Friends didn’t know

To finally usher in the new year, here’s one last article from the December 31 1919 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


Adam Beck might have been ill on New Year’s Eve 1919, but he recovered: he lived until 1925, when he passed away from anemia. His wife, Lilian, died of cancer in 1921.


Usher in 1920

One hundred years ago today, in the December 31 1919 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, there was an article briefly describing some upcoming parties to celebrate the arrival of 1920:



The article pointed out that this was the first New Year’s celebration in some time to occur following a full year of peace. Highlights, if you don’t want to read the whole article:

  • The Peace Ball, organized by the Cotillion Club in the Metropolitan Assembly Rooms, planned to start 1920 with a leap year dance, in which “timid ladies will approach likewise timid men and shyly ask for a dance”. Colored balloons and confetti will be floating about!
  • At the Balmy Beach Club, eight-year-old Joyce William, representing 1920, will drive Father Time across the ballroom and out the door. A balloon dance and a novelty ribbon dance will follow and then a buffet supper will be served.
  • At the King Edward Hotel, 1920 will be ushered in with a traditional rendition of “Auld Lang Syne”.

Happy New Year to everybody, 100 years later!


Thirty-one new cases

Here’s an article from the December 31 1919 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, describing the progress of a smallpox epidemic in the city.


The world of one hundred years later is horrible in many ways, but at least we don’t have smallpox anymore.


More Klim!

On October 17, 1918, the First World War was almost over. That day’s edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad for Klim milk powder:


“Klim”, by the way, is “milk” spelled backwards.

According to Wikipedia, Klim was developed for use in the tropics, where milk tended to spoil quickly. During World War II, it was issued as part of the U.S. Army’s jungle ration, and was issued by the Red Cross to prisoners of war. Flattened Klim cans helped Allied prisoners escape from Stalag Luft III.


The Spanish flu

The October 17 1918 edition of the Toronto Daily Star was published during the peak of the Spanish flu epidemic, which killed 50 to 100 million people worldwide.

Naturally, the Daily Star had several articles and ads related to the flu. In Toronto, fifteen people passed away that morning, and 530 patients were in hospital with the disease:


An additional 28 people had passed away from influenza or flu-related pneumonia the previous day:


Over 50,000 cases had been reported in New York City, with a total of 5000 dead:


The Ontario government had put out a call for volunteer day or night nurses to help tend to influenza victims, which would have been quite hazardous duty indeed:


An insurance company offered influenza coverage as part of its Special Sickness policy:


Massey Hall was closed for the epidemic, but the Alexandra theatre contended the play The Kiss Burglar provided enough joy to kill the flu:


The Kiss Burglar had opened on Broadway on May 9, 1918 and closed on August 3 after exactly 100 performances.

Last but not least, the makers of C.C.M. bicycles seized the opportunity to point out that a bicycle was a good way to avoid crowded and potentially contagious streetcars:


The First World War, and especially 1918, was one of the most difficult times in modern history. I wonder whether a future blogger, writing in 2118 or 2218, will look back on the era coming up as being equally difficult, given the impending climate change crisis.


Duplicate filler

Old newspapers are so much fun to read because they have so much filler. Editors were obsessed with making sure that there was no missing white space.

The typesetters of the November 12 1919 edition of the Toronto Daily Star must have been in a hurry, or might not have been cross-checking their work, as there were duplicates in that issue.

First, there was this rather sad article, about a young woman who unexpectedly passed away from a blood clot in the brain:


Poor Ms. Collier’s death then appeared as a piece of filler later in the paper:


There was one other duplication in the paper: three separate filler articles about an upcoming lecture at the Allen Theatre.

IMG_1838 (1)

I did a Google search for T. W. Williams and didn’t find anything, so I have no idea whether his lecture was worth hearing.


I don’t blame them

Here’s a bit of filler from the November 22 1919 Toronto Daily Star:


I’m pretty sure that the last sentence of this article was not written completely seriously.


Ill-fated ships

Out of curiosity, I wanted to see if there were any newspapers that carried an ad for the Titanic before it sank on its maiden voyage. Sure enough, the April 8 1912 edition of the Toronto Globe contained this:


The body of the ad text misspelled the liner’s name as “Titantic”.

This is actually a two-for-one special: there is also an ad for the Lusitania, which was eventually torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1915.


Belleville is growing

The February 11 1914 edition of the Toronto Globe contained this item of filler:


I guess it was good news that Belleville was growing, but it is a little odd to see this in the paper.

By the way, Belleville’s population as of 2016 is 50,716 in the city itself, or 92,540 in the metropolitan Belleville area.


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.