Liberal MP for North Bruce

Here’s a photograph from the April 10 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a Canadian politician.

James Malcolm (1880-1935) had won the North Bruce seat for the Liberals in 1921. He was re-elected in 1925, 1926, and 1930.

As predicted by the caption for this photograph, he did indeed make it into the cabinet – he was the Minister of Trade and Commerce from 1926 to 1930. He passed away in 1935 at a comparatively young age, but I don’t know his cause of death.


Up the St. Lawrence by boat

Here’s a photograph from the April 10 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a man who was about to turn 93.

The 1926 Toronto city directory doesn’t just list John Catto – it lists his firm in bold face. He was still actively working.

Searching later directories revealed that Mr. Catto got to enjoy two more birthdays, as he and his firm appeared in the 1927 and 1928 directories. In 1929, he was no longer listed, but two men not named Catto continued to operate the dry-goods store that bore his name. The firm lasted into the 1930s – it appears in the 1933 directory but not in 1936.

I also looked backwards. Mr. Catto doesn’t appear in the 1856 or 1859 directories, but I did find him and his firm in the 1868 directory.


Next governor-general?

Here’s a photograph from the April 10 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a prince who was rumoured to become the next Governor-General of Canada.

The previous year, the Duke of York and his wife had apparently been considered as rulers of Poland but were eventually passed over. He didn’t get the Governor-General post either – that went to the wonderfully named Freeman Freeman-Thomas (previously referenced in this blog here).

But, as it turned out, the Duke wound up ruling Canada anyway. When his brother, Edward VIII, abdicated his throne in 1936, the Duke became King George VI.


Beautiful princess still unwed

The April 10 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained these photos of princesses of Greece who were not yet married:

A little digging revealed that this caption wasn’t quite accurate. Only one of the two women pictured in this photograph was a sister of the king of Greece. This was Princess Irene of Greece and Denmark (1904-1974).

It was actually quite a while before Princess Irene tied the knot. She was reportedly engaged to Prince Christian of Schaumburg-Lippe in 1927, but their marriage didn’t happen. She finally married an Italian prince, Almone, the 4th Duke of Aosta, in 1939. The Duke was made the puppet ruler of Croatia by the Fascists in 1941, but he never visited his kingdom and he abdicated in 1943.

Princess Elizabeth of Greece and Denmark (1904-1955) was actually a first cousin of Princess Irene; they were both grandchildren of King George I of Greece. She also held out for a while before getting married; she wed Count Carl Theodor of Törring-Jettenbach in 1934. She died of cancer at a comparatively young age.

Princess Irene did have a younger sister who was not yet married, but Princess Katherine of Greece and Denmark (1913-2007) was not quite fourteen at the time that her sister and cousin were photographed. She got married in 1947 and outlived her older sister by a third of a century.


Again shatters records

Here’s a photograph from the April 10 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of an American woman who had just set records for the discus and shot put.

Lillian Copeland (1904-1964) went on to win the silver medal in discus throwing at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games and then won the gold medal in discus at the 1932 Los Angeles games. She started preparing for the 1936 Berlin games but then boycotted them; she was Jewish and objected to Germany refusing to allow Jewish athletes on their team.

Her last competitive event was the 1935 Maccabiah Games, where she won gold in discus, javelin, and shot put. She later worked in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.


Steel mill tenor

Here’s a photo from the April 10 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a singer who had started his working life in a steel mill.

Despite Louis Caton’s interesting history, I could find very little about him on the Internet. There were New York Times stories from 1926 and 1927 (behind a paywall) that mentioned performances of his. I also saw this magazine from 1917 that listed him as a member of the Davenny Festival Quintet. But I have no idea what happened to him.



Here’s a dry cleaning ad from the March 22 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that caught my attention:

The 1926 Toronto city directory lists Parker’s Dye Works Limited in bold face. Its main location was 791 Yonge, and there were eight other branches in the city.

