‘Tis Christmas Eve

This is my third Christmas Eve posting in this blog. I’m going to post the same image that I did on the last two Christmas Eves, because I like it so much. It’s from the December 22 1928 edition of the Toronto Globe, and was part of the Circle of Young Canada page, which featured submissions from younger readers.

This Christmas, we are dealing with problems that would have seemed unimaginable a year ago. I hope that you and everyone that you care about have managed to stay safe and healthy through this extremely difficult time, and I hope that you have as happy a holiday season as is possible under the circumstances.

Thanks for continuing to read this.



Has lived 77 years

In yesterday’s blog entry, I wrote about a man who had just celebrated his 77th birthday. It turned out that the November 23 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had another picture of a man who turned 77 on that day:

I didn’t need to search through the Toronto city directories to find out what happened to Neil McNeil (1851-1934), as he was well-known enough to have a Wikipedia page.

(Aside: who on earth with the surname McNeil would name their child Neil? This seems cruel.)

Mr. McNeil was the Archbishop of Toronto from 1912 until his death. His Wikipedia page states that he attended Propaganda College in Rome. This is also translated as Urban College. He was born in Hillsborough, Nova Scotia, which explains why he was honorary vice-president of the Maritime Provinces Association.

Neil McNeil High School, an all-boys Catholic secondary school, is named in his honour.


Is 77 years old to-day

Here’s a photograph in the November 23 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star honouring a man who had just turned 77 years old.

If he was 77 in 1928, this meant that he was born in 1851, so he was 16 years older than Canada.

As usual, I indulged my morbid curiosity and looked J. C. Forman up in the Toronto city directories to see if I could find out how long he lived after this photo. He was easy to find in the 1928 directory – not only was he there, but he had a bold-face entry.

Sadly, James C. Forman (to give him his full first name) did not make it to 80. He appears in the 1930 directory – again in bold face – as a consultant in the Assessment Department at City Hall. In the 1931 directory, Josephine Forman is listed as his widow.


Star weds cameraman

Here’s a photograph from the photo page of the November 23 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, featuring a film star about to marry a cinematographer.

Sadly, this marriage did not last – the couple divorced in 1930.

Peverell Marley (1899-1964) continued to work as a cinematographer in film and television into the early 1960s. He was nominated for Academy Awards in 1939 and 1948, and is one of six cinematographers to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He married two more times after divorcing Ms. Basquette: dancer Virginia McAdoo and actress Linda Darnell. Both of these marriages also ended in divorce.

Even so, Mr. Marley was less unlucky in love than Lina Basquette (1907-1994). Ms. Basquette, who was born Lena Baskette, was already a widow when she got married to Mr. Marley – she had married Sam Warner, one of the Warner Brothers, in 1925, and he passed away in 1927. After she and Mr. Marley divorced, she went on to marry six more times. The bridegrooms, in order:

  • Ray Hallam, an actor, who passed away from leukemia in 1931, three weeks after they married. This meant that she was a widow twice over before she turned 25.
  • Later that year, she married Theodore Hayes, who was boxer Jack Dempsey’s former trainer. She was granted a divorce in 1932 after she discovered he was still married.
  • In 1934, she and Hayes reconciled and married again. It didn’t work out, as they divorced in 1935.
  • In 1937, she married British actor Henry Mollison. They separated in 1940 and divorced in 1944.
  • In 1947, she and Warner Gilmore, the general manager of the St. Moritz Hotel, were married. They divorced in 1951.
  • Her last marriage was to actor Frank Mancuso, in 1959. They separated that year, but were never divorced.

Besides her lack of success in marriage, Ms. Basquette had other severe misfortunes. She struggled to regain custody of her daughter Lita from her marriage to Warner after surrendering her to Harry Warner and his wife. The Warners also sued her for control of Sam’s share of Warner Brothers, and effectively blacklisted her in the film industry. She attempted suicide twice, and was raped and robbed in 1943.

Ms. Basquette was apparently Adolf Hitler’s favourite movie star: she received a fan letter from him before he came to power. In 1937, she was offered a film contract in Germany, and was driven out to Berchtesgaden, where she met Hitler, Rudolf Hess, and Josef Goebbels. In her autobiography, she wrote that Hitler tried to hit on her and she kicked him in the groin.

