Personals from 1920, part 3

Here’s an entry from the personals section of the July 6 1920 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

July 6 3

Since Ms. Martin had a Toronto address, I looked her name up in the Toronto city directories. The first problem is that there is no “Ainda Avenue” in Toronto; I looked in the Streets section and didn’t find a name that sounded close to that.

The only Alice Martin in the 1917 directory was the widow of James Martin, so she would not have roomed on Ainda Avenue, whatever that was. In the 1918 directory, the only Alice Martin worked as a housemaid at the Asylum. I suppose that could have been the Alice E. Martin in the personals entry – or, I suppose, the poor widow of James Martin was left with no choice but to seek a job as a housemaid.

Either way, I had no more luck finding Alice E. Martin than the personals writer had. The listing didn’t appear in the next edition of the paper, so either the writer gave up or had found her.


Personals from 1920, part 2

I’m continuing to look at the Personals sections from the July 1920 editions of the Toronto Daily Star. The July 3 1920 section contained this cryptic entry:

July 3 1

The next edition of the paper, on July 5, contained this response:

July 5 1

Neither Muddler nor M.S. had an entry in the July 6 paper.


Personals from 1920, part 1

Lately, I’ve grown fascinated by the Personals column from old newspapers, so I’ve gotten copies of all of them from the Toronto Daily Star for the month of July 1920.

One common type of ad at the time were requests for companionship/partners. Here’s a pair from July 3 1920:

July 3 2

There were also a lot of ads offering babies for adoption. Also from the July 3 paper:

July 3 3

I wish I knew what the letters at the bottom right of the ads meant. Presumably, they were a code indicating how long the ad was to run for. Though the first ad of this last pair actually listed the dates for the ad, so perhaps the letter codes meant something else.


Don’t Ever Marry

The Amusements section of the June 30 1920 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this advertisement for a silent film.


The plot of Don’t Ever Marry is not provided anywhere, so I have no idea whether the movie discouraged matrimony or encouraged it. But possibly the latter, given that the following entry appeared in the Personals section of that day’s paper:

IMG_9215 - Copy (2)

I have no idea whether any young couple took them up on this.

The same Personals section also included this entry:

IMG_9215 - Copy


Wouldn’t admit he was alive

Here’s an unusual story from the June 30 1920 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


I tried to trace the unfortunate Mr. Field in the Toronto city directories; I’m not sure whether I found him.

  • The 1920 directory lists a Frederick W. Field at 84 Howard Park Avenue; this might have been poor Arthur’s father.
  • The 1921 directory lists someone else at 84 Howard Park, but lists a Frederick W. Field at 80 Grosvenor as part of the “commr dept” of Overseas Trade of His Majesty’s Government.
  • The 1924 directory goes one better, listing Frederick W. Field in bold face as the British Trade Commissioner, now at 76 Grosvenor.

I couldn’t definitively trace Arthur Field; it’s too common a name, and he is never listed as living with Frederick W. Field. I’m thinking, though, that the British Trade Commissioner was a fairly important person, and could have pulled some strings and ensured that Arthur was declared to be officially alive.


One in your pocket

Here’s a solicitation for funds from the June 30 1920 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


This ad needed a bit of proofreading – hopefully, people writing to the company, and/or the post office, figured out that the address was 7-9 Jarvis Street, not 7-9 Jarvic Street.

The Canadian Pocket Umbrella Company first appears in the 1921 Toronto city directory with a bold face entry, which meant that the company paid for a larger listing. In the 1922 directory, they had a smaller listing and were at 9 Jarvis. In 1924, they were at 184 Bathurst under new management; by 1926, they were gone.



The March 17 1920 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this notice:


Out of curiosity, I tried to trace S. Cohen. His road was a winding one:

  • In the 1920 Toronto city directory, Samuel Cohen was listed as a cleaner with a work address of 1088 Yonge and a home address of 107 Robert.
  • In 1921, he was listed as Samuel Cohn at the same addresses.
  • In 1922, he was listed as Samuel Cohn, with just a home address of 107 Robert and no listed occupation.
  • In 1923, he was listed as a cleaner and presser at 19 Macpherson Avenue, with a home address of 107 Robert.
  • In 1924, he was listed as living at 19 Macpherson Avenue with no occupation.
  • In 1925, he was now listed as the owner of Northern Clothing Exchange at 19 Macpherson Avenue.

He wasn’t at 19 Macpherson in 1926, and there was no Samuel Cohen working as a cleaner or presser elsewhere in the city that year. His name is a common one – there were at least two Samuel Cohens working as cleaners and pressers in the 1928 directory – so I was unable to trace him after that.


St. Patrick’s Day in 1920

Here’s a collection of poems and blurbs from the Toronto Daily Star, 100 years ago today. As you can see, the quality of the content varies widely and appears to indulge in a certain amount of stereotyping.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day, wherever you are. Stay safe, and practice social distancing!


Influenza in 1920

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, there was a significant influenza epidemic in Toronto one hundred years ago on Valentine’s Day. The Toronto Daily Star included several articles and ads related to this epidemic.

During the previous 24 hours, there were 26 new hospital admissions and seven deaths in hospital from the flu:


Nurses were at serious risk during the flu epidemic, as a total of 59 of them were ill from the disease.

One of the horrible tragedies of this strain of flu was that its victims tended to be in the prime of life: 


I assume that older people had encountered a related strain of flu earlier in their lives and therefore had partial immunity to this particular variety.

Things had gotten bad enough that the phone company discouraged people from making calls unless absolutely necessary:


And makers of bread and Shredded Wheat extolled the virtues of their products in the fight against disease:



The most unusual ad related to the flu was this one:


The Branston Generators were examples of violet ray devices, which were devices that applied electric current to the human body for supposedly therapeutic purposes. The Museum of Health Care at Kingston has one in their collection, and you can read the Branston Generator owner’s manual.

The Charles A. Branston Company continued manufacturing electrical devices of some form or another until at least 1955, though the Toronto city directory listing for them stopped mentioning violet ray devices after a while.


Valentine’s Day 1920

100 years ago today, Valentine’s Day was not considered a sales opportunity for merchants in Toronto, as neither the Toronto Daily Star nor the Toronto Globe contained an ad related to the day.

The Daily Star had two Valentine contributions. One was a long collection of poems dedicated to various politicians:



Some references in these poems:

  • Tommy Church was mayor of Toronto from 1915 to 1921.
  • The “Robert” in “To An Absent One” refers to Robert Borden, then the Prime Minister of Canada. (At the time, newspapers often referred to the “Premier” of Canada.) As it turned out, he was voted out of office the following June.
  •  “Melinda Bay” is almost certainly a reference to the Toronto Telegram, whose offices were at the corner of Melinda and Bay Streets. (I would love to have online access to old Telegram editions!) The Torontoist has an article on the Telegram here.
  • Charles Maguire went on to succeed Tommy Church as mayor of Toronto, holding office from 1922 to 1923.
  • J. George Ramsden served on Toronto city council from 1903 to 1936. Ramsden Park, near Rosedale subway station, is named after him.
  • R.H. Cameron served on Toronto city council off and on between 1914 and 1929. He ran for mayor twice, losing each time.

The Daily Star also included this Valentine poem:


The Toronto Globe’s February 14 1920 edition had only one reference to Valentine’s Day: a drawing on the Circle of Young Canada page, which was a page that appeared every Saturday and was geared toward younger readers.


Readers of the time would have been far more interested in the influenza epidemic that was affecting Toronto at the time than they would have been in Valentine’s Day. Details in tomorrow’s post!