Madame Curie

The November 27 1937 edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail contained ads from both Simpson’s and Eaton’s for a new book about scientist Marie Curie. The book was written by her daughter, Ève:



Careful shoppers would have noted that the book cost $4 at both stores. The stores knew a good thing when they saw one: the book became a bestseller and won the National Book Award for non-fiction.

Ève was the only member of her immediate family not to become a Nobel prize winner. Her parents, Pierre and Marie Curie, her sister, Irène Joliot-Curie, and her brother-in-law, Frédéric Joliot-Curie, all won Nobel Prizes for science. Her husband, Henry Richardson Labouisse, Jr., collected the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965 on behalf of UNICEF.

Ève Curie lived a long life, passing away in 2007 at the age of 102.



The November 27 1937 edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail contained this ad whose title was not particularly well hand-printed:


The teacher in this ad, William Dennison (1905-1981) led an interesting life. Growing up on a farm, he left home at 15 to work in lumber camps and help with prairie harvests in the summer. When young, he stammered so badly that he could not pronounce his own name. Eventually, he figured out how to control his stammering, and opened his own school of speech correction.

At about this time, he decided to become a politician, running as a school trustee. The same edition of the Globe and Mail listed everyone running for elected office in the 1938 elections, including these trustee candidates:


He was elected, and went on to become an alderman in 1941. He was involved in provincial politics as a member of the CCF from 1943 to 1951, and returned to Toronto city council as an alderman in 1953. He moved up to the Board of Control in 1958, and was elected mayor in 1966 (against the opposition of all three daily Toronto papers), serving until 1972. By the end of his career, he was more politically conservative, becoming pro-development and anti-hippie.


Communist Smith

The November 20 1937 edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail had an article that caught my attention:


The article discusses two proposals put forward by Toronto alderman Stewart Smith, who is referred to later in the article as “Communist Alderman Smith”. Presumably, the Globe and Mail did not intend this as a compliment.

Stewart Smith (c. 1907-1993) served as an alderman until 1944, and then on the Board of Control in 1945-1946, before being defeated in the 1947 elections. He remained as head of the Ontario branch of the Communist Party of Canada’s successor, the Labor-Progressive Party, until 1956.

After this, he went from communism to capitalism. The 1958 city directory lists him as running Smith Appliances & Furniture. By 1963, he had co-founded Top Discount Stores, a chain of drug stores; by 1969, the chain had expanded to 10 branches in Toronto. Top Discount sold to Shoppers Drug Mart in 1978.

Ironically, one of the motions that “Communist Alderman Smith” had put forward in 1937 was an increase in the assessment tax on chain stores. Perhaps his research into chain stores in the 1930s gave him a competitive advantage when he decided to start one.



I am endlessly fascinated by society (or, rather, Society) pages; eventually, I will probably post a whole bunch of entries about them (I’ve been saving them up).

The Society page in the June 19 1937 edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail contained this small note, which I enjoyed:


I looked everything up in the 1937 Toronto city directory, naturally. Here’s what I found:

  • No. 5 Police Station was located at 135-7 Davenport Road. The building still stands – it is now Toronto EMS Station 45. There isn’t any lawn there anymore, though, as the building has been added to, and other buildings have been built right next to it.
  • Joseph V. Gundy was the manager of Charles Tennant & Co. (Canada), a chemical company. (They still exist.)
  • There are nine women named Agnes Campbell listed in the directory. Two are widows, and one is listed as “Agnes Mrs”; we can rule them out, so there are six possibilities. I have no idea which is the right one: the teacher, the nurse, the salesclerk, the clerk at Bell Telephone, or one of the two with no listed occupation? I’ll never know.


The June 19 1937 edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail contained two quite similar-looking ads for products that prevented constipation.

The first is for Kellogg’s All-Bran:


The second is for Feen-a-mint:


Both of these products have appeared before in this blog:

Sometime, I’ll try to figure out exactly when ads stopped containing so much text. Probably about when it started to be easier to print photographs.


Beryl Markham

The June 19 1937 edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail included this photograph of British aviator Beryl Markham:


Beryl Markham (1902-1986) deserves to be thought of as famous – she was the first female pilot to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean. She accomplished this on September 4, 1936, after several women had died trying.

Ms. Markham led an interesting life. Among other things:

  • She grew up in Kenya, which was then part of British East Africa, on her father’s horse racing farm. She moved back to Kenya in 1952, and became a successful horse trainer there.
  • She had an affair with Prince Henry, a son of King George V.
  • She was a friend of Karen Blixen (who, as Isak Dinesen, wrote Out Of Africa), and had an affair with Blixen’s former romantic partner, Denys Finch Hatton. She turned down a chance to fly with him on the flight that killed him.
  • She wrote a memoir, West With The Night, that was published in 1942, and that remained obscure until one of Ernest Hemingway’s letters was discovered that praised her writing.
  • An impact crater on the planet Venus has been named “Markham” in her honour.

