Souvenir Views of Toronto, Canada

Originally published as a “Historicist” column on Torontoist on October 2, 2010. Because the original links to the postcards vanished from Torontoist following a site redesign, and because I don’t appear to have any related Word documents, I have no idea if any text other than subject identification appeared under these images, nor what order they were originally presented in. Comments written under the postcards were written in 2020.


Usually when preparing Historicist, we dig through local archives and libraries to find the pieces of Toronto’s past that are brought to you every weekend. Sometimes the material finds us, as is the case with today’s gallery of postcards submitted by reader Todd J. Wiebe.

The postcards were among a large collection of items donated by the estate of fine art scholar Richard Wunder to the Van Wylen Library at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where Wiebe works as a librarian and assistant professor. “It is a very large collection,” says Wiebe, “and this past summer was the first we really got around to going through it.” As the materials were being processed and appraised, a worker in the library found the postcards and passed them on to Wiebe “because I’m from Southern Ontario.”

The set contains twenty-two postcards attached to each other accordion-style. They were produced by the Canadian branch of Scottish postcard maker Valentine & Sons. Based on the age of the landmarks depicted, we’re guessing that this package was produced in the mid-to-late 1920s due to the presence of Union Station (opened in 1927, though it had stood largely completed since 1920) and, given the presence of the city’s tallest buildings in the set, the lack of postcards for the Royal York Hotel (opened in 1929) and Commerce Court (opened in 1931).


Streetcars carried commuters over the viaduct until the Bloor-Danforth subway line opened in 1966.


That Casa Loma is referred to as Henry Pellatt’s residence makes me wonder if some or all of this series was produced in the early 1920s, as Pellatt was forced to leave the premises in 1923.


Judging from this view, it appears Lippincott Street was open to traffic in front of Central Tech.


All five of these churches remain active as of 2020, though the landscapes around them have changed radically.


Opened in 1899, City Hall was the heart of Toronto’s municipal dramas until city council moved across Bay Street in 1965.


Completed in 1913, the Canadian Pacific building is currently used for office space.


North Toronto station closed in 1930. It became the Summerhill LCBO.


Built in 1914, the building at the southwest corner of King and Yonge was the headquarters of the Dominion Bank until it merged with the Bank of Toronto in 1955. In 2020, it houses the One King West Hotel & Residence.


Toronto General moved to College and University in 1913. As of 2020, portions of the building fronting College Street houses MaRS.


Chorley Park, 1915-1961.


Originally opened in 1903, the King Eddy gained its tower in 1922.


Several of the buildings in this postcard series seen together.


The Cayuga was one of several steamers owned by the Niagara Navigation Company. It was retired in 1957 and scrapped four years later.


Located in St. James Square, the Toronto Normal School trained several generations. Its site served as an incubator for OCAD, the ROM, and Ryerson University. Most of the building was demolished by 1963.


Not pictured: the iron gates. Or cows.


Two premiers presided over the proceedings at Queen’s Park during the 1920s – E.C. Drury’s UFO (United Farmers of Ontario) government gave way to Howard Ferguson’s Conservatives in 1923.


This appears to be an artistic interpretation of the Red Ensign, used as Canada’s flag through 1965.


Opened in 1915, the Royal Bank Building still stands at 2 King Street East.


Was the front of Union Station ever this serene during the day?


“University College” would be a more appropriate description for this postcard. Major additions to the U of T campus during the 1920s included Trinity College and Varsity Arena.


University Avenue was still a genteel, tree-lined street south of Queen’s Park when this postcard was produced. Laid out in 1829, it was originally conceived as a genteel park boulevard which would lead up to the intended site for the King’s College campus. It was closed to commercial traffic, and no streets were allowed to cross its path. The road was opened up for full use in 1859, and expanded south of Queen Street.

Goodbye 1919, Hello 1920

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Toronto World, January 1, 1920.

“Toronto folk, old, young, and middle-aged, will celebrate this New Year’s Eve as they never have before,” the Star predicted on its December 31, 1919 front page. Noting that, with most veterans home from the aftermath of the First World War, it was the first true peacetime New Year’s Eve, “so that money and time have been cast to the winds and they are going at it with feathers flying and goodwill bubbling over.”

