Let’s Visit the Harry Horne Booth at the CNE (and eat some Nanaimo bars along the way)

IMG_0182a

Nanaimo bars. Yum.

One of my favourite desserts is Nanaimo bars. The mix of chocolatey and coconutty goodness with creamy vanilla filling is irresistible to my tastebuds. Every Christmas, my mom sends me home with batch that my wife and I ration throughout January. For years, a key ingredient for the delectable yellow filling was Harry Horne’s Custard Powder.

cg 1920-05-07 horne custard powder ad

 

Canadian Grocer, May 7, 1920.

Its advertising claims may be debatable, but it made mighty fine desserts. Besides custard powder, the brand (later reduced to Horne’s)  lingered on for decades on products ranging from barbecue sauce to seafood sauce. Its last owner, Select Food Products, appears to have stopped making the custard powder the mid-2010s, but a sales sheet listed on its website indicated a Horne’s branded gravy was still available as of 2020.

pure food 1

While researching the early days of Loblaws last year, I found a section in the September 9, 1932 edition of Canadian Grocer highlighting the exhibits in the Pure Food Building at that year’s Canadian National Exhibition. Located on the same site as the current Food Building, it served as the focal point of the fair’s food displays and samples from 1922 to 1953.

The company with the most displays in this section? Harry Horne.

 

cg 1914-07-03 hornes ad

Canadian Grocer, July 3, 1914.

Flipping through back issues of Canadian Grocer, it appears Horne started as a food distributor. The location listed in this ad is, as of January 2020, a Gabby’s restaurant. Foster Clark’s custard powder is still available in Australia (what would an Aussie version of the Nanaimo bar be like?).

globe 1926-05-08 horne ad

The Globe, May 8, 1926.

Some of Horne’s advertising reflected the prejudices and stereotypes of the day.

By 1932, the company had a storefront operation at 1297-1301 Queen Street West, a site currently occupied by the Parkdale library branch.

horne 1

horne 2

horne 3

horne 4

horne 5

horne 6

horne 7

horne 8

Other displays featured in this section included Borden, Kellogg’s, Kuntz Brewery, Libby’s, Lipton’s Tea, Ovaltine, Peek Frean, Procter and Gamble, Tea-Bisk, Welch’s Grape Juice, and Weston’s.

rhl 1952-08-14 horne in car accident

The Liberal (Richmond Hill), August 14, 1952.

Horne survived the accident, and passed away six years later.

weston-york times 1973-09-27 nanaimo bar recipes

Weston-York Times, September 27, 1973

A pair of Nanaimo bar recipes from a community cookbook section. Note varying amounts of custard powder used. The Canadian Encyclopedia gives a detailed history, placing the first published recipe in a 1952 Nanaimo hospital cookbook, but notes there are plenty of other claimants.

star 1978-09-24 nanaimo bar recipe

Toronto Star, September 24, 1978.

Harwood’s recipe for Nanaimo bars first appeared in the Star four years earlier, in a feature on ballerina diets. According to the February 20, 1974 article, Harwood’s dessert “established her culinary reputation in the ballet field.” By contrast, Veronica Tennant was known for “sole baked in white wine, then bathed in a cream sauce with green grapes and broiled until delicately golden.”

Christmas in Toronto, 1869

harpers weekly 1869-12-25 home for the holidays 640

Harper’s Weekly, December 25, 1869.

Saturday being Christmas Day business was suspended in the city; that is to say, all places of business, except such as oyster depots, candy shops and saloons were closed. The streetcars ran as usual, and certainly did a paying business, as they were crowded with passengers nearly every trip. The weather was delightful, reminding one more of a day in spring than in winter; and, as a natural consequence, the streets were crowded with pedestrians, chiefly of the male sex, however. Divine service was held in several of the numerous places of religious worship in the city, and sermons appropriate to the occasion preached. – The Leader, December 27, 1869.

Torontonians gathering ingredients for their Christmas dinner 150 years ago had plenty of options from local butchers. “The St. Lawrence Market,” the Globe reported, “is peculiarly well adorned with meat of the most tempting character, while all over the city the butchers show that though they are not in the market they are quite prepared to meet the wants of the citizens, as respects Christmas cheer.”

