Returning to business

The April 21 1925 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this brief advertisement:


Naturally, I was curious: how long did Mr. Graham’s establishment last at its new location? Unfortunately, not long: Graham’s Restaurant is listed in the 1926 Toronto city directory but not in the 1927 directory. This is sort of sad: the restaurant had been at its old location since at least 1912 (when it was the Graham Brothers restaurant).


Marion Talley

The photo section for the April 21 1925 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had this entry:


Wikipedia has an entry for Marion Talley: after using Kansas City money to study in New York and Italy, she was hired for the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1925, becoming the youngest prima donna to sing there (this record was broken in 1943). Their general manager hoped that her debut would be low-key, but 200 leading Kansas City citizens, proud of their native daughter, arrived by special train, and a telegraph was set up backstage so that her father could send dispatches to the Associated Press. She also made her radio and film debuts in that year.

Unfortunately, it went downhill from there. Film critics panned her inexperience and claimed she was not photogenic. (You can decide for yourself – her Vitaphone short from 1927 is here.) She appeared in only seven more Metropolitan Opera productions before being let go in 1929. She eventually retired from show business, was married and divorced twice, and died in 1983.


Entertainment in 1947

The September 5 1947 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featured ads for a few entertainment options for people looking for a night on the town.

The first was for Lisa Derney at the St. Regis Hotel:


The St. Regis Hotel was located at 392 Sherbourne Street. It was in existence in 1960, but was gone by 1965. A high-rise building is now at that location. The name is about to be reused for a luxury downtown hotel.

The only reference I could find for Lisa Derney was this Arthur Murray Dance Studio ad, which appeared in some major magazines in 1949. Jimmy Amaro passed away in 2004; his obituary (at least, I assume it was him) appeared in the Windsor Star. I found a reference to a Jimmy Amaro Jr., who was a jazz bassist; I assume that he was Jimmy Sr.’s son.

The second ad was for The Great Athrens at the Eaton Auditorium (now the Carlu):


I could find nothing at all about The Great Athrens (or about the N. T. Advertiser, which claimed that he was better than Houdini).

And, finally, there was Earl Wild at Massey Hall:


Earl Wild (1915-2010) was a pianist who was best known for transcribing jazz and classical music into solo piano pieces. In 1997, he was the first pianist to stream live over the Internet.


King leaves palace

The November 30 1951 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had an article about King George VI:


The King had been a heavy smoker and had understandably suffered a lot of stress due to the war. He was able to carry out some state duties, but his Christmas broadcast had to be recorded in sections. He passed away on February 6, 1952.


1951 municipal election

When looking through the November 30 1951 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, I discovered that there was a Toronto municipal election in progress. If you think that modern municipal campaigns are tiresome, consider this: at the time, municipal elections were held every year. In fact, up until 1949, they were held on New Year’s Day!

Naturally, there were a number of campaign advertisements. The one for William C. Davidson was a model of efficiency, except perhaps for the asterisks:


I particularly like the “ETC.”, and voters apparently did too – Davidson was re-elected. He remained in office until the 1964 elections, in which he lost decisively.

Mayoral candidate Allan Lamport’s ad was the most colourful:


His ad was effective too – he won the election. He became the first Liberal mayor of Toronto since 1909, though apparently this was partly because incumbent Hiram E. McCallum and Nathan Phillips split the more conservative vote.

Lamport‘s original claim to fame was advocating that Torontonians be allowed to play sports on Sundays. He served as mayor for less than three years, winning two more elections, before resigning to join the TTC as vice-chairman and later chairman, putting forward the Bloor-Danforth subway. Later in the decade, he opposed the hippies in Yorkville, advocating that the street be demolished and replaced with a shopping mall. He died in 1999 at the age of 96.

Here’s the ad that I found was the most unusual:


The ad refers to Ford Brand, who had finished fifth in the 1950 Board of Control race with 66,235 votes (the top four got in). When sitting controller John Innes passed away, Brand was not appointed in his place, which upset Mr. Probert. Brand wound up winning in 1951, but Probert finished a distant fourth in his race.

The Ward 4 alderman race was the most interesting, at least to me. One of the candidates was Norman Freed, a member of the Labor-Progressive Party, which was a successor to the Communist Party after it was banned in 1940. Freed held office in Ward 4 from 1944 until the December 1950 election, and was trying to return to office in 1951:


Naturally, some of his opponents helpfully pointed out that one of the candidates in the riding was a Communist:



Voters picked two candidates in each ward, which is why Mr. Chambers referred to two votes in his ad. As it turned out, Chambers was elected, and Freed and Campbell were not.

