Vintage Toronto Ads: Doris Faye and Her Talking Torso

gm 1970-01-12 doris faye and her talking torso ad

Globe and Mail, January 12, 1970.

So I’m in the middle of research the other night. Browsing the Globe and Mail’s archives, I came across a roundup of what entertained New Year’s revelers as 1969 gave way to 1970. The accompanying photo showed a woman with a large headdress and two faces on her bosoms.

The caption? “Doris Faye and Her Talking Torso: vaudeville revived.”

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Globe and Mail, January 1, 1970.

Turned out she was a ventriloquist whose dummy heads were “mounted on her well-clothed breasts.” The type of act one could really appreciate after a few drinks to end the old year.

Naturally I had to share my discovery with my partner-in-crime.

“Hey, how’s this for an act? Doris Faye and Her Talking Torso!”

She thought about this mind-blowing concept for a second.

“Sounds like a drag queen.”

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Globe and Mail, November 3, 1969.

This wasn’t a bad guess, as the Blue Orchid (the present-day Lee’s Palace) had recently featured the “Jewel Box Revue” of female impersonators.

Ms. Faye and her babbling bosoms required deeper digging.

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Binghampton Press, February 28, 1945.

It appears Ms. Faye (born, according to a copyright notice, as Doris Firkser) began her ventriloquism career toward the end of the Second World War. The Paterson, New Jersey Morning Call praised her talent when she participated in a vaudeville style bill in October 1945:

Doris Faye, meeting her dummy boy friend offers an example of ventriloquism at its best. Not only does this gal give off with light-hearted dialogue, but she sizzles with a dramatic thunderbolt in a scene from the movie Gaslight.

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Toronto Star, May 9, 1947.

While it’s hard to say for sure, since the ad doesn’t specify her talents other than “just patter,” it looks like Ms. Faye may have performed in Toronto as early as the late 1940s. It definitely appears that by the end of that decade she was touring nightclubs and theatres when she wasn’t performing in New York City.

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Bronxville Review Press-Reporter, July 14, 1960. Would the photo used in the ad at the top of this post have been taken during this photo session?

By the late 1950s, Faye was appearing as a ventriloquist on children’s television shows in the Big Apple, including a brief stint co-hosting the long-running series Wonderama. She moved on with her co-host Bill Britten when he became New York’s Bozo the Clown, appearing in Indian maiden garb as “Princess Ticklefeather” through the early 1960s.

Around 1967 Faye and her husband, multilingual tenor Nino Tello, toured with a vaudeville-style show running under names like Fun City Revue and Fun City Varieties. The Pittsburgh Press described their acts:

Miss Faye sings, chatters, turns in an interesting ventriloquism act with her pal “Tyrone” and is well steeped in show business. She keeps moving along at a merry pace. Nino Tello contributes a number of songs in both Italian and English with plenty of gusto. His repertoire runs the gamut from today’s hits and show tunes to the familiar classics. Nino and Faye wrap up a couple of duets and join in the production numbers as well.

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Globe and Mail, December 29, 1969.

By the time the revue reached Toronto in December 1969, it was known as Funs-A-Poppin’, playing off the 1940s Olsen and Johnson hit Broadway revue and film Hellzapoppin’. It fit nicely into a general revival of old-timey entertainment in the city and across North America, when traditional burlesque acts took stages and honky tonk pianists found roosts in local bars. This also fit into a growing trend of testing restrictions surrounding the degree of raunchiness and nudity allowed in public venues. During Faye’s stint in town, police kept their eye on the Royal Alex as previews began for the Toronto production of Hair.

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Desert Sun, February 15, 1974.

A 1974 feature in the Palm Springs Desert Sun summed up how the Talking Torso fit into changes in societal attitudes:

Her body, known as the “Talking Torso,” is not only eye-appealing and unique, but hilariously funny and clever. The “Talking Torso” is an intended comedy spoof, satire, and commentary on society’s present-day sexual attitudes toward the female body, which has been made to do everything but talk.

Faye and Tello (sometimes billed as “America’s Night Club Caruso”) continued to perform into the 21st century. The latest I traced her was a 2009 blog post discussing her determination to continue performing after hip surgery, where you get the sense that she was somebody who loved entertaining others. According to a ventriloquist website, Faye passed away in 2012.

Sources: the February 15, 1974 edition of the Desert Sun; the October 16, 1945 edition of the Morning Call; and the October 10, 1967 edition of the Pittsburgh Press.

World Events: The Atomic Bombings of 1945

This series looks at how Toronto’s press has covered major world events.

star 1945-08-07 front page atom bomb hiroshima Toronto Star, August 7, 1945.

In the midst of a federal-provincial conference session in the House of Commons on August 7, 1945, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King made a statement. “I believe this is the most important announcement that has ever been made,” he told his audience before relaying the role that Canada had played in developing the atomic bomb that had just been dropped on Hiroshima. He was optimistic that the terrible new weapon would finally bring the Second World War to an end.

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Globe and Mail, August 7, 1945.

Much of the initial coverage of the bombing in the Globe and Mail and the Star focused on what the atomic bomb was, how Canadian research and uranium supplies had aided its development, and the federal government’s plans to expand its research and production lab in Chalk River.

There were also numerous comparisons to the most comparable wartime Canadian event that readers could relate to: the Halifax Explosion of 1917. Initial estimates compared the destructive force of the bomb to seven Halifaxes.

Headlines throughout the papers suggested the Japanese should surrender…or else. For example, one Star headline read “the atomic bomb offers the Japanese annihilation if they don’t surrender unconditionally–and quickly.”

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Toronto Star, August 7, 1945.

Both papers used this diagram, which appeared across North America. The descriptions below it varied, from giving a basic description of what an atom is to providing tons of statistics.

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St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 7, 1945.

Here’s an example of how the diagram was used on an American front page.

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Editorial, Globe and Mail, August 7, 1945.

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Editorial, Toronto Star, August 7, 1945.

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Toronto Star, August 7, 1945.

While there were concerns about the future destruction atomic weaponry could unleash, there were also many stories dedicated to depicting the potential future benefits of atomic power. “Uranium can end the war quickly by destroying Japan,” a Star headline observed, “but in peace it offers unheard of power for good.” Visions were presented of uranium-fueled cars, ocean liners, and trains providing speedier travel options. Future generations might look back to the bombing as the moment that hydroelectric generators like Hoover Dam and Niagara Falls would become obsolete in the face of Old Man Atom.

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Toronto Star, August 7, 1945.

Local experts were asked for their opinions on the development and potential of atomic power.

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Toronto Star, August 7, 1945.

A Star editorial provided thoughts on the situation of Japanese Canadians and attempts to “repatriate” them back to Japan. In the following years, the nature of their internment would gain greater public knowledge, leading to the federal government’s official apology in 1988.

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Toronto Star, August 8, 1945.

The front pages on August 8 highlighted the extent of the damage to Hiroshima. In the Star‘s case, page one also included more fantasies about the positive potential of atomic energy in reshaping the environment of the Great Lakes.

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Toronto Star, August 8, 1945.

An excerpt from a vision of warmer winters in the Great Lakes. Note the potential effects that sound frightening with the knowledge we’ve gained over the past 75 years regarding melting ice caps and climate change. Other British scientists suggested that Canada should become “the centre of the atom-smashing industry.”

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Toronto Star, August 8, 1945.

In case you were curious glancing at that day’s front page, here’s the story about Mayor Robert Hood Saunders’ ire at provincial liquor officials for allowing children to deliver beer for pocket change.

I wonder if people were stocking up on as much beer as possible (and giving potential juvies plenty of booze-running gigs) in anticipation that the end of the war was inching closer to reality.

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Cartoon by Jack Boothe, Globe and Mail, August 9, 1945.

