Here’s an ad for guns and sporting goods from the November 10 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.

Besides selling various devices for killing pheasants, the R. S. Williams & Sons Co. Limited also sold “hockey clubs”. This might say something about how hockey was played in 1927.

When I looked up R. S. Williams & Sons in the Toronto city directories, I discovered that sporting goods was a sideline for them. Their primary business was musical instruments. The 1927 city directory included this ad for them:

This ad stated that they were established in 1849. I couldn’t find them in the 1850 city directory, but I did find R. S. Williams in the 1865 directory:

Moving back to 1927: the entry in that year’s city directory listed Richard S. Williams as the president of R. S. Williams & Sons. I am assuming that he was one of the Sons, unless the original R. S. Williams was extraordinarily long-lived.

Going forward: the 1932 directory lists R. S. Williams & Sons at 468 King West. In 1934, they are at 468-474 King West, but R. S. WIlliams was no longer in charge – a J. H. Biggar was running the show. Mr. Williams was listed but with no occupation; he last appears in the 1936 directory. I don’t know whether he moved or passed away in 1937 – I checked his home address of 57 Cluny Drive, and the wonderfully named Augustus Clements now lived there.

R. S. Williams & Sons lasted a few years without any actual Williams running the show, though their management changed a few times. They appear in the 1952 directory, but not the 1957 one – I didn’t narrow it down any further.


Doctor represents

Here’s a photo from the November 11 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that caught my attention:

Out of curiosity, I traced Dr. Philp in the Toronto city directories. The 1927 directory lists him as a physician living and working at 607 Sherbourne Street. By 1932, he was listed as a physician and surgeon, and had moved to 603 Sherbourne, which was on the corner of Sherbourne and Howard.

He remained at 603 Sherbourne for the rest of his life. He is listed in the 1951 city directory, but the 1952 directory lists his widow at 603 Sherbourne. The buildings at 603 to 607 Sherbourne still stand, but have fallen into disrepair and have been boarded up for some time. (The 2009 Google Street View photo of the buildings shows that someone had spray-painted “Shame” and “Restore Me!” on the boarded-up entranceways.)


Balloon tragedy

Here’s a photo from the November 11 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a man who passed away while trying to set an altitude record in a balloon.

Hawthorne C. Grey (1889-1927) made several attempts to set altitude records during 1927:

  • On March 9, he set an unofficial record of 28,510 feet. He passed out while up that high, and regained consciousness in time to slow the fall of his balloon as it descended.
  • On May 4, he reached 42,470 feet, but parachuted out at 8000 feet because his balloon was descending too quickly. According to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, this disqualified him from achieving the altitude record, as the balloonist had to land inside the actual balloon.
  • On November 4, Grey made it to somewhere between 43,000 and 44,000 feet, but lost consciousness and was found dead in the balloon the next day. It is still not entirely clear what caused his death. His last journal entry was “Sky deep blue, sun very bright, sand all gone.”


Here’s a photo from the November 10 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a young woman who was about to sing on radio station CFCA:

I did a search, and I could find nothing on Winnifred L. Hayward or her teacher, Miss Louise Risdon. They are both seemingly lost to history, which makes me a bit sad.

I did find Louise Risdon in the 1927 Toronto city directory – she was listed as a music teacher at Moulton College. She was also listed in the 1932 directory (as “Louisa Risdon”), but she was not in the 1937 directory. I could not find Ms. Hayward in either the 1927 or the 1932 directory.


Prince George of Serbia

The November 10 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photo of a Balkan royal out on a visit:

The caption for this photograph mentions that George, Crown Prince of Serbia (1887-1972) renounced his rights to the Serbian throne in 1909, but it did not say why. It turns out that the reason was ugly, to put it mildly: in a fit of temper, Prince George kicked his valet to death. He apparently tried to take back his succession rights after that, but was refused – which is understandable, given the circumstances.

Prince George’s Wikipedia page states that he was arrested in 1925 after his brother was crowned King of Serbia, and that he was in an asylum from then until the start of the Second World War. This contradicts the photo above, which claims that he visited Cherbourg in 1927. I have no idea what is going on here.

I can tell you that Prince George did not marry Mrs. Dorothy C. Cochrane (about whom I could find nothing). He did eventually marry Radmila Radonjić in 1947.


Which would you choose?

The October 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this film advertisement:


When I looked up The Way of All Flesh in Wikipedia, I discovered that it was lost, and that it is the only lost film in which one of the stars won an Oscar.

Emil Jannings (1884-1950) won the first Oscar in 1929 for his work in this film and in The Last Command (1928). He also had a leading role in The Blue Angel (1930), the film that made Marlene Dietrich a star. Unfortunately, he went on to star in several pro-Nazi films in his native Germany.

Belle Bennett (1891-1932) played the part of the “lovely wife”. Sadly, she died young of cancer.

Phyllis Haver (1899-1960), whose name was misspelled in the ad, was credited in the movie as simply The Temptress. She appeared in movies until 1930, which is about when she married William Seeman, a millionaire; New York mayor James J. Walker performed the service. They divorced in 1945, and Ms. Haver passed away from an overdose of barbiturates in 1960.


Deadly gas

The October 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained two separate stories about people killed or injured by gas fumes in their home.

In the first, there appear to have been no casualties:


The second one, unfortunately, was more tragic:


I tried to trace Mrs. Partridge in the Toronto city directories, but with no luck. 228 Mutual Street is not listed in either the 1927 or 1928 directory, and I couldn’t find anyone named Partridge at an address similar to this. So I’m not sure whether this actually happened.


These lovely boys

The October 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained these photographs of two boys who were relatives of the King and Queen of England:


These two boys were first cousins of Queen Elizabeth II.

George Lascelles (1923-2011), who eventually became the 7th Earl of Harewood, was sixth in line to the throne of England when he was born, and 46th when he passed away (these things happen). He was a prisoner of war in Germany during World War II; Hitler sentenced him to death, but the general in charge of POW camps refused to carry out the execution, as the war was lost.

In 1967, he caused a scandal when his mistress gave birth to his son; this put an end to his first marriage. His primary interests were opera and soccer: he was a two-time director of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and chairman of the board of the English National Opera, and he was the president of the Leeds United club from 1961 until his death.

Gerald Lascelles (1924-1998) seems to have led a less eventful life. He was president of the British Racing Drivers Club and a jazz enthusiast.


Queen Marie’s daughter married

The October 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this bit of what would now be called celebrity gossip, or perhaps royal gossip:


The Wikipedia page for Princess Ileana of Romania has no mention of her eloping at 18. She is listed as having married the Archduke Anton of Austria, Prince of Tuscany, which is at least a step or two up from an obscure naval lieutenant. The couple fled Romania during the rise of communism, eventually settling in the United States; they divorced in 1954.

Princess Ileana married and divorced again, and then became a monastic, taking the name of Mother Alexandra. She founded a monastery in the U.S., retiring in 1981 and passing away in 1991.


When bathing at Bronte

The October 17 1927 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a photograph of an unfortunate young man who broke his neck in July of that year:


Because I am morbidly curious, I looked up the Hoffmans in the Toronto city directory. I found Aaron Hoffman at 263 Grace in the 1928 directory – he was working as an agent for Metropolitan Life. Irving first appears in the 1934 directory, at the same address as his father, and is listed as a tinsmith in the 1935 directory. So he seems to have survived his accident.

His father might not have fared so well, however. He was listed without an occupation in the 1934 directory, and is not listed at all in the 1935 directory. There’s always the possibility that he might have moved away, of course.