Feeding BP to the Lions
Originally published on Torontoist on July 20, 2010.
Don Mills Mirror, October 28, 1970.
We imagine that if BP stations still existed in Toronto and offered a circus-themed promotional event, the public would want to see a few executives served as a tasty snack for the lions in the wake of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Forget giving the kids sugar-laden food—give them a real adrenaline rush and a lesson in corporate responsibility! We also hope that the prizes in the treasure chest were nice toys and free fill-ups that weren’t soaked in crude.
British Petroleum entered the Canadian market in 1957 and acquired one thousand service stations in Ontario and Quebec within four years. Problems of limited refinery resources were solved when BP acquired the Canadian arm of Cities Service (now Citgo) in 1964 and its 25,000 barrel a day processing facility in Bronte. Within a year of today’s ad, BP picked up “Canada’s All-Canadian Company” Supertest, whose stations gradually lost their patriotic fervour as they switched to the green shield. BP stations were a staple on Canadian roadways until 1982 when Petro-Canada purchased its retail and refining operations, including the station that still pumps away at Don Mills and Lawrence. BP retained some properties and built up its current presence in Canada through subsequent acquisitions, including Amoco Canada, from whom the company derives its current Canadian launch date of 1948.
Additional material from the March 13, 1964 edition of the Globe and Mail.
The Best Sound System Money Can Buy
Originally published on Torontoist on July 27, 2010.
Maclean’s, March 2, 1987.
Why waste money on pricey luxury stereo systems when creating an enticing sonic environment at home? A simple investment in two concrete blocks certified by the Ontario Concrete Block Association will amplify your life. And when your house, condo, or apartment is built with high-quality concrete blocks, you will never receive a noise complaint from the neighbours when life dictates that you have to crank the volume up to eleven or commit any potential audio atrocity no one else should hear. Ask your friendly neighbourhood stonemason how they can create customized concrete blocks to house your iPod, turntable, and other system components!
We looked into the soundproofing capacities of walls made from concrete blocks in terms of sound transmission class (STC) units. According to the National Research Council, walls made from concrete blocks do an effective job of containing noise, with a basic, no-frills wall earning a rating of 45 to 55 STC (at 30 STC, a loud human voice can be heard through the wall, at 60 STC, it shouldn’t be heard).
Since this ad appeared, the Ontario Concrete Block Association has expanded its scope across the country and is now known as the Canadian Concrete Masonry Producers Association.
A Clean Gala Opening
Originally published on Torontoist on January 4, 2011.
Weston Times and Guide, October 20, 1960.
Despite the plethora of attractions the proprietors of Chester Drive-In Cleaners secured for the grand opening of their modern premises in the south end of Weston, it’s possible that terming the festivities as a “gala” may have been a last-minute decision. They might have needed an extra word to hide the mess created by the charming yet clumsy majorette in this ad after she accidentally popped the balloon beside the banner.
We haven’t determined who “Dale” was. Perhaps he or she was a local florist, the chief dry cleaner, or a neighbourhood musician specializing in pleasant, inoffensive music. Whoever “Dale” was, we imagine anyone who still has a carefully pressed and preserved bouquet of roses bearing his/her signature owns a priceless memento of that Saturday morning.
Time Machines for Now
Originally published on Torontoist on January 25, 2011.
Maclean’s, November 27, 1989.
It’s Tuesday morning, early in the second decade of the twenty-first century. There’s little time to sip a glass of crystal pure water, as there’s only fifteen minutes before a hover-taxi arrives to take a load of passengers to the Greater Toronto Spaceport in north Pickering. Better remember to bring the right keys this time before shooting off to the international moon base: light yellow for the house (not the dark yellow one that holds the morning edition of the Toronto Star-Sun), pink for your passport. Waiting patiently on the kitchen table is a venerable Casio timepiece, which has dutifully kept time for over two decades. The watch’s artificial intelligence knows that odds are fifty/fifty that the taxi will have to come back for you to retrieve it when you realize you’ve forgotten to put it on as you glide over Scarborough Town Centre.
Back in our version of 2011, unless a steady supply of not-yet-obsolete batteries have kept these beauties in perfect operating order, these watches are time machines only in the sense of preserving designs and technological advances from the late 1980s.