While the front pages mentioned the Nagasaki bombing on August 9, the main headlines were devoted to the Soviet Union’s declaration of war against Japan.

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  • Cartoon by Jack Boothe, Globe and Mail, August 10, 1945.

By August 10, both papers expressed hopes in their headlines that, amid the destruction left by the bombs and the entry of the Soviet Union, that the Japanese were preparing to surrender. The city announced that there would be an official public holiday the day after the war officially ended.

Those celebrations were less than a week away…

A sampling of front pages from elsewhere:

ny post 1945-08-06 front page

New York Post, August 6, 1945.

Buffalo NY Evening News 1945-08-06 front page

Buffalo Evening News, August 6, 1945.

brooklyn eagle 1945-08-07 front page

Brooklyn Eagle, August 7, 1945.

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New York Daily News, August 7, 1945.

pm 1945-08-07 front page]

PM (New York), August 7, 1945.

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Front page cartoon, Washington Star, August 7, 1945.

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Windsor Star, August 7, 1945.

Note: Due to COVID-19 related closures, issues of the Telegram were unavailable for the post.

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane!

Originally published as a “Historicist” column on Torontoist on May 17, 2008.

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Selection of covers drawn by Joe Shuster: Superman #1 (1939), Superman #6 (1940), Adventure Comics #103 (1946).

For a 70-year old, Superman looks good for his age. Since his debut in Action Comics #1 in 1938, the Man of Steel has stood as one, if not the key, icon of the fictional genre his success spawned. His appeal has been summed up as the fight for “truth, justice and the American way.”

Yet his origins have a Toronto twist.

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Joe Shuster (1914-1992) spent the first decade of his life living in a number of locations surrounding Kensington Market, as family finances dictated a succession of moves. From an early age, he was interested in the comic strips that his father, a tailor, read to him. By the age of 9, Shuster brought in money as a newsboy for The Toronto Star. The family moved to Cleveland in 1924, though many relatives stayed in Toronto. One was Joe’s cousin Frank, who later earned fame as one half of Canadian comedy institution Wayne and Shuster.

During high school, Shuster became friends with Jerry Siegel, an aspiring writer and fellow fan of pulps, comic strips and the emerging genre of science fiction. The pair, who several accounts depict as the Depression-era equivalent of nerds, published their own magazine and attempted to sell a number of ideas to strip and pulp syndicates, including prototype versions of Superman. After half-a-decade of development and failed sales pitches, the character was picked up by National Comics (soon identified by their “DC” logo). In a decision both later regretted, ownership rights to Superman were sold to National for $130.

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Drawing of Toronto Star Building, circa 1928. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 842.

Toronto left a lingering impression on Joe that he incorporated into his sketches for Superman, which he noted in a 1992 interview with his former employer.

Cleveland was not nearly as metropolitan as Toronto was, and it was not as big or as beautiful. Whatever buildings I saw in Toronto remained in my mind and came out in the form of Metropolis. As I realized later on, Toronto is a much more beautiful city than Cleveland ever was…I guess I don’t have to worry about saying that now.

The Star even found its way into the strip. “I still remember drawing one of the earliest panels that showed the newspaper building. We needed a name, and I spontaneously remembered the Toronto Star. So that’s the way I lettered it. I decided to do it that way on the spur of the moment, because The Star was such a great influence on my life.” Not until 1940 would Clark Kent’s employer suddenly switch its name to The Daily Planet.

The popularity of the character translated into a high volume of work. Combined with vision problems that affected Shuster’s drawing, the pair opened their own studio to produce a steady stream of Superman stories for National. Dismayed by how much money they could have made had the initial rights not been sold so cheaply, Siegel and Shuster served National in April 1947 with a lawsuit for $5 million and the return of ownership rights for Superman. A year of litigation resulted in a ruling against the claim. Both agreed to an offer where National would pay $100,000 as long as the pair surrendered all future claims to ownership of Superman and the recently-introduced Superboy.

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After the settlement, the pair attempted to launch a new character, Funnyman, which flopped quickly. The studio soon dissolved and both found work sparse in the 1950s. While Siegel returned to writing the Man of Steel in the early 1960s (as long as he didn’t acknowledge his part in the character’s creation), Shuster’s increasing eye problems curtailed his career. He became a source of urban legend in the comics community about the level of poverty he had fallen to, as he worked odd jobs to support other members of his family.

Siegel and Shuster were finally able to receive some compensation for their creation in the mid-1970s. Aided by industry peers, the pair capitalized on the hype around the upcoming Superman movie by publicizing their cause. The result was a comfortable pension from the corporate parent of DC Comics and a “created by” credit in future uses of Superman. Shuster spent his later years in California and rarely granted interviews, though he appeared with Siegel in a 1981 BBC documentary.

In 2005, the city honoured Shuster by endowing his name on the main side street of a residential development at King and Dufferin. Joe Shuster Way offers great photographic views of the Gladstone Hotel and the downtown skyline. One can imagine the Man of Steel zooming by the CN Tower while on patrol…

Picture of Joe Shuster Way by Jamie Bradburn. Shuster interview excepts from the Toronto Star, April 26, 1992 edition.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

star 1940-03-14 profile of joe shuster

Toronto Star, March 14, 1940.

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Toronto Star, December 18, 1939.

The first installment of the daily Superman comic strip, illustrated by Shuster, as it appeared when the Star began carrying it in December 1939. With art soon taken over by his studio, the strip ran under various writers and artists through 1966.

Past Pieces of Toronto: The Odeon Hyland

From November 2011 through July 2012 I wrote the “Past Pieces of Toronto” column for OpenFile, which explored elements of the city which no longer exist. The following was originally posted on December 30, 2011.

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Opening ad for the Odeon Hyland, Toronto Star, November 17, 1948.

It was a dicey proposition: testing out a brand new movie theatre, and the Shakespearian adaptation that was its opening attraction, by filling the first showing with high school students. It was especially dicey after rowdy teens had recently disrupted a recent festival honouring the Bard at the Eaton Auditorium (now the Carlu). But Odeon Theatres officials felt that filling the new Hyland theatre with students from Northern Vocational High School (now Northern Secondary) for the afternoon presentation of Sir Laurence Olivier’s version of Hamlet on November 22, 1948 was worth any potential mishaps.

According to the Star, the kids were alright:

The kids at the showing were well-behaved, far from rowdy, and occasionally spell-bound. But they also chose to laugh in the wrong places and spoiled, for some of us, the complete beauty of many performances…Incomplete understanding of the drama rather than any intended rudeness was undoubtedly responsible for these unfortunate outbursts.

We’re certain many other patrons laughed at the wrong time during the Hyland’s half-century of operation at 1501 Yonge Street. When the theatre closed in February 2001, the experience of moviegoing at Yonge and St. Clair vanished with it.

Opening the Hyland faced greater challenges than pleasing teenagers. During the fall of 1948, the city instituted daily blackouts due to power shortages. As opening day neared, power cuts increased to twice daily during the working week—one in the morning, and a 45-minute blackout starting at 7 p.m. These cuts affected the final stages of construction, including the installation of kitchen equipment and sales of advance tickets to Hamlet. With the front of the house not ready, ticket sales were moved to a nearby drug store which, as the Star reported, confused one customer:

A lady, who doesn’t believe in signs, joined a queue in front of the theatre, in hope of getting reservations for Sir Laurence Olivier’s screen masterpiece. Finally she got to the head of the line and was most provoked to learn that she’d wasted a half hour to be interviewed for a job as usherette.

Despite these problems, tickets for Hamlet sold quickly. By the beginning of December, the house was booked solid through Christmas.

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Toronto Star, April 12, 1950.

