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Radiant living

Here’s a small advertisement that appeared in the January 8 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I assume that they were offering singing and exercises and making a collection, but that’s just a guess.

The 1935 Toronto city directory lists the Sutcliffe School at 3 Charles West. A search revealed that the Sutcliffe School for Radiant Living was the handiwork of Herbert Sutcliffe (1886-1971), an English psychologist and alternative health advocate. Starting in 1931, Sutcliffe established a total of 36 schools located in various parts of the world, 12 of which were in New Zealand.

Over the next few years, the Toronto branch of the Sutcliffe School changed locations a few times. A possibly incomplete list of locations includes 3 Charles West, 749 Yonge, 41 Cumberland, and 194 Wellesley East. The school went out of existence sometime in the early 1950s; the 1951 directory lists it, but the 1953 directory does not.

The New Zealand History website has a multi-page history of the Radiant Living movement. Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first people to climb Mount Everest, was an enthusiastic devotee; his mother had been secretary of the Auckland branch of the school. On the other hand, the Wikipedia page for Sutcliffe claims that some of his ideas were pseudo-scientific. Sutcliffe could apparently do cartwheels on stage when he was in his sixties; whether Radiant Living had anything to do with that is, of course, debatable.

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In cast of play

Here’s a photo that appeared in the December 21 1935 of two young women in the cast of a play at Hart House:

This photo is of interest because Miss Helen Gardiner, at right, eventually had a theatre at the University of Toronto named after her. (I am assuming that this is the same Helen Gardiner. I suppose that there could have been two of them.) She passed away in 1999, and is buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Oddly enough, Ms. Gardiner wound up at the intersection of two chicken empires. Her brother, George Gardiner, brought the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise to Canada, and she married Paul James Phalen, who founded the Swiss Chalet chicken franchise.

I couldn’t find out anything about the play “Wappin’ Wharf”, as a search turned up Wapping Wharf, which is a newly developed neighbourhood in Bristol, England.

A search for Nancy Pyper, the director of the play, turned up this link to her archives. She was mostly based in Winnipeg, and has an Internet Movie Database entry for a CBC television credit from 1952.

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Twin sisters to observe

Here’s a brief article from the December 21 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that talked about twin sisters who were celebrating their 77th birthday:

Of the sisters, Eva Rose York is the better known: she was a composer, organist, and writer, and has an entry in the Canadian Encyclopedia. In 1920, she wrote an book about Redemption Home (mentioned in the Daily Star article) called Feathers With Yellow Gold. In 1935, she wrote an autobiography, When My Dream Came True, which the Canadian Encyclopedia dismissed as brief and unrevealing. The poem mentioned in the newspaper article, “I Shall Not Pass This Way Again”, can be read here and is analyzed here. She passed away in February, 1938.

Her sister, Ida Emma Baker, did some writing also: she produced a collection of poems and a book titled How They Found Jesus. I used the Toronto city directories to try to trace her, and discovered that she appears as late as 1949 at 77 Alberta Avenue, so she made it to her 90th birthday. However, she is not listed in the 1950 directory, so it looks like she outlived her sister by about eleven years.

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Appearing on the stage

The entertainment page of the December 21 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included two publicity photos of groups of young women singing and dancing on Toronto stages.

The Imperial Theatre featured the McNally Sisters:

Searches turned up nothing on the McNally Sisters. They appear to be lost to history.

The Strand Theatre featured Lillian Strachan and her Sunshine Revue:

I didn’t have much luck here either. My searches turned up a couple of other references to Lillian Strachan from the early 1930s, but no details on who she was.

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Will give her life’s story

The December 21 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included this notice of a travelling evangelist who was about to speak in a local church:

Many evangelists led a less than exemplary life before finding God, but Mattie Howard was an extreme example of this. Born in 1894, Ms. Howard was convicted in 1919 of second-degree murder. At the time, she was dubbed “The Bandit Queen of Kansas City”. During her murder trial, she met Irish president Eamon de Valera.

Paroled after seven years for good behaviour, she became a touring preacher. In 1937, she wrote her autobiography, The Pathway Of Mattie Howard, To And From Prison: True Story Of The Regeneration Of An Ex-Convict And Gangster Woman. The Goodreads web site has a listing for it, including one favourable review.

