Vintage Toronto Ads: Better Copies Now!

Originally published on Torontoist on June 22, 2010.

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Time, November 14, 1969.

Protest sign makers should be busy this week thanks to the event many Torontonians wish was anywhere, ANYWHERE, else. While most of the signs will be crafted with great care or spontaneous inspiration by human hands, there may be the odd slogan slapped onto a sapling (because we all know how protesters love using innocent, young trees) that was created with a high-quality photocopier. The right to use such machinery to promote political and social causes was earned by a dedicated group of angry financial district secretaries during what has gone down in history as the Great Copymaker March of 1969.

Disgruntled officer workers blocked traffic as they walked northbound along Bay Street from King, en route to City Hall on October 16, 1969. Though no deaths or serious injuries occurred during the main rally at Nathan Phillips Square, it was reported that one puzzled observer was hauled away when he interpreted one protester’s sign as a coded plea for LSD, which he tried to offer to an undercover police officer. Targeted offices gave in to the demands of the protesters and soon office staffs all over Metro Toronto were free to print documents on 11″ x 17″ sheets. Copier producer Apeco held a celebration at their office near Islington Avenue and The Queensway, during which the photo for today’s ad was shot.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

Some perspective on this ad submitted by “Don ITW”, who worked in the copier industry:

I actually worked on Apeco Rollo Matics. With over 30 years working on copiers they where the absolute worst machine I ever worked on. Last time I saw one was in about 1981. The Apeco office was located on Aimco Blvd in Mississauga, the building was purchased by Savin ( became part of Ricoh) the rollomatics went in the dumpster.

They where always blue I never new until I saw this ad that optional colours where available. Funny the colour of the dumpsters was also blue! The building on Aimco was very flashy (sexy) slanted glass front it is consistent with the image in this ad.

 

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Vintage Toronto Ads: Dressing Up for Danakas

Originally published on Torontoist on May 18, 2010.

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CFL Illustrated, October 11, 1976.

The man on the left was not a happy fellow. If given a choice, he would have worn his comfortable corduroy sports jacket and checked trousers to the business dinner, but the boss insisted he had to wear a tuxedo as very important clients were attending and the firm had to put on its classiest face. He shuffled off to his neighbourhood Tuxedo Junction at the last possible minute and discovered all that was left was the Prince Edward ensemble. He put on the outfit, stared in the mirror and sighed. Not only did he feel uncomfortable in so formal an outfit, but he thought he looked like a fifth-rate celebrity guest starring on a game show. No, it was even worse than that. This was the same tux his cousin Murray was married in, the cousin who told so many embarrassing, cringe-inducing stories at the altar that half the wedding party fled before the ceremony was over.

While waiting for his dinner ride, our sullen friend picked up a book a friend gave him featuring local restaurants and their prized recipes. He flipped through the pages of The Flavour of Toronto until he reached the section on his destination this night, Danakas Palace.

Mirrored ceilings, wood-panelled walls, richly upholstered furniture, a brightly glowing grill pit: all combine to create a palatial background to an elegant meal. Specializing in steaks and seafood, the Palace has named its delicious seafood platter in honour of Canada’s prime minister…Many theatrical and athletic stars have followed his example. Good wines are a specialty and service is attentive.

He gazed at the recipe for the Prime Minister’s Seafood Platter. How to eat like Trudeau…two lobster tails, six scampis, six prawns, six shrimps, eight crab legs, eight oysters, eight scallops, two ounces of breadcrumbs, a teaspoon of finely chopped garlic, an ounce of dry white wine, three ounces of butter, three teaspoons of lemon juice, and a pint of vegetable oil. The crab and lobster were baked, the smaller crustaceans sautéed in garlic and wine, and the remaining seafood fried until golden. Arrange the lot on a silver platter, douse with cognac and set aflame. The dish had possibilities. Maybe, he thought, he would buy a rose from a street vendor, place it in his label like PET, then enjoy the delights of the sea.