“People in Toronto want a wholesome good time tonight if they never had it before or never expect to again, and I am going to do all in my power to give it to them,” King Edward Hotel manager George O’Neil told the Star. He expected 1,500 partiers to ring in the new year. Revelers at the Balmy Beach Club witnessed an eight-year-old girl dressed as 1920 driving “Father Time across the ballroom and out of the door, then come back herself and give an exhibition toe dance.”

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Mail and Empire, January 2, 1920.

The Mail and Empire also covered the happenings in the city on New Year’s Day.

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Cartoon by Fontaine Fox. Mail and Empire, January 1, 1920.

The Globe’s year-end editorial focused on the “Week of Prayer” organized by the World’s Evangelical Alliance, as well as some sort of prayers suggested by “The Great Commission Prayer League of Chicago.” One sensed the rambling piece about the power of prayer had the deep religious convictions of Globe publisher William Gladstone Jaffray, a man who some employees believed gave more to his church than them. As the piece concluded, “the new year will prove one of unspeakable blessing to every life if not a day is permitted to pass without going aside with God for solitary prayer.”

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The Globe, January 1, 1920.

The New Year’s Day Globe editorial contemplated an issue still plaguing us a century later, widening economic disparity. The third and fifth paragraphs feel especially relevant.

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The Globe, December 31, 1919.

The Globe also suggested voters casting their ballots in the municipal election on New Year’s Day should re-elect mayor Tommy Church based on his support for the city’s takeover of the privately-operated Toronto Railway Company streetcar system (a goal finished with the establishment of the TTC in 1921). The paper gave other reasons why to deny pugnacious city councillor Sam McBride the mayor’s chair.

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The Telegram, December 31, 1919.

The Globe’s dislike of McBride was muted compared to the Telegram’s. As with many positions held by the Tely during the long editorship of Black Jack Robinson, its hatred of McBride bordered on the pathological. Given the Tely’s fierce support for Tommy Church in general and Adam Beck’s plans for the expansion of the provincially-owned hydro system and electric interurban railways, and its suspicion that McBride supported private ownership of both, its election headlines were, like the one above, were ridiculous. It may not have helped Robinson’s mood that Beck was seriously ill with pneumonia during the campaign.

tely 1919-12-31 page 16 anti-mcbride cartoon

Cartoon by George Shields, The Telegram, December 31, 1919.

During a December 29 speech at the Central YMCA, McBride observed that since the death of Telegram founder John Ross Robertson the previous year, the paper had “changed and has become as different as night from day. If the old gentleman were alive and could see the amount of ink and paper that is being used to revile honest public men he would turn over in his grave.” Cue an outpouring of vitriol on the paper’s New Year’s Eve editorial page two days later which declared Robertson’s regrets over supporting continued private ownership of the streetcars when the TRC won its contract in 1891, and his support for Beck and Church.

me 1919-12-31 council endorsements mcaree on 1919'

Mail and Empire, December 31, 1919.

The Mail and Empire took a more balanced position, declaring in its New Year’s Eve editorial that a mayor who combined the strengths of Church and McBride “would be nearly as possible a perfect Chief Magistrate.”

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Toronto Star, December 31, 1919.

The Star favoured McBride, as evidenced in this front-page endorsement, and scattered as many pro-McBride articles in its pages as the Tely had blasting him, depicting him as a defender of public ownership despite occasional disagreements with proposed radial railway plans.

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Toronto Star, January 1, 1920.

Ultimately, the 1920 municipal election is remembered not for its mayoral contest (which Church won), but the results in Ward 3’s aldermanic race, where Constance Hamilton became the first woman elected to city council in Toronto and Ontario. But that’s a story for another day…

As editors were so wrapped up in the municipal election, apart from the Globe there was less reflection on Toronto’s editorial pages on what had been an eventful year around the world. Maybe they felt events like the Paris Peace Conference, the Winnipeg General Strike, and the election of the UFO government in Ontario had seen enough type. Maybe they were weary of the strife which dominated the headlines.

But there were plenty of reflections elsewhere. Here is a sampling of cartoons and comment from across Canada and the United States.


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Kitchener Daily Telegraph, December 31, 1919.


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The Albertan, December 31, 1919.

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Sherbrooke Record, December 31, 1919.

United States

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Brooklyn Eagle, January 2, 1920.

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New York Herald, January 2, 1920.