After her film career, Ms. Basquette took up the breeding and showing of Great Danes. She became successful at it, writing several books on the subject.


An interesting age

The August 18 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this portrait of a three-year-old girl:

Sometime, I’m going to have to try to figure out when newspapers stopped printing the addresses of their photo subjects for fear of harassment.

The published address allowed me to trace Mr. C. G. McConnell. The 1928 city directory didn’t list his occupation, but later directories gave his name as Campbell G. McConnell, and revealed that he was a chartered accountant. The family eventually moved to 30 Roxborough Drive, where they lived for some years. (That address is now parkland.)

I looked in later directories to see if I could find any listings for Patsy or Patricia McConnell. I didn’t find any, but a Daily Star newspaper archive search turned up a notice of her wedding in the September 7 1946 edition:

And a Google search revealed that Mrs. Ross, as she became, passed away in 2017.


Married Japanese author

Here’s another photograph from the August 18 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

It had actually been a while since Gertrude Boyle Kanno (1878-1937) had been married to a Japanese author – she and poet Takeshi Kanno were wed in 1907 and divorced in 1915. She became famous for her portrait sculptures, including Albert Einstein, Isadora Duncan, Christy Mathewson, and both Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt.


Broke world’s record

Here’s a picture from the photo page of the August 18 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

Lillian Copeland (1904-1964) was in the midst of a successful Olympic career. In the 1928 Olympic Games, the first Games in which women were allowed to participate, she placed second in the discus. She then won the event in the 1932 Games.

She refused to participate in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin; she was Jewish, and objected to Hitler’s barring Jews from the German Olympic team.

After retiring from athletics, she worked in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.


One lad may die

While I’m on the subject of fatal crashes, here was a description of a potentially fatal crash as reported in the August 18 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.

I was morbidly curious as to whether the two young men survived, so I looked them up in the Toronto city directories. The 1928 and 1929 directories do not list either Stanley Brown or Thomas Johnson at 438 King St. West – a gentleman by the name of George E. Small was listed as living there both years. Since Mr. Brown and Mr. Johnson have such common names, I couldn’t trace them any further.


Upper Canada Tract Society

Here’s an ad from the June 27 1928 edition of the Toronto Globe for religious tracts:


A telephone is reserved for your use!

I’m fascinated by “God’s Minute”, which featured 365 prayers by “approximately 350 saintly men”. Did some of the saintly men write more than one prayer? Or were approximately 15 writers not saintly? I suppose it’s just that they didn’t bother to check that closely, and I guess there’s no reason why they should.

I was also intrigued by “Silken Threads” by Wilhelmina Stitch – could that possibly have been her real name? Apparently, it wasn’t – it was a pen name of Ruth Collie (1888-1936), and “Silken Threads” is a collection of her poems. In 1930, she would undertake a tour of North America, speaking every day for 50 days.

Fay Inchfawn, the author of “Verses of a House Mother”, also turns out to be a pen name, this time of Elizabeth Rebecca Ward (1880-1978). Ms. Ward, like Ms. Collie, was a prolific writer of verse. She was known as the “Poet Laureate of the Home”.

As for the Upper Canada Tract Society: the ad claims that it was founded in 1832, and I found a reference to them in the 1867 Toronto city directory (as the Upper Canada Bible and Tract Societies), located at 102 Yonge. In 1900, they were listed as the Upper Canada Religious Book & Tract Society at that location, and J. M. Robertson (the manager mentioned in the 1928 ad) was listed as one of the “joint depositaries”.

By 1933, the society had moved to 406 Yonge, where they stayed until at least 1948. The 1950 directory lists the society as having relocated to 112 Richmond West. By then, there was clearly less demand for religious publications, as the firm rebranded itself as The Book Society of Canada, educational publishers. They were in the 1954 directory at that location, but not in the 1957 directory.


Prophesies doom of the Soviet

Here’s another picture from the photo page of the May 30 1928 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


Ms. Hanoun got neither of her predictions right in the short term, but I suppose that her prophecies eventually were proven correct: Prince Carol regained his throne in 1930, and the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991. (Prince Carol has previously appeared in this blog here.)