Vintage Toronto Ads: Safe at Home with Rico Carty

Originally published on Torontoist on April 7, 2009.

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1979 Blue Jays Scorebook Volume 3 Number 16.

“Belt it” was a concept the Ontario government and Blue Jays slugger Rico Carty were well acquainted with as the 1979 baseball season dawned. Too bad the rest of the Blue Jays played like careless drivers during that season’s opening game in Kansas City. Where the 2009 squad steamrolled over the Detroit Tigers last night, the 1979 team was like a deer caught in the headlights.

Fans in Toronto were likely relieved that they didn’t have to witness in person an 11–2 shelling by the Royals on April 5. The Globe and Mail declared that outfielder Rick Bosetti was “the smartest of Toronto’s players” for being thrown out of the game on a disputed call with a scab umpire (the men in blue were on strike as the season started). Bosetti missed out on a horrible second inning where the Royals scored nine runs off of starting pitcher Tom Underwood. Six of those runs were unearned, thanks to errors galore from the fielders. Most of the local papers showed right fielder Bob Bailor bending in an uncomfortable position after being hit by a pitch.

Carty acquitted himself well on opening day, reaching base four times. The “Beeg Mon” returned to the team in the off-season after a brief stint with the Oakland A’s towards the end of 1978. Carty’s fifteen-year career in the majors swung wildly from highs (a .366 batting average while with the Atlanta Braves in 1970) to lows (entire seasons missed at his peak due to injuries and tuberculosis). Carty hit .256 and twelve home runs for the Blue Jays in 1979, which proved to be his swan song. In the long run, Carty paved the way for future Blue Jays stars from the Dominican Republic, especially from his hometown of San Pedro de Macoris.

As for seat belts, the Ontario legislature mandated their usage in 1976, making it the first province to do so.

Additional material from the April 6, 1979 edition of the Globe and Mail.

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A Watch for Mr. Gould

Originally published on Torontoist on March 26, 2009.

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Pianist Glenn Gould receives watch from Mayor Nathan Phillips in the Council Chambers, Old City Hall, 1956. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 3071.

Pianist Glenn Gould’s career was riding high in early 1956. His recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations was released in January and soon became the top-selling classical album in Columbia Records’ catalogue. A sold-out recital at Massey Hall on April 16 was a triumph, with critics and the audience applauding loudly. As the Telegram’s George Kidd noted in his review of the performance the following day, “It would seem that no longer is Mr. Gould a pianist with considerable promise. He is a mature genius in interpretation, technique, and musical excitement.”

As a salute to his talent, the city decided to present Gould with an engraved watch to honour the achievements of the twenty-three-year-old musician. Gould received his watch from Mayor Nathan Phillips during a Board of Control meeting two days after his performance.

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Pianist Glenn Gould receives watch from Mayor Nathan Phillips in the Council Chambers, Old City Hall, 1956. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 3069.

The Toronto Star, who took responsibility for inspiring city officials to honour Gould through an article in its Star Weekly magazine, paid tribute to the recipient’s eccentricities in an April 20 editorial:

Is man, the individual, on the way out? If you think he is and that his place is being taken by a dull automaton named “mass man” who is conditioned to absolute conformity, consider for a moment Glenn Gould, the 23-year-old Toronto pianist whom critics call a genius.

Even on the hottest day in the summer this young man may be seen wearing an overcoat, galoshes, a wool beret and two pairs of gloves. He swallows handfuls of vitamin tablets and other pills and bathes his hands in warm water before playing. At the piano he slumps over until his hair tangles with the keys. He sings and hums while playing the most intricate Bach and Beethoven compositions, or stamps his feet in time to the music.

In an age where even artists are supposed to be “normal” and as ordinary as the man on the street, Glenn Gould triumphantly affirms that man’s spirit remains free. Long may he flourish and may he never conform!