One of the Hyland’s greatest assets in its early years was manager Vic Nowe. His promotional skills drew people to see both the feature attraction and the award-winning tie-ins he devised. A lobby display of Victorian wallpaper designs during the run of Oliver Twist in 1949 was so popular that it toured other Odeon locations. To promote Tight Little Island the following year, Nowe saluted the film’s Scottish setting by covering the theatre’s entrance in plaid and offering performances in the lobby by highland dancers and bagpipers. When The Lavender Hill Mob ran in late 1951, the Hyland let the first 50 men wearing bowler hats a la star Alec Guinness in for free.

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Lobby of the Odeon Hyland. Archives of Ontario. 

As British cultural influences waned in Toronto, the near-exclusive programming of films from the mother country at the Hyland gave way to Hollywood blockbusters. When the theatre was split into two screens in the early 1970s, it followed a trend that affected several of the city’s remaining large single-auditorium cinemas.

By 1999, declining attendance led Cineplex Odeon to convert the Hyland into a showcase for art films. The theatre was still capable of drawing people—it grossed over $50,000 in three days in December 2000 as one of a trio of cinemas that carried the initial run of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon—but the move was seen as a sign its days were numbered. When Cineplex Odeon was granted interim bankruptcy protection two months later, the Hyland was closed immediately. Anyone who attempted to phone the theatre for the day’s bill on February 16, 2001 was greeted with a generic recorded message: “We are honoured to have had the opportunity of serving your community. Thank you for your patronage and support.” Those arriving at the theatre in person were advised to head to the Varsity.

Demolished in 2003, the site of the Hyland is now the entrance to a Green P lot and a walkway named after another former Yonge and St. Clair landmark, longtime CFRB morning show host Wally Crouter.

Sources: the November 19, 1948, November 23, 1948, and February 17, 2001 editions of the Toronto Star.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

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Globe and Mail, September 16, 1959.

During the late 1950s, the Hyland served as a venue for several local film societies, including the A-G-E Film Society of Toronto, the French Cine Club, and the Toronto Film Society. Until voters approved general Sunday screenings in 1961, the offerings of these societies were among the few legal ways to see a movie on the Sabbath.

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Boxoffice, October 16, 1972. 

Icy Discrimination

Originally published as a “Historicist” column on Torontoist on March 6, 2010.

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General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Mayor Robert H. Saunders at Cenotaph at Old City Hall, January 12, 1946. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 2903.

One day in early November 1945, fifteen-year-old Harry Gairey Jr. went with five friends to the private Icelandia skating rink on Yonge Street in North Toronto, despite his father’s warning that the venue was not known to treat black customers kindly. Gairey Jr. went ahead and hoped the afternoon would provide a good opportunity to help a friend improve his skating skills. While his white companions were allowed into Icelandia, Gairey Jr. was notified by rink manager Bedford Allen that “no coloured boys can come in here.”

Harry’s friends saw what happened, turned around, and asked for a refund. Incensed by the treatment shown to his son, Harry Gairey Sr. contacted his local alderman and arranged for an audience with the city’s Board of Control on November 14. With tears in his eyes, Gairey Sr. offered apologies for taking the council’s time, to which Mayor Robert Saunders replied, “I don’t know that we have anything more valuable on which to spend our time than looking into a matter like this.” Gairey Sr. related the incident, which he found disgraceful, then offered additional thoughts that he later recalled in A Black Man’s Toronto 1914-1980: The Reminiscences of Harry Gairey:

Now it would be all right if the powers that be refused my son admission to the Icelandia, I would accept it, if when the next war comes, you’re going to say “Harry Gairey, you’re black, you stay here, don’t go to war.” But your Worship, and Gentlemen of the Council, it’s not going to be that way, you’re going to say he’s a Canadian and you’ll conscript him. And if so, I would like my son to have everything a Canadian citizen is entitled to, providing he’s worthy of it.

The Telegram also noted part of his address:

We have heard so much about democracy, and we have just gone through a war for it, but this is an example of everything not democratic. If we are to have democracy it must start in our city, in the homes, on the streets. If we are to be divided into racial and colour groups, each to receive different treatment, there is little to live for.

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The picket line outside Icelandia. The Telegram, November 23, 1945.

A week later, a group of University of Toronto students with ties to the campus Labor-Progressive Club organized two days of protest outside Icelandia. The owner refused to comment, but an assistant claimed there weren’t any race restrictions. After over 150 picketers bearing placards with slogans like “no discrimination” showed up on the second day, police were called in to break it up. Southern Ontario B’nai B’rith director Al Zimmerman visited the operators of Icelandia and saw little sign of compromise, which resulted in a boycott. “We asked if the discrimination would continue,” he told the Star in 1947, “and were told that the rink would continue to bar Negroes but not Jews. But the barring of Negroes was sufficient to satisfy us that intolerance would be continued and we decided among ourselves not to patronize the rink.”

Business suffered briefly at Icelandia after the Gairey incident but the furor soon blew over. It didn’t take long for management to prove it wasn’t just blacks with whom they took issue. In early January 1947, a Jewish girl was denied entry, which revived accounts of Gairey Jr’s treatment in local papers. In his January 10 column in the Globe and Mail, Jim Coleman noted the crushing effects that being separated from their peers had on both youths and cynically wrote:

The proprietors of Icelandia are at least consistent in their attitude, and we presume that, when the occasion arises, they will bar Communists, Mennonites, Seventh Day Adventists—in fact, all those who don’t noisily swear allegiance to the most orthodox branches of the Christian faith… If you go to Icelandia, be sure to take a letter from your pastor—the gateman may look suspiciously at the curve of your nose.

Coleman soon received many letters, among which he found “a heartening percentage of readers abhor racial discrimination.” A fresh boycott against Icelandia was launched by the United Electrical Workers Union and picketers returned. Various labour and educational groups called on city council to enact tougher anti-discrimination laws. Community papers like the North Toronto Heraldurged clergymen to denounce Icelandia during Sunday sermons. By mid-January, a legislation committee that included future mayor Nathan Phillips drafted an amendment to the licensing bylaws that required passage by the Toronto Police Commission.

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James “Jim” A. Coleman, columnist for the Globe and Mail, 1950s. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 2473.

If you thought Icelandia might have cooled it in the face of public anger, the rink’s management quickly revealed their true colours yet again. In his February 1 column, Coleman noted a fresh incident of discrimination against a Greek skater. A scuffle ensued and Coleman’s tone indicated that he was happy to hear that the rink staffer wound up splayed on the ground. The rink used its ad in the Globe and Mail two days later to threaten Coleman with legal action…which happened to be the same day city council approved its anti-discrimination resolution.

On February 22, newspaper front pages announced that the police commission approved the new bylaw. The Globe and Mail printed the new rules in full:

(1) Every license issued to the owner or keeper of an exhibition, theatre, music hall, moving-picture show, public hall or any place of amusement shall be subject to the condition that no discrimination on account of race, creed or colour shall be shown against any member of the public who seeks admission to the premises in respect to which the license is issued and every such license shall bear a written or printed endorsement to the forgiving effect.
(2) No person licensed as the owner or keeper of an exhibition, theatre, music hall, moving-picture show, public hall or place of amusement shall discriminate against any member of the public who seeks admission to the premises in respect to which the license is issued because of the race, creed or colour of such member.

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Article on Harry Gairey Jr. The Maple Leaf, December 1, 1945.

In the long run, the skating deities were kinder to the Gairey family than Icelandia. Besides battles over its discriminatory practices, the rink got into trouble with the city over its attempts to facilitate hockey games on Sundays. Frustration and prodding from the press spurred efforts to build a public skating rink in North Toronto. Icelandia barely survived into the 1950s—its site at 1941 Yonge Street is now occupied by a liquor store. Harry Gairey Sr., who was proud that his speech had made officials begin to think about changing laws, received many honours for his activism and community involvement. Within three years of his passing in 1993, the outdoor skating rink at Alexandra Park was named in his honour.