Figures depicted in this roundup of the year include Lady Nancy Astor (the first sitting female British MP), Mexican president Venustiano Carranza (who would be assassinated in 1920), American army general John J. Pershing, Emma Goldman (who was deported along with 248 other radicals), the Prince of Wales (who stopped in the US after his Canadian tour). I’m guessing the “Palmer” cowboy with the long lasso is US attorney-general A. Mitchell Palmer, who was notorious for his anti-radical Palmer Raids. The “King and Queen” visiting Uncle Sam might be Albert I and Elisabeth of Belgium, who paid their respects at Theodore Roosevelt’s grave that year.

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New York World, December 31, 1919.

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Omaha Bee, December 31, 1919.

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Pittsburgh Press, December 31, 1919.

This cartoon appeared in numerous papers on both sides of the border.

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Pittsburgh Press, December 31, 1919.

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Seattle Star, January 1, 1920.

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Washington Star, December 31, 1919.

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Washington Star, January 1, 1920.

Goodbye 1918, Hello 1919

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Toronto World, December 31, 1918.

As 1918 ended, Torontonians contemplated a year which had seen the First World War end, celebrate what would hopefully be a cheerier year ahead, and engage in the usual political bickering which accompanied the annual voting rites of a municipal election on New Year’s Day.

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The Globe, January 1, 1919. Unfortunately, chunks of the rest of this editorial are missing. 

The Globe‘s New Year’s editorial spent the most time on any of Toronto’s opinion pages contemplating the general state of the world now that the war was over.

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Mail and Empire, January 1, 1919.

The Mail and Empire expressed hope for the future, and encouraged everyone to help with the reconstruction of the post-war world.

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Toronto Star, December 31, 1918.

The Star‘s editorial looked back to the genteel customs of New Year’s Days of yore.

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Toronto World, January 1, 1919.

The World‘s editorial focused on the top story item as the old year gave way to the new: the municipal election. Mayor Tommy Church ran for his fifth one-year term against Board of Control member John O’Neill, former city councillor William Henry Shaw, and York East MP Thomas Foster.

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Mail and Empire, December 31, 1918.

Long before Rob Ford preached zealous penny-pinching, Thomas Foster took frugality to extremes. A self-made millionaire known for visiting tenants in person to collect rent or fix problems, Foster spent two decades as an elected official at the federal and municipal levels. It would also appear, based on this campaign ad, he dabbled in post-war xenophobia. While Foster finished a distant fourth in this campaign, he retained his federal seat. He narrowly won the mayoralty in the 1925 municipal campaign over W.W. Hiltz, and served three terms. His legacy is the giant mausoleum he built for himself near Uxbridge.

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Toronto News, December 31, 1918. Click on image for larger version.

A sampling of candidates vying for council seats. Three of the four Board of Control winners (Charles Maguire, Sam McBride, and William Robbins) later served as mayor.

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Toronto Star, December 31, 1918.

Church’s campaign appealed to returning soldiers and their families. During the war, the mayor saw off as many departing soldiers as possible. “For many soldiers,” historian Donald Jones noted, “the last thing they remembered about Toronto was the sight of their mayor running beside the train shouting goodbye and wishing them good luck.” After the war, he welcomed them back and championed various measures to provide vets with financial benefits.

tely 1918-12-31 front page pro-church cartoon

Evening Telegram, December 31, 1918.

As it would several times during Church’s career, the Telegram supported his re-election campaign with ridiculous zeal. Editorials blasted anyone who criticized Church, especially the Star.

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Evening Telegram, December 31, 1918.

One of many Telegram articles extolling the virtues of Tommy Church. The key issues the paper was concerned about was public ownership of the hydro system and the ongoing battles with the Toronto Railway Company as the end of its 30-year franchise to run many of the city’s streetcars neared its end.

tely 1918-12-31 telling women to vote for church

Evening Telegram, December 31, 1918.

Even the women’s page turned into pro-Church propaganda.

Church received his fifth term, beating O’Neill by nearly 10,000 votes. He remained in office through 1921.

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Toronto News, January 2, 1919.

Election day was a good one for female candidates for the Toronto Board of Education, as four of the five who ran became trustees.

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The Globe, January 1, 1919.

The Globe ran an interview with the outgoing year before it disappeared for good.

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Toronto News, December 31, 1918.

The most covered party to welcome 1919 was held at the King Edward Hotel. Wonder how that meeting of the Canadian Society for the Protection of Birds went.

news 1919-01-02 how merry makers greeted dawn of the new year

Toronto News, January 2, 1919.