Conform he never did. The city later made a lasting tribute to Gould by naming a park at Avenue Road and St. Clair Avenue after him.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

Here’s half-an-hour of Glenn Gould discussing J.S. Bach.

Vintage Toronto Ads: Who’s Got King Clancy’s Eno?

Originally published on Torontoist on March 31, 2009.

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Toronto Star, March 31, 1936.

When travelling by train between key games during the Stanley Cup playoffs, the last thing a hardened hockey player wants to suffer is indigestion. If King Clancy and his teammates actually did pop a few tablets to rid themselves of “the poisonous wastes that slow a man down,” they helped the Maple Leafs defeat the New York Americans two games to one during the 1936 semi-finals.

Francis Michael “King” Clancy arrived in Toronto through a trade with the Ottawa Senators on the eve of the 1930–31 season. After his retirement early in the 1936–37 season and a brief coaching stint with the Montreal Maroons, Clancy spent a decade as a referee. He returned to the Maple Leafs as a coach in the early 1950s and held various positions in the organization until his death in 1986. He was one of the rare individuals who, thanks to his charming personality, stayed on friendly terms with Harold Ballard during the latter’s stormy reign as the team’s owner.

Toronto fans would have been familiar with Harold “Baldy” Cotton, who had played just over six seasons with the Maple Leafs before being traded to the Americans before the season began. After retiring in 1937, Cotton would be heard by a generation of hockey fans as one of the experts of the “Hot Stove League” segment of radio broadcasts and on Hockey Night in Canada.

Unfortunately, a dose of Eno didn’t provide the Maple Leafs with enough pep during the final round of the playoffs. The Detroit Red Wings, who had endured the longest playoff game in NHL history during the semi-finals (six overtime periods were needed to defeat the Maroons), won the Stanley Cup in four games.

Vintage Toronto Ads: Celebrating 150 Years of Vision and Dairy Products

Originally published on Torontoist on March 10, 2009.

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Source: Lake Ontario Tall Ships Rendezvous ’84.

“A Celebration of Friends” was the theme for Toronto’s 150th anniversary festivities in 1984. Where better to meet your neighbourhood friends than the corner milk store, as the fine folks in today’s ad are doing? One could have offered a toast to the city with a glass of milk from a freshly opened jug or debated the finer points of city politics over a carton of orange-flavoured Jungle Joose.

Becker’s Milk opened its first five stores in Metropolitan Toronto in May 1957. The following decade saw rapid expansion, partly propelled by the opening of its main milk processing plant on Warden Avenue near St. Clair in mid-1963. When the plant opened there were fifty-three stores scattered across Metro—by the end of the decade there were more than 200. The chain was purchased by Silcorp (operator of the Mac’s convenience store chain) in 1996, which was subsequently purchased by Alimentation Couche-Tard three years later. Though the brand has been phased out, a few stores bearing the flowery logo still dot the landscape.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

After all but disappearing from the landscape, the old red and green Becker’s signs are making a comeback across the GTA as of 2017. Whether this revival will prompt customers to hum this 1980s jingle remains to be seen. Just don’t expect any Jungle Joose.

Summer’s Here And The Time Is Right For Golfing In The Streets

Originally published on Torontoist on June 5, 2008.

Home-grown small-screen productions have also made ample use of our city’s streets since CBLT debuted in 1952. During the summer of 1971, comedians Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster used downtown as a backdrop for an exciting new sport, city golf. Over the course of 18 holes, cameramen preserved pieces of the city that development has changed significantly in the ensuing years, from landmarks in their infancy to retail icons that have moved along.

Besides, wouldn’t shooting a golf ball down Queen Street over lunch hour be a great stress reliever, as long as you don’t brain any onlookers?

Among the sites to watch out for while viewing this clip (or to skip ahead to if Wayne and Shuster are not your taste):

1:54: City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square, only open for six years at this point. Note the waving spectators on the top ramp.

