Originally published on Torontoist on December 23, 2008.
Toronto Star, December 24, 1948.
Not quite the style of advertising emerging from General Motors this holiday season, is it?
Had GM been in deep financial doo-doo sixty years ago, they could have tapped the oratory skills of North Toronto dealer Denton Massey to make their case to the public. A member of one of the city’s most prominent families (grandson of Hart, cousin of Raymond and Vincent), Massey dabbled in business (selling cars and nuclear reactors) and politics (MP for Greenwood for most of the 1930s and 1940s) but ultimately found his calling in religion. The evangelical fervour of his York Bible Class, which packed Maple Leaf Gardens in the early 1930s, eventually gave way to the abandonment of his secular activities and his ordination as an Anglican priest in 1960.
A decade after today’s ad appeared, the Star dedicated their Christmas Eve editorial to “splashes of joy” throughout the city. Some samples:
To the stranger on Lawrence Ave. who stopped his car and got out to help a harried housewife get hers out of the slippery driveway last week.
To the postman who braves our neighbour’s dog every morning and though his (the postman’s) hair bristles, delivers the letters.
To the man who discovered the four-year-old child cold, frightened and crying four blocks from home, wiped her nose and eyes, found out where she lived and took her back to her mother’s bosom.
To the big boy who stopped a fight of younger lads on a rink and moreover didn’t swipe the puck.
And to many, many others in this great, sometimes unfriendly, sometimes alarming metropolis, who all through the year and not only at Christmas time do acts of kindness, of friendliness, of courtesy, that make Toronto an easier and even pleasant place. Perhaps because the times are oppressive and the city is growing even bigger, more people are showing that they are human, helping each other to brave the tumult and the shouting, the loneliness and frustrations.
Merry Christmas to these, and to all.
Additional material from the December 24, 1958 and January 26, 1984 editions of the Toronto Star.