King leaves palace

The November 30 1951 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had an article about King George VI:


The King had been a heavy smoker and had understandably suffered a lot of stress due to the war. He was able to carry out some state duties, but his Christmas broadcast had to be recorded in sections. He passed away on February 6, 1952.


1951 municipal election

When looking through the November 30 1951 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, I discovered that there was a Toronto municipal election in progress. If you think that modern municipal campaigns are tiresome, consider this: at the time, municipal elections were held every year. In fact, up until 1949, they were held on New Year’s Day!

Naturally, there were a number of campaign advertisements. The one for William C. Davidson was a model of efficiency, except perhaps for the asterisks:


I particularly like the “ETC.”, and voters apparently did too – Davidson was re-elected. He remained in office until the 1964 elections, in which he lost decisively.

Mayoral candidate Allan Lamport’s ad was the most colourful:


His ad was effective too – he won the election. He became the first Liberal mayor of Toronto since 1909, though apparently this was partly because incumbent Hiram E. McCallum and Nathan Phillips split the more conservative vote.

Lamport‘s original claim to fame was advocating that Torontonians be allowed to play sports on Sundays. He served as mayor for less than three years, winning two more elections, before resigning to join the TTC as vice-chairman and later chairman, putting forward the Bloor-Danforth subway. Later in the decade, he opposed the hippies in Yorkville, advocating that the street be demolished and replaced with a shopping mall. He died in 1999 at the age of 96.

Here’s the ad that I found was the most unusual:


The ad refers to Ford Brand, who had finished fifth in the 1950 Board of Control race with 66,235 votes (the top four got in). When sitting controller John Innes passed away, Brand was not appointed in his place, which upset Mr. Probert. Brand wound up winning in 1951, but Probert finished a distant fourth in his race.

The Ward 4 alderman race was the most interesting, at least to me. One of the candidates was Norman Freed, a member of the Labor-Progressive Party, which was a successor to the Communist Party after it was banned in 1940. Freed held office in Ward 4 from 1944 until the December 1950 election, and was trying to return to office in 1951:


Naturally, some of his opponents helpfully pointed out that one of the candidates in the riding was a Communist:



Voters picked two candidates in each ward, which is why Mr. Chambers referred to two votes in his ad. As it turned out, Chambers was elected, and Freed and Campbell were not.

The last thing I found was the Daily Star’s endorsements for the election:


Of the Star’s preferred candidates, their choice for mayor did not get in, but all four controllers did. All of the preferred alderman candidates got in except for Darrell Draper in Ward 4, and Frank Clifton and Lester Nelson in Ward 6.

Annual Toronto municipal elections eventually stopped happening: the term of office went up to two years in 1956, three years in 1966, and four years in 2006.


Inferiority complex

The March 15 1952 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featured this ad for a free book:


Eradicate negative impulses forever!

Naturally, I wanted to find out more about the British Institute of Practical Psychology. A Google search yielded this page, which discussed the history of “practical psychology” in Britain. This page describes a series of handbooks written in the 1930s and 1940s on various topics, including the inferiority complex; this book might have been one of them.

Next up, I searched the Toronto city directories. I’ve mentioned them before, but they’re wonderful – they are organized both by street and by name. The name section lists people’s names, addresses, and occupations. It’s perfect for random snooping!

When I looked up “British Institute of Practical Psychology” in the city directories, I discovered that they set up shop at their Sherbourne Street location in 1951, with E. Jay Johnson in charge. Looking up 442 Sherbourne Street and E. Jay Johnson revealed that Mr. Johnson also was in charge of two other firms at the same address, both of which were correspondence schools: the Lincoln Institute, and the National Institute of Professional Salesmanship.

Business must not have been good, because by 1955, the National Institute of Professional Salesmanship and the Lincoln Institute were no longer in existence, and E. Jay Johnson was no longer listed in the city directory. (Either that, or Mr. Johnson was no longer in existence.) The British Institute of Practical Psychology was still around, though: T. E. Boyle, who had been secretary-treasurer of the Lincoln Institute, now ran it, and it was located at 2930 Bloor Street West in Etobicoke (later listed as 2932). By 1960, though, the institute was no more.


Dominion Day

Today is Canada Day, of course, but it used to be known as Dominion Day.

