Lilian Harvey

The January 16 1947 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this pair of photographs of former film star Lilian Harvey:


The story of Lilian Harvey (1906-1968) turns out to be quite interesting and a little sad. Daughter of a German father and an English mother, Ms. Harvey began her career in Berlin, and starred in a number of silent and talking films in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. Because she had Jewish and gay colleagues, she was watched closely by the Gestapo; she eventually fled Germany in 1939, leaving behind a fortune in real estate, which was confiscated. She moved to Vichy France, but fled to the U.S. in 1942 when the Germans overran France.

After the war, she returned to Paris, where she was photographed in the newer photo above. Her Wikipedia page doesn’t include a lot of information about her post-war career, which suggests that her comeback might not have been as successful as hoped. She eventually moved to the French Riviera, opened a souvenir shop, and raised edible snails. And why not? (The French term for edible snails, “escargot”, sounds more yummy.)


No traffic deaths in year

The December 11 1947 edition of the Toronto Daily Star reported that the borough of East York was close to achieving the goal of no traffic deaths in the year.


Admittedly, there were fewer people living in East York in 1947 than there are now. Still, that is an impressive achievement.


Two bit imposter

The December 11 1947 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had a brief article on a man who was going into taverns and pretending to be Tom Longboat, a famous Canadian runner:


Sadly, Tom Longboat was not alive for very long after this article appeared: he passed away from pneumonia in January, 1949.

Oddly enough, this wasn’t the first time that Longboat had been plagued by an impersonator. In 1917, a man named Edgar Laplante travelled around America giving concerts and pretending to be him, and then enlisted in the U.S. Army Transport Service under Longboat’s name. When the fake Longboat was killed in action, newspaper stories reported his death. His wife believed them, and remarried in 1918; when the real Longboat returned, she preferred to remain married to her new husband. Undaunted, Longboat remarried and had four children.


Pre-Christmas smells

For many years, the Toronto Daily Star published a collection of odds and sods on its editorial page, entitled “A Little Of Everything”. This collection always led off with a daily poem; the poems are of varying quality.

Here’s a sample from December 11 1947:


I picked this one (which seems a bit more on the doggerel side to me) because the author’s name and address was posted, which enabled me to try to trace her in the Toronto city directories. The 1947 directory lists Arthur Sutherland at 425 Glencairn (the directory, a bastion of sexism, only listed the husband at a particular residence). He was the secretary-treasurer of the Blachford Shoe Manufacturing Company Limited, which is as good a thing to be as any. Moving forward:

  • By 1952, he was the vice-president as well as the secretary-treasurer.
  • In 1957, he is still at 425 Glencairn, but has no occupation listed.
  • In 1958, he took up a new job at Gerry Lewis Limited.
  • In 1959, he moved to Oakville.
  • In 1969, the latest directory I can access, he was still at Gerry Lewis Limited, but had moved back to Toronto, at 4 Deer Park Crescent. There’s no way of knowing whether Lola, the author, was still alive, because she would have been listed only if Arthur had passed on or the two had gotten divorced.

Philip will get $100,000

Here’s a brief note about the royal family from the December 11 1947 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


It’s been 72 years since this article, and both Prince Philip and (now) Queen Elizabeth are still living. I wonder if Philip still gets his allowance increased to $100,000 if she passes away before he does?


Help for some women but not all

So far, I’ve found two ads in 1947 newspapers for products that claim to help some women, but not all.

First, there’s this ad from the June 11 1947 Toronto Daily Star, in which 9 out of 10 women get to have their hair glorified:


And the November 6 1947 Toronto Daily Star has an ad for a product that offers lovelier skin for 2 out of 3 women:


Putting on my nerd hat: if we assume that the two products are independent – if there is no correlation between hair and skin improvement – calculations indicate that 3.3% of women receive no hair or skin help from these products. Pity these unfortunate few!



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.


Marketing Ovaltine

While collecting newspaper ads and articles, I’ve noticed a whole bunch of ads for Ovaltine, which Wikipedia calls a “brand of milk flavoring product made with malt extract.” However, the makers of Ovaltine have never been sure how to market it. They’ve tried just about everything.

In the July 7 1923 Toronto Globe, they marketed Ovaltine as a sleep aid:

1923 July 7 Globe

In the September 19 1925 Toronto Globe, they marketed it as a “pick-up” for listless office workers.

1925 Sep 19 Globe

The September 7 1927 Toronto Globe praised it as a sustaining tonic that helped distance swimmer Georges Michel make it across the English Channel. It was apparently his only nourishment during the ordeal.

1927 Sep 7 Globe

The October 1 1928 Toronto Daily Star included “a message of national importance”, offering health for all at lower cost:

1928 Oct 1 Star

Sixteen days later, in the October 17 1928 Toronto Daily Star, they recommended heating Ovaltine to relieve afternoon fatigue:

1928 Oct 17 Star

During the midst of an influenza epidemic, the December 22 1928 Toronto Globe stated that Ovaltine could protect you from the flu:

1928 Dec 22 Globe

In the April 20 1929 Toronto Globe, they were back to marketing Ovaltine as a cure for sleeplessness:

1929 Apr 20 Globe

And, the February 25 1930 Toronto Daily Star suggested that it was a delicious and healthful beverage after an evening of bridge.

1930 Feb 25 Star

This was the end of what you might call The Golden Age of Ovaltine. I found some Ovaltine ads much later, in the 1940s and 1950s – by then, they had settled on their niche, which was that Ovaltine was a useful supplement for babies and small children. From the June 8 1943 Toronto Daily Star:

1943 Jun 8 Star

And from the March 25 1947 Toronto Daily Star:

1947 Mar 25 Star

And, finally, from the February 2 1950 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

1950 Feb 2 Star

This ad also mentions that Ovaltine can maintain the mother’s health and strength. Or perhaps stave off sleeplessness. Or whatever.

Throughout the years, Ovaltine was always marketed by A. Wander, Limited, first located in Toronto and then in Peterborough. I think I would have liked to sit in on one of their marketing strategy meetings.


The atomic bomb and the future

The March 25 1947 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained multiple advertisements for a lecture on the atomic bomb and the future.



Dr. Omond Solandt (1909-1993) was a Canadian scientist who held a number of  posts during and after the war, including Chancellor of the University of Toronto, vice-president of research and development for Canadian National Railways, and president of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

I’m not sure whether Marian Grudeff (1927-2006) performed during Dr. Solandt’s talk or separately from it – my guess is that she went on first. She was a Canadian pianist and musical theatre composer, and taught at the Royal Conservatory of Music.