This would be the last New Year’s celebrations the News covered, as the paper rebranded itself as the Toronto Times in March, then folded for good in September.

tely 1919-01-02 new year's celebrations at the king eddy

Evening Telegram, January 2, 1919.

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The Globe, December 30, 1918.

The city’s Protestant ministers had plenty to say about the events of the past year, and looked forward to the momentous events they felt would come in 1919.

me 1919-01-01 new year met reverent welcome

Mail and Empire, January 1, 1919.

How people reverently celebrated New Year’s…

tely 1919-01-02 bolshevik pamphlets in earlscourt

Evening Telegram, January 2, 1919.

We’ll end with a hint of the year to come, with this tiny item about the distribution of “Bolshevik pamphlets” in the west end.


And so ends 2018 for this site. Thanks for reading and supporting my work over the year, whether it’s here or for the many clients I’ve produced material for. The major (and minor) events of 1919 will play a large role in my work for 2019, so stay tuned here and elsewhere for how those events happened, and what their long-term legacies were.

Vintage Toronto Ads: Everyone’s Proud to Serve Jersey Farm Sausage

Originally published on Torontoist on June 5, 2012.


The Telegram, November 19, 1918.

If the claims made about the widespread use of Jersey Farm Sausage at Toronto’s finer eateries in today’s ad are true, it’s possible that many a link could have been downed in meals celebrating the end of World War I, a week earlier. With the conclusion of such a horrific conflict, who wouldn’t have wanted to slice into an “unusually good, unusually appetizing, unusually satisfying” sizzling piece of ground-meat greatness to celebrate better days ahead?

Much of the fine print in today’s ad is devoted to advice on cooking Jersey Farm Sausage from noted local chefs:

C. Bouzard, chef at the King Edward Hotel, says Jersey Farm Sausage can be fried, broiled and steamed. Cooked this way they should be pricked first with a fork. But they are best when baked—in the oven. Be sure to use only a moderate heat. He finds it unnecessary to add grease when baking these sausage. After removing sausage, put a little water in the bake pan and stir. This gives an excellent brown gravy for the mashed potatoes.

Chef Grosso of the National Club also recommends Jersey Farm Sausage either fried or baked. Be careful, he says, not to use too great heat, as this will cause the sausage to burst.

H.P. Donnelly, chef at the Hotel St. Charles, prefers to bake Jersey Farm Sausage in an oven of medium heat. He covers them first with a little beef dropping (not shortening or lard). 12 to 13 minutes is the time necessary to cook them to an appetizing brownness. He says that by this method the natural flavour is preserved [and] there is no need for pricking and the sausage does not burst.

The manufacturer had its own suggestion for preparing their tasty treats:

As most people find it more convenient to fry sausage rather than bake them, we suggest the following method. Cover the sausage with water. Allow this to boil slowly away. Leave the sausage in to fry—there is enough grease from the sausage to prevent them from burning. In this way the sausage is thoroughly cooked by the water and the heat is moderate enough to give no risk of the sausage bursting. Try it!

Few of the locations listed as serving Jersey Farm Sausage still exist, but perhaps they still secretly have a supply on hand. Next time you dine at the Gladstone Hotel or the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, demand that your pure, wholesome meal include a link or three of Jersey Farm.

“The Greatest Marine Disaster in History” – Toronto and the Titanic

Originally published on Torontoist on April 13, 2012.


An ad for voyages of the Titanic that never took place, published the day before the unsinkable ship sank. The Globe, April 13, 1912.

H.G. Thorley had little inkling that he would be the busiest man in Toronto on April 15, 1912. Just before 2 a.m. that morning, the local agent for White Star Line received a phone call requesting information on the condition of the luxury liner Titanic, rumoured to have hit an iceberg on its maiden journey from Southampton to New York City. “From two o’clock until after six,” Thorley told the News, “I was forced to sit in an easy chair by the phone and answer questions of all description.” For the next two days, the swinging door of Thorley’s office at the King Edward Hotel was in constant motion as news of the maritime tragedy unfolded.


The Titanic sets sail. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1231, Item 1703.

Early reports were promising. Newspapers declared that the passengers aboard the Titanic were safely and smoothly being transferred onto another ship, the Carpathia, while the liner itself was being towed to Halifax. A statement from White Star Line indicated that while the company hadn’t received direct messages from the Titanic, they weren’t worried about its passengers because the ship was “practically unsinkable.” Thorley shared his employer’s confidence in the ship’s ability to survive anything: “I can hardly credit the idea of the Titanic being in a sinking condition. She is the most completely equipped with water-tight compartments and the most strongly built liner on the high seas.”