The Leader was particularly taken with James Britton’s stall. “Mr. Jas. Britton, everybody in Toronto knows, and every Toronto epicure and gourmand blesses, or ought to, for he has certainly on this occasion pandered to their luxurious tastes most extensively and deserves for his splendid display of meats, to stand foremost on the list.”

globe 1869-12-23 mcgill square

The Globe, December 23, 1869.

Among the advertisers that season was the Wesleyan Methodist Church, who invited the public to view the Christmas tree in the basement of their Richmond Street home. Visitors stopping in on December 23 could browse a “sale of useful and fancy articles” which raised funds for the congregation’s future home in McGill Square (the lot on the northwest side of Queen and Church). “Attendance was very fair during the afternoon,” the Telegraph reported, “swelling to a positive crowd in the evening.” The proceeds helped build the new church, which evolved into today’s Metropolitan United Church.

leader 1869-12-24 eatons ad

The Leader, December 24, 1869.

Browsing the ads for the city’s dry goods merchants, one new name had entered the holiday shopping sweepstakes. Earlier that month, Timothy Eaton opened his first Toronto store at 178 Yonge Street, which offered the radical merchandising method of selling goods for cash only (the store’s “goods satisfactory or money refunded” motto debuted the following year). The store was snug: measuring 24 feet across and 60 feet deep, it only employed four people. Popular items early on included buttons, gloves, and underwear.

mechinst_640px

Toronto Mechanics’ Institute, circa 1867-1868. Photo by Octavius Thompson. Toronto Public Library, Z 3-7.

Among the Christmas Day festivities across the city was a dinner held at the Toronto Mechanics’ Institute at the northeast corner of Church and Adelaide for over 220 children living in charitable institutions such as the Protestant Orphans’ Home, the Boys’ Home, and the Girls’ Home (along with, as the Globe dubbed them, “20 inmates of the News Boys’ Home). Organized annually by businessman John Hallam, it featured a hymn sing where the kids’ performances were praised community dignitaries. “The Christmas tree was then disburdened and each child having received from its branches a toy or picture book,” the Globe reported, “and also been handed a paper bag containing cakes, raisins, apples, and sweetmeats, the children started for their respective homes, four happy little bands, rendered so by the liberality of those who will be amply paid for their kindness to these poor little orphans when they shall have addressed to them the words ‘inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me.’”

(Journalists in 1869 were a wordy bunch)

Years later, as a city councillor, Hallam’s support of free public libraries played a role in the transformation of the Mechanics’ Institute’s collection into the Toronto Public Library. Hallam Street is named in his honour.

telegraph 1869-12-27 queens hotel dinner menu

Christmas menu for guests of the Queen’s Hotel. The Telegraph, December 27, 1869.

Some of the city’s wealthier, politically-connected citizens gathered for a Christmas dinner at the Queen’s Hotel (the present site of the Royal York). Toasts were made to Queen Victoria, various branches of the military, and Americans. The Telegraph printed the extensive menu.

The Globe reported on Christmas Day at the Don Jail:

Even without the heavy walls of the prison the genial spirit of Christmas penetrated, and brought a thrill of pleasure and a softening influence to many a hardened heard among the 154 incarcerated there. No relaxation of the prison discipline was admitted, except to allow friends to visit the inmates and bring with them some of the Christmas cheer which prevailed without. In more than one cell, tears came to eyes unused to weep, at the thought of former Christmas Days—when innocence made it a happy anniversary. Many a heart that knew not the crucified Saviour had reason to feel thankful for the natal day of Him who pardoned the thief on the cross.

Francis_H._Medcalf,_Mayor_of_Toronto,_1864-1866_and_1874-1875

Francis Henry Medcalf. Wikimedia Commons.