Sources: A Black Man’s Toronto 1914-1980: The Reminiscences of Harry Gairey, edited by Donna Hill (Toronto: Multicultural History Society of Ontario, 1981) and the following newspapers: the January 10, 1947, January 11, 1947, January 14, 1947, January 18, 1947, February 1, 1947, February 3, 1947,and February 22, 1947 editions of the Globe and Mail; the January 17, 1947 edition of the North Toronto Herald; the November 14, 1945, November 23, 1945, January 11, 1947, March 19, 1947, and September 27, 1947, editions of the Toronto Star; and the November 14, 1945, and November 23, 1945, editions of the Telegram.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

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Globe and Mail, November 23, 1945.

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Toronto Star, November 23, 1945.

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Globe and Mail, November 24, 1945.

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The Varsity, November 26, 1945.

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The Varsity, November 27, 1945.

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Globe and Mail, November 29, 1945.

I wonder if the “strict discipline” referred to in this Icelandia ad refers to the guidance offered by its pro skaters, or to prevent any more protests.

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Globe and Mail, January 10, 1947.

The column that exposed Icelandia’s continuing discriminatory issues…

gm 1947-01-11 anti-coleman icelandia ad

Globe and Mail, January 11, 1947.

…and Icelandia’s response. At this time, the rink ran short “Ice News Bulletins” in Toronto newspapers that usually pitched the latest events, reprinted congratulatory letters from its clients, or offered lousy verse about enjoyed its facilities.

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Globe and Mail, January 11, 1947.

The G&M‘s editorial page was not amused, referring to the latest incident and what had happened to Gairey.

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Globe and Mail, January 14, 1947.

Other journalists sent Coleman their thoughts about Icelandia.

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The Varsity, January 14, 1947.

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The Varsity, January 15, 1947.

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Excerpt from Jim Coleman’s column, Globe and Mail, January 17, 1947.

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Globe and Mail, January 18, 1947.

This ad tries to attract a lawn bowler (or is “Henry” a reference to another poet or an enemy of the rink?). The poet is dishonest when they claim “we do not seek to harm or maim.”

star 1947-01-20 rabbi feinberg attacks iceland policy

Toronto Star, January 20, 1947.

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Globe and Mail, February 1, 1947.

The nationality in question was Greek, a community which had long faced discrimination in the city, most infamously during the Anti-Greek Riot in 1918.

gm 1947-02-03 icelandia ad threatening legal action against coleman

Globe and Mail, February 3, 1947.

A month later, Icelandia served Coleman and G&M general manager Harry Kimber with a libel notice. I have not found any subsequent coverage, leading me to believe it was unsuccessful.

gm 1947-02-03 council gets proposal to bar licenses

Globe and Mail, February 3, 1947.

varsity 1947-02-04 mr allen of icelandia 350

The Varsity, February 4, 1947.

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The Varsity, February 13, 1947.

For more on the 1944 Anti-Discrimination Act, check out my TVO piece on its 75th anniversary.

Searching for more stories of people affected by Icelandia’s icy attitude towards others, I came across this account from actor Al Waxman. In his autobiography That’s What I Am, Waxman described a youthful incident where his hockey teammates unanimously elected him captain. The coach quickly vetoed the team’s decision, as Waxman was the only Jew.

I waited until everyone left, then, sitting alone in that locker room at Icelandia, where Jews were not welcome, I cried. I had been hit by flying pucks, slapped in the face by swinging sticks, smothered in scrambles around the net, but had never cried before.

gm 1947-03-13 icelandia ad attacking mayor saunders

Globe and Mail, March 13, 1947.

Some sour grapes after a parade honouring champion skater Barbara Ann Scott failed to go past Icelandia. The rink’s ads frequently boasted that Scott had skated there. Management may have also been angry at Mayor Robert Saunders over attempts to prevent the rink from operating fully on Sundays, a battle which took up plenty of court time throughout the rest of 1947.

The city considered buying Icelandia in 1950 but decided the asking price of $115,000 was too high, especially for a building that required an addition to bring the ice up to standard. With no fanfare, it appears the rink closed its doors the following year. As of June 2020, its site is a surface parking, likely awaiting future redevelopment.

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Harry Gairey Jr. and Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall. Photo by Boris Spremo, originally published in the January 25, 1996 edition of the Toronto Star. Toronto Public Library, Toronto Star Photo Archive, tspa_0048893f.

star 1996-01-25 gairey rinkToronto Star, January 25, 1996.

When he died in 2015, Gairey Jr. was remembered for his half-century as a basketball referee in the city. “He had a far-reaching impact on everybody,” fellow ref Al Northcott told the Star. “He never answered a harsh word with a harsh word himself.”

Bonus Features: “Knocking out that rag is my only passion”

Before diving into this post, read my TVO article on the Star and the Charitable Gifts Act.

Warning: there’s a lot of material in this one, as so much ink was spilled in the press concerning the Charitable Gifts Act (CGA). What I’m presenting here is a tiny fraction of the coverage. At the peak of the controversy, a quarter of the Star‘s pages (averaging around 56 pages an edition) mentioned the CGA.

Due to COVID-related closures, I was unable to check the Telegram‘s coverage. As the Globe and Mail remained closer to George McCullagh’s heart, I imagine the Tely‘s coverage wasn’t much different, other than using language better suited for the paper’s audience.

star 1948-05-10 atkinson death front page 640

Toronto Star, May 10, 1948.

star 1948-05-10 atkinson foundation

Toronto Star, May 10, 1948.

star 1947-07-14 tely for sale

Toronto Star, July 14, 1947.

Let’s step back a few months, to the news that the Telegram, which had been administered by trustees since founder John Ross Robertson’s death in 1918. Throughout the Charitable Gifts Act saga, politicians and the press wondered why the arrangements surrounding the Tely and the Hospital for Sick Children had not been questioned.

tely 1948-12-01 front page mccullagh note

The Telegram, December 1, 1948.

A front page message from George McCullagh after he bought the Telegram. One can quibble about the claims of political independence, given McCullagh’s strong ties with George Drew and other Progressive Conservatives. Still, he modernized the paper, bringing it into the postwar era by gradually lessening its strong British flavour (the Union Jack soon vanished from the masthead) and bringing in a new generation of talented writers and editors.

honolulu star-bulletin 1949-01-08 mccullagh's hatred of the star

Honolulu Star-Bulletin, January 8, 1949.

McCullagh’s dislike for the the Star made it into the North American wire services, with this story spreading as far as Hawaii.

star 1949-03-26 cga 1

Toronto Star, March 26, 1949.

The first of many front-page Star editorials on the CGA and its potential effects.

gm 1949-03-28 editorial on protecting ontario charities

Globe and Mail, March 28, 1949. 

star 1949-03-30 dennison and temple

Toronto Star, March 30, 1949.

A few words about who was serving at Queen’s Park at the time. The result of the June 1948 provincial election was 53 PC, 21 CCF, 14 Liberal, and 2 LPP (Labor-Progressive Party, the legally acceptable name of the Communists). Though his party won, Premier George Drew lost 13 seats compared to 1945, including his own. He was vanquished by one of the men seen here, William “Temperance Bill” Temple. Drew handed the premiership over to veteran Peel MPP Thomas Laird Kennedy, who would serve as interim leader until the PCs voted for a permanent replacement on April 27, 1949.