2:10: Eaton’s Queen Street store. Initially located south of Queen when Timothy Eaton set up shop in 1869, the store moved to 190 Yonge Street in 1883 and gradually expanded to take up the entire block bounded by James to the west and Albert to the north. Company warehouses stretched along neighbouring blocks while a second retail store, the Eaton’s Annex, opened at Albert and Yonge. During the mid-20th century, the Queen store was Eaton’s mid-range store, with the Annex (destroyed by fire in 1977) catering to bargain hunters and their Yonge-College store (now College Park) attracting upscale shoppers. The sale advertised on the Queen entrance places filming around August, when the following ad appeared in local papers.

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Globe and Mail, August 2, 1971.

Across the street Simpsons also had a month-long sale running, though they appear to have taken less care in design and material with the “Great Toronto Days” banner.

The two stores would draw shoppers on either side of Queen until 1977, when Eaton’s consolidated their downtown retail operations into their new store at Yonge and Dundas during the first phase of Eaton Centre construction.

3:10: The first hole is near the King Edward Hotel, then on a downhill slide (note the less than elegant front sign). Before the decade was out, the hotel was threatened with demolition before being rescued by new investors…though its Crystal Ballroom might be a decent locale to practice short putts.

5:44: The original configuration of the 401/Don Valley Parkway interchange. The DVP had been built as far north as Sheppard by 1966, with Woodbine Avenue continuing northwards until the first phase of Highway 404 to Steeles Avenue was completed in 1977. More bridge hazards after recent construction would create a greater challenge in a modern game.

6:00: Long-gone parking lots on the south side of Carlton Street opposite Maple Leaf Gardens, later occupied by condos, fast food joints, Mick E. Fynn’s, Peach Garden, and Golden Griddle.

6:37: The Odd Fellows Hall at Yonge and College can be seen behind Wayne. Then a branch of CIBC, now home to Starbucks.

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7:40: The drawing of the 10th hole refers to several vanished buildings along Jarvis Street. The Four Seasons Motor Hotel at 415 Jarvis was the launchpad for the luxury hotel chain, which it maintained through the late 1970s. Opened in 1961, it won a Massey Medal for Architecture. Toronto Life’s Toronto Guidebook described the Four Seasons as:

…a great place: small and slightly chic (because of all the visiting celebrities who stay there, because of the proximity of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation across the street); not too expensive; only three storeys, so you don’t have top cope overmuch with elevators; and hassle-free parking. There’s a swimming pool in the central courtyard…a bar-cum-discotheque downstairs called The Studio from which, at lunch time, the timeless Elwood Glover conducts his CBC-TV interview show.

This was a boom time for the chain, with Inn on the Park humming along, its first overseas hotel welcoming guests in 1970, and the development of a new location on Queen that became the Sheraton Centre. The Motor Inn was closed in the late 1970s and eventually demolished, with The Central condos currently staying for the night at its address.

CBC was headquartered at 354 Jarvis until the opening of the broadcast centre on Front Street. Its land is now occupied by Radio City and the National Ballet School. We suspect “the beverage room” was a watering hole for employees of the Corp.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

“City Golf” originally aired on the September 19, 1971 edition of The Wayne and Shuster Comedy Special. According to a capsule preview in the previous day’s edition of Starweek, the show also featured a spoof of Citizen Kane, and a sketch going behind-the-scenes of a minimum security prison. Musical guests were Salome Bey and Gilles Vigneault.

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Blaik Kirby’s review of the show, from the September 20, 1971 edition of the Globe and Mail. The comedic merits of the city golf sketch are still debatable.

Bad Pronunciation Night in Toronto

Originally published on Torontoist on February 25, 2009.

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Buses at Hart House, September 8, 1957. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1567, Series 648, File 5, Item 1.