Politically, the holidays saw the start of nominations for city council candidates in the upcoming municipal election. Putting his name back into the fray was former mayor Francis Henry Medcalf, who had resigned from council on November 1 to protest a proposal to extend the term of office from one to three years. He decided to switch wards, moving from St. Lawrence’s (which covered the area south of Queen Street east of Yonge) to St. John’s (later known simply as “The Ward”). At a Christmas Eve nomination meeting, Medcalf claimed that when he was asked to run, he did so because, the Leader reported, “he owed the people of that ward a deep debt of gratitude for the hearty way in which they had always supported them, and he hoped he would be able to pay that debt before he paid the debt of nature.” Medcalf would represent the ward for two years, then returned to the mayor’s chair for a final two-year run in 1874.

cin 1869-12-25 christmas illustration 640

Canadian Illustrated News, December 25, 1869.

We’ll end with the parting thoughts from the Globe’s Christmas day editorial:

Let us hope, in any case, that the event may be happy, and that we, like the rest of the world, may find that, after of dread of turbulence and conflict, we are, as we should be, in peace and good will with all men.

Sources: the December 23, 1869, December 25, 1869, and December 27, 1869 editions of the Globe; the December 25, 1869 and December 27, 1869 editions of the Leader; and the December 24, 1869 and December 27, 1869 editions of the Telegraph.

Vintage Toronto Ads: Colouring Contests

Originally published on Torontoist on August 26, 2015.

Before reading this column any further, grab the nearest pack of coloured pencils, crayons, or markers, or open up your favourite digital art program. Have we got a colouring bonanza for you!

Long before adult colouring books topped the Amazon charts, there was the humble colouring contest. It was a simple gimmick: draw interest in your brand, event, publication, or store by reeling in kids with promises of prizes if they applied their artistic skills (or lack thereof) to simple line drawings based on popular shows or seasonal icons. For their efforts, they might win pocket change, a bicycle, a chance to meet their idols, or bragging rights at the playground.

Today’s selection of ads spotlights past opportunities to dazzle judges with your colouring skill. Let your creativity run wild!

Click on any of the following images for larger versions.

Robertson Brothers Colouring Contest

Toronto Star, March 23, 1928.

  Treasure Island Colouring Contest

The Globe, December 4, 1934 and December 5, 1934.

From the August 18, 1934 New York Times review of Treasure Island:

Although there are occasional studio interpolations, the present screen offering is a moderately satisfactory production. It has not the force or depth of the parent work and, kind as one might wish to be to the adaptation, it always seems synthetic. However, hitherto on the stage and in two silent films of the same subject, the role of Jim Hawkins has been acted by a girl. One is spared this weakness in this picture, for that able juvenile, Jackie Cooper, plays Jim, and, although he may not impress one as being the Jim of the book, he does fairly well.

Star Weekly Christmas Colouring Contest Toronto Star, December 5, 1940.

Christmas colouring contests have long been a holiday staple. In this case, they may have also provided a boost to the Star’s sister publication, Star Weekly.

Roy Rogers Colouring Contest

Toronto Star, September 11, 1954 and September 19, 1954.

Forget the beautiful statue of the “King of the Cowboys” riding his trusty horse Trigger; the real thrill for most winners would have been spending a few moments with Roy and Dale at the 1954 CNE. A photo published in the Star of 11-year-old victors John Goslinga and Alfred Kemp depicted them in full cowboy regalia, as if they were ready to be extras in one of Roy’s horse operas.

Davy Crockett Colouring Contest

Toronto Star, September 12, 1955 (left) and September 13, 1955 (right).

A year after the Roy Rogers contest, the Star capitalized on the success of Davy Crockett. Note flattering depictions of aboriginals and women.

Parkay Colouring Contest

Globe and Mail, April 19, 1955.

Faster than a bicycle going downhill! More powerful than a butter churn! Spreads margarine on toast with a single stroke! It’s a bird, it’s a plane…it’s PARKAYBOY!

20150826nipper

Toronto Star, October 9, 1956.

Simpsons gets in on the colouring contest action with RCA Victor’s venerable mascot, Nipper.

20150826mickeymouse

Toronto Star, November 21, 1956.