Reports from Cape Race, Newfoundland indicated good weather and calm waters in the vicinity of the Titanic, conditions that suggested little danger to anyone waiting in a lifeboat for a rescue from the vessel Virginian. One detail raised eyebrows: “It was difficult,” the News reported, “for even mariners to interpret the situation from the Marconi dispatches. They could not understand why it was necessary to take off any passengers if the liner were sinking slightly at the bow, unless her captain felt that the water-tight compartments would give way.”

Besides the throngs at the King Eddy, Torontonians gathered around the city’s newspaper offices for updates, as one edition after another rolled off the presses of all six of Toronto’s dailies and frequent bulletins were provided to the assembled crowds. The Star provided a glimpse of the hectic scene at its King Street West office:

All morning long the telephones in the Star office buzzed with inquiries as to the big marine disaster, and the same story is told by all the marine and shipping offices in the city…Scores of persons who had relatives or friends due to sail from the Old Country about this time, were most anxious, and telephoned repeatedly for news. However the news that all the passengers had been taken off in safety was a great relief to anxious enquirers.

The interest of the public in the wreck of the world’s greatest steamer was evidenced by the rapid manner in which the early “extras” got out by the papers, were sold, and the way in which crowds clustered in front of the bulletin boards in front of the newspaper offices. Everywhere about the streets, in the shops, and on the cars, the wreck of the Titanic was the sole topic of conversation.


The News, April 15, 1912.

Within that conversation was anxiety around the fate of passengers with Toronto connections. Under a disclaimer of “many rumours wrong,” the Telegram attempted to verify stories of who was and wasn’t on the Titanic. Among those who didn’t make the fateful voyage were businessman A.O. Beardmore (who booked but changed his mind), Mr. and Mrs. F.P. Wood (postponed their sailing by a week), and wholesaler William J. Denton (found alive and well in Medicine Hat). On the other hand, the friends and relatives of those known to have been on the Titanic ranged from relief that businessman Major Arthur Peuchen appeared to have been rescued, to fear about the uncertain fate of Eaton’s merchandise buyer George E. Graham.

It’s understandable that some inaccurate reports were published given the breakneck speed with which editions were published. Several papers boasted of breaking the story—the News declared it was first “as usual” in its April 15, 1912 edition, a claim the World disputed the following day:

When the bulletin came from Cape Race at 4 o’clock yesterday morning, announcing that the Titanic was sinking following its collision with an iceberg, The World made the greatest newspaper “beat” in years. Shortly after thousands of extra editions giving particulars of the disaster were on the street and caught the early morning crowds.

The World was the only morning paper in Toronto, or even Canada, to put the big story of the Titanic sinking on the street when the flash came. The World was the only paper alive at that hour of the morning.


The News, April 17, 1912.

Yet the optimism behind the earliest reports faded as April 15 wore on. By evening, it was clear that White Star Line officials had purposely promoted false hope—the Titanic wasn’t heading to Halifax, and most of its passengers wouldn’t be rescued. The Mail and Empire reported how Toronto reacted when the depth of the tragedy reached the city:

Fragments of the whole awful story spread through Toronto like wildfire. To one walking through the downtown streets it seemed grotesque to hear a knot of people on one corner commenting in subdued tones on the latest news, while a few yards further on a couple would be gaily arguing as to how much salvage the Virginian would claim for towing the Titanic safely into Halifax…All through the evening the morning newspapers’ telephone switchboards were taxed to their utmost replying to queries. Many refused to believe what was told to them by the switchboard clerks and insisted on talking personally to one or other of the editors.

Back at the King Eddy, Thorley spent the night answering phone calls from anxious citizens, providing relief to some, despair to others. Some of those inquiring refused to believe that the Titanic had sunk. Thorley wanted to believe the ship was still afloat, “but the speed required to reach her on time would be impossible in that ice-filled sea.”


The News, April 16, 1912.

The city’s grim mood was reflected in the headlines on April 16, 1912: “The Greatest Marine Disaster in History,” declared the Globe. Over the next few days, pages were filled with grim details about the ship’s demise, especially after survivors arrived in New York. Regular updates were provided on the status of passengers with local ties and how their families were coping.

