Vintage Toronto Ads: The Case of the Disappearing Bachelors

Originally published on Torontoist on March 20, 2012.

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Following a police investigation into the sudden disappearance of bachelors at 555 Sherbourne Street, two one-bedrooms and a three-bedroom suite were held for questioning. All three were released, though the suite’s kitchen was charged with kidnapping after it was found to be hiding the Loblaws produce department.

Based on the evidence in today’s ad, 555 Sherbourne was likely one of the last apartment towers in St. James Town to market itself to upwardly mobile singles, tempting potential renters with only-in-the-1970s touches like an onsite disco. Who wouldn’t want to live in a complex overseen not by a mere project manager but a smiling “den father” who you may never need to meet?

While the site no longer offers meals in an exclusive restaurant prepared by a smiling chef, you can still buy groceries provided by Loblaws at the long-ago rebranded No Frills. Based on a plan approved by city council last October, the future may bring up to 409 new rental units and the demolition of the outdoor podium over Earl Street that connects 555 with its neighbouring apartment towers. Any new bachelors will be under 24-hour watch, so they don’t vanish as quickly as the originals.

UPDATE

As of March 2018, 555 Sherbourne is being rebuilt. The No Frills moved over to Bloor Street, with another supermarket slated to fill its space.

 

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Vintage Toronto Ads: Short Cuts 7

A Victory Shower

Originally published on Torontoist on August 23, 2011.

Vintage Ad #1,617: Victory Means a New Bathroom!

Mayfair, March 1944.

We suspect a shining new bathroom with a corner shower was not high on the daydream list for those on the battle lines in World War II—getting home in one piece might have been slightly higher. Still, executives at heating and plumbing equipment manufacturers could sit back and soak up war effort projects until the postwar consumer boom hit. Then they would find customers like this fellow, who was relieved to clean himself with more than just the canteen-sized doses of water he was forced to use in the field. A private shower to him would truly be a “fruit of freedom.”

After several mergers, Standard Sanitary dropped the icky part of its name and, as American Standard, continues to provide products to make anyone’s bathroom dreams come true.

Have You Tasted This Sensational Soup?

Originally published on Torontoist on October 11, 2011.

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Was it the mounting effects of wartime rationing making this man so excited about Lipton’s Noodle Soup Mix, or the high sodium content of the broth? Comforting as a bowl of reconstituted dry soup mix can be, calling it “rich and natural” is a stretch. But to wartime consumers, the convenience, economy, and versatility were irresistible qualities.

While present-day Knorr Lipton soup no longer touts tasty chicken fat among its enticing attributes, two predictions came true: children enjoy the seemingly bottomless supply of noodles, and the pouches of dehydrated goodies have remained a standby in many Toronto homes for the past 70 years.

Miming Increased Productivity

Originally published on Torontoist on September 13, 2011.

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Financial Post Magazine, March 1980.

Hinted at but not made explicit in today’s ad: besides promoting time-saving business forms, this advertisement for the Moore product-ivity kit inferred that word processing speeds would improve if staff donned white makeup and communicated solely through miming during working hours. While there was a risk that an interested firm would lose employees due to their inability to keep their mouths shut, allergic reactions to makeup, or fear of mimes, a manager thinking outside the box might have taken the risk. Less idle chit-chat equals profit!

Using a mime spokesman might not have been out of line for Moore Business Forms, given that founder Samuel J. Moore was the production manager for the satirical weekly Grip before entering the stationery field in 1882. You might have to mimic the outline of a building where the company’s former office was in Mount Dennis: Google Maps shows Goddard Avenue as a blocked-off road awaiting residential redevelopment.

Master the Art of Pleasing Each Other

Originally published on Torontoist on October 18, 2011.

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Maclean’s, April 3, 1978.

After moving into the zigzagging towers of The Masters zipped into the Markland Wood neighbourhood, this couple spent more time together enjoying nightly swims, sipping fine wines despite the stares of the medieval citizens depicted on their wallpaper, practicing their golf swings, and spending quality time in the sauna. They also took advantage of the leisure facilities to further their individual interests: he spent hours in the darkroom developing photos of amateur models who succumbed to the charms of his red neck scarf, while she unwound in the pottery room by recreating in clay pleasant and disturbing visions from her dreams of what her lover was up to.

Vintage Toronto Ads: The Town that Sold Itself

Originally published on Torontoist on October 16, 2007.

Vintage Ad #380: Not Selling You On Meadowvale

Source: Toronto Life, June 1975.

Developers had to do very little to attract new homeowners into the rapidly expanding, brand-spankin’ new city of Mississauga in the 1970s. Open spaces, parkland, recreational venues, shopping plazas, and day care spaces were among the tidbits thrown to those looking at suburban creature comforts.

Most of all, new homeowners wanted easy access to rustic jug milk stores.

This development may have touted itself as “excitingly different,” but parting from the norm could only be taken so far. Item #12 makes it clear that eccentricity would not be tolerated in Meadowvale, thanks to tough rules. Discrimination against certain colours nearly led to a lawsuit from the GTA Regional Association of Purple Edifiers.

Vintage Toronto Ads: New Ancient Housing

Originally published on Torontoist on May 14, 2007.

Vintage Ad #236 - 2000 Year Old Houses Source: Toronto Life, August 1975.

Actually, it was more like 12,000 years ago this area was the shoreline of what has come to be called Lake Iroquois, but what’s a few thousand years among friends? Really?

Formed during the retreat of the glaciers during the last ice age, Lake Iroquois covered areas of the city south of Davenport Rd, with lagoons stretching as far north as Leaside. Its traces can be found in the ravines, with the most visible legacy in the area near this project being the bluff rising towards Casa Loma.

Given the wording used in this ad (“primitive instincts,” “dash about barefoot”), the drawing seems to be missing either a scantily-clad model in caveman-movie wear or a “noble savage” dashing in front of the homes, while the architect sitting on a cracker barrel watches idly.

Anyone willing to place bets on which homes or landmarks in Toronto will still be standing in 4007?

Vintage Toronto Ads: Opulent Penthouse-Style Living

Originally published on Torontoist on February 23, 2007.

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When searching for a new place to live, what is the first thing you look for? Location? Lifestyle compatibility? Enticements? A blank slate to shape in your unique style? Groovy wallpaper?
Judging from today’s ad, the latter may have been a key condition in North York back in 1970.

This was the era of “swingin’ singles” apartments, promoted in areas of the city like St. James Town. Think of this ad as the late 1960s equivalent of lifestyle ads pitched to upwardly-mobile condo buyers, without the benefits of ownership—replace “penthouse living” with “loft”, “condo” or “lifestyle community” and the text could be slotted into the next project to hit the weekend paper.

Depending on decorating taste, your eyes may be thankful for the decision to make this a black and white ad, given the loudness of the “luxury wallpapers” in this “opulent bathroom.” Is the tenant pointing into space, admiring her new surroundings or relieved that she found the mirror in the midst of everything? Conversely, the decor may provide cozy memories of homes you grew up in or your first snazzy pad.

Note the prominent placement of the toilet paper dispenser—was the photographer passing subliminal judgement?

While current enticements to potential tenants include free TVs and time-restricted reduced parking rates, this company capitalized on the recent opening of Fairview Mall (then anchored by Simpsons and The Bay) by offering a shuttle service. Today, residents further south in Don Mills have use of a shuttle to the mall in the wake of the demolition of the Don Mills Centre.

Source: Toronto Life, September 1970