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.

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