Local philanthropic impulses quickly kicked in. During a Board of Control meeting on the morning of April 17, 1912, Mayor George Geary proposed granting $5,000 to a relief fund for families of the Titanic’s officers and crew, and reflected the city’s strong ties to Great Britain:

As Britishers we should all feel proud of the reported conduct of the crew and officers of the Titanic in the awful disaster of last Monday. In the face of certain disaster, it appears that the crew calmly stood by and gave their places to the women and children, thus preserving the beautiful British traditions of the deep…It is possible that the relief will grow to large proportions with contributions from rich survivors, but my idea is that we should all take advantage of the opportunity in order to show our personal appreciation.


The Telegram, April 17, 1912.

Geary’s motion passed unanimously. The “beautiful British traditions of the deep” he alluded to were repeated on the editorial pages, such as that day’s edition of the World:

With those who have suffered bereavement there is universal sympathy, all the more because at the hour of trial the victims upheld so nobly the highest traditions of the British mercantile marine. There are passive as well as active heroes, and the courage of those who accept and await death that women and children may take the one chance of escape is no whit inferior to that of the officers and men who brave the almost inevitable fate of a forlorn hope. Honor indeed to both, but not the least to the heroes of peace.


The News, April 19, 1912.

The city’s papers discussed the perceived cowardice of men who survived instead of nobly going down with the ship, even if they were asked to row lifeboats. Among those viewed with suspicion was Arthur Peuchen, despite his being pressed into rowing duty and his testimony as a star witness during the United States Senate investigation into the disaster. Peuchen endured insults like “He said he was a yachtsman so he could get off the Titanic, and if there had been a fire, he would have said he was a fireman.” Among his defenders was the Star, which felt he was prejudged for simply surviving and that “his conduct was not only above reproach, but that it was the natural course of a man of action, and was spirited and admirable.”

Even some of the women who survived earned scorn. The News interviewed local ladies a week-and-a-half after the sinking to see what they would have done under similar circumstances. While some thought there shouldn’t be any rules governing who should survive, others had definite ideas. “I think that the woman should base her conduct on the whether there were children at home or not,” said Mrs. Archibald A. Huestis. “If she had little children which needed her care, she should take to the boats. Otherwise, I think she should remain with her husband.”


The News, April 19, 1912.

As bodies were recovered from the disaster, memorials were held around the city. Eaton’s closed its Queen Street store early on April 20, 1912 in memory of George Graham, whose death was confirmed after several false reports of his survival. Church sermons the following day centred around the Titanic, with the largest service held at Massey Hall.


The Telegram, April 20, 1912.

It was a Biblical story that the Telegram turned to when it summed up the Titanic disaster in an editorial:

The Titanic was a floating Babylon, destined to illustrate the eternal truth that man is never so near disaster as when he imagines he has built a career or anything big enough to be proof against disaster. Napoleon achieved great victories by conforming to the laws of nature. Then he imagined he was big enough to cut loose from the laws of nature and still go on winning victories. The laws of nature crushed Napoleon. Man builds mighty steamships by conforming to the laws of nature, then he imagines that he can cut loose from the laws of nature in the navigation of these mighty craft. The iceberg crushes man’s handiwork like an eggshell and the ocean swallows his leviathan of the deep.

Additional material from the April 16, 1912 edition of the Globe, the April 16, 1912 edition of the Mail and Empire, the April 15, 1912, April 16, 1912, April 17, 1912, and April 24, 1912 editions of the News, the April 15, 1912, April 16, 1912, April 22, 1912, and March 13, 2012 editions of the Star, the April 15, 1912 and April 19, 1912 editions of the Telegram, and the April 16, 1912 and April 17, 1912 editions of the World.


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The Telegram, April 15, 1912.

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Toronto Star, April 16, 1912.

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The Globe, April 17, 1912.

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The World, April 19, 1912. Click on image for larger version.

The original article made heavy use of front page images from the News. There were several reasons for that, ranging from it being a long-defunct newspaper to the quality of microfilm scans. The condition of most pages I looked at for this piece from other papers are in terrible condition, for reasons you’re about to see. Let’s call this a glimpse into the pitfalls researchers encounter.

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The Mail and Empire, April 16, 1912.

Without extensive use of Photoshop, this is the best quality microfilmed front page from the Mail and Empire as the tragedy unfolded. The rest are covered in varying degrees of black smudging.

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The Globe, April 16, 1912.

A chunk of this front page is gone…

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Toronto Star, April 18, 1912.