His ride wasn’t due for another fifteen minutes, so he pulled out the box of restaurant review clippings he filed away as potential date destinations. Buried near the bottom was Joanne Kates’ opinion in the Globe and Mail from a year earlier. His heart sunk when the headline read unfulfilled promises.” Danakas Palace got off to a bad start with Kates for producing ads touting its “famous” charcoal broil — she felt it was “strange that a restaurant should be famous in time to make that claim when it opens.” Meant to be the first in a chain of restaurants, she felt that “it’s fitting that a chain begin with a nod to progress. All guests are treated to garlic bread wrapped in that modern wonder, aluminum foil.” The food didn’t impress her, as out of the highly-touted eleven fresh vegetables, only two appeared on her plate (of which one, creamed cauliflower, was mushy and lacked cream). Bouillabaisse featured stringy, tough fish; trout was over-fried; black forest cake was leaden. She sighed that the chain would probably do well, as “it has the ingredients that seem to sell nowadays: underground parking, décor that at first glance looks first class, a la carte dinner for two with wine and tip for about $40, and above all, mediocrity.”

As his ride arrived, all he could hope was that it wasn’t going to be a long night in a stiff tux with middling food. The deal-making possibilities of the evening had better be worth the potential misery.

Additional material from The Flavours of Toronto: A Gourmet’s guide to restaurants and recipes, edited by Kenneth Mitchell (Toronto: Four Corners, 1977) and the October 27, 1975 edition of the Globe and Mail.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

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And now, for your eager eyes, the seafood platter at Danakas Palace that Pierre Trudeau  liked so much the owners renamed it in honour of his position. Whether the story is true or not, it’s not surprising a seafood platter would receive such an honour, as restaurants in the vicinity of Danakas Palace loved showing off their ensembles of lobster, shrimp and other sea creatures in full-colour ads targeted to business executives and tourists—a show of hands from anyone who’s ever actually eaten the “award winning” seafood platter showcased in every Toronto visitors guide by Fisherman’s Wharf since the dawn of man?

It often seems like a seafood platter is designed to look attractive and draw as much money out of a customer as possible. I won’t deny having succumbed to the allure of a broad sampling of delights from the deep. During my university days at Guelph, there was a restaurant in the upper reaches of Stone Road Mall called Legends that accepted school meal plans. At the time, it was one of the few off-campus spots that took meal cards, so it often wound up being the destination for special events among my residence-mates at Arts House. It became a running joke that I’d always order the most expensive thing on the menu, which was the seafood food. A further running joke was that the platter was never the same twice—a good night might bring heartly samplings of crab, grilled swordfish and tuna, a lousy one saw a meagre serving of shrimp and a puny crab appendage arrive at the table.

Come to think of it, Legends was often unpredictable with its fare, such as the time four of us ordered blue lagoons and each arrived with a different colour. Who knew purple lagoons existed?

Here’s how you can make a meal worthy of the occupant of 24 Sussex Drive, though you can choose to eat it as a salute to the current PM or your all-time favourite leader.

2 lobster tails
6 scampis
6 prawns
6 shrimps
8 crab legs
8 oysters
8 scallops
2 oz (50 g)breadcrumbs
1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
1 oz (25 mL) dry white wine
3 oz (75 g) butter
3 tsp lemon juice
1 pint (500 mL) vegetable oil

To prepare: cut the lobster tails and bend back in butterfly style; shell and de-vein the scampis, prawns and shrimps; extract the meat from the crab claws; remove the oysters and scallops from the shell and coat with breadcrumbs. Finally, wash the lobster, scampi, prawns and shrimps under cold running water and dry thoroughly.

Proceed with the following cooking methods simultaneously: (a) Place the crabmeat in a small ovenproof dish, add 1/3 tsp garlic, 1 tsp lemon juice and half the white wine and bake in a moderate oven for 10-15 minutes.; (b) Place the lobster tails in an oven pan, add 1 oz (25 g) butter and 1 tsp lemon juice and bake in a moderate oven for 8-10 minutes; (c) Melt 1 oz (25 g) butter in a frying pan, add 1/3 tsp garlic and the remaining wine and sauté the scampi, prawns and shrimps for 2 minutes, stirring continuously; (d) Heat the oil and fry the scallops until golden, then transfer to a small overproof dish, add the remaining butter, garlic and lemon juice and place in a broiler for 5 minutes; (e) Re-heat the oil and deep fry the oysters until golden.

To serve: arrange attractively on a silver platter, pour over the Cognac and flame. Serves 2.

