Feel fit – it’s easy!

The February 19 1959 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained one of a series of fitness exercises.


A search for “Morris Sobel” yielded references to a dentist of that name. Refining the search to “Morris Sobel fitness” produced a link to a Getty Images photograph of Mr. Sobel teaching a fitness class at the Jewish Community Centre in Toronto in 1982. He was also apparently part of a wrestling squad (presumably high-school or college) in 1946.


The February 19 1959 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained a sad story about a young girl who died of measles:


Such stories were sadly common before the MMR vaccine (measles/mumps/rubella) was in common use: there were normally about 300 deaths a year in Canada. The measles vaccine was licensed for use in Canada in 1963, and immunization at one year of age became standard by the early 1970s.

Consumers Distributing

The February 19 1959 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained an ad for the then relatively new Consumers Distributing catalogue store:

The Wikipedia entry for Consumers Distributing lists them as opening their first store in 1957, but their first appearance in the Toronto city directories is in 1956, when they were listed at 1304 Eglinton Avenue West as “cookware distributors”. They moved to their Castlefield Avenue location in 1959.

Consumers Distributing did not expand right away: the 1965 city directory still lists only the one location, though it was now 1200 Castlefield, not 1260 Castlefield. By 1967, they had opened a second branch at 1536 Midland Avenue in Scarborough, and by 1969 had added two more branches at 320 Kipling Avenue South in Etobicoke and 660 Eglinton Avenue East in Leaside. At its peak, the chain operated 243 stores in Canada.

Davisville School

In 2017, the Globe and Mail published an article that discussed controversial plans to tear down Davisville Public School and a nearby school for the hearing-impaired. Some people believe that the building, constructed in 1962, should be preserved as a heritage site.

When I was looking at the July 29 1959 edition of the Toronto Daily Star, I discovered that the creation of this building was as controversial as its planned demolition. Apparently, the Toronto Board of Education had requested expropriation of houses on Davisville Avenue and Millwood Road in a meeting on March 19, but hadn’t informed the homeowners until June 3:


When I compared the 1958 and 1963 Toronto city directories, I determined that the unlucky homeowners who were forced out lived at 44 through 64 Davisville Avenue and 49 through 81 Millwood Road.

Sunbeam Heights

The July 29 1959 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained this somewhat aggressive ad for a new housing development near Newmarket:


Forty families decided to stay!

The downside of living here was that Newmarket is a fair distance from Toronto even now – under ideal conditions, it’s a 47 minute drive from there to Toronto City Hall. In 1959, it would have seemed even more remote.

The real estate firm of Brethour & Morris seems to have been a thriving entity in 1959: there were four branches in existence throughout the city. There seems to have been some sort of split immediately after that, though: by 1961, there was just Brethour Real Estate. Mr. Morris became president of Trade-In Homes Ltd. in 1960, and was employed by Renoir Investments in 1961.

I have no idea where Sunbeam Heights is now – the name doesn’t appear on local maps, and a Google search for “Sunbeam Heights Newmarket” turned up nothing.

Drab, lifeless piece

The July 29 1959 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featured this less than favourable review of the film The Hangman:


This review and this movie are only interesting because they featured Tina Louise, who went on to fame as Ginger in Gilligan’s Island. She is now 84, and is one of two cast members of that show who is still alive (the other is Dawn Wells, who played Marianne).

Wikipedia has a brief entry for The Hangman. Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t have enough critical reviews to give it a rating.

I could find nothing on Ron Johnson, the theatre critic that panned this movie and Ms. Louise. It doesn’t help that he has such a common name.

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.

Wasted effort

Here’s a bit of filler from the June 6 1959 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that I enjoyed:


The Internet Movie Database has a complete record of Mr. Crow’s career, which started with Career, in which he played an uncredited young soldier.

After this, he went on to do mostly TV series, including six episodes of National Velvet. His last credited work was the movie Premonition in 1972. He is listed as having passed away in 1979 in “Pacific Ocean off Laguna Beach, California”, which suggests that he might have drowned.

Millionaire Dad chases daughter

Here’s a random story from the June 6 1959 edition of the Toronto Daily Star that caught my attention:


Out of curiosity, I did some Google searching for some of the names mentioned in this story. Here’s what I found:

  • There is a Getty Images photograph of Ms. Dowsett and Mr. Langley returning in a car after their marriage had been stopped.
  • A car belonging to Harry Dowsett was put on sale (though it might now have been sold). This page contains more information: to get her away from Mr. Langley, Ms. Dowsett was sent on a tour of Africa and New Zealand, where she met her future husband, Michael Barclay of Hanworth Hall. They married in 1960.
  • The same article pointed out that the elder Dowsett once accidentally shot his chauffeur-valet after a night of drinking. He was forgiven, but his firearms certificates were revoked.
  • Mr. Barclay was in the news in 2006 when he was jailed for illegally buying prohibited specimens of birds for his egg collection. (His prosecutor was apparently named Andrew Bird.) The Guardian has an article about egg collecting.
  • Here’s a photo of the Hanworth Hall grounds.

Hearing aids

The June 6 1959 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained two different ads for hearing ads. Both of them looked a bit unusual to me.

The first was for the 3-D Super-Powered Hearing Aid:


This company had just set up shop in Toronto, as they did not appear in the 1959 city directory. They are listed in the 1960 city directory as the Universal 3-Dimensional Electronic Hearing Aid Co Ltd. In the 1969 directory (the latest that I can access online), they were listed at 27 Carlton Street, first floor.

The second was for the Acousticon Privat-Ear:


The Acousticon hearing aid was invented by Miller Reese Hutchison in 1902. He turned over the rights to his invention to Kelley Monroe Turner, who improved the hearing aid and applied its technology to other products, including the dictograph. He eventually formed the Dictograph Products Company.

The Canadian arm of this company first appears in the 1934 city directory as the Acousticon-Dictograph Company of Canada. By 1948, they had opened their retail branch at 67 Richmond Street West. The Acousticon brand name remained in use, even though the technology had improved in the meantime.

By 1969, the Acousticon Hearing Aid Company had moved to the main floor of 137 Yonge Street; there is a Goodlife Fitness there now. The Acousticon Dictograph Company was at 81 John.

A Google search turned up all sorts of references to Acousticon, including a picture of a hearing aid manufactured in approximately 1927. And, while looking in the January 14 1958 Toronto Daily Star, I found this ad:


I don’t know how convincing the hearing aid disguised as glasses actually was, but I think it’s a clever idea.

John Collingwood Reade Рmentioned in the Acousticon ad Рhas a biography on the History of Canadian Broadcasting site.