Besides Temple, the CCF caucus of 1949 was an interesting mix of MPPs. Among them:

  • William Dennison (St. David), a speech therapist who served as Toronto’s mayor from 1966 to 1972.
  • Agnes Macphail (York East), elected as Canada’s first female federal MP in 1921. She had switched to provincial politics earlier in the decade.
  • C.H. Millard (York West), who was the United Auto Workers local president during the Oshawa GM strike in 1937, beginning a career which shaped trade union activism in Ontario.
  • Reid Scott(Beaches), who, at 21, was the youngest person elected to the Ontario legislature until Sam Oosterhoff in 2016. He later served the public as a city councillor, judge, and federal MP. When he died in 2016, he was the last surviving member of the parliamentary committee who chose the current Canadian flag.

star 1949-03-30 charities bill editorial cartoon

Cartoon by Les Callan, Toronto Star, March 30, 1949.

oj 1949-03-30 editorial 250px

Ottawa Journal, March 30, 1949.

The Ottawa Journal was among the conservative papers who disagreed with the bill.

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Globe and Mail, March 31, 1949.

A front page editorial where the G&M takes the high ground in paragraph one, then resorts to name calling in paragraph two. But then with a title like “Pay Up and Shut Up,” could you really expect less?

oj 1949-03-31 kennedy statement

Ottawa Journal, March 31, 1949.

Premier Kennedy’s thoughts on the bill. Apart from a three-year break following the Liberal landslide of 1934, Kennedy served as an MPP for Peel from 1919 to 1959. He served as minister of agriculture under four premiers, and retained the portfolio during his interim premiership. His name lives on via a Mississauga secondary school and two major roads in Peel Region (Kennedy Road and Tomken Road).

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Windsor Star, April 1, 1949.

gm 1949-04-01 editorial cartoon

Cartoon by Jack Booth, Globe and Mail, April 1, 1949. 

The G&M‘s cartoon following CCF leader Ted Jolliffe’s filibuster (which, if you have access to the online archives of the G&M and the Star, you can read lengthy excerpts printed in each paper). The man in the dumpster at the back is federal CCF leader M.J. Coldwell. Pro-CGA coverage accused Jolliffe of defending the Star in order to lure the paper away from its traditional support of the provincial Liberals.

oc 1949-04-01 destroying a newspaper editorial 400px

Ottawa Citizen, April 1, 1949.

star 1949-04-02 charities bill editorial cartoon

Cartoon by Les Callan, Toronto Star, April 2, 1949. 

fp 1949-04-02 editorial 350px

Financial Post, April 2, 1949.

The Financial Post also reported on the potential effects of the original bill on charities and foundations, including the University of Toronto (with its interests in Connaught Laboratories and University of Toronto Press) and the Royal Conservatory of Music (which ran music publisher Frederick Harris).

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Toronto Star, April 6, 1949.

Agnes Macphail’s feelings about the CGA, along with a guest appearance by former premier Harry Nixon (also not a fan of the legislation).

star 1949-04-06 tory

Toronto Star, April 6, 1949.

Was John S.D. Tory (grandfather of the current Toronto mayor) an advisor on the CGA…

gm 1949-04-07 ccf filibuster john tory

Globe and Mail, April 7, 1949.

…or not?

ws 1949-04-06 editorial

Windsor Star, April 6, 1949.

cc 1949-04-07 anti cga editorial

Canadian Champion (Milton, ON), April 7, 1949.

newmarket era 1949-04-07 anti cga editorial

Newmarket Era and Express, April 7, 1949.

Excerpts of pro-CGA editorials from papers of all sizes and publishing frequency were reprinted in the Star.

kingsville reporter 1949-04-07 pro cga editorial

Kingsville Reporter,  April 7, 1949.

stouffville tribune 1949-04-07 pro cga editorial

Stouffville Tribune, April 7, 1949.

A pair of small-town pro-CGA editorials. Of the larger papers in the province, the G&M published a supportive editorial from the Hamilton Spectator. I wonder what the London Free Press‘s take was, as its name never came up in anyone’s coverage.

gm 1949-04-07 anti-jolliffe editorial slam

Globe and Mail, April 7, 1949.

The shortest CGA-related editorial, and a fine example of the snark that enveloped everyone.

star 1949-04-07 front page editorial

Toronto Star, April 7, 1949.

The Star‘s front page editorial the day after the CGA passed. This sums up several other articles which had run in the paper over the previous week.

star 1949-04-07 mccullagh and time

Toronto Star, April 7, 1949.

McCullagh’s interview appears to have been in the Canadian version of Time – it’s not in the April 11, 1949 cover dated American edition.

gm 1949-04-08 editorialGlobe and Mail, April 8, 1949. 

star 1949-06-23 drew and mccullagh and newspapers 1

star 1949-06-23 drew and mccullagh and newspapers 2

Toronto Star, June 23, 1949.

How the Star and McCullagh’s papers covered the 1949 federal election is worthy of a post of its own, if only to show the depths both went to sling mud at each other. Drew fared poorly in his first election as federal PC leader, as their seat count dropped from 65 in 1945 to 41. In Ontario, their count dropped from 48 to 25.

star 1958-03-26 front page

Toronto Star, March 26, 1958.

Bonus Features: “Forget the golf stick and use the hoe” (WWII Victory Gardening)

Before diving into this post, read my TVO article on victory gardening in Ontario during the Second World War.

wtg 1943-05-20 victory garden banner

Weston Times and Guide, May 20, 1943.

gm 1943-02-26 gocvernment advocates home gardening

Globe and Mail, February 26, 1943.

gm 1943-03-18 food is ammunition ad

Globe and Mail, March 18, 1943.

wtg 1943-05-20 victory garden tips and overalls ad

Weston Times and Guide, May 20, 1943.

ws 1942-03-25 design victory garden for beauty 640

Windsor Star, March 25, 1942.

ws 1942-03-25 victory garden can be permanent feature after war 500

Windsor Star, March 25, 1942.

oc 1942-02-28 uncle ray's victory garden brigade

Ottawa Citizen, February 28, 1942.

The Citizen‘s “Uncle Ray” urged children to participate in victory gardening from early 1942 on. Subsequent columns included kids who “enlisted” in the Uncle Ray Garden Brigade, along with tips on what to grow.

ws 1942-05-06 children get victory garden seeds photo 640

Windsor Star, May 6, 1942.

wtg 1943-04-08 editorial encouraging victory gardens

Weston Times and Guide, April 8, 1943.

oj 1942-05-20 muggs and skeeter victory garden cartoon

Ottawa Journal, May 20, 1942. More on Muggs and Skeeter.

wtg 1943-05-20 victory garden goals ad

Weston Times and Guide, May 20, 1943.

gm 1943-05-01 growth of victory gardening

Globe and Mail, May 1, 1943.

gm 1943-06-08 mayor conboy and victory gardeners

Globe and Mail, June 8, 1943.

oc 1943-08-09 picobac ad good youth and victory gardens

Ottawa Citizen, August 9, 1943.

oc 1943-09-07 old man grows giant veggies in toronto

Ottawa Citizen, September 7, 1943.

ws 1944-03-18 cock brothers victory garden ad 500

Windsor Star, March 18, 1944.

Not going to lie – my juvenile potty humour kicked in when I saw this series of ads for a downtown Windsor gardening needs supplier.

gm 1944-03-13 higher quotas set by victory gardeners

Globe and Mail, March 13, 1944.

gm 1945-01-30 editorial lure of the seed catalogue

Globe and Mail, January 30, 1945.

203 Yonge Street (Scholes Hotel/Colonial Tavern)

This story was originally published online as a “Ghost City” column by The Grid on May 21, 2013.

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Illustration of John Francis Scholes, as it appeared in the March 25, 1871 edition of the Canadian Illustrated News.

There were few sports John Francis Scholes tackled that he didn’t master. The Irish-born, Toronto-reared athlete racked up championship titles in boxing, rowing, and snowshoeing during the Victorian era. His first trophy, earned during a 220-yard hurdle race in 1869, was proudly displayed in the Yonge Street hotel that eventually bore his family’s name.