Recipe taken from The Flavour of Toronto, edited by Kenneth Miller, photographed by René Delbuguet (Toronto: Four Corners, 1977). 

Vintage Toronto Ads: Boosting Your Sox Appeal

Originally published on Torontoist on April 20, 2010.

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Toronto Star, July 6, 1928.

Today’s ad proves that, while technology has relegated men’s garters to an aesthetic fashion decision from their one-time general usage, a bad pun is timeless.

Manufacturer Albert Stein & Company, in numerous ads during the early part of the twentieth century, boasted that “no metal can touch you” when you wore their garters. Comfort was always stressed to attract dubious fellows like today’s sad case; an ad from 1910 noted that “the fit is snug without shutting off blood circulation or furrowing the flesh.” Paris Garters were also touted as a great Christmas gift, as a 1939 ad for a boxed set illustrated:

He doubly appreciates receiving Paris from YOU. First he prefers Paris for its style, its quality and its utility. Second, and this is very important—he’s proud you’ve chosen THE BEST for him…Remember, Paris is priced no higher than imitations, but is always higher in quality than in price.

We suspect that our careless friend might not have had enough “sox appeal” to be on the receiving end of a gift that could have altered his destiny. He sat in his chair for several hours and pondered if it was simply sock issues that were his obstacle to dominance in the business world. Nobody seemed put off by his halitosis or the clucking noise he made when nervous or stressed. After taking stock of his situation, and determining that only eighty-seven different emotions seized him at any one time, he decided to launch a manufacturing firm dedicated to eliminating the scourge of sock droop from lazy dressers like him.

Additional material from the May 1910 edition of The Fra and the December 11, 1939 edition of Life.

Vintage Toronto Ads: Thrifty Jays

Originally published on Torontoist on October 6, 2009.

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1980 Blue Jays Scorebook Magazine.

While Blue Jays fans may bemoan the disappointments of the past season, at least this year’s squad didn’t stink as badly as their predecessors thirty years ago. The 1979 edition of the bluebirds was the worst in team history, with a record of fifty-three wins and one-hundred-and-nine losses. Chances were good that the shirt modelled by outfielder Rick Bosetti could have performed better on the field than most of that year’s lineup.

As Stephen Brunt noted in his history of the Blue Jays, Diamond Dreams, Bosetti was “a player blessed with more charisma and chutzpah than talent. But on a very bad team that was more than enough to make him stand out. It was Bosetti who became the first Blue Jay to publish a book under his name [Rick Bosetti’s Baseball Book, a guide on how to watch the game], which in retrospect seems like an act of colossal hubris.” Bosetti played every game of the 1979 season and had a career year, knocking in eight home runs and sixty-five RBIs to go with his .260 batting average.

Among Bosetti’s flakier habits was his desire to water the grounds of all of the natural grass fields in major league baseball…the natural way. As he told a reporter in 1979, “I’ve gotten all the American League parks. That’s why I want inter-league play. To water that beautiful grass in Wrigley Field would be a dream come true.” An outline of Bosetti’s watering technique was later provided in The Baseball Hall of Shame 2:

Bosetti claimed that he wet the grass without a hose only in pre-game warm-ups when there were no fans in the park. But it was an open secret around the league that he did it during games while pitching changes were being made. He wanted to prove that he could take a leak before thousands of fans and not be noticed. He accomplished this feat by turning to the outfield wall and putting his glove in front of his waist.

Bosetti stayed with the Blue Jays through 1981 and retired a year later after a stint with the Oakland Athletics. He later served as the mayor of Redding, California, where we hope he didn’t take a deep personal involvement in the city’s groundskeeping budget.

Additional material from Diamond Dreams by Stephen Brunt (Toronto: Penguin, 1996) and The Baseball Hall of Shame 2 by Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo (New York: Pocket Books, 1986).

Vintage Toronto Ads: Adam’s Knicker Knack

Originally published on Torontoist on August 25, 2009. This is one of numerous Vintage Toronto Ads posts where I let my imagination run free…usually during a morning lull at my then day job.

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Globe and Mail, September 30, 1971.