The March 19 1953 edition of the Globe and Mail reported on a Liberal MP who objected to the name Dominion Day, but was rebuffed:


According to the Wikipedia entry on Canada Day, Mr. Côté first tried to get the name changed in 1946 in a private member’s bill. The bill was stalled in the Senate, which recommended that the name be changed to “The National Holiday Of Canada”, which was understandably rejected. He tried several times after that, and was rejected each time; the 1953 attempt might well have been his last, as he died of a heart attack in 1954 at the too-early age of 51.

By the early 1980s, many Canadians were using the term “Canada Day”, and the name was officially changed on October 27, 1982. Future prime minister Stephen Harper introduced a private member’s bill in 1996 calling for a return to the old name; it was defeated.


Coble’s Fisherman’s Calendar

The August 25 1955 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained an excerpt from Coble’s Fisherman’s Calendar, which claimed to provide the optimal time of day to dip your lure into the lake:


I’d say that you’d have to be really into fishing to want to be out there at 1:49 in the morning on September 1st. Especially since the fish aren’t really biting that day.

I couldn’t find out much about Coble’s Fisherman’s Calendar, other than that it was first published in 1928 and was in existence as late as 1964.



I’m not sure when newspapers stopped accepting ads for old-style patent medicines – or even if they ever have – but there were still ads for them as late as 1955. The August 25 1955 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contains this:


Templeton’s Raz-Mah capsules had been around for a long time – a trademark web site states that they were trademarked in 1921. This Flickr page has a photo of a Raz-Mah box (and a comment from Mr. Templeton’s great-grandson).

This page from the Eaton’s 1948-1949 catalogue includes a number of medicines, including Raz-Mah Reds (which presumably were discontinued by 1955, since they’re not mentioned in this ad). I have no idea what the difference is between Raz-Mah Greys and Raz-Mah Browns, other than that the latter were more expensive.

After reading this, I was curious: was Mrs. Victor Lee of 182 Sherbourne Street a real person? I decided to find out by looking in the Toronto city directory. The 1955 directory shows nobody at 182 Sherbourne Street:


Aha, I thought. But then I tried 1956, and lo and behold:


There appears to be a Mr. Victor Lee. Not sure whether there is a Mrs. Lee, but I would be surprised if the patent medicine people would go to the trouble of inventing a fake spouse for a real person. If she was fake, Mr. Lee would have been quite surprised to read that day’s paper!


Being healthier

Here’s another one from the May 1 1954 edition of the Toronto Star:


Lelord Kordel (1904-2001) was a self-proclaimed nutritionalist who tended to stretch the boundaries of truth a bit when describing his products: in 1971, after a long appeal, he was fined $10,000 and served one year in prison for fradulent health claims. One review of his book, Health Through Nutrition, claimed that it was “made up of such a weird concoction of science, pseudo-science, and dietary fads that it will be most difficult for the average reader to sift the authentic information from the unauthenticated claims, and to remain unaffected by the latter”.

Vitamin supplements are still being made under the Kordel brand; I have no idea if any of them are actually of any use.



Here’s a movie ad from the May 1 1954 edition of the Toronto Daily Star. Then, as now, movie ads followed a basic principle: sex sells.


A publicity photograph for the movie, later in the same edition, mislabelled it as “Rhadsody”:


Rotten Tomatoes was less than complimentary of this movie, giving it a so-so 59% rating. One reviewer’s comment: “Beautiful music, ravishing Elizabeth, pedestrian script.”


Elderly people, come to Victoria!

Here’s an ad from the May 1 1954 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


The Glenshiel Hotel still exists at this location – a sign at the entranceway boasts that it has been in existence since 1908. Their website advertises the hotel as “affordable living for independent seniors”. Keep this for future reference if you do not need it now!


Is there folk music in Canada?

When looking through old editions of the Toronto Daily Star, I discovered two competing viewpoints on the question of whether there is authentic folk music in Canada. On the “no” side, there is this article from the April 8 1940 edition:


Taking the “yes” side is this article from May 1 1954:IMG_0863

Boris Berlin (1907-2001) was a pianist and music teacher who taught at the Toronto Conservatory of Music for many decades. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2000, but passed away before the ceremony that honoured him.

Leslie Bell (1906-1962) did a bunch of musical things, including being the chair of the musical department at the Ontario College of Education from 1939 to 1948.

I have no idea whether these two men ever met. They were almost exact contemporaries, so it may very well have happened. I like to think of their meeting descending into a shouting match, especially since Dr. Bell described his opposing viewpoint as “a bit stupid”.