Proctors make less profit

The March 12 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad for an optician:


“Make Less Profit” is an unusual way to sell your business – but this was the end of the Great Depression, after all.

A search of the Toronto city directories revealed how Proctor Optical could have been able to make less profit on their glasses – the Proctors (Frank T., Homer F., and Frank N.) also operated a jewelry store at the same location. They had only recently branched out into the optical business, as the 1932 directory just listed them as jewellers.

By 1942, they were back to being just jewellers again, and they remained in business for many years. By 1957, only Homer F. and Frank N. were still around; by 1962, Frank N. was the only one left, and he had moved to 92A Yonge. (There was a Proctor’s Jewellers at 2313 Yonge run by P. H. Proctor, but I have no idea whether he was related.) I didn’t have the heart to find out whether Frank N. made it through the end of the 1960s or not.



The March 12 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained three separate ads for men’s Stetson hats, which were deliberately grouped together, of course.

The first ad was an ad by the Stetson hat people themselves:


John B. Stetson (1830-1907) was the inventor of the cowboy hat. He didn’t invent any of the hat styles shown here, but his hats were popular enough that they were often named after him.

The next two ads were for places you could buy Stetson hats. Here’s one:


The firm was actually called Calhoun’s Smile Hat Shops Ltd. It was not run by a man named Calhoun – the manager was one Thomas C. Hopkins – so I have no idea what the Calhoun’s Smile reference relates to. The 97 Yonge store was the first of the two stores to open for business, and started up sometime between 1922 and 1927.

By 1942, the 97 Yonge store had moved across the street to 94-96 Yonge. By 1947, the 96 Yonge store was the only one left. It lasted at least into the 1960s, as it appears in the 1967 city directory.

Here’s the other hat ad:


Unlike Calhoun and his smile, Jess Applegath was an actual person. However, the 1937 city directory also lists a company named L J Applegath & Son Limited, which also sold men’s hats and shoes, and had six Applegaths working for it at four locations in the city. I was curious: when did the split happen? Or were the Applegaths unrelated, which would be a monumental coincidence?

I went looking back through city directories, and found that there had been two separate Applegath hat firms going back to before the 20th century:

  • The 1895 city directory lists Llwellyn J. Applegath making hats at 213 Yonge, and Applegath & Harbottle making hats at 89 Yonge.
  • In 1890, the two Applegath branches finally connect up: Jesse (as he was then known), Llwellyn J. and Llwellyn J. Jr. were all living at the same home address. Jesse and Junior were working at Simpson’s, and Llwellyn Sr. was making hats at 253 Yonge.

I guess that Jess just wanted to strike out on his own.

Both Applegath firms remained in business through at least 1962, with Jess holding on to one store at 85 Yonge and L J & Son (run by various Applegaths over time) in two or three stores at various locations. (I have no idea whether this was the original Jess or not – he would have to be quite old by now, but I don’t see evidence of two men named Jess in the directory.) By the time of Canada’s centennial in 1967, though, there was nobody named Applegath making hats in Toronto.

The Vintage Toronto group on Facebook has a photograph of the Jess Applegath store window from 1931, and the Toronto Archives Twitter feed has a photo of the L J & Son branch at 155 Yonge from 1913.


Scholes Hotel

The March 12 1937 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad for the Scholes Hotel:


From the Toronto city directories, I traced the history of the Scholes Hotel:

  • In the 1880 directory, John F. Scholes is listed as operating the Toronto Athletic Club at 185 Yonge Street.
  • In the 1885 and 1890 directories, 185 Yonge is just listed as a saloon, run by John F. Scholes.
  • In the 1900 directory, the Athlete Hotel is listed at 203 Yonge, with J F Scholes as the proprietor.
  • The building is named the Athlete Hotel until 1924, if the city directories are to be believed, and was renamed the Scholes Hotel in 1925. (Some sources list the name change as happening in 1918.)
  • By 1946, the Scholes Hotel was at 201-3 Yonge, and John L. Scholes was the president of its company. Maude L. Scholes was the secretary-treasurer.
  • In 1947, the hotel was sold; it was still listed as the Scholes Hotel, but Harvey Lichtenberg had taken over as president. He remodelled it into the Colonial Tavern.

BlogTO has a picture of the Scholes Hotel – its sign is quite striking.



1937 speakers

The April 17 1937 edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail contained two interesting ads for speakers.

The first was for a speech from what could be considered the 1937 equivalent of Tony Robbins:


A search for G. E. Marchand turned up nothing, other than an eBay ad for a photograph of Mr. Marchand from 1934, in which he was billed as “America’s famous maker of successful men and women”.

The second ad was for a speech on education:


A search for Joseph McCulley turned up this link, which claimed that Mr. McCulley was influenced by progressivism, social Christianity, and democratic socialism. Pickering College is located in Newmarket, and still exists.