…while this one is missing even more. The previous day’s Star has a giant chunk missing from the middle of the page.

Vintage Toronto Ads: Where Else Would You Eat?

Originally published on Torontoist on September 22, 2009.


Bravo, November/December 1982.

Yes, your friends were happy that the iambic pentameter flowing out of your mouth finally sounded naturalistic and not an exercise in word fumbling. For that, you deserved a night on the town!

Your friends also had deep pockets, as a meal at Chiaro’s (pronounced key-arro) wasn’t in the typical actor’s price range, especially if they treated you to the exclusive wine room. Two people who were denied the latter were Globe and Mail restaurant critic Joanne Kates and her dining companion:

We mere mortals, and two females to boot, are not invited into the wine room. We are not even offered a wine list. We are offered a table by the door and, having reserved earlier, we begin to wonder: Would the waiter chide a male customer for asking to see the label on a bottle of house wine before it was poured?

Chiaro’s was part of the multi-million-dollar renovation of the King Edward Hotel in the early 1980s. Kates compared the décor to both ends of the hospitality spectrum owned by new operators Trusthouse Forte: the Plaza Athénée in Paris and your average roadside Travelodge. “The lobby is splendid and subtle,” she noted, “an Edwardian triumph of massive marble columns and Oriental rugs lit from above by a glass roof. But in the women’s room the soap is that horrible green stuff (what, no Pears?) and Muzak plays.“

Kates felt the pasta dishes were worth the money while most of the mains were boring. Her summary of the Chiaro’s experience expressed disappointment:

Neither the $20,000 peacock mirrors nor the grey walls and ceiling are glorious. The food is good, but it is attention to detail that makes a restaurant great: Salada tea and banal desserts give Chiaro’s a mass-produced air; waiters who seat and serve diners according to their Dun and Bradstreet rating do not belong. A restaurant that charges $105 for dinner had better treat everyone like a queen.

Additional material from The Joanne Kates Toronto Restaurant Guide (Toronto: Methuen, 1984).

Summer’s Here And The Time Is Right For Golfing In The Streets

Originally published on Torontoist on June 5, 2008.

Home-grown small-screen productions have also made ample use of our city’s streets since CBLT debuted in 1952. During the summer of 1971, comedians Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster used downtown as a backdrop for an exciting new sport, city golf. Over the course of 18 holes, cameramen preserved pieces of the city that development has changed significantly in the ensuing years, from landmarks in their infancy to retail icons that have moved along.

Besides, wouldn’t shooting a golf ball down Queen Street over lunch hour be a great stress reliever, as long as you don’t brain any onlookers?

Among the sites to watch out for while viewing this clip (or to skip ahead to if Wayne and Shuster are not your taste):

1:54: City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square, only open for six years at this point. Note the waving spectators on the top ramp.

2:10: Eaton’s Queen Street store. Initially located south of Queen when Timothy Eaton set up shop in 1869, the store moved to 190 Yonge Street in 1883 and gradually expanded to take up the entire block bounded by James to the west and Albert to the north. Company warehouses stretched along neighbouring blocks while a second retail store, the Eaton’s Annex, opened at Albert and Yonge. During the mid-20th century, the Queen store was Eaton’s mid-range store, with the Annex (destroyed by fire in 1977) catering to bargain hunters and their Yonge-College store (now College Park) attracting upscale shoppers. The sale advertised on the Queen entrance places filming around August, when the following ad appeared in local papers.


Globe and Mail, August 2, 1971.

Across the street Simpsons also had a month-long sale running, though they appear to have taken less care in design and material with the “Great Toronto Days” banner.

The two stores would draw shoppers on either side of Queen until 1977, when Eaton’s consolidated their downtown retail operations into their new store at Yonge and Dundas during the first phase of Eaton Centre construction.

3:10: The first hole is near the King Edward Hotel, then on a downhill slide (note the less than elegant front sign). Before the decade was out, the hotel was threatened with demolition before being rescued by new investors…though its Crystal Ballroom might be a decent locale to practice short putts.

5:44: The original configuration of the 401/Don Valley Parkway interchange. The DVP had been built as far north as Sheppard by 1966, with Woodbine Avenue continuing northwards until the first phase of Highway 404 to Steeles Avenue was completed in 1977. More bridge hazards after recent construction would create a greater challenge in a modern game.

6:00: Long-gone parking lots on the south side of Carlton Street opposite Maple Leaf Gardens, later occupied by condos, fast food joints, Mick E. Fynn’s, Peach Garden, and Golden Griddle.