Scholes entered the hospitality business around 1880, opening a bar and hotel at 185 Yonge St. He moved his business a few doors north to 203 Yonge St. in the late 1890s, christening it the Athlete Hotel. Scholes used it as a base to mentor local athletes, including his sons John (who inherited his amateur boxing skills) and Lou (a champion rower). Scholes’ tough nature carried him through to his end—when doctors indicated a stomach ailment was terminal, he insisted on dying at the Athlete Hotel, where he entertained friends and former competitors.

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The Scholes Hotel, circa 1945. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 537.

Following Scholes’ death in March 1918, the hotel stayed in family hands and adopted their name. Ads for the Scholes’ Hotel offered typical hospitality promises—“good food, cleanliness, and efficient service.” Less impressed were provincial liquor officials, who suspended the hotel’s booze license in May 1946 for overcrowding and the heinous crime of permitting unaccompanied men to enter the women’s beverage room. (At this time, men and women legally drank in separate rooms.)

The business was sold around this time. The new ownership, Mike Lawrence, Goody Lichtenberg and Harvey Lichtenberg, renamed it the Colonial Tavern. They secured the second cocktail lounge licence along Yonge Street (after the Silver Rail) and began booking jazz acts. Their first performer showed their enlightened attitude: pianist Cy McLean, who had led the first all-black jazz band in Ontario.

Disaster struck on September 27, 1948. Around 8:10 p.m., a refrigerator explosion blew out a wall and sent four men to hospital. “I just remember reaching for my beer when I went sailing across the table top and toward the bar,” patron Douglas Wilson told the Star. “A seven-foot paneled door landed right beside me.” Refrigeration at the Colonial was cursed: Faulty wiring led to a fire on July 24, 1960 that required a year-long reconstruction effort.

Amid these disasters, the Colonial became one of Toronto’s finest jazz joints. Headliners spanned the jazz spectrum, including Chet Baker, Sidney Bechet, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus, and Sarah Vaughan. Not all patrons found the surroundings enticing. “Nobody ever called it an ideal place to hear music,” Robert Fulford grumbled in the Star in 1987. “The ceiling was low, the food bad, the waitresses surly, the patrons sometimes loudly drunk. The room was a tunnel-like hall with a square bulge in the middle. If you sat in front of the bandstand the musicians seemed too loud; if you sat to left or right of them you had the sense of over-hearing rather than hearing the music. There were no good tables at the Colonial, only less bad tables.” Yet Fulford admitted that because of the quality of the music, “none of this mattered.”

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The Colonial Tavern in the 1970s. Photo by Ellis Wiley. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 3, Item 123.

The Colonial benefitted from the Yonge Street Mall pedestrian-zone experiment of the early 1970s. Goody Lichtenberg was stunned at how packed his new patio was when Yonge was closed off in May 1971. “If I don’t look excited,” he told the Star, “it’s only because I’m dead beat.” Demand forced Lichtenberg to gather food from another restaurant. Within a week, he hired 20 part-time employees and found they weren’t enough.

Inside, the entertainment line-up changed through the 1970s. Jazz performers faded as the upstairs room gradually converted into a discotheque. A basement venue—whose names ranged from the unfortunate Meet Market to the Colonial Underground—aimed for a younger crowd through local acts like Rough Trade and the Viletones. Upstairs and downstairs didn’t always mix—when bluesman Long John Baldry sent staff downstairs to tell the Diodes to turn it down so that he could play an acoustic set, bouncers charged at the punks with pool cues.

After the Lichtenbergs sold the venue in the late 1970s, the Colonial descended into the general sleaziness of Yonge Street during that era. Ads for the “Bump and Grind Revue” in 1978 promised a combination of rock bands and “exotic Black Bottom serving maidens.” The venue’s strip-club phase ran into trouble when a dancer was convicted for public nudity. City regulations enforcing g-strings were blamed for chipping away at business. Several attempts were made to return to jazz programming, but none took.

In 1982, the City purchased the property. It intended to use it as a connecting link between Massey Hall and the Elgin and Winter Garden theatres to create a mini-Lincoln Center-style entertainment complex. Despite protests from the local jazz community, City Council approved plans to demolish the Colonial in 1987 and replace it with a parkette.

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Site of the Colonial Tavern, post-demolition, 1987. Photo by Ellis Wiley. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 124, File 3, Item 152.

The following year, the Star’s Christopher Hume laughed at the notion the tiny park would improve its stretch of Yonge Street, viewing it as a hole in the streetscape. “This is one of the few stretches of Yonge where there are significant numbers of historical buildings left,” Hume observed. “It doesn’t make sense to mess it up for the sake of creating an ‘open’ space hardly anyone will use.”

Bracketed by the ghosts of the old banks surrounding it, the former site of the Colonial awaits its next incarnation as part of the Massey Tower condo development.

Sources: Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk and Beyond 1977-1981 by Liz Worth (Montreal: Bongo Beat, 2010), the January 11, 1937, October 25, 1940, and July 13, 1978 editions of the Globe and Mail, and the March 5, 1918, May 6, 1946, September 28, 1948, July 25, 1960, June 10, 1961, May 31, 1971, February 20, 1979, April 3, 1987, May 9, 1987, and September 24, 1988 editions of the Toronto Star.

POSTSCRIPT

The following comment was left on the original post by Bonnie Lawrence Shear on May 30, 2013, in reference to the original piece, which did not mention her father’s role in the Colonial. I admit the first sentence is the kind that fuels my anxiety and perfectionist impulses–but none of the following information emerged over the course of my initial research. When under deadline pressure, you do your best, but the final piece won’t always be perfect in everyone’s eyes.

The authors lack of anything resembling the facts is staggering. My father, Mike Lawrence, bought Scholes Hotel around 1945. I was a small child then but I believe the latest was 1946. He later took in my uncles (the Lichtenbergs) as minority partners, Harvey at the beginning, and Goody a couple of years later. Neither was involved in the purchase.While Goody was in charge of booking the acts, and Harvey in charge of day to day operations, my father was the brains behind the Colonial’s success.My father came from an extremely poor family, graduated as an engineer, but because he was Jewish, could not work as an engineer and had to go into business for himself. He was brilliant and a real risk taker.He went on to many other business and other achievements.

Although it probably had a lot of the faults Fulford talks about, it also was a great success, supported 3 families, and was beloved by many.

The Eaton Centre, and my father’s many illnesses in the 70′s before he died did lead to it’s eventual demise. The building of The Eaton Centre meant that the main thoroughfare on Yonge Street was no longer the street, but pedestrian traffic was transferred to inside the mall, especially in Toronto’s harsh weather.The Colonial’s demise began with the building of the Eaton Centre.

Our family did not sell it to the city, but to an interim purchaser who reneged on the contract. The city eventually took over the property.

So many fond memories, and some sad and poignant ones too.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

globe 1877-11-21 ad_Page_1_Image_0001

The Globe, November 21, 1877.

globe 18-03-05 scholes obit_Page_1_Image_0001

The Globe, March 5, 1918.

ts 18-03-05 scholes obit phoo

ts 18-03-05 scholes obit

Toronto Star, March 5, 1918.

gm 40-10-25 scholes marks 66th anniversary_Page_1_Image_0001

Globe and Mail, October 25, 1940.

ts 47-12-23 opening ad_Page_1_Image_0001

Toronto Star, December 23, 1947.

ts 48-09-28 refrigerator blast rips out wall

Toronto Star, September 29, 1948.

ts 61-06-10 new colonial tavern

Toronto Star, June 10, 1961.

gm 84-01-16 mccoy tyner at reopening of colonial_Page_1_Image_0001

Globe and Mail, January 16, 1984. While working on updating this piece, Tyner’s death was announced

ts 87-05-09 fulford on colonial

Toronto Star, May 9, 1987.