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Health and athletic club

Here’s an ad that appeared in the October 21 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I looked The Health Club up in the Toronto city directories. It first appears in the 1936 directory as the Toronto Health Club, located on the third floor of 2 Toronto Street. In 1937, the club moved to the second floor of this building, and Fernley J. Bull was listed as its director.

By 1939, the club was gone. Its space was taken over by two barristers and by the Automotive Transport Association of Ontario, the Canadian Automotive Transportation Association, and the Toronto Milk Transport Association. The building at 2 Toronto Street still stands.

Robert E. Bernier was not listed in the 1938 city directory, but a Blanche Bernier was listed at 107 Springdale Boulevard. Robert E. then appears in the 1939 directory at 105 Springdale, and is not listed in the 1940 directory. My guess is that Blanche and Robert were relatives, Robert was about to head off to fight and needed a place to stay, and Blanche knew that her neighbour was looking to take on a boarder.

Mr. Bull wasn’t listed in the 1939 or 1940 directories either. My guess is that if you were fit enough to run a health club, you were able and willing to fight the Axis Powers.

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To-morrow Lehmann

Here’s an ad from the October 21 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for an upcoming event at Massey Hall.

It seems odd to me that the ad only featured the last name of the performer. I suppose that, if you were really cultured, you would have known who this was. Fortunately, an ad for Heintzman pianos that appeared earlier in the same edition gave her full name:

Lotte Lehmann (1888-1976) was a German soprano who had her first leading role at the Vienna State Opera in 1914. She performed regularly at Covent Garden in London between 1924 and 1935.

She emigrated to the United States in 1938, just before Germany annexed Austria. She continued performing until 1951, and taught master classes after that. When not singing or teaching people to sing, she was a prolific writer and painter.

Some interesting trivia about her:

  • She discovered the Trapp family singers in Salzburg in 1936. They became famous in The Sound Of Music.
  • She portrayed Danny Thomas’s mother in Big City (1948).
  • She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but they misspelled her name (“Lottie”).

There are a lot of Lotte Lehmann performances on YouTube; here’s one of them.

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Hurt with five others

Here’s a brief article in the October 22 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about a plane crash that featured a famous aviator:

Ruth Rowland Nichols (1901-1960) survived this crash, but suffered a broken left wrist, ankle and nose, contusions, and burns. She was not able to fly again for a year. The pilot did not survive.

Ms. Nichols went on to have a distinguished career as a pilot. In 1959, at the age of 58, she underwent the same training as the Mercury astronauts, and urged the Air Force to include women as astronauts. Whether it was because this idea was rejected or for other reasons, she became depressed and took her own life in 1960 with an overdose of barbiturates.

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Youthful radio star

Here’s a brief article from the October 21 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featuring a 15-year-old British radio personality.

Hughie Green (1920-1997) had a long and sometimes controversial career in radio and television. Before the Second World War, he toured extensively and appeared in movies and cabaret, taking time out to become a father at the age of 17. When war broke out, Green was in North America; he became a pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force and later a transport and stunt pilot.

In 1947, he returned to Britain and worked in the aircraft business for a while. In 1949, he created a talent show, Opportunity Knocks, which started in radio and eventually moved to television. The show was widely popular right through the 1970s, but Green gradually started to use it as a platform for his right-wing ideas, which caused it to be cancelled in 1978.

After this, his life did not go well: he sued the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation for allegedly violating his Opportunity Knocks copyright and lost, leaving him with a large legal bill. He had always been a smoker and heavy drinker, and started taking barbiturates; he was diagnosed with cancer in 1993, and it eventually spread to his lungs.

There are a number of Opportunity Knocks links on YouTube. Here’s a show from 1968 featuring Green as host.

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Film star rescued from fire

Here’s a short article from the October 21 1935 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about a film star who was rescued from a burning cottage.

Laura La Plante (1904-1996) lived for over 60 years after being carried to safety by her doctor. Her career peaked in the silent film era; between 1933 and 1935, she appeared in British films produced by Warner Brothers’ Teddington Studios, known for producing “quota quickie” films.

While there, she met Teddington Studios film producer Irving Asher; the two married in 1934, and remained married until he passed away in 1985.