Traffic deaths in 1969

Lately, Toronto residents have been justifiably angry because a number of pedestrians have been killed by drivers on Toronto’s streets. The plan to reduce road fatalities in Toronto does not appear to be working: according to Toronto police records, the fatality rate has been steadily climbing, with 66 people killed in 2018.

But, back in 1969, the fatality rate was far worse, if the December 30 1969 edition of the Toronto Daily Star was to be believed:


There were 151 people killed by vehicles in 1969, two short of the record set five years earlier. The article doesn’t indicate how many of them were pedestrians or other drivers.



The entertainment section of the July 23 1963 Toronto Daily Star contained this article about four young British actresses:


I’m not sure when newspapers and magazines stopped using the term “starlet”, but I don’t think I miss it.

As for the people mentioned in the story, all had successful careers, and almost all were actually older than this article claimed that they were. I have no idea whether the article writer or the actresses’ publicists decided to adjust their ages; I guess that was standard practice then (and maybe now).

  • Samantha Eggar (who was actually 24 when this story came out) became famous in 1965 when she starred in The Collector. Her performance earned her a Golden Globe and an Academy Award nomination. She relocated to the United States in 1972, and has remained a working actor, with a variety of film, TV, and stage credits. She turned 80 last month.
  • Susan Hampshire was actually 26, not 23. She went on to win three Emmy Awards in the early 1970s. Sadly, she gave up almost all of her acting roles after 2009 to take care of her husband, who had developed dementia and type 2 diabetes. She turns 82 in May.
  • Susannah York (1939-2011) did not have her age mentioned in the article. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for the movie They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? She also won a Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress for the movie Images. She was a trouper to the end: after being diagnosed with cancer, she refused chemotherapy to honour a contractual obligation.
  • Julie Christie was actually 23, not 21. She has won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, a BAFTA award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Her last significant role was in 2012, and she turned 78 last week.

Arlene Francis

The July 23 1963 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contained an article about game show panelist Arlene Francis, who was being sued for a million dollars after getting into a car accident that caused the death of a passenger in the other car:


According to the Useless Information web site, the accident happened on a rainy day: the car in front of her skidded, she slammed on her car’s brakes, and her car skidded, crossed the divider, and collided with Mr. Arcos’s car. The case went to trial, and was settled for $210,000, not $1 million (or $1.8 million, as the article states).

Astonishingly, this was not the only fatal accident inadvertently caused by Ms. Francis around that time. On June 23, 1960, a dumbbell fell out of Ms. Francis’s apartment on the eighth floor of the Ritz Tower in Manhattan and struck Alvin Rodecker, killing him instantly. The dumbbell had been used to prop a screen in place; when a maid cleaned the screen, the dumbbell fell out of the window. Mr. Rodecker’s widow sued for $500,000, and settled for $175,000.

Ms. Francis passed away in 2001, at the age of 93.



May weather extremes

April in Toronto is unpredictable – you can have anything from sunny and warm to major snow and ice storms. Usually, by May, the weather has stabilized a bit. But some years are exceptions.

On May 30, 1929, the Toronto Daily Star reported that Toronto was in the midst of a heat wave:


According to the weather records that I was able to look up, the high temperature for May 30, 1929 was 32.8C, or 91F. So the all-time record was not broken that day. The weather stayed warm for one more day, reaching 29.4C on May 31, but a cold front came through the next day, with the high temperature only reaching 15.6C.

May 26, 1961 went to the other extreme, as it had snowed the previous day, and there was a strong risk of frost that night:


This had actually been a rather sudden reversal, as the high temperature for May 25 was 26.1C. I’m not quite sure how it managed to snow on May 25, as the listed overnight low was 9.4C, but the records that I have indicate that yes, it did snow on that day. (It also rained a total of 19.6mm on that day, so I guess a system was blowing air in from the north.)

Gardeners in the Toronto district, at least, dodged a bullet, as the overnight low went down to 0.6C – close, but not right down to the freezing mark. (Outside of the city, farmers and gardeners might not have been so lucky.) The high temperature for that day was only 8.3C, but the temperature rebounded to seasonal shortly after. On May 28, the thermometer reached 24.4C.



This ad for a karate studio in the September 19 1968 Toronto Daily Star needed a bit of proof-reading.


I don’t think they meant to advertise karate as “natural health reducing exercise”.


Toronto’s official crest

The June 8 1960 edition of the Toronto Daily Star stated that the “college of hearalds” had approved this official crest for the City of Toronto:


The Wikipedia page for the Toronto coat of arms provides a slightly different version of this crest – the maple leaf and gear have swapped positions, and the indigenous Canadian on the left has been rendered differently. The coat of arms was redesigned in 1998 after Metro Toronto was amalgamated.



Here’s an article from the November 2 1966 Toronto Daily Star that made my jaw drop:


I had no idea that they used to number the indigenous Canadians who lived in the north – how demeaning is that? Did they actually ever address him as “E7-55”?

I’m not sure when the word “Eskimo” stopped being used officially. Wikipedia informs me that the term was originally used by the Algonquin tribes to refer to their northern neighbours, and that the Inuit never referred to themselves this way.


Damn you, Mrs. Talbot!

Here’s an ad from the November 2 1966 Toronto Daily Star:


Of course, in 1966, the word “gay” did not have its modern meaning. I wonder when Domtar Consumer Products decided to change the name of its dishwashing liquid.

And I’m pretty sure that the neighbours eventually stopped inviting Mrs. Talbot over; all she ever did was nitpick and complain.


City of bridges

The June 8 1960 edition of the Toronto Daily Star contains probably the ultimate piece of filler:


Google Maps informs me that Saskatoon has a total of seven bridges: five road bridges and two railroad bridges. So now you know.


Gina Lollobrigida in Toronto

A while back, I looked up newspaper articles for June 8, 1960, as that was the day when I was born. When I looked at the front page for the Toronto Daily Star on that day, I discovered that actress Gina Lollobrigida had just moved to Toronto with her then-husband and their son. (She apparently moved to Toronto for tax reasons and for legal status for her husband.) I find this fascinatingly incongruous: on the one hand, you have an Italian film star; on the other hand, Toronto in 1960. There seems no way that they could possibly match up.

The front page showed a picture of Ms. Lollobrigida being greeted by Toronto mayor Nathan Phillips:


The mayor appears to be staring at Ms. Lollobrigida’s cleavage in this photo. (By the way, Visitor 1 was Prince Philip, who arrived in Toronto that day from Ottawa.)

The Daily Star polled readers as to whether altogether too much fuss was being made over her arrival, and the general consensus appears to have been yes:


Her new neighbours didn’t think so as they badgered her for an autograph:


She and her family apparently moved into a home on Inglewood Drive, near St. Clair and Mt. Pleasant. It went up for sale in 2016; the asking price was a mere $16,800,000.

I couldn’t find out when Ms. Lollobrigida left Toronto, but she and her husband divorced in 1971, so it was probably before then.