No Necking Allowed in Long Branch, 1949

The following narrative speaks for itself, as an example of the “Toronto the Good” mentality (present in what was then a suburb) running up against the emergence of postwar teenage culture.

gm 1949-03-10 necking in long branch

Globe and Mail, March 10, 1949.

gm 1949-03-22 necking in long branch

Globe and Mail, March 22, 1949.

boxoffice 49-04-09 anti-necking in long branch

Box Office, April 9, 1949.

A Maple Leaf Gardens Gallery

Based on a gallery post originally published on Torontoist on November 30, 2011, with new material mixed in.

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Maple Leaf Gardens, 1969. Photo by Bob Olsen. Toronto Star Photo Archive, Toronto Public Library, tspa_0098050f.

“Where pucks once flew 15 feet or more on the ice, shoppers will stare at a 15-foot wall of cheese.”

That’s how this story originally began, published on the day Loblaws opened its Maple Leaf Gardens location. The arena on the upper level (still officially called, as of 2019, the Peter Gilgan Athletic Centre) was still a few months away from opening. The occasion was a good excuse to take a stroll through the building’s history and the diversity of activities it had witnessed.

globe 1931-02-13 maple leaf gardens and spadina gardens

The Globe, February 13, 1931.

In a timeframe that would be almost unheard of today, the request for a building permit was made in February 1931. The arena was open 10 months later. Also note the simultaneous request to the city to build an arena in Spadina Crescent, which was never constructed (the site is now U of T’s Daniels Faculty).

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Sketch of Maple Leaf Gardens, The Telegram, March 5, 1931.

Construction of Maple Leaf Gardens began in July 1931 and proceeded rapidly in order to be ready for the 1931/32 hockey season. Over 1,200 labourers, 750,000 bricks, and 77,500 bags of concrete were required to build the arena.

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Opening night ceremonies at Maple Leaf Gardens, Mail and Empire, November 13, 1931.

Over 13,000 people attended opening night on November 12, 1931. Maple Leaf Gardens President J.P. Bickell hoped that the arena would “be regarded as a civic institution, rather than a commercial venture, because its object is to foster and promote the healthy recreation of the people of this British and sport-loving city.” Unfortunately, the Maple Leafs lost to the Chicago Black Hawks 2-1.

star 1931-11-13 opening of mlg

From W.A. Hewitt’s “Sporting Views and Reviews” column, Toronto Star, November 13, 1931:

The new Maple Leaf gardens proved a revelation to the hockey public last night. Everybody expressed amazement and pleasure at its spaciousness, its tremendous capacity, its comfort, its beautiful colour scheme, and its adaptability for hockey and all other indoor sports, with the spectators right on top of the play.

The crowd–a record one for hockey in Canada–was splendidly handled. No confusion, no crowding or rushing, everything done in the most orderly and systematic manner. The opening ceremonies were elaborate and a little lengthy, but that was excusable when one considers the importance of the occasion. They don’t open million-and-a-half arenas every night in the week.

Hewitt’s son, Foster, became a Gardens legend over his decades of broadcasting games on radio and television.

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Wrestling match, Whipper Billy Watson versus Dick Hutton, Maple Leaf gardens, July 5, 1956. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7520.

Seven days after the first hockey game, pro wrestling made its debut at the Gardens. A crowd of over 15,000 watched Jim Londos defeat Gino Garibaldi on November 19, 1931. The match was promoted by the Queensbury Athletic Club, who had recently hired Frank Tunney as its secretary. Within a decade Tunney took over the promotion and would be responsible for most of the venue’s wrestling cards until his death in 1983. One of his most popular draws was East York native Whipper Billy Watson, seen here defending a world title against Dick Hutton in 1956.

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Irvine “Ace” Bailey of the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Club in his office, 1960s. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 2370.

Among those who kept offices in the Gardens was Irvine “Ace” Bailey, who was one of the Maple Leafs’ top forwards until he was nearly killed by a vicious hit from Boston Bruin Eddie Shore in December 1933. Though unable to resume his playing career, Bailey went on serve two stints as the University of Toronto’s hockey coach and worked as a timekeeper at the Gardens until 1984.

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Skater jumps through ring of fire at Toronto War Savings Committee youth rally, Maple Leaf Gardens, February 13, 1941. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Iten 7068.

What lengths did organizers go to grab the attention of those attending the numerous war rallies at the Gardens during the Second World War? How about a skater jumping through a flaming hoop?

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Communist leader Tim Buck (front left) and others, Communist Labour and Total War Committee meeting, Maple Leaf Gardens, October 13, 1942. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7099.

Over 9,000 people attended a rally held on October 13, 1942 to support lifting the ban on the Communist Party that had been imposed under the War Measures Act two years earlier. Leader Tim Buck urged full support for the war effort to destroy the Axis powers, including conscription. Assorted labour leaders and politicians across party lines were also on stage to oppose the ban, including Ontario Premier Mitch Hepburn. One wonders if Hepburn’s motives were to further embarass Prime Minister Mackenzie King as much as helping the Communists break the ban and boosting war morale.

The ban wasn’t lifted, so the Communists reorganized as the Labour-Progressive Party the following year.

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Recruiting station at wartime rally, Maple Leaf Gardens, June 1, 1941. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7033.

The Gardens were used for numerous events supporting the war effort, from fundraisers to recruiting stations like this one. Even though he was in his mid-40s, Conn Smythe signed up for military service during the Second World War, eventually leading a sportsmen’s battalion and publicly criticizing the federal government’s handling of the war. Injuries sustained while caught in a German attack in July 1944 caused Smythe pain for the rest of his life. increasing his irascibility.

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Toronto Youth for Christ rally, Maple Leaf Gardens, circa 1946. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7111.

Religious rallies were a popular draw, such as this one for Toronto Youth for Christ in 1946. Faiths ranging from Roman Catholics to Jehovah’s Witnesses held mass meetings inside the arena. This photo also provides great views of the ceiling clock and the portrait of King George VI that Conn Smythe proudly displayed.

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Mayor Robert H. Saunders and Charles Templeton at Toronto Youth for Christ rally, Maple Leaf Gardens, 1946. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7114.

Mayor Robert Saunders talks to Charles Templeton (then in the evangelist phase of his life) during the Toronto Youth for Christ rally held on June 15, 1946. Over 16,000 people attended the event. “The pageant was as colourful as a professional revue and more gripping than the hundreds of athletic contests which have been fought out before hoarse throated thousands in the Gardens,” the Star reported. “With colourful, authentic costumes, fanfares from trumpets, excellent staging and colourful, effective lighting the story of religious leaders throughout the ages was unfolded.” Among the other speakers was Billy Graham.

Templeton, who was associated with the Avenue Road Church of the Nazarene (now the site of the Hare Krishna temple), gradually lost his faith, declared himself agnostic, became a journalist, ran for the leadership of the provincial Liberals, edited Maclean’s, and generally lived a busy, interesting life.

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Bingo players, Maple Leaf Gardens, 1940s. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7368.

On occasion, Maple Leaf Gardens became the biggest bingo hall in the city. I think they called O67…

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Lou Brody at Maple Leaf Gardens, between 1940 and 1960. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 2439A.

Cleaning the ice surface, pre-Zamboni.

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Badminton played on skates in Maple Leaf Gardens ice show, 1950s. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 6709.

Ice badminton, anyone?

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Liberace at Maple Leaf Gardens, May 8, 1954. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 3404.

