I’m not sure when newspapers stopped accepting ads for old-style patent medicines – or even if they ever have – but there were still ads for them as late as 1955. The August 25 1955 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contains this:


Templeton’s Raz-Mah capsules had been around for a long time – a trademark web site states that they were trademarked in 1921. This Flickr page has a photo of a Raz-Mah box (and a comment from Mr. Templeton’s great-grandson).

This page from the Eaton’s 1948-1949 catalogue includes a number of medicines, including Raz-Mah Reds (which presumably were discontinued by 1955, since they’re not mentioned in this ad). I have no idea what the difference is between Raz-Mah Greys and Raz-Mah Browns, other than that the latter were more expensive.

After reading this, I was curious: was Mrs. Victor Lee of 182 Sherbourne Street a real person? I decided to find out by looking in the Toronto city directory. The 1955 directory shows nobody at 182 Sherbourne Street:


Aha, I thought. But then I tried 1956, and lo and behold:


There appears to be a Mr. Victor Lee. Not sure whether there is a Mrs. Lee, but I would be surprised if the patent medicine people would go to the trouble of inventing a fake spouse for a real person. If she was fake, Mr. Lee would have been quite surprised to read that day’s paper!


Marriage by proxy

The May 19 1915 edition of the Toronto Daily Star reported that marriage by proxy was a concept in use during the First World War, at least in France. This is where a bride pledged her vows to a groom who was away at the front, with a proxy standing in at the ceremony to speak the groom’s part. Here’s the article:


To me, this seems sad beyond words. I have no idea what happened to M. Lorin and Mlle. Martigny (who I guess became Mme. Lorin). I hope he returned home to her and they had many happy years together. I hope that Monsieur Firmin Souq also found someone to share his life with.


Treacherous as a submarine

Submarines were first in common use in the early 1900s, and were generally known about by the First World War. Which is why the May 19 1915 edition of the Toronto Daily Star could feature this ad:


We’ve run into Abbey’s Effervescent Salt before – there was a somewhat cryptic ad for it here. This ad features a testimonial from the Medical Officer of Health for London, England! (Not to be confused with the Medical Officer of Health for London, Ontario.) He wouldn’t lie to you, would he?

What’s interesting is that Abbey’s is available in two sizes: the 25-cent bottle if you plan on being only a little stopped up, or the 60-cent version if you are in regular need.


Whose car is this?

The May 19 1915 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had this picture in it:


My first guess is that this driver got into a hit-and-run collision. But if this had happened, there would not have been a stationary shot of this car. So I don’t know what happened, and I guess I will never know.


Gain or lose weight

Recently, I took a look at the May 19 1915 edition of the Toronto Daily Star. It contained ads for a product that helped you gain weight, and a product that helped you lose it.

First, the gainer:


Advertisements for products that help you gain weight seem strange nowadays, but a lot of people were having trouble getting enough to eat back then.

If you were having enough to eat, or perhaps too much, this day’s paper had an option for you too:


I don’t know what would happen if someone tried to take Certone and Resia at the same time. Which side would win?

What’s interesting to me is how wordy these ads were. People had time on their hands – there was no television or radio back then – and so were willing to read a lot more details than we are.


The sights of the Midway

The September 5 1913 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featured this article about the CNE midway, which shows that at least the food hasn’t changed much over the years.


Beautiful Arab girls from Limerick performing the houchee-couchee?

H. F. Gadsby was an art critic. His greatest claim to fame, at this distance, appears to be that he disliked what eventually became the Group of Seven. In the December 12 1913 edition of the Daily Star, he referred to them as the Hot Mush School, and claimed that the texture of their paint reminded him of gobs of porridge. Here’s a bit of the article (it’s too large to reprint here – you can find it on page 6 of the paper):


This article started a controversy, which brought these artists to public attention. Sometimes, any publicity is good, even when it’s bad!

Wikipedia also has an entry on the hoochie coochie, which was apparently was a catchall term for sexually provocative belly dances. Hubba hubba, etc.


Posh salad dressing

Here’s an ad from the September 5 1913 Toronto Daily Star that attempted to sell salad dressing as a luxury item:



An Internet search for Yacht Club Salad Dressing turned up a PDF link to the Yacht Club Manual of Salads from 1914, and a number of people wanting to sell copies of old ads and salad dressing bottles. This page provides a detailed history of Yacht Club Salad Dressing and lots of ads for the product.


Free as a sea gull

Here’s an ad from the August 25 1931 Toronto Daily Star that featured an eventually ill-fated ship:


The SS Noronic, the first ship listed in this ad, was destroyed in a fire in the Toronto harbour in 1949, killing at least 118 people.

Times have changed: I don’t think there would be much demand nowadays for a cruise ship voyage from Toronto to Duluth and back.


Filler from 1945

Here’s two bits of filler from the February 8 1945 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that prove that newspaper editors would go to great lengths to ensure that no space was left unfilled.

First, this fact about Mexico:


I guess that’s useful to know.

And here’s a bit that showed that the editor was obsessive about not leaving any white space anywhere:


Two rows of text in three columns!

If you want to learn more about Henry Douglas Wynter, his Wikipedia page is here. I could find nothing at all on the Internet about Vita-B wheat germ cereal, alas.



Foot wired by Nazis as booby-trap

Here’s a depressing article from the February 8 1945 edition of the Toronto Daily Star. War is hell, the Nazis were evil (a word I don’t use lightly), and remind me never to complain about anything about my life.


Glad to hear that he made it out alive.

A Google search for William H. Edwards turned up nothing about this unfortunate private. He shares the same name and middle initial as William Henry Edwards, a 19th-century businessman and entomologist, but that’s not really useful.