Dateline: February 12, 1954. An evening of one-act plays was presented at Hart House Theatre by students from three of the University of Toronto’s colleges. Victoria was represented by a treatment of T.S. Eliot’s Sweeney Agonistes, Trinity by Ferenc Molnar’s Still Life, and St. Michael’s by William Butler Yeats’s Land of Heart’s Desire. Once the performances were finished, the actors received feedback from an academic jury, led by a future Canadian literary icon.

All did not go well. As the Telegram headlined its account of the evening, “Student-Actors’ Diction Hit By Adjudicator.”

But who was the figure who slammed the students for their sloppy speaking abilities?

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Robertson Davies photographed by Harry Palmer, September 22, 1984. Library and Archives Canada, PA-182426.

Robertson Davies was a busy man in the mid-1950s, juggling careers as the editor/publisher of the Peterborough Examiner, a playwright, a novelist, and as a governor of the new Stratford Shakespearian Festival. In the midst of all this he found time to adjudicate student plays at U of T and did not mince words when providing his feedback to the actors.

From Rose Macdonald’s report in the February 13, 1954 edition of the Telegram:

None of the presentations attained a standard such as should be expected from performers under the aegis of a university.

Mr. Davies gave such limited praise as he was able conscientiously to bestow, considered the presentation of the Yeats work above the others, that the St. Michael’s group had made “a good shot at a wonderful play,” but had missed, for one thing, the quality of belief necessary for playing it.

Land of Heart’s Desire depended about 85 per cent on the way it was spoken. The present group did it a disservice by not speaking it well. Their way lacked charm and music, qualities needful on the stage, as Mr. Davies insisted. “You really should not attempt to act if you cannot sing at all,” he told his student audience.

At the outset of his comments, Mr. Davies made it clear he supposed the students wished to do plays because of the chance afforded to develop and refine their own taste in theatre. The play-writing editor from Peterboro[ugh] later had some criticism of pronunciations.

“This,” he said, “is a university and whatever may be said to the contrary, university people are supposed to be educated people and speak like educated people. An awful lot of us pay an awful lot of money to educate you and we would like to see more for our money.”

Mr. Davies got on to the subject of pronunciation as a result of hearing a young man in the course of the evening pronounce perfume (the noun) with accent on the second syllable.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

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Robertson Davies takes a moment out to reflect during a rehearsal, 1960. Photo by Mario Geo. Toronto Public Library, from the Toronto Star Archives, tspa_0042096f.

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Globe and Mail, February 15, 1954. 

Davies was a busy drama adjudicator that week. Here are some of his thoughts on a series of plays presented at Hart House on February 13.

 

Vintage Toronto Ads: Canada’s Most Exciting Automotive Spectacle!

Originally published on Torontoist on February 17, 2009.

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Globe and Mail, February 22, 1954.

The Canadian International Auto Show runs this week, drawing curious onlookers in the face of a slumping market. Before the show began in 1974 there were several attempts to create ongoing automotive events, from annual displays at the Canadian National Exhibition to attempts to run shows at other times of the year, such as the National Motor Show in 1954.

This was the second year for the National Motor Show, the first of which had been Toronto’s first major new show since the late 1930s. D.C. Gaskin, president of Studebaker’s Canadian division and head of the Canadian Automobile Chamber of Commerce, noted that “there was some question whether the event would retain public appeal after all those years. But when we found crowds lining up from the Automotive Building to the Princes’ Gates before they could get in, we weren’t quite prepared for such a demonstration of public interest.”

Over 150,000 visitors were expected to turn out for the show, which automakers hoped would stimulate buying during a slump in auto sales. Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Nash, and Studebaker were among the vendors with full displays. For those less interested in the vehicles on display, diversions were provided by Royal York Hotel bandleader Moxie Whitney, the five singing DeMarco sisters, a fashion show with dresses crafted from car upholstery, and a 200-foot, 11-panel molded paper mural that chronicled the history of the wheel.

Additional material from the February 24, 1954 edition of the Globe and Mail.