We (and Disney’s lawyers) can only hope that the actual drawing of Mickey and Minnie used for Dominion’s Ice Capades tie-in was superior to this spartan sketch.

20150826clown

Toronto Sun, April 19, 1972.

How terrfying can you make this clown?

20150826chewbacca

Toronto Sun, November 20, 1977.

A previous post covered the story of dinner with Chewbacca.

20150826chinesecostume

Toronto Star, August 6, 1977.

The Star’s kids page launched its first colouring contest with this detailed pair of figures who would have looked at home in the Royal Ontario Museum. A trip to the ROM might have been preferable to the grand prize: a chance to see the first-year Blue Jays drop both ends of a doubleheader against the New York Yankees. The first game was a 15-0 blowout, which saw future Jay Cliff Johnson hit two homers. The Yankees were gracious during the second match, with only a 2-0 victory.

20150826mlblogos

Toronto Star, May 28, 1978.

More colouring, more baseball, happier results for the Blue Jays. The prize winner saw the home team defeat the Orioles in another doubleheader by scores of 6-2 and 9-8. It was the franchise’s first doubleheader sweep at Exhibition Stadium.

20150826metrozoo

Toronto Star, September 2, 1984.

Who better to represent a teddy bear picnic at the Metro Zoo than Winnie the Pooh? We wonder if, a year or two later, the celebrity mascot would have been Teddy Ruxpin.

20150826creeds

Toronto Life, April 1973.

While not promoting a colouring contest, this ad for the fashionable Bloor Street clothier fits the mood of a modern adult colouring book.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

star 1954-09-07 roy rogers contest winners

Toronto Star, September 7, 1954.

star 1955-08-25 winner of crockett contest

Toronto Star, August 25, 1955. Click on image for larger version.

While the winners of the Star‘s Roy Rogers contest only received a small corner of a page, the winners of the paper’s Davy Crockett took up most of the front page of the second section. Sadly, none of them posed with series stars Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen.

Vintage Toronto Ads: How to Prevent a Domestic Disturbance

Originally published on Torontoist on April 15, 2008.

Vintage Ad #521: Does Your Husband Yawn at the Table?

National Home Monthly, January 1950.

Sometimes what passed for clever advertising in the past leaves us speechless. Note that today’s ad appeared seven years before Advertising Standards Canada came into being.

57 Ways to Use Heinz Condensed Soups

The free guide offered in this ad was first published in 1944 and offered the following words of wisdom:

Soup has long played a stellar part on the Canadian menu—but never has it filled so many interesting and appetizing roles as it does today! Formerly served as a first course, versatile soup now appears as an important ingredient in dozens of dishes—dressings, meat loaves, rarebits, casseroles and many another old favourite. For housewives have found this a quick, thrifty way to make everything from sauces to salads extra nourishing and delicious.

Most of the recipes provided in the guide are mid-20th century staples, though some lean toward the exotic-sounding (“Fricasseed Chicken with Marengo Sauce”), fattening (“Weiner-Vegetable Casserole” loaded with bacon drippings), or are overdue for a modern remake from the city’s finest chefs (“Tomato Soup Cake” complete with cream cheese frosting).

420 Dupont Street still exists as an address, though Heinz moved their Canadian head office to North York long ago. The site, located at the NW corner of Dupont and Howland, was later the home of Mono Lino Typesetting, and has served as an exterior for films such as Hairspray.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

Searching for stories about domestic abuse published in Toronto’s papers in 1950, the majority of reports related to sentences handed out to offenders in Trafalgar Township (present-day Oakville). The June 30, 1950 edition of the Star reported that Bronte resident Elmer Catley was sentenced to four days in jail and “10 strokes of the strap” for wife-beating. He was also ordered to post a $500 property bond and pay $25 in costs, or face 10 more days behind bars. Trafalgar Township police chief Fred Oliver noted that “liquor is this man’s downfall.” Catley was denied a request to be placed on the LCBO’s “Indian List,” which would have blocked his access to alcohol.

Lashing appears to have been a common punishment at the time in Bronte. The December 15, 1950 Globe and Mail reported the sentencing of Walter Ripley to 10 strokes, along with two months hard labour.