The last thing I found was the Daily Star’s endorsements for the election:


Of the Star’s preferred candidates, their choice for mayor did not get in, but all four controllers did. All of the preferred alderman candidates got in except for Darrell Draper in Ward 4, and Frank Clifton and Lester Nelson in Ward 6.

Annual Toronto municipal elections eventually stopped happening: the term of office went up to two years in 1956, three years in 1966, and four years in 2006.


Inferiority complex

The March 15 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featured this ad for a free book:


Eradicate negative impulses forever!

Naturally, I wanted to find out more about the British Institute of Practical Psychology. A Google search yielded this page, which discussed the history of “practical psychology” in Britain. This page describes a series of handbooks written in the 1930s and 1940s on various topics, including the inferiority complex; this book might have been one of them.

Next up, I searched the Toronto city directories. I’ve mentioned them before, but they’re wonderful – they are organized both by street and by name. The name section lists people’s names, addresses, and occupations. It’s perfect for random snooping!

When I looked up “British Institute of Practical Psychology” in the city directories, I discovered that they set up shop at their Sherbourne Street location in 1951, with E. Jay Johnson in charge. Looking up 442 Sherbourne Street and E. Jay Johnson revealed that Mr. Johnson also was in charge of two other firms at the same address, both of which were correspondence schools: the Lincoln Institute, and the National Institute of Professional Salesmanship.

Business must not have been good, because by 1955, the National Institute of Professional Salesmanship and the Lincoln Institute were no longer in existence, and E. Jay Johnson was no longer listed in the city directory. (Either that, or Mr. Johnson was no longer in existence.) The British Institute of Practical Psychology was still around, though: T. E. Boyle, who had been secretary-treasurer of the Lincoln Institute, now ran it, and it was located at 2930 Bloor Street West in Etobicoke (later listed as 2932). By 1960, though, the institute was no more.


Dominion Day

Today is Canada Day, of course, but it used to be known as Dominion Day.

The March 19 1953 edition of the Globe and Mail reported on a Liberal MP who objected to the name Dominion Day, but was rebuffed:


According to the Wikipedia entry on Canada Day, Mr. Côté first tried to get the name changed in 1946 in a private member’s bill. The bill was stalled in the Senate, which recommended that the name be changed to “The National Holiday Of Canada”, which was understandably rejected. He tried several times after that, and was rejected each time; the 1953 attempt might well have been his last, as he died of a heart attack in 1954 at the too-early age of 51.

By the early 1980s, many Canadians were using the term “Canada Day”, and the name was officially changed on October 27, 1982. Future prime minister Stephen Harper introduced a private member’s bill in 1996 calling for a return to the old name; it was defeated.


Soap ads from 1927

The September 27 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained three different ads for soap.

The first one was geared for more garden-variety use, as it was recommended by the “Medical Profession”:


There is a Wikipedia page for Wright’s Coal Tar Soap. It was first manufactured in 1860, and was originally known as Sapo Carbonis Detergens (you can see that name on the label in the ad). The soap still exists, but no longer contains coal tar, as the European Union has banned its use in non-prescription products.

Ad #2 was for Lux Toilet Soap, and pitched it as a more upmarket product:


An exquisite new toiletrie! Lux soap was the first mass-market soap in the world, first offered for sale in 1925. It was created by Unilever, who still manufactures it.

The third and final ad was for people who wanted to keep their schoolgirl complexion:


Palmolive is still around today, of course.

Vilma Bánky (1901-1991) was a Hungarian-born silent film actress who starred opposite Rudolph Valentino and Ronald Colman, among others. She left the business in the early 1930s after she married actor Rod La Rocque. Sadly, no one came to visit her in her final years, so she directed her lawyer to make no mention of her death, which was not announced until 1992.


Bile Beans

The February 22 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad:


Wikipedia has a long article on Bile Beans. It was a laxative and tonic that was first manufactured in the 1890s. It was supposedly created by a chemist named Charles Forde based on research on a vegetable source known only to Aboriginal Australians; in reality, Charles Forde did not exist, and the compound consisted primarily of cascara, rhubarb, liquorice, and menthol, all of which were commonly available.

In 1905, a Scottish court ruled that the Bile Bean Manufacturing Company had deliberately defrauded the public by making false statements about Bile Beans. Despite this, the product remained on sale through the 1980s, and its business owner was able to purchase Headingley Castle in Leeds with the firm’s profits.


Dying alone

Here’s a bit of filler from the March 20 1939 Globe and Mail that is unbearably sad to read:


If I read this correctly, Dr. Bond was dead for a week before anyone noticed he was missing.