Cracked “male barrier”

The December 4 1956 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featured a photo of Jean Dorothy Reading Newman, the first woman to be elected to the Board of Control in Toronto.


Jean Newman (1905-1971) served only one term on the Toronto Board of Control. In 1958, she ran for mayor, finishing third behind incumbent Nathan Phillips and former mayor Allan Lamport. In 1962, she ran as a Liberal candidate in a by-election and lost; she left politics after that.


Imperial and Commerce

The February 21 1956 edition of the Toronto Daily Star included ads from the Imperial Bank of Canada and the Canadian Bank of Commerce, which hadn’t yet merged.

The Imperial Bank featured ants:


And the Bank of Commerce pointed out that ready cash is a good thing:


The two banks merged in 1961 to become the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.



Occasionally, I’m reminded that it was standard practice until relatively recently to use the term “girl” to refer to a mature woman as well as a female child. (It’s still used occasionally here and there.)

The May 15 1956 edition of the Toronto Daily Star had two examples of this. One was a want ad for waitresses at Fran’s restaurant:


There are still Fran’s restaurants in Toronto, but not at Yonge and Eglinton any more.

The other is in an ad for clothes for tall women:


In the mid-1950s, the average height of Canadian women was a shade under 5′ 3″. In 1914, it was 5′ 2″, and in 2014, it was 5′ 4″.

The 1956 Toronto City Directory lists this clothing store as “Tall Gals Regd”. They stayed in business until at least 1968; I only have access to city directories up to the end of the 1960s, so I don’t know how much longer they stayed at Yonge and Dundas. That side of Yonge eventually became the Eaton Centre, so they might have lasted until then.


Mother saves boy

The November 5 1956 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this small article about a woman who ran back into a burning house to successfully save her three-year-old son:


Because the Toronto city directories enable me to snoop, I can tell you that:

  • The family was actually named Boutilier – the Star left off the first “i” in their name.
  • The burning house was at 164 Munro Street. (The house was restored after the fire, and still stands – you can see that the bricking at the front of the house is newer than that of its neighbours.)
  • The Boutiliers moved to 953 Greenwood after the fire, as that’s where they were in the 1957 city directory. I didn’t trace them after that.

More breathing

When looking through the November 5 1956 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, I found another advertisement for The Institute of Breathing (Can.):


I love everything about this ad:

  • The suggestion that EVERY MINUTE COUNTS in the fight for health.
  • Testimonials from “Mother” and “Lady aged 83”.
  • You could phone them 24 hours a day, any day, to get the free booklet!

I’ve discussed The Institute of Breathing (Can.) in a previous post. As before, I’ve found nothing in the Toronto city directories that referred to this institute.

I notice that this ad asks readers to send to Dept. S-8, whereas the ad in 1957 referred them to Dept. T8 – how did they organize and number their departments? Why was was there a dash in department S-8, but none in department T8? Was there a department R-8, or a department S9? I need to know, and I may never find out!


Entertainment in 1956

The November 5 1956 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained these two ads for people looking for entertainment options for the evening:



A Google search for Ruthie Price was a bit confusing, as there is a young drummer with that name. But this ad might refer to Ruth Price, an American jazz singer, artistic director, and adjunct assistant professor of ethnomusicology. She is still alive; she will turn 81 this year.

Ralph Sharon (1923-2015) became a naturalized American citizen, and went on to collaborate with Tony Bennett for more than 50 years, touring with him and working on his albums.

Moxie Whitney (1919-1989) was a Canadian musician who led bands in Ottawa, Toronto, Lake Louise, Banff, and various Canadian places between 1946 and 1982, briefly moving away to lead a band in Honolulu and the Bahamas.

I could find nothing on Jean Ramsay and Roy Roberts; either their fame didn’t reach beyond Toronto, or their names weren’t unusual enough for Google to pick them out from their namesakes.


Engaged to Maharajah

The May 15 1956 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this human interest story:


The marriage of the Maharajah and Maharanee of Mymensingh did not last – according to the May 26, 1959 edition of the Panama American, she grew tired of a life of luxury and went back to London to work as a washing machine demonstrator. The two were divorced later that year, and this picture claims that she then became Mrs. Dick Garland.