car race crash that fatally injured a driver.

A search for Harry Jastroch turned up his Find a Grave entry. From this, I learned that he had been 22 years old and married for two weeks when he was killed. I couldn’t find out anything else about him, other than that his nickname was “Jastrow”; presumably, this was because that was what his last name was pronounced.


Here’s an item from the photo page of the September 19 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, featuring the commander-in-chief of the British home fleet.

Roger Backhouse (1878-1939) was the fourth son of a baronet, and served on his first Royal Navy ship when he was 14. He gradually moved higher and higher in the ranks until he became commander-in-chief of the home fleet at about the time of this photograph.

Admiral Backhouse went on to become First Sea Lord in November 1938. While in office, he determined, quite sensibly, that sending a major fleet to Singapore to combat Japanese aggression was not as important as keeping the fleet close to home to combat Nazi aggression. Sadly, he was not First Sea Lord for long, as he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and passed away just before the start of the Second World War.

Doesn’t smoke and doesn’t want to be a star

Here’s a short article from the September 19 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about an English actress who was in Toronto visiting her sister.

Davina Craig (1912-2002) was the stage name of Davina Smith, who became Davina Whitehouse when she got married in 1941. She was signed by Twickenham Studios in Britain in 1932, and appeared in a number of movies for them between 1933 and 1939.

In 1952, she emigrated to New Zealand, becoming the executive producer of radio drama for the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation. She had a long and distinguished career as an actress and producer in New Zealand, and was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1985.

Canada’s outstanding gun value

At earlier times in Toronto’s history, guns were more easy to buy than they are now. As proof, consider this ad from the September 12 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

The firm of Allcock, Laight & Westwood turns out to have been a long-term fixture in Toronto, with their primary specialization being fishing tackle. This blog post indicates that the firm first opened its doors in the city in 1854. The 1867 Toronto city directory lists it as Allcock & Laight. By 1880, Benjamin Westwood had added his name to the firm; he remained in charge of the Toronto operations of the company until about 1920.

The firm moved to its 230 Bay location sometime in the 1920s after being at 78 Bay at the start of the decade. It remained at 230 Bay until about 1960. By 1963, it was operating out of its factory location in Leaside; by the end of the decade, it was gone.

The Toronto Public Library has a collection of some of the firm’s catalogues.