Trained seals

Here’s yet another ad from the July 22 1948 edition of the Toronto Daily Star.


Training seals was the life’s work of Captain John Tiebor, who began doing this in 1908 after abandoning a career as a bookkeeper. (Apparently, all seal trainers are given the title of Captain.) He passed away in 1945 at the age of 86; his sons took over from him.

The May 4 1912 edition of the Sydney Times had an article on the elder Tiebor and his seal training. A passage in this article is heartbreaking to me:

The average life of a seal in his natural conditions is 70 years. In captivity he seldom lives longer than 25 years, and most of them only last about 20. Then they die off suddenly, and for no apparent reason.


Regent Park

The July 22 1948 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a feature article about a new housing development that was going to replace a slum district in the east end of Toronto. This was the Regent Park project.


The diagram above is the architect’s representation of what the Regent Park buildings would look like. The grainy photo below showed the area as it was at the time.


There was also a photo showing the location of the first buildings to be put up:


And, for completeness, here’s the accompanying article (in two parts):



The Regent Park development fell into a state of disrepair in the 1960s, and the layout of the buildings, which isolated them from the rest of the city, made them a crime risk. The site is being redeveloped in a five-phase project that started in 2005.


The Handbag Hospital

The July 22 1948 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad:

IMG_3748 (1)

For some reason, the idea of a handbag hospital appealed to me – I’m imagining somebody in a white lab coat listening intently while applying a stethoscope to a Gucci bag.

The Toronto Handbag Hospital was a new business at the time this ad appeared. It doesn’t appear in the 1948 Toronto city directory, but does appear in the 1949 directory, with the proprietor being a gentleman named Brian Bourne. (Before this, Mr. Bourne had been the foreman at the Paragon Leather Goods Company; I guess he wanted to strike out on his own.) It remained at this location until at least 1965.

In 1967, the handbag hospital had moved to 284 Yonge, and the business was listed as being run by B. H. Bourne and Son. By 1969, Mr. Bourne had retired, and the Toronto Handbag Hospital was no more.


Charlie Spivak

The June 17 1946 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had this ad for an in-store appearance at Eaton’s main store:


Charlie Spivak (1905 or 1907-1982) was a trumpet player and bandleader who was at the peak of his fame in 1946. His nickname was “Cheery, Chubby Charlie”, and he was known as “The Man Who Plays The Sweetest Trumpet In The World”, which would be quite a handle to put on a business card. He was born either in 1905 in New Haven, Connecticut, or in 1907 in the Ukraine; I guess he never told anyone which it was.

YouTube has some examples of his work, including “Stardreams” from 1944.



The June 17 1946 Toronto Daily Star had this stylish-looking ad for the Packard automobile:


Packard Toronto Motors Limited existed at various locations on Yonge Street until at least 1953, but is not listed in the 1955 Toronto city directory. By 1957, Packards were no longer built.


National Clothing Collection

The June 17 1946 edition of the Toronto Daily Star reported that this was the first day of the National Clothing Collection, which was a drive to send used clothing to war-torn Europe. Toronto’s collection day was scheduled for June 19.

Here’s the main article on the National Clothing Collection:


The paper also contained an ad from the National Clothing Collection:


The paper also contained public service ads on the National Clothing Collection. Here’s one from the Chambers & Sons shoe store.


Chambers & Sons were at this location up until at least 1958, but were not in the 1960 Toronto city directory.

Here’s one from the Bank of Toronto.


And Simpson’s had one too:


Finally, the One Minute News About Johns-Manville feature encouraged its readers to give:




Here’s an ad from the June 11 1947 Toronto Daily Star that’s just plain weird:


What’s weirdest about this ad is that Abbey’s Effervescent Salt is actually a laxative, though the ad copy doesn’t mention it directly – it just says that Abbey’s “acts gently, effectively”. I’m not sure whether a laxative is the best remedy for overindulging, but then I’m not a medical doctor, am I?

Compare this ad to one that appeared in the April 8 1940 Toronto Daily Star, which went straight to the point:


Abbey’s Effervescent Salt had been around since the 19th century. The company published a book in 1898 titled Abbey’s Effervescent Salt: The Foundation of Health.

Wikipedia has a generic entry on fruit salts – Abbey’s was apparently created as a competitor to Eno’s Fruit Salt.


Weighty fleet

The June 11 1947 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a bit of filler that might very well be the most trivial fact ever included in a Toronto newspaper:


I love the “about 86,991 gross tons”. I guess it was actually 86.990.7326 gross tons or something like that.

And somebody counted all 949 ships.


The Next Of Kin

The June 8 1943 Toronto Daily Star contained this rather stark advertisement for a movie:


The Next Of Kin (1942) turns out to be a wartime propaganda film, stressing the importance of avoiding careless talk with what could possibly be enemy agents: “Be Like Dad: Keep Mum”. I’m not sure whether viewers lured in by this ad would have been disappointed or not; you can decide for yourself, as it is available on YouTube.

The Internet Movie Database rated this movie 6.8 out of 10. It was filmed at the Ealing Studios in London, which produced a number of critically-acclaimed films after the war.

The movie starred Mervyn Johns (1899-1992), who for some reason isn’t listed in this ad. Johns appeared in a number of Ealing movies, and appeared as Bob Cratchit in the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol (my favourite version). He appeared in his last movie in 1976.

Wikipedia also has pages for listed starsĀ Nova Pilbeam, Phyllis Stanley, Basil Sydney, Reginald Tate, and Mary Clare.


Mystery possibly solved

When looking through the June 5 1944 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, I found this ad for a dry cleaner:


This ad refers to a Retex dry cleaning method, which might explain these ads from 1932.

The 1944 city directory lists 24 branches of Langley’s, in addition to their main offices at 241-253 Spadina Road. During the war, they were looking for married women to serve at their locations, as shown by this June 8 1943 ad in the Toronto Daily Star:


By 1955, Langley’s was down to 16 branches from their wartime 24. By 1965, they were down to 10 branches, and presumably the count gradually diminished after that.