George is a changed boy

The November 15 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad:


My first thought: if George was old enough to go to school, he would have been teased unmercifully about this ad. I hope that his mother gave him a share of the money that the family got for appearing in it. (And I hope that the family did get paid!)

As usual, I was curious whether Mrs. A. Gresham actually existed at 7 Currie Avenue. The answer is almost certainly yes – the 1929 city directory lists a William Gresham there. He worked as an engineer for the City of Toronto, and continued in that job as late as 1955. In the 1960 city directory, his occupation is not listed, so I assume that he was retired. Unfortunately, I do not know whether Mrs. A was still there, as the city directories were resolutely sexist and only listed the head of the household.

George himself starts appearing in the city directories in about 1948. He worked at Eaton’s, and was there at least through 1960; I didn’t check later than that. Hopefully, he was still regular.

As for California Fig Syrup: it appears to have originated late in the 19th century, which is when a lot of the most famous patent medicines came into being. The references I could find were mostly related to the bottles that it came in. There’s an early history of the company and its bottles, and another history that contains a collection of early ads for the product.



The November 15 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star continues to be a source of interesting ads and articles! Here are two ads for shaving-related products.



A Google search turned up two forums in which readers had purchased an antique Valet Auto Strop Razor.

Probak was apparently founded by the same man who founded Auto Strop; Gillette acquired both companies in 1931. Probak razors remained on sale until 1936.



Great new store

The November 15 1929 Toronto Daily Star contained an ad for a new Kresge’s store at 992 Bloor Street West:


The store originally occupied 992 and 994 Bloor West, which had been previously occupied by, respectively, a men’s furnishings store and a confectionery. Eventually, it expanded to consume 996 Bloor as well.

This Kresge’s remained at this location until at least 1969 (the latest date that I can view city directories online). The building still stands, though the facing has been remodelled – it is now a Scotiabank.


Bargain hunters buy town

The November 15 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this bit of filler about five men who bought an entire village in Illinois:


I’m not sure which is more fascinating: that five people could buy an entire village, or that somebody had already owned it for 20 years.

Wikipedia has entries for Eliza and for Eliza Township, which contained 419 people as of 2010. Eliza appears on Google Street View; I’m assuming that the abandoned building at the crossroads was the former general store, but I could be wrong.


Love scoffs at inheritance

The November 15 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this photograph of a wealthy heir who had just eloped with a domestic servant in his father’s mansion:


I looked up William W. Willock, Jr. on Google. Apparently, he and his wife stayed together through the years: they remained married until he passed away in 1998. She passed away in 2001.

My search turned up a William W. Willock Jr. who kept a giant museum of trains and other engines (mentioned here and here). I’m assuming it’s the same guy.

By the way, this isn’t the first happy marriage in the 1920s between a rich heir and a domestic servant I’ve seen in old newspapers: also see Quebec woman marries American heir.


480 Oriole Parkway

Fair warning: the next few days will all be about the November 15 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, because I found a whole lot of stuff there!

The first one is this ad for apartments at 480 Oriole Parkway in Toronto, which was clearly tailored for the luxury crowd:


It’s always good to strive for near perfection!

I was curious about Mr. D’Esterre, so I looked him up in the Toronto city directories (which are basically a form of legalized retro stalking).

  • A Reginald H. D’Esterre appears in the 1930 directory as a real estate agent, but didn’t mention where he worked. There’s nobody else with that last name in that line of work, so I assume that this is him. (Other D’Esterres in the directory: the manager of the Gruen Watch Company, a jeweler, and two women – a switchboard operator, and a widow.)
  • He appears to have recently transitioned into this career: in 1929, he was listed as a radio operator for the CNR.
  • He was relatively new in town: he wasn’t in the 1927 and 1928 directories.
  • He seems to have remained in this job: in 1933, he was listed as a salesman for Chartered Trust, the company that posted this ad. This is also what he was doing in 1938. I didn’t trace him after that.

As for 480 Oriole Parkway: it’s still standing. It was converted to condos in 2011.


Two women in Parliament?

The February 14 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star speculated that there might actually be a second woman elected to the Canadian Parliament:


As it turned out, Mrs. Stewart wound up not running in the Lanark by-election, and the Conservatives did not win. An “Independent Conservative”, William Samuel Murphy, won the seat, defeating Conservative Thomas Alfred Thompson. Mr. Thompson defeated Mr. Murphy in 1930 and held the seat until being defeated in 1940.

Agnes Macphail, the first woman in Parliament, held a seat there from 1921 to 1940, and then was an Ontario MPP from 1943 to 1945 and from 1948 to 1951. The second woman elected to a seat in Parliament was Martha Black, who contested and won the Yukon seat in 1935 after her husband resigned due to illness. By the time of the next election in 1940, he had recovered; she stepped aside to allow him to win his seat back, which he did.


Talkie or dog fight?

The February 14 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a wire service article with a less than flattering opinion of a “talking picture” featuring actress Lupe Vélez:


Lupe Vélez (1908-1944) was known as “The Mexican Spitfire” who, according to one journalist, wore loud clothing and made as much noise as possible. She had several controversial relationships – including one with Gary Cooper that apparently caused him to lose 45 pounds and develop nervous exhaustion. Ms. Vélez died in 1944 of an overdose of Seconal.

I wonder how long “many of the highest executives of the motion picture profession” thought that there were “certain limitations for the talking pictures”?


Valentine’s Day 1929

Out of curiosity, I checked out the February 14 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star to see if there was any Valentine’s Day related stuff in it.

The first thing I noticed was that there were no ads related to Valentine’s Day. The custom of buying your sweetie a gift or going out to dinner together doesn’t seem to have been in existence then (though perhaps there were ads a day or two before – I’ll have to check).

There were a few Valentine related pieces, though. The editorial cartoon for the day pictured everybody wanting to be Canada’s Valentine, because of our natural resources:


And there was a photo of a progressive school in North Toronto in which children were sending Valentine’s Day cards to a post office out of wood blocks. The caption is a bit condescending:


And there was (what I think is) a story about women getting together to frame their ancestors’ Valentine’s Day cards:


And there was a strange piece that I think was supposed to be humorous (I’ve only printed part of it here):


Sometime, I’ll have to figure out when Valentine’s Day related ads started appearing in the paper.


Uptown Cafe

The June 29 1929 edition of the Toronto Globe had this ad for a restaurant:


When I looked in the Names section of the 1929 Toronto city directory, I couldn’t find it. I couldn’t figure out why, until I looked under 659 Yonge Street in the Streets section. I found this:


The city directory didn’t bother identifying the restaurant by its name – it only mentioned that it was Chinese.

By 1935, the city directory listed the restaurant under its name:


Unfortunately, the Uptown Cafe didn’t last too much longer after that, as it does not appear in the 1937 city directory.