Study this picture

Here’s an ad for a housing development in Scarborough from the December 2 1955 edition of the Toronto Daily Star:


The neighbourhood still exists today – here’s a closeup of it in Google Maps. There’s also this Google Street View picture of a house that looks like the one in the drawing.


Vive la France

Here’s a photograph from the December 2 1955 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a French actress.


Martine Carol (1920-1967) was a major star in France in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and was considered the French equivalent of Marilyn Monroe. Sadly, like Monroe, she had a troubled personal life: she was married four times, had drug problems, and attempted suicide. Also, like Monroe, she died young: she had a heart attack in a hotel room in Monte Carlo.


Free tea towel

In 1955, makers of laundry detergent were competing with one another by offering a free tea towel, included in the box.

The October 26 1955 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained two ads for detergent with towels:



Vel was a Colgate-Palmolive brand; it was retired in 2002. (“Vel” is the middle syllable of “marvelous”.) Breeze was from Lever Products (now Unilever); the brand is still in use in Asia.


The limits of faith healing

Here are two articles, more than three decades apart, which seemingly prove that faith healing has limits.

First, there’s this item from the September 2 1922 Toronto Daily Star:


I get the impression that the article writer quite enjoyed writing this piece. (I left in the Star want ads bit at the bottom because it seemed to somehow fit.)

Nearly a third of a century later, the July 26 1955 Toronto Daily Star contained this:


Wikipedia has an entry for George Went Hensley. He taught a form of Pentecostalism that “emphasized personal holiness and frequent contact with venomous snakes”.


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!