Vintage Toronto Ads: A Gentlemanly Day on a Budget

Originally published on Torontoist on April 15, 2007.


Source: Maclean’s, December 1972.

Is this how you or your parents spent a leisurely day around Toronto 35 years ago?
Except for the F.O.B. and possibly Sean, it would be easy to recreate this “gentlemanly” jaunt, though ferry fares to the Toronto Islands are cheap enough to make it worthwhile checking the schedule before leaving the house.

HBC remained in the booze business until the distillery division was sold to Seagram in 1987, though a licensed scotch is still available in the United States.


Compared to how the feature evolved, some of the early installments of Vintage Toronto Ads are ridiculously short, especially if the ad depicted had its own wordy storyline.

The source of this particular ad is a good time to bring up how the feature started. Collecting old ads began when I started going through my father’s boxes of Sports Illustrated a few years after he passed away. He had a subscription throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and had kept the back issues in our crawlspace (first house we lived in) or the backyard shed (second house we lived in). Rather than immediately put them out for recycling, I spent several visits home browsing through the collection. A tiny handful of issues I kept intact. For the rest, I clipped out catchy ads, or ones that left an impression on me as a kid.

I started posting these ads on my blog, which led to me seeking out cheap copies of other old magazines. One day on my walk home from work (which, at the time, was working in internal communications at Canadian Tire’s head office at Yonge and Eglinton), I noticed a box by the curb filled with issues of Maclean’s, The New Yorker, and Saturday Night from the 1970s.

Near the end of 2006, I saw a call for new contributors to Torontoist. I pitched a column based on the ads. Thanks to that curbside box, along with photocopies made from the first decade of Toronto Life I stumbled upon at the University of Guelph’s library, I had plenty of Toronto-centric material to use. The pitch worked and my writing career, which had been on hold since leaving the shenanigans surrounding working at Guelph’s student paper, was slowly revving up again.

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