Once upon a time, the managers of Eaton’s men’s clothing department were preparing a hiring call for designers for their 1971 fall line. Just as they were about to post the position, an eccentric designer approached the retailer with a portfolio of exciting ideas. The man called himself Adam, and rumour had it that he had been a rising star in the fashion biz until overwork and several personal crises induced a nervous breakdown. He now believed he was the Biblical figure whose name he had assumed and claimed many of his ideas were simple suggestions delivered nightly by a higher figure. Most of the time these ideas had worked, but even “the first man of fashion” had his off days, such as the time he tried to sell an American department store chain on a line of fig leaves dyed to match the colours of fall.

Intrigued by Adam’s enthusiasm and willing to put aside his eccentricities, Eaton’s hired him. Shortly after his hiring, Adam heard his invisible advisor speak two words: “knicker knack.” Rushing into the office the next day in an excited state, Adam flipped through every magazine in the office to find out what the words meant. He came upon an article on the revival of styles from the 1920s and decided that he had received a hint to resurrect Jazz Age golf knickers. What could be more elegant? Adam even hoped that the proper publicity push would make “knicker knack” a lasting expression.

Alas, this was not to be. Tweed knickers for men failed to catch on with the general public and Adam was soon let go. Convinced that “knicker knack” still had mileage, the last anyone heard of Adam was a deal he made with a snack food company to use the expression as the name of a Cracker Jack knockoff. It was also said he no longer received tips at bedtime.

We weren’t able to find a matching “Eve” line of clothing, but we did find another elegant Eaton’s ad from the same newspaper that allowed female shoppers to unleash their inner harlequins.

Vintage Toronto Ads: Family Craftsmanship for Urban Feet

Originally published on Torontoist on August 19, 2008.

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Toronto Life, January 1975.

Though one tends to think of Roots as primarily a clothing retailer these days, it was a trendy shoe that launched the chain 35 years ago this month.

After studying several retail business ideas, company founders Michael Budman and Don Green settled upon the growing craze in the early 1970s for the Earth Shoe, a Danish-designed piece of footwear whose heel was lower than its toe. After failing to secure the Canadian franchise for the Earth Shoe, the budding entrepreneurs designed their own version. After a meeting with Bata to produce the line flopped, Budman and Green contacted the next shoe manufacturer listed in the Toronto Yellow Pages. The Boa Shoe Company, operated by the Kowalewski family, agreed to produce 120 pairs of negative heel shoes.

The first store opened on August 15, 1973 at 1052 Yonge Street in the Crescent Road Apartments complex across from Rosedale subway station. The building, constructed in 1927, was designed by Charles Dolphin, whose other Toronto buildings included the Gray Coach Bus Terminal on Bay Street, the Canada Post Delivery Building (portions of which were integrated into the Air Canada Centre), and the Consumers’ Gas Showroom at 2532 Yonge Street (now a Puma store).

In Team Spirit: A Field Guide to Roots Culture, Geoff Pevere outlined how quickly the store took off:

On day one, the store moved seven pairs of the “Roots Shoe” at a hefty $35 a pair. Hardly through the roof. The next Saturday thirty pairs walked out the door, which meant the doors could remain open-for another week. The following Saturday, for reasons only slightly less fathomable than the Seventies themselves, the ethereal forces of fashion faddism converged above the little shoe store on Yonge Street, and they were smiling. There were lineups around the block. The shoes sold out, and there were waiting lists for customers at the end of the line.

By the time the negative heel fad burned out a few years later, the store had introduced other styles of footwear and made its first moves into clothing and leather goods lines.

Vintage Toronto Ads: Why Can’t You Set Your Monkey Free? (or Chimp Change)

Originally published on Torontoist on May 20, 2008.

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Toronto Life, September 1969.

How can an advertiser go wrong when they hire an adorable simian to help pitch their product (or not-quite-as-cute, as testified by the venerable gorilla suit mascot of Active Surplus on Queen West)? The old “aww, aren’t they cute” factor kicks in to such a degree that it may not matter what colour the model’s outfit is or that the “jungle” is a merely a cluster of trees next to a suburban pond or farm.

As for the fate of two of the listed locations, 92 Bloor West would have been located at or near Bellair Street (Roots, Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma are listed at 100 Bloor West, Harry Rosen on the opposite corner is 82), while the Oakville branch operates as a menswear store.