6:37: The Odd Fellows Hall at Yonge and College can be seen behind Wayne. Then a branch of CIBC, now home to Starbucks.


7:40: The drawing of the 10th hole refers to several vanished buildings along Jarvis Street. The Four Seasons Motor Hotel at 415 Jarvis was the launchpad for the luxury hotel chain, which it maintained through the late 1970s. Opened in 1961, it won a Massey Medal for Architecture. Toronto Life’s Toronto Guidebook described the Four Seasons as:

…a great place: small and slightly chic (because of all the visiting celebrities who stay there, because of the proximity of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation across the street); not too expensive; only three storeys, so you don’t have top cope overmuch with elevators; and hassle-free parking. There’s a swimming pool in the central courtyard…a bar-cum-discotheque downstairs called The Studio from which, at lunch time, the timeless Elwood Glover conducts his CBC-TV interview show.

This was a boom time for the chain, with Inn on the Park humming along, its first overseas hotel welcoming guests in 1970, and the development of a new location on Queen that became the Sheraton Centre. The Motor Inn was closed in the late 1970s and eventually demolished, with The Central condos currently staying for the night at its address.

CBC was headquartered at 354 Jarvis until the opening of the broadcast centre on Front Street. Its land is now occupied by Radio City and the National Ballet School. We suspect “the beverage room” was a watering hole for employees of the Corp.


“City Golf” originally aired on the September 19, 1971 edition of The Wayne and Shuster Comedy Special. According to a capsule preview in the previous day’s edition of Starweek, the show also featured a spoof of Citizen Kane, and a sketch going behind-the-scenes of a minimum security prison. Musical guests were Salome Bey and Gilles Vigneault.

gm 1971-09-20 review of w&s city golf

Blaik Kirby’s review of the show, from the September 20, 1971 edition of the Globe and Mail. The comedic merits of the city golf sketch are still debatable.

Vintage Toronto Ads: Great Depression Hospitality

Originally published on Torontoist on January 23, 2007.

Vintage Ad #133 - King Edward Hotel 1934

Source: Toronto’s 100 Years 1834-1934

TO. Hogtown. The Queen City of Canada. The Centre of the Universe. Centennial City. All names applied to Toronto over the years.

Centennial city?

That was the nickname tossed around when Toronto celebrated its 100th birthday in 1934. To commemorate the event, a Centennial Committee was put together by city council, whose lasting work was Jesse Edgar Middleton’s book Toronto’s 100 Years 1834-1934. The book includes a variety of sketches of the city’s first century, as well as a program from a “service of thanksgiving and prayer” (and Wagner and Rachmaninoff) held on March 5th to mark the anniversary. Among the sub-committees formed for the celebration: permanent memorial, song judging (which included poet E.J. Pratt), drill corps display and stamp exhibition.

The last 60 pages of the book feature ads from leading institutions and businesses of the city. One of those still surviving is the King Edward Hotel, recently displaced as the city’s most fashionable place to stay by the newly-built Royal York. Opened in 1903, the King Edward was built on the former site of the Golden Lion department store. The hotel was designed by architect E. J. Lennox, who also worked on Old City Hall, Casa Loma and the Massey Mausoleum in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. The original eight floors were joined by an 18-storey addition on the east side of the hotel in 1921.

In 1932, the hotel entered receivership, which probably accounts for the rates “keeping with the times” at the height of the Great Depression. Using the Bank of Canada inflation calculator, based on the Consumer Price Index, shows that the starting rates for those rooms would be $45-120, or your average roadside chain hotel today. The 50 cent breakfast? $7.50.

Note all the elements designed to lure a posh crowd, even as they began to recover from financial ruin. A floor just for the ladies! Not just any run-of-the-mill French chef, but one honoured by the French government! Not just a house band, but “an internationally famous 15-piece orchestra”! The latter claim had some merit – Luigi Romanelli, who led the hotel’s house band from 1923 until his death in 1942, made radio appearances with his Monarchs of Melody on CBC and NBC.

Weak management and competition from newer hotels downtown led to proposals to raze the building in the mid-1970s. Instead, much of the hotel was restored by the early 1980s, though the Crystal Ballroom on the upper levels remains in ruins, used to teach fly fishing.

UPDATE (June 2017): The Crystal Ballroom eventually underwent renovation, reopening for public use in April 2017.