Doles Dickens and The Whispers

The January 23 1951 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featured this ad:


I’m not sure why the ad cropped Mr. Dickens’ head so that it looks disembodied – that just looks weird.

Doles Dickens (1916-1972) was a jazz musician and bandleader based mostly in New York. When not touring, he was a session musician for many famous recording artists of the 1950s, including Bill Haley, Mahalia Jackson, and LaVern Baker.

YouTube includes a few songs of his, including Rock And Roll (1949), which is a cover of an earlier version by Wild Bill Moore. Some people consider this to be the first rock and roll song ever – I think that the evolution was too gradual to name one song as the first, but Moore’s version reminds me a lot of early Bill Haley and the Comets.


A night out in 1951

Here’s an ad for an evening of entertainment at the Prince George Hotel, featured in the Toronto Daily Star on November 30, 1951:


The Prince George was one of the oldest hotels in Toronto. Originally known as the Rossin House Hotel, it was renamed in 1909. It was torn down in 1969 when the Toronto-Dominion Centre was built.

YouTube has footage of Arthur Lee Simpkins singing on the television show You Asked For It in 1951 (I love footage from old TV shows). His voice apparently had tremendous range – based on what I heard, he certainly could hit the high notes!

“Chop Chop” was the stage name of an Australian magician named Al Wheatley (1901-1964). Charlene was his wife. Here is a picture of them.

Chicho Valle (1922 or 1924-1984) was a Cuban bandleader who became a naturalized Canadian citizen in 1961. He was invited to Canada to sing in 1946 and just stayed. I guess he liked it here.


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.