Meanwhile, in Toronto, apparently hitting a landlord merited a larger fine than hitting one’s spouse.

gm 1950-03-22 wife hitting offenses in toronto

Globe and Mail, March 22, 1950.

1933 Mail and Empire Women’s Pages 8: Wrapping up the Cooking School

For previous entries in this drawn-out series, follow this link.

me 1933-04-08 applause marks close of cooking school 1

me 1933-04-08 applause marks close of cooking school 2

Mail and Empire, April 8, 1933.

More front page coverage to wrap up the cooking school, plus a list of winners.

me 1933-04-08 apology ad

Mail and Empire, April 8, 1933.

Beyond the lead story, an apology was printed for those who were turned away.

me 1933-04-08 peek frean ad

Mail and Empire, April 8, 1933.

Readers were reminded of products that were demonstrated at the show, so that they’d remember to buy those fine products on their next shopping trip.

me 1933-04-08 our wonderful party will be remembered cooking school

Mail and Empire, April 8, 1933.

Ann Adam was full of exclamation marks in her summary, because exclamation marks are good! They are indeed wonderful! Wonderful for expression! Wonderful for the enthusiasm of advertisers and suppliers! Wonderful for the recipes you will make!

me 1933-04-08 spinach

Mail and Empire, April 8, 1933.

And then it was time to return to regularly-scheduled content, such as these ideas for using spinach.

me 1933-04-08 woman's point of view

Mail and Empire, April 8, 1933.

Let’s finish off with this installment of “Woman’s Point of View,” which tackles gardening and unemployment, money and unemployment, and Russia.

(More on the member of the Ignatieff family mentioned here)

Christmas at Mackenzie House, 1963

ohl 1963-12 cover mackenzie house 640

Over the holiday season of 1963, Mackenzie House was spotlighted in at least two home magazines as a venue one could enjoy old-fashioned Christmas scenes.

ohl 1963-12 mackenzie house 1-1

First up was an article in the December edition of Ontario Homes and Living, “Holiday traditions live on in historical Mackenzie House,” photographed by Peter Varley (apart from this photo and the next one).

ohl 1963-12 mackenzie house 1-2

The article declared that the home, as restored and furnished by the Toronto Historical Board, “looks so authentic that it would not seem at all odd if the Mackenzies appeared at the door and sat themselves down at the table for a Christmas roast duck dinner.”

ohl 1963-12 mackenzie house 1-3

The museum was decorated for the holidays by the Junior League of Toronto. “Only the simple decorations that the frugal Mackenzie family would have made themselves were used, including such things as popcorn and cranberry gardlands, paper chains, eggshell tree ornaments, evergreen boughs, a kissing ball, and the traditional yule log.”

ohl 1963-12 mackenzie house 1-4

ohl 1963-12 mackenzie house 2-1

ohl 1963-12 mackenzie house 2-2

The original caption: “Cozy fireplace corner of family room suggests the feeling that here was the heart of the Mackenzie home. Everywhere are signs of industry–hand-hooked rugs, patchwork pillows, and embroidered chair cushion.”

canadian homes 1963-12-10 mackenzie house xmas 1]

canadian homes 1963-12-10 mackenzie house xmas 2

Canadian Homes Magazine, December 1963.

Mackenzie House was also featured in a two-page spread in Canadian Homes Magazine.  These recipes were served that season at the museum’s Victorian Christmas celebration, where visitors were also taken on tours of the house by members of the Kinette Club.

For 2019’s lineup of holiday events at Mackenzie House, check out their website.

 

Butterfly With Chocolate Wings

Originally published as a “Historicist” column on Torontoist on June 12, 2010.

20100612_1924-01
Goblin, January 1924.
gob 1924-02 640px
Goblin, February 1924.
20100612_1924-03
Goblin, March 1924.
20100612_1924-04
Goblin, April 1924.
20100612_1924-05
Goblin, May 1924.
20100612_1924-06
Goblin, June 1924.
20100612_1924-07
Goblin, July 1924.
20100612_1924-08
Goblin, August 1924.
20100612_1924-09
Goblin, September 1924.
20100612_1924-10
Goblin, October 1924.
20100612_1924-11
Goblin, November 1924.
20100612_1924-12
Goblin, December 1924.