As longtime Gardens publicity director Stan Obodiac described this photo in his book Maple Leaf Gardens: Fifty Years of History (Toronto: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1981), “Liberace exchanged his glittering suit for a straw hat in a 1954 country number.” While this particular number wasn’t mentioned , the Star reported in its May 10, 1954 review of the pianist’s show that “every time he ran off to make a change of costume or pull some cute gag, middle-aged women, who looked as though normally they’d be the soul of domestic decorum, got up and rushed after him.”

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Stanley Holloway putting on makeup, Old Vic Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Maple Leaf Gardens, December 1954. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Iten 7342.

Veteran British actor Stanley Holloway applies his makeup between cigarette puffs before a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by a touring company from the Old Vic in London. Globe and Mail drama critic Herbert Whittaker was disappointed with Holloway’s performance as Bottom. “I expected this prime exponent of earthy humour to be rougher, more simple,” Whittaker wrote in his December 15, 1954 review. “This Bottom is surprisingly modern, betraying his music hall antecedents without whipping us with uproarious burlesque. But he found himself not eclipsed but rather aided when he donned the monster head of an ass which the Ironsides have provided, and which is almost the hit of the production.” Also starring were Moira Shearer (The Red Shoes) as Titania and Patrick Macnee (The Avengers) as Demetrius.

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Maple Leaf Gardens refreshement stand, April 12, 1955. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7422.

Time for a refreshment break. Based on the date, my guess is that this photo was taken prior to the fourth game in the Eastern qualifying series for the Memorial Cup between the Toronto Marlboros and the Quebec Frontenacs.

gm 1955-04-13 marlies overcome frontenacs

Globe and Mail, April 13, 1955.

The Marlies won the game 3-1, and went on to win both the series and the Memorial Cup. The roster was full of future Maple Leafs stars, including Bob Baun, Billy Harris, and Bob Pulford, along with future Leafs coach Mike Nykoluk.

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Crowds on new escalators, Maple Leaf Gardens, 1955. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7446.

Obodiac claimed that Maple Leaf Gardens was the first North American arena to be equipped with escalators.

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Performer in Maple Leaf Gardens’ Ice Capades rehearsing Peter Pan with journalist, 1950s. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 6776.

Long before journalists earned the wrath of Harold Ballard, reporting from the Gardens had its share of dangers, For one, you could have conducted an airborne interview with Peter Pan before a 1950s edition of the Ice Capades.

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Performer in Maple Leaf Gardens’ Ice Capades with broken leg, with members of Toronto Maple Leafs hockey club, between 1958 and 1962. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 6757.

It appears this injured Ice Capades performer’s recovery from a broken leg was assisted by Maple Leafs Tim Horton, Carl Brewer, and Bert Olmstead.

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Bill Haley and the Comets, Maple Leaf Gardens, April 30, 1956. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7213.

In what was considered the arena’s first rock n’ roll show, Bill Haley and his Comets headlined a 12-act bill on April 30, 1956 that also included Bo Diddley, LaVern Baker, Big Joe Turner, the Drifters, the Platters, and Frankie Lymon. “Like natives at a voodoo ritual,” the Star reported the following day, “the crowd writhed and reeled until their pent-up emotions burst the dam of reason and the clambered on to the stage and into the aisles to dance.” The following years, the Gardens was one of three Canadian stops Elvis Presley made on his only tour outside of the USA.

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Perry Como and Conn Smythe with “Timmy” in Como’s dressing room for Easter Seals show, “Timmy’s Easter Parade of Star,” Maple Leaf gardens, April 14, 1957. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7314.

A benefit concert for Easter Seals was an annual staple of the Gardens schedule beginning in the 1950s. Preparing for the 1957 edition are crooner Perry Como, “Timmy” Paul Gamble, and Conn Smythe. While Perry and Paul take the photo session in stride, Conn looks a little spooked. While researching this gallery, we discovered this wasn’t an unusual expression for Mr. Smythe.

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Likely from the same photo session, with Whipper Billy Watson and another youth subbing in for Perry Como. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7318.

As for the concert, the April 15, 1957 edition of the Globe and Mail observed that “it was the front rows to which Como and every star before him played. Bright-eyed children with crippled legs were the most fortunate: many there had crippled bodies as well as bodies, but they too obviously enjoyed every minute and hopped up and down with ecstatic delight.”

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Toronto Star, April 13, 1957. Click on image for larger version.

Other performers ranged from wrestler Whipper Billy Watson to the stars of CBC’s variety series Cross Canada Hit Parade and Country Hoedown.

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Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent and his wife Jeanne at Liberal party rally, Maple Leaf Gardens, June 7, 1957. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 4213.

The federal Liberal election rally on June 7, 1957 was a political disaster, as a teenage heckler attempting to climb onstage fell backwards and hit his head on the concrete floor. The overall Liberal campaign that year was a dud.

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Cliff Richard and the Shadows at the Biggest Show of Stars for 1960, January 25, 1960. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7220.

Cliff Richard and the Shadows were among the acts featured in the January 1960 edition of the “Biggest Show of Stars” package tour.

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Toronto Star, January 26, 1960.

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The Isley Brothers, Biggest Show of Stars, January 25, 1960. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7252.

Other acts on the bill included the Isley Brothers and Clyde McPhatter.

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Audience at the Biggest Show of Stars for 1960, January 25, 1960. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7245.

A row of screaming fans at the January 1960 edition of the “Biggest Show of Stars.” Testing the limits of their vocal chords would serve them well, especially if any of them went on to see the Beatles at the Gardens four years later.

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Toronto Maple Leafs versus Chicago Black Hawks, between 1958 and 1964. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7529.

Ageless goalie Johnny Bower guards the net for the Maple Leafs against Chicago Black Hawks forwards Ron Murphy (10) and Eric Nesterenko (15).

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Toronto Maple Leafs versus Boston Bruins, between 1961 and 1963. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7527.

In this early 1960s match against the Bruins, the Leafs’ Bob Pulford (20) has his stick primed while team captain George Armstrong attempts to help. Among the Bruins trying to prevent a Leaf goal are Pat Stapleton (4), Ed Westfall (18), and Leo Boivin (20).

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Two men in Maple Leafs Gardens dressing room, pointing to painted Toronto Maple Leafs sign, 1950s. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 7447.

A clubhouse motto erected by Conn Smythe to inspire the Maple Leafs. The City of Toronto Archives does not identify the two gentlemen pointing at the inspirational words, but we think they may be forward Sid Smith and goalie Harry Lumley.

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Sonny Fox with Harold Ballard at Maple Leafs Gardens, 1950s. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 3038.

Harold Ballard’s association with Maple Leaf Gardens began during the 1930s when the future Maple Leafs owner was involved with a number of local amateur hockey teams. This picture, featuring Ballard with American television personality Sonny Fox, was taken long before hockey fans began uttering his name with contempt.

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Dave “Tiger” Williams signing an autograph for Greg Crombie, 1978. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 8857.

This photo appears to have been left on the cutting room floor when I prepared the original post, probably to make the gallery a nice, neat total of 28 images.

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Greg Crombie at Maple Leaf Gardens with King Clancy, 1978. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1257, Series 1057, Item 8859.

Francis “King” Clancy was the sunny face of the Maple Leafs, whether it was as a player in 1930s or a team executive from the 1950s until his death in 1986. In his biography of Harold Ballard, sportswriter William Houston compared Clancy to a leprechaun. “Clancy usually has a big smile, a twinkle in his eye to go along with his high-pitched voice. He has an amiable personality and offends no one…He is full of stories from his hockey past and can be a delightful companion.”

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One of the last chances the public had to stroll around Maple Leaf Gardens before its conversion into its present form occured during Nuit Blanche in October 2008. While there were art installation on the arena floor, the real magic that evening was hearing visitors tell stories about their experiences in the building. There were also plenty of reminders that the Leafs had left behind after vacating the premises, such as this Mercury ad.