Over time, the number of branches of the Parker’s chain has gone up and down:

  • The 1939 directory lists one branch at 1474 1/2 Yonge Street.
  • The 1949 directory still lists their main office at 785-791 Yonge, but there were no branches.
  • The 1959 directory lists three branches.
  • By 1969, the last year for which I have access to an online directory, their main office had moved to 27 Yorkville, and there were seven branches, three of which were at subway stations (Eglinton, Islington, and Warden). There was also a Keith’s division of Parker’s that had eight branches, all of which were in the suburbs or in cities adjacent to Toronto.

Parker’s still exists; according to the map on their website, their head office is now 1696 Bayview and they have two other branches. The 1696 Bayview location was configured as a drive-through, though this is no longer prominently advertised on their signage. Their headquarters at 791 Yonge is now the location of the Toronto Reference Library.


Dimples contest

I am always fascinated by the photo page of 1920s and 1930s newspapers. Sometimes, photos turn up that are interesting but impossible to trace, such as this one from the March 22 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.

To our modern eyes, the idea of a group of “inspired Kenosha business men” judging young women on the quality of their dimples seems extremely creepy.

I did a search for Ann Lapcik, and nothing memorable seems to have happened to her after she won the dimples contest. All I could find was a better-quality copy of this photo, which listed her as Anna Lapcik.


The scorn of critics

The March 22 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photo of a British peeress who had written an unsuccessful play.

For a brief moment in 1926, Vera, the Countess of Cathcart, was the most notorious woman in the world. Widowed during the First World War, she met and married the much older George, the 5th Earl of Cathcart, in 1919. After presenting him with a male heir, the countess had an affair with the young and handsome (and also married) Earl of Craven.

The Earl of Cathcart obtained a divorce from his Countess in 1922 and the Earl of Craven left her in 1925 to return to his wife. In response, the countess wrote Ashes of Love, a play based on her life, in eight days. British government censors refused to allow the play to be performed in London, so the countess set sail for America.

When American immigration authorities refused to let her into the country on the grounds of “moral turpitude”, enormous publicity resulted. When she was freed on bond, the theatre producer Earl Carroll, known for his annual Earl Carroll’s Vanities shows, tried to cash in by staging Ashes of Love with the countess in the lead role. After a trial performance in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the show opened on Broadway on March 22, 1926; it was also performed in Washington and (simultaneously with a different cast) in London. The reviews were unfavourable, which isn’t surprising when you consider that the play was hastily put together by a writer with no previous experience.

The show ran for eight performances on Broadway before closing. The countess returned to England; she seems to have done nothing particularly memorable after this.

My primary source for this was an article written for an Allentown TV station. I also found this footage of the countess arriving in the United States and a better copy of the photo shown above.



In the 1920s and 1930s, Massey Hall regularly included ads in local papers for upcoming performances in which only the surname of the performer was provided. Presumably, if you were knowledgeable about culture, you wouldn’t need more details.

Here’s an ad from the March 22 1926 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a performance that was about to be cancelled due to illness.

Giovanni Martinelli (1885-1969) was an operatic tenor from Italy. He had a long run at the Metropolitan Opera in New York starting in 1913, appearing in 926 performances of 36 roles over 32 seasons.

Wikipedia has this to say about him: “In private life, Martinelli was said to be something of a playboy, possessing a charming personality, a wealth of memorable anecdotes and an impressive head of hair that grew silver with age.” Yowza! He ended his stage singing career in 1945.

The “Spalding” mentioned in the ad was Albert Spalding (1888-1953), an American violinist and composer, who is not to be confused with baseball pioneer Albert Spalding. The musical Spalding was, among other things, a National Patron of an international professional music fraternity named, ironically, Delta Omicron.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers, also mentioned in the ad, are an African-American acapella vocal ensemble of Fisk University students. The group was first formed in 1871 and still exists today.