Vintage Toronto Ads: Short Cuts 10

Pour Me a Psycho-Physical Driving Test

Originally published on Torontoist on March 30, 2010.

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New Liberty, March 1948.

For at least a year, Labatt’s ran a series of public service announcements in New Liberty magazine that touted their touring psycho-physical driving test units, whose stops included the Canadian National Exhibition. While the ads showed how drivers learned how to better gauge appropriate spaces to pass and find out if their night vision was up to snuff, nowhere is it mentioned that one should indulge in a few rounds of Labatt’s main business interest before hitting the road.

By the late 1940s, professionals were beginning to realize that getting behind the wheel while drunk was dangerous. Nearly a year before today’s ad appeared, the Telegram ran an editorial after St. Andrew MPP J.B. Salsberg criticized the suspension of a truck driver’s licence due to an impaired driving charge as a hardship for the driver’s family (the government indicated it had no intention of making any exception to the existing licence suspension laws):

In view of the serious menace to public safety which the drunken driver presents there can be little support for any proposal to loosen the operation of the law in this respect. Nor is it desirable, whatever the hardship involved, that variations in the application of the law should be permitted. Leniency in one case would open the door to pressure for leniency in other cases. It is in the public interest that all drivers should realize what such infractions of the law entail and that they should understand that if they offend in this way there is no escape from the penalty provided.

Locomotive engineers, it is understood, are not permitted to drink while on duty. It is quite as imperative that truck and automobile drivers, who do not travel on a private right of way, should avoid intoxicants before or during driving. It cannot be repeated too often that alcohol and gasoline is a bad mixture.

Additional material from the April 7, 1947 edition of the Telegram.

Upstairs, Downstairs

Originally published on Torontoist on October 16, 2012.

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Maclean’s, September 9, 1961.

These scenes from a stereotypical early-1960s middle-class home look serene, but dangers worthy of a television drama are in full view. Unlike the family in that famous Upstairs, Downstairs TV series, this household doesn’t have to worry about relationships between hired help and the gentility. Instead, they should fear for the potential disasters that could befall the children.

Upstairs, while baby can’t crawl up the wall to tear at the beautiful new thermostat and discover if mercury pleases his palate, his parents could be watching what he does with his teddy bear, instead of discussing the contents of their favourite evening paper. Nobody wants to witness an accidental choking. Downstairs, while Junior is in little danger from the blasts of his shiny cap guns, he could accidentally bang his head into the heater’s manifold valve or oil burner if he gets too carried away with his game of cowboys and Indians.

Vintage Toronto Ads: A Romantic Meal from Parkdale Wines

Originally published on Torontoist on May 8, 2012.

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Time, October 26, 1970.

Call it a populist romantic meal, 1970-style. Instead of buying a fancy vintage to accompany a luxurious feast of chateaubriand or surf and turf, you line up at the nearest liquor store, fill out the form (unless you’re lucky enough to be near the first self-serve LCBO outlet), bring home an affordable red wine with a classy chateau on the label, and choose your preferred method of preparing frankfurters topped with French’s finest mustard. (Based on the look of this hot dog, the vintner suggests boiling or steaming.) Et voila—pleasurable, cheap fine dining for the proletariat!

Etobicoke-based Parkdale Wines, maker of Chateau Cartier, was acquired by Labatt in 1965. Given beer’s association with backyard weenie roasts, perhaps it’s not so surprising somebody in marketing paired one of the company’s wines with a hot dog. In some ways, if you can follow the long series of buyouts and mergers that followed, the company could be considered one of the ancestors of current vino giant Vincor.

Vintage Toronto Ads: Easy-Going, Manly Ales

Originally published on Torontoist on October 13, 2009.

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Liberty, May 1960.

Based on these ad campaigns for two of Labatt’s top-selling brews in 1960, we surmise that 50 was targeted to men who indulged in a healthy round of log rolling/jumping or other potentially fatal tomfoolery while downing a few stubbies, while IPA was intended for the alpha male who wanted no distractions, apart from watching his favourite sport, while indulging in his favourite beverage.

India Pale Ale was one of the company’s oldest brands, having won awards in North American brewing competitions as far back as 1876. Labatt 50 arrived on the scene in 1950 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the corporate stewardship of John S. and Hugh Labatt. The brew was Labatt’s best-seller until Blue overtook it in the late 1970s. Though it never regained the sales crown, 50 later developed a reputation as a cheap brew for hipsters to knock back.

What better place for happy young Toronto drinkers to sing the praises of their favourite beer in 1971 than the recently opened Ontario Place?