The November 27 1937 Toronto Globe and Mail contained this photograph, simply labelled “Soprano”:


Edythe Shuttleworth (1907-1983) was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, two years after the province came into existence. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, she first performed at Hart House in 1928, made her European debut in Paris in 1929, and sang in New York with the National Opera Company. She sometimes used the stage name Val Yoska, which I guess sounds more exotic.

She retired from singing one year after this photograph, when she got married. None of her performances are available on YouTube, but the National Portrait Gallery has a portrait of her from 1928.


After The Storm

I’ve mentioned this before, but the Toronto Daily Star used to publish a poem every day on its editorial page, as the lead to its “A Little Of Everything” feature. I know very little about poetry, but the poems seem to me to vary widely in quality.

The poem that appeared in the October 16 1942 edition of the Daily Star is not one of my favourites – the central character writes with what I think is an Irish accent, and the text is somewhat melodramatic.


Since I’m a snoop, I thought I would try to look Frances Hanson up in the Toronto city directories, but I found nothing. She doesn’t appear by name in the 1941, 1942, and 1943 directories, and the listing at 368 Huron doesn’t include her. So either she was staying there for a while but was not listed as a resident, or somebody submitted this poem under a fake name and/or address. I’ll never know which.

If you’re interested in bad poetry, you’ve probably heard of William McGonagall, and you might have heard of Amanda McKittrick Ros.


Famous Scotts

The November 23 1935 edition of the Toronto Globe included this reference to two famous men named Scott:


Walter Scott (1771-1832) became Sir Walter Scott in 1820. He was a poet, a historian, a playwright, and an author of books such as Ivanhoe and Rob Roy. His most famous lines of poetry are probably these:

Oh! what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!

Duncan Campbell Scott (1862-1947) was a Canadian poet who had a day job: he was head of the Department of Indian Affairs from 1913 to 1932. These days, we would probably look on him as an out-and-out racist: he was one of the architects of the notorious residential schools policy, and he had strongly negative opinions on Indigenous customs. He is widely considered an outstanding Canadian poet, but a poll of historians in 2007 listed him as one of the Worst Canadians.



Here’s a notice that appeared in the February 15 1924 Toronto Daily Star:


I’m reasonably certain that this refers to Josef Lhévinne (1874-1944), a Russian-born pianist and piano teacher. Considered a master of piano technique, he wrote a book, Basic Principles in Pianoforte Playing, which appeared in 1924.

His real surname was actually Levin; an early manager changed it because “Lhévinne” sounded more distinctive and less Jewish.


The sights of the Midway

The September 5 1913 edition of the Toronto Daily Star featured this article about the CNE midway, which shows that at least the food hasn’t changed much over the years.


Beautiful Arab girls from Limerick performing the houchee-couchee?

H. F. Gadsby was an art critic. His greatest claim to fame, at this distance, appears to be that he disliked what eventually became the Group of Seven. In the December 12 1913 edition of the Daily Star, he referred to them as the Hot Mush School, and claimed that the texture of their paint reminded him of gobs of porridge. Here’s a bit of the article (it’s too large to reprint here – you can find it on page 6 of the paper):


This article started a controversy, which brought these artists to public attention. Sometimes, any publicity is good, even when it’s bad!

Wikipedia also has an entry on the hoochie coochie, which was apparently was a catchall term for sexually provocative belly dances. Hubba hubba, etc.



The September 5 1913 Toronto Daily Star contains this terse comment:


J.M. Barrie is, of course, best known as the writer of Peter Pan, which will likely remain in our culture for as long as there is one. The Adored One doesn’t appear in the list of works by year in Barrie’s Wikipedia page (which possibly proves this writer’s point).

Mark Bostridge’s The Fateful Year: England 1914 mentions this play as having been written for Mrs. Patrick Campbell (“Mrs. Pat”), an English stage actress who became emotionally (but apparently not physically) involved with George Bernard Shaw.

For more on Barrie, you can read Anthony Lane’s Lost Boys or this article in the Telegraph.


Is there folk music in Canada?

When looking through old editions of the Toronto Daily Star, I discovered two competing viewpoints on the question of whether there is authentic folk music in Canada. On the “no” side, there is this article from the April 8 1940 edition:


Taking the “yes” side is this article from May 1 1954:IMG_0863

Boris Berlin (1907-2001) was a pianist and music teacher who taught at the Toronto Conservatory of Music for many decades. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2000, but passed away before the ceremony that honoured him.

Leslie Bell (1906-1962) did a bunch of musical things, including being the chair of the musical department at the Ontario College of Education from 1939 to 1948.

I have no idea whether these two men ever met. They were almost exact contemporaries, so it may very well have happened. I like to think of their meeting descending into a shouting match, especially since Dr. Bell described his opposing viewpoint as “a bit stupid”.