Eight fined $50

The February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained an article about eight people who were in court because they had been caught driving while impaired.

From this article, I learned that the going rate for driving while impaired in 1952 in Toronto was $50, which is equivalent to $479.86 in today’s money. While this isn’t that small a sum, I can’t help but think that drinking and driving was far more socially tolerated in 1952 than it is today.


Wed on the isle of Capri

Here’s a brief article from the February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star about the marriage of British singing star Gracie Fields:

Gracie Fields (1898-1979) was famous in 1930s Britain as a singer and actress. During the Second World War, she was married to Monty Banks, a citizen of Italy; to keep Banks from being interned as an enemy alien, the couple went to North America. Fields performed regularly for servicemen during the war, sometimes enduring air raids.

Ms. Fields was a widow when she met Mr. Alperovic, as Mr. Banks had passed away in 1950. Her Wikipedia page claims that she thought of Mr. Alperovic as the love of her life, and that she could not wait to propose to him, which she did on Christmas Day 1951. The marriage lasted: the couple remained together until her death.


Male pilots only, please

The February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained two ads for the Royal Canadian Air Force: one for men, and one for women.

Men were given the opportunity to become pilots:

Whereas women were only given the option of serving in the RCAF Auxiliary:

Sure, identifying and detecting approaching aircraft and working as a triangulation table operator were useful tasks and even essential ones. But I am sure that there were women who would have welcomed the opportunity to become a pilot if it had been available to them.



Here’s an ad from the February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for a company that offered personal loans.

I crunched the numbers on the loan amounts and costs, and the rates of return were 16.7% and higher. That’s a pretty good return on investment, I guess.

The Personal Finance Company kept opening branches over the next few years – the 1956 directory lists 24 branches. But it appears that they might have overextended themselves, as they weren’t listed in the 1957 directory.


The popular Video-ettes

Here’s a promotional photograph from the February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a couple who made music with bells:

Google searches turned up very little on either Art and Mabel Guinness or the Video-ettes. It didn’t help that a man named Arthur Guinness founded the Guinness beer empire in the 18th century. Just in case, I checked the Guinness family Wikipedia page to see if the Art Guinness in this photograph was a descendant. He appears not to be.

I did find this reference to the Video-ettes in a Bowmanville newspaper in 1950. This article stated that the Guinnesses were from Toronto, so I looked them up in the Toronto city directories. Sure enough, the 1952 directory listed Arthur M. Guinness as an entertainer and living on Bessborough Drive in Leaside; the 1955 directory had the same entry. But then, like many entertainers before and since, he got a day job: he was listed as an employee at the CBC in 1956, and then was working as a sales rep in 1957. By 1962, he was president of McLean Merchandise Sales.


1952 Oldsmobile

I have been spending a lot of time in the 1930s lately, but I recently looked up the February 18 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star and found a lot of stuff there, so we will be in 1952 for the next few days!

The first thing I noticed when looking at this edition was that there were a lot of ads for the new 1952 Oldsmobile. First, there was an ad for the Oldsmobile itself:

Then, there were a number of ads from automobile dealers who were inviting you to see the new Oldsmobile for yourself. Presumably, this was a coordinated effort. (I’m trying the WordPress image gallery feature again – click on an image to view it more completely.)

And, last but not least, there was a photo of the new Oldsmobile near the back of the paper:

The references to the Oldsmobile reminded me of this 1931 promotional cartoon, which included the song “In My Merry Oldsmobile”. The song was originally written in 1905.


76th birthday party

Here’s an ad from the October 5 1951 edition of the Toronto Daily Star for Northway and Son, the women’s clothes manufacturer that had been in business for 76 years.

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography has an entry on the original John Northway, who opened a store in Tillsonburg in 1873. He went on to be successful enough to leave a $1.8 million dollar estate when he passed away in 1926. That’s quite an impressive achievement for a man who started his working life apprenticed to a tailor in England, and whose apprenticeship was so oppressive that he tried to cut off his own thumb to get out of it.

Northway and Son lasted about a decade after this ad appeared. They are listed in the 1961 Toronto city directory but not in the 1963 directory.


1951 royal visit

The biggest news story in the October 5 1951 edition of the Toronto Daily Star was the royal visit of Princess Elizabeth and her husband Philip, then the Duke of Edinburgh. The royal couple were available for viewing in two locations in Toronto.

The viewing spot in the west end was the CNE Grandstand, where 36,000 people could watch the royal couple go around the track in their motorcade:

In the east end, the royals were to be driven through Riverdale Park. The royal car would go across on Gerrard, up Broadview Avenue, down Royal Drive, and into Riverdale Park:

Within Riverdale Park, the royal route looked like this:

The privilege of viewing the royals was provided to school pupils. They were organized into sections, based on what school they attended.

The layout in Riverdale Park was planned to look much as it did during King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s royal visit in 1939. 27,000 school pupils would view them there.

There is a National Film Board film of the 1951 royal visit.

To get to Riverdale Park, the royals entered on the appropriately named Royal Drive, which has an interesting history. It was originally named Winchester Drive, and extended from the Don River to Danforth Avenue. It was renamed in 1940 to honour the King and Queen’s 1939 visit. When the Don Valley Parkway was constructed, most of Royal Drive became a northbound on-ramp from Danforth Avenue.

This City of Toronto atlas from the late 1950s shows the original route of Royal Drive and the planned route of the on-ramp:

Here’s the view from Google Maps today:

There’s a path that runs north from the running track into the area where Royal Drive used to be, but it doesn’t follow the route of the old road. Viaduct Park, north of the on-ramp, is now the City Adult Learning Centre.

The entrance to the on-ramp still bears the Royal Drive name. Here’s a photo of it from Google Street View:

I’m thinking that there aren’t too many on-ramps that have a street name!

This 2012 blog entry provides more information on Royal Drive, including some old photos of the area.


Bite your nails?

Here’s a movie ad from the October 5 1951 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

I wonder if anyone actually wore gloves to the movie.

Seven Days To Noon was a British drama released there in 1950. It did reasonably well at the box office, and it won an Oscar for Best Story. The opening scene of the movie is available on YouTube.

By the way: when doing (minimal) research for this post, I discovered that Wikipedia has a list of fictional prime ministers of Britain. My favourite names from this list are Alan B’Stard and the Duke of Omnium.


New 1951 Prefects

Fans of the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy series will recognize the name of the car in this ad from the October 5 1951 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:

The Ford Prefect was manufactured in Britain from 1938 to 1941, and then again from 1945 to 1961. It was also manufactured in Canada, where it was built with left-hand drive for Canadian roads.

As for Cedarvale Motors: a search of the Toronto city directories revealed that they changed owners several times. They were at 1463 Eglinton West in 1956 and 1961, and they do not appear in the 1963 directory.