Four Daughters

The September 14 1938 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad for the movie Four Daughters:


I have no idea whether Jack Warner used this ploy often when advertising his movies – my guess is no, but I don’t know for sure. The critics’ reviews of this movie were generally favourable, though.

The movie featured the Lane sisters – more info on them can be found here. One of the sisters, Lola Lane, was apparently the inspiration for Superman’s love interest, Lois Lane.

The movie is not available on YouTube – somebody tried to post it, but they were busted for copyright violation.


The new hydro building

The May 24 1933 edition of the Toronto Globe announced the opening of the new Toronto Hydro-Electric System building on Carlton Street just east of Yonge.


This caught my attention because I used to pass this building all the time in the 1980s when going to see movies at the nearby Carlton Cinema.

The building is still standing – it’s now known as the Richard R. Horkins building. I have no idea who Richard R. Horkins was – I assume he was an important hydro person at one time. I did discover that he was president of the CNE Association in 1978, and that a Richard Horkins (possibly the same one) ran for Toronto Board of Control in 1964 but lost.


Damaged Lives

The May 24 1933 Toronto Globe contained this movie ad:


Naturally, I was curious: what movie was so shocking that women and men were required to see it separately? Of course, it had to do with sex: a young executive, in a long-term relationship, is convinced by his boss to go to a party. At the party, he sleeps with a young wealthy woman and contracts a venereal disease from her.

The film also had actual nudity: according to Wikipedia, it contained a scene in which “a group of fun-loving women strip naked and go skinny dipping”.

The Wikipedia entry for Damaged Lives points out that it was produced during the brief period between the invention of pictures with sound and Hollywood’s universal adoption of the Motion Picture Production Code of moral guidelines in 1934. The film was a Canadian-American production, and the Canuxploitation web site provides more details on the plot.

You can view this film on the Internet Archive.


Entertainment options in 1936

I like saving ads for theatre, music, and other entertainment options from the old newspapers that I look at. If people wanted a day out or an evening out, what could they see?

Here’s a few listings from the November 27 1936 Toronto Globe:


Betty Fischer (later known as Betty-Ann Fischer-Byfield) had quite an interesting story. She was born in Kitchener, Ontario, and was abandoned shortly after she was born; she had a deformed leg and no complete fingers on either hand. She was adopted when she was four, and took up the violin almost immediately afterwards, winning a gold medal at the Kitchener Music Festival when she was 8. She went on to become a member of the Toronto Symphony, and died in 1979.

William Beebe (1877-1962) started his career working at the New York Zoological Park, for which he undertook a series of research expeditions. He gradually migrated into marine biology, and used his Bathysphere to set records for the deepest dive ever performed by a human.

The American Classics website has an entry on Blossom Time. It played continuously, somewhere in the United States, between 1921 and 1943.

The Rotten Tomatoes movie website gives Libeled Lady an 82% rating.



The January 23 1930 edition of the Toronto Globe contained these ads for the singer who went by just a single name, Onegin:



Sigrid Onégin (1889-1943) was a contralto born in Sweden to a German father and a French mother. I’m not sure whether she achieved the greatness of immortality, but you can decide for yourself: many of her recordings are on YouTube, including O mio Fernando from 1929.


Going to California

The January 23 1930 edition of the Toronto Globe contained two different ads for travelling to California.

The first was from the Santa Fe Railway:


The Santa Fe railway’s full name was the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway (or AT&SF for short). It stopped operating passenger trains in 1971.

The same paper also had an ad from Canadian National Railways:


Wikipedia’s page on the Canadian National Railway is here.


Toronto Wet Wash Laundry

When I see an ad, I sometimes like to track the firm in the Toronto city directories to see how long they remained in business. For example, here’s an ad from the March 31 1931 Toronto Daily Star:


The Toronto Wet Wash Laundry originally opened for business sometime between 1910 and 1915 at what was then 291 Arthur Street. Its proprietor was W. John Henning. By 1920, this address was 1125 Dundas West.

By 1925, the laundry had moved to 175 Ossington Avenue (just around the corner from their old location). By 1935, the company had renamed itself Toronto Launderers and Dry Cleaners Limited, having branched out into dry cleaning. Mr. Henning was still in charge, with his wife listed as vice-president. By 1945, their son, W. John Henning Jr., was treasurer.

The company remained in business through at least 1969, but it looks like the family had sold it long before – the 1955 city directory shows W. John Henning (presumably Junior) as the operator of Henning’s Garage. The 175 Ossington Avenue location is now townhouses.


Authors & Cox

When looking up entries in Toronto city directories, I have frequently found listings for Authors & Cox, a firm that specialized in artificial limbs, trusses, belts, and other aids for injured or disabled people. In the February 22 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, the company celebrated its 70th anniversary, making it slightly older than Canada itself:


They were in this location as late as 1945, but by 1950 had moved to 295 King Street West. They remained there until sometime between 1960 and 1965 – they do not appear in the 1965 city directory.


Christmas in 1939

War had broken out in 1939, but the December 13 issue of the Toronto Daily Star was still full of the usual Christmas gift ideas. They ranged from the frivolous to the extremely practical.

You could give heirloom jewelry:


If your loved one was feeling nostalgic about their alma mater, you could give school insignia jewelry.


Birks-Ellis-Ryrie also claimed to offer gifts to “thrill the feminine heart”:


I suppose this is better than attempting to thrill the feminine liver or pancreas. If jewelry wasn’t appealing, you could try bags or “gay pullovers”:



Or you could go all-out and buy a fur:


There were also gifts intended to appeal to men. For example, what could be more practical than shoes?


And what could be more masculine than cigars?


And, if not cigars, how about cigarettes?


This ad does not show that Santa’s beard had undoubtedly been turned yellow by tobacco smoke.

For something a little more intimate, how about a dressing gown?


Or you could go one step further and buy a pair of pyjamas that will last the rest of his life – what could possibly show a greater commitment than that?


But suppose you want to be strictly practical when you give your Christmas gift. How about an electric toaster?


Or the man of the house could be possibly a bit too practical and give his wife a new washing machine for Christmas:


I envision this as having been received somewhat frostily, even after hubby pointed out that it included a 12 year reconditioning guarantee. After all, Heintzman and Co. mostly specialized in pianos, not washing machines.


1939 variety show

The August 17 1939 Toronto Daily Star featured this ad for a variety show for the Star Fresh Air Fund.


Jessica Dragonette (1900-1980) sang on the radio from 1926 to 1947, and was voted radio’s most popular female vocalist in 1935. She was able to sing in six different languages.

Shirley Ross (1913-1975) was at the peak of her fame in 1939, as she had performed a duet with Bob Hope in The Big Broadcast of 1938. She was cast opposite either Hope or Bing Crosby a total of five times.