1933 Mail and Empire Women’s Pages 1: Chop Suey and Cookies

me 1933-03-01 header

During a research dive into the pages of the Mail and Empire while preparing this article, I wound up collecting two months worth of women’s pages, which I figured might make an interesting ongoing series for this website. The paper had a rich history of covering women’s domestic affairs and social issues stretching back to Kit Coleman’s pioneering work during the 1890s.

macleans 1933-04-01 iw killam cartoon

Caricature of Izaak Walton Killam, Maclean’s, April 1, 1933.

In 1933, the Conservative-leaning Mail and Empire was Toronto’s largest morning paper, ahead of the Liberal-leaning Globe (the Star and Telegram, both of which had larger circulations, battled it out for evening readers). It was owned by Izaak Walton Killam, one of Canada’s richest businessmen. In keeping with his shy, modest persona, Killam tended to keep out of the editorial staff’s way.

Some excerpts from a profile of Killam written by Charles Vining that was published by Maclean’s that year:

Mr. Killam lives in Montreal and is a perfect example of what once was known as the financial magnate, a species rendered almost extinct by the glacial action of frozen assets.

He has a power company in Calgary, a chocolate concern in Halifax, a newsprint enterprise at Liverpool, Nova Scotia, and a good deal of trouble with all of them.

He also owns a newspaper in Toronto called the Mail and Empire, and has hoped some day to own the Globe as well.

A great many people has wondered why in the world he bought the Mail and Empire, and are even more puzzled as to what a man would do with two newspapers, especially two Toronto newspapers. [Note: the two papers were united as the Globe and Mail by George McCullagh and William Wright in 1936].

He does not speak at all unless he has to.

He is nearly always tired.

He is nearly fifty, wears blue suits, carries a yellow stick, and has romantic brown eyes and a complexion that makes him look slightly in need of a shave.

He made a strict rule some years ago not to be interviewed or photographed by the press, and has had little difficulty about this during the last couple of years.

In spite of the inconvenience which frequently results, he is disposed by nature to be friendly with people.

For more on Killam, check out an episode of CBC Radio’s Ideas series which covers his life, and the philanthropic legacy he left, including scholarships and a lot of money for the Canada Council.

me 1933-03-01 unusual meat dishes 1

me 1933-03-01 unusual meat dishes 2 cook broadcasts

Mail and Empire, March 1, 1933.

Future posts will discuss the identity of “Ann Adam,” so for now let’s dive right into the table talk about food. The main feature was a series of “ethnic” meat recipes. Understanding of non-European dishes was slowly evolving, as was the bastardization of meals inspired by exotic locales. In 2019, little screams “Mexican” about that meat loaf other than tomatoes.

Next was a lecture from a series sponsored by Consumer’s Gas, which spends today stressing the importance of meal accessories. The lectures were held at the Consumer’s Gas Showroom, an art deco-influenced architectural gem built two years earlier.

me 1933-03-01 cooking more cookies

Mail and Empire, March 1, 1933.

Some cookie recipes to get you through your late winter malaise.

me 1933-03-01 ovaltine ad

Mail and Empire, March 1, 1933.

A brief word from our sponsors. Underweight children will become a recurring advertising theme.

me 1933-03-01 spinach

Mail and Empire, March 1, 1933.

A mixture of features here, including a spinach recipe, a cutesy cartoon, and an update on a social service organization.

me 1933-03-01 morning argument

Mail and Empire, March 1, 1933.

Finally, a syndicated cartoon which ran across North American throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

Halloween in Toronto, 1978

star 1978-10-31 gzowski on halloween

Toronto Star, October 31, 1978.

Malabar’s, the costume people, have never been busier than they have during the past couple of weeks, and the reason may provide a dandy little summary of the times we’re in. These times, inarguably, are rotten. The dollar, the family, the nation, the Argos…everything’s falling apart. Hallowe’en, if we’ll let it, gives us a chance to get away from all that. To hide. Fantasize. Escape from reality. Turn into someone—or something—else. – Peter Gzowski, Toronto Star, October 31, 1978.

Talking to staff at Malabar, Gzowski discovered one of 1978’s most popular costumes was one that would be frowned upon for numerous reasons 40 years on: an Arab. “They want to rich,” noted Malabar’s Michael Schilders. “They could just put on a tea-towel, a rope and a tablecloth, but if they come to us they can have gold and silver cords and really looks as if they owned oil wells.”

gm 1978-10-31 editorial cartoon

Globe and Mail, October 31, 1978.

Also popular that year: masks of Pierre Trudeau and Rene Levesque, anything Vatican related (the year had gone through three popes) and nun’s habits, especially among pregnant customers. Store staff noted that interest in costumes went up when the economy tumbled (the Great Depression had been especially good for rentals).

