India’s Jane Russell

The February 7 1953 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained two photographs of an actress from India:

Searches turned up very little on India’s Jane Russell. I found separate Internet Movie Database entries for Mohna and Mohana; a little digging revealed that these were the same person. From this, I learned:

  • She was born in 1929.
  • Her birth name was apparently Mona Cabral.
  • Her current husband was her second – her first husband, also an Englishman, died in a plane crash. Her son was from this marriage.
  • She and her second husband moved to Beirut.
  • She passed away of a heart attack in 1990.

Jane Russell (1921-2011) was an actress and singer known for her well-rounded figure. She was discovered by Howard Hughes in 1940; he directed her in The Outlaw (1943), a movie that controversially showcased her natural endowments.


Queen Elizabeth received bouquet

Here’s a photo from the February 17 1953 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a child actress who was presenting Queen Elizabeth II with a bouquet of flowers.

Brigitte Fossey was six years old when this photograph was taken. She appeared in her first film, Forbidden Games, in 1952, when she was five; this movie won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

In 1956, Ms. Fossey’s parents took her out of the film business so that she could receive a proper education. She returned to acting in the mid-1960s and married director Jean-François Adam in 1966. They had one child; tragically, Adam shot himself in 1980. Ms. Fossey is still alive; she turns 76 in June.


Granddaughter of King Haakon

Here’s a photo from the February 17 1953 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a Norwegian princess who was about to be married.

Princess Ragnhild (1930-2012) was, at her birth, the first Norwegian royal to actually be born in Norway since 1301. She was never in the line of succession for the Norwegian throne, as Norway’s monarchy was for men only. She was, however, 18th in line of succession to the British throne when she was born.

When she and Erling Lorentzen got married, her official title became “Her Highness Princess Ragnhild, Mrs. Lorentzen”. The couple moved to Brazil, where he ran a gas distribution company that he bought from Esso. Their marriage lasted; they remained together until she passed away.

Mr. Lorentzen passed away only last year, having celebrated his 98th birthday a few weeks earlier.


The Sterling Hotel

The November 27 1953 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this ad for a hotel in Miami Beach:


The ad doesn’t provide any details on which specific Orthodox rabbis were serving as a reference.

I did some Google searching, and turned up an ad for a plate for sale from the hotel, and an ad for the hotel from a 1970 edition of the Indianapolis Jewish Post. I also saw the odd postcard or two from the late 1960s. The 1970 reference was the latest I could find, and apparently condos were built on the site in 1991.


Mr. Morgan

The November 27 1953 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this picture of a celebrity dog.


A little digging revealed that Mr. Morgan’s full name was J. J. Morgan. He was a basset hound who appeared on TV shows in the early 1950s, including The Garry Moore Show. He was famous enough that somebody made a plush toy of him.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary uses Morgan as an example in their definition of basset hound. And Mashable has a number of pictures of the celebrity canine.


Dad and mom and Ricci

The November 27 1953 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included this photo of parents and a new baby.


Dean Martin (1917-1995) and his wife, the former Jeanne Biegger, divorced in 1973 after 24 years of marriage. Ricci Martin (1953-2016) became a musician, recording with Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys and touring as their opening act. His mother passed away three weeks after he did.


$20,000,000 village

The November 27 1953 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained an article announcing a planned residential and industrial development near Eglinton and Victoria Park, to be known as Victoria Park Village.



Like Don Mills, which had been started the previous year, Victoria Park Village was intended to be a self-contained community – the people who lived in the residential section of the neighbourhood would work in the industrial section and shop at the nearby shopping centres.

Victoria Park Village was not built according to this design. This might have been because Hurricane Hazel ripped through the Toronto area in 1954, which caused Toronto city planners to rethink the idea of building on low-lying flood plains. Or perhaps it was because the city planned to reroute Lawrence Avenue, which happened by around 1959. At any rate, the neighbourhood was developed differently, and eventually became known as Victoria Village.

Perhaps it’s just as well – the original plans called for houses to be constructed “at the lowest possible cost”, and for a sewage disposal plant to be “hidden away in the Don Valley”. The plant would have been to the west of Victoria Park Village, which meant the prevailing west-to-east winds would have wafted the smell of sewage over the unfortunate homeowners to the east.

Here’s an excerpt from a 1958 map of Toronto, showing the early stages of Victoria Village as it eventually developed:

Victoria Village 1958

And here’s the Google Maps view of the neighbourhood today:

Victoria Village 2017.png

Some of the Victoria Park Village planning still survives: the area on either side of the railroad at the top left of this picture was zoned industrial, and is accessible from Railside Road and the north side of Carnforth Road. The stretch of Eglinton between Sloane and Victoria Park used to contain shopping centres, but they have been gone for some time now. The location of the planned sewage disposal unit is now part of the Charles Sauriol Conservation Area, which is designed to preserve the East Branch of the Don River.

And I suppose that it’s worth mentioning that Toronto Life magazine, in its recent ranking of Toronto neighbourhoods, ranks Victoria Village at 132 out of 140. I suppose it could be worse – the neighbourhood just to the north, Parkwoods-Donalda, ranks 139th.


Riverdale Terrace

The October 23 1953 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained an ad for a skating rink at Danforth and Broadview:


A search through the Toronto city directories revealed that Riverdale Terrace didn’t last long. It first appears in the 1952 city directory, and last appears in the 1959 directory.

When searching through the directories, I also discovered that there was a baseball stadium at Danforth and Broadview between 1952 and 1960 (when, presumably, it was destroyed to make room for the Don Valley Parkway). The stadium was called Millen Memorial Stadium, after Gordon Millen, the MPP for the riding who passed away in 1948 while in office. (I couldn’t find anything on Millen Memorial Stadium, but the Spacing Toronto website has photos of people playing baseball in Riverdale Park.)

The building currently at this location, the City Adult Learning Centre, first appears in the 1964 city directory under its original name, Parkway Vocational School.


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.