For your perusal: a tasty sampler of stylishly illustrated ads for the Patterson Candy Company published in the Toronto-based humour magazine Goblin throughout 1924 and 1925. Perhaps it was an attempt to appeal to the 1920s version of the collegiate hipster that prompted the maker of chocolate bars and gift boxes to switch from their previously wordy ads to this series of humourous scenes, high society figures, and seasonal motifs.

20100612_1925-01
Goblin, January 1925.
20100612_1925-02
Goblin, February 1925.
20100612_1925-03-04
Goblin, March-April 1925.
20100612_1925-05
Goblin, May 1925.
20100612_1925-06
Goblin, June 1925.
20100612_1925-07
Goblin, July 1925.
20100612_1925-08
Goblin, August 1925.
20100612_1925-09
Goblin, September 1925.
20100612_1925-10
Goblin, October 1925.
20100612_1925-11
Goblin, November 1925.

John Patterson and Robert Wilson launched the Boston Candy Company as a retail store on Yonge Street in 1888. Soon after Wilson’s retirement in 1891, Patterson bestowed his name on the company and expanded into manufacturing with a successive series of plants along Queen Street West. Among the company’s claims was the opening of Canada’s largest soda fountain on Yonge Street in 1911, which promised patrons “the most delightful cooling drinks you’ve ever tasted.”

After Patterson’s death in 1921, his sons William and Christopher took full control of the company. They sold the business to Jenny Lind Candy Shops owner Ernest Robinson in 1947, who maintained the Patterson brand for at least another decade. At the time of Robinson’s purchase, it was noted that many of the employees had long tenures with the company, possibly due to benefits like a cafeteria, music during working working hours (not specified if it was live or piped in), paid holidays, and a generous health plan. Judging by the number of Patterson-sponsored athletic teams mentioned in the sports sections of local newspapers, and sizable donations given to the YMCA, it appears that the company was very interested in the physical health of their employees or wanted to prevent them from suffering the ill-effects of overindulgence on the production line.

20100612chocolateloft

Patterson Candy plant on Queen Street West, later the Chocolate Company Lofts, 2010.

The most enduring legacy of Patterson Candy is the plant it built at the southwest corner of Queen Street West and Massey Street in 1912. After an expansion in 1928, the five-storey plant included a printing plant and paper box manufacturing equipment amid its 60,000 square feet of air-conditioned work space. Full O’ Cream and Wildfire bars may be long gone, but you can live sweetly in the old Patterson premises in its current incarnation as the Chocolate Company Lofts.

Sources: the June 2, 1911 and August 16, 1947 editions of the Telegram.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

ts 05-06-23 motto ad p43.jpg

Toronto Star, June 23, 1905.

tely 11-06-02 fountain opening

Evening Telegram, June 2, 1911.

gm 47-08-16 purchase by robinson

Globe and Mail, August 16, 1947.

gob sep 22

Goblin, September 1922.

The earliest Patterson ad from Goblin in my files. Definitely not as stylish at what was to come, perhaps matching the magazine’s evolution.

Most issues of Goblin, which was part of a wave of 1920s humour magazines that included The New Yorker, are available on the Internet Archive courtesy of the University of Toronto Archives.

gob oct 22

Goblin, October 1922. 

The Kewpie-like Patterkrisp Kid did not become an enduring Canadian retail icon, but we can appreciate his love of autumn.

gob apr 23

Goblin, April 1923.

The first hint of the ads to come. But there are specific products to take care of first…

gob sep 23

Goblin, September 1923.

…such as this bar which may have fulfilled a biblical prophecy.

gob oct 23

Goblin, October 1923.

goblin dec 25

Goblin, December 1925.

Starting with the December 1925 issue, Patterson focused its Goblin ads on its Wildfire chocolate bar.

goblin jan 26 640px

Goblin, January 1926.