Best costume suggestion in the column: “the Blob Who Ate Etobicoke.”

star 1978-10-25 woolco ad

Toronto Star, October 25, 1978.

Over in the Globe and Mail, columnist Bruce West felt Halloween was going downhill, partly because nobody had the chance to tip over outhouses:

It is my personal theory that Hallowe’en started its downhill trend not long after the advent of inside plumbing brought about the demise of the outdoor privy. There was a time, I’ll have you know, when—particularly in the more rural areas—the humble outhouse was almost as import a symbol of Hallowe’en as the ghastly smile of a flickering pumpkin or even a witch flying by on a broom.

No one was really considered to have really won his spurs as a graduate Hallowe’en prankster until he had at least assisted in the overturning of one outhouse. The owners of these conveniences usually took this annual ordeal in fairly good humour—with the notable exception of one deceitful rascal in my home town who gained the undying hostility of a group of privy-tippers by craftily shifting back his outhouse a few feet, in the early hours of Hallowe’en, in such away that the raiding party, while later approaching their target in the deep darkness, suddenly encountered some mighty poor footing.

The scariest element of modern-day Halloween, according to West, came “when you are confronted by the horrible giant prices of a dwarf bag of hand-out chocolate bars or trick-or-treat apples.”

gm 1978-11-01 dracula the banker

Globe and Mail, November 1, 1978.

One candy kids wouldn’t get their hands on was Clikkers tobacco-flavoured gum. The Consumers Association of Canada (CAC) successfully lobbied Zellers to remove the product, which was offered as a seasonal special at some locations. Though it didn’t actually contain tobacco or nicotine, the CAC wondered what the chances were that “children who acquire a taste for tobacco-flavoured gum will be encouraged to try tobacco itself?” An official from Zellers’ head office in Montreal admitted that “based on the calls we’ve had, it just isn’t worth it.” Aspiring smokers had to settle for Popeye candy cigs.

Two Toronto-based animators, John Leach (later known as Jonathan Rogers) and Jean Rankin, created one of the season’s hottest new animated specials. Here’s how The Canadian magazine introduced Witch’s Night Out:

Winnifred, bless her black lace bloomers, is not your average witch. A grande dame with the Seventies style of a stand-up comic, a funky fairy godmother temporarily fallen on hard times, she worries because work isn’t coming in the way it used to; nobody seems to believe in magic anymore. But she still has class, wears expensive underwear, and puts on her makeup every morning. And she can make wishes come true.

Winnifred was named after Leach’s mother, who remarked “Fame at last!” The character was partly inspired by Gilda Radner, who provided her voice (other voices included Catherine O’Hara and Fiona Reid). The cartoon was originally intended for CBC, who sat on it for nearly a year before finally rejecting it. It ended up on NBC, where Radner was starring on Saturday Night Live.

star 1978-10-28 starship page

If you were running dry on costume ideas, you could always check the Star’s “Starship” page for inspiration via its ongoing “Costumes of the World” series. Who knows how many little fishermen from Flanders ran around the streets of Toronto! October 28, 1978.

Halloween night the Toronto tradition of egging drag performers attending balls on Yonge Street continued, which resulted in 90 arrests. “Most of the arrests,” the Star reported, “were for causing a disturbance, drunkenness and breach of the peace.” It was also noted that “one marijuana charge was laid.” Two years later, a crackdown by police and the community began winding down the hate-tinged mayhem.

star 1978-11-01 eggleton dressed as pickle

Art Eggleton would top the polls in Ward 4, which covered Trinity-Bellwoods and Little Italy. Two years later, he was mayor. Toronto Star, November 1, 1978.

Halloween 1978 also coincided with the municipal election campaign, resulting in some election sign pranks. A Globe and Mail editorial observed that householders were placed “in the position of being promised goodies as they hand goodies over. The trick is to tell the real hobgoblins from those in disguise and to beware of brochures with pins in them.”

star 1978-10-26 fashions from hadassah bazaar

Toronto Star, October 26, 1978.

Fashion then, costumes now: the image above offers a sampling of the outfits one could put together from goods available at the 1978 edition of a long-running Toronto tradition, the Hadassah-WIZO Bazaar, which was promoted throughout the week of Halloween. Held on November 1 at the CNE’s Automotive Building, it was expected to draw 60,000 people looking to buy everything from high fashion to cantaloupe preserves.

Additional material from the October 28, 1978 edition of the Canadian; the October 27, 1978, October 30, 1978, October 31, 1978, and November 1, 1978 editions of the Globe and Mail; and the October 31, 1978 and November 1, 1978 editions of the Toronto Star.