Vintage Toronto Ads: Short Cuts 6

Nickel-Chroming a Modern Life

Originally published on Torontoist on February 8, 2011.

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Maclean’s, March 26, 1960.

When the photo shoot was over, the model was surprised to learn that she could keep the fine array of kitchen appliances that, thanks to the marvel of nickel-plating, would indeed last for years to come, even if they actually were scale models. For a few years, she retained then in mobile form, which she occasionally hung as a conversation piece during dinner parties. By the late 1960s, when she felt her daughter was old enough to appreciate the pieces without destroying them, our one-time model carefully removed the strings and allowed the girl to play with them as her first kitchen set. Years later, both women were to appear with the set on the Antiques Roadshow, but their segment was left on the cutting room floor when a seventeenth century thimble found in a backyard flower bed was deemed more interesting.

Besides Inco, other occupants of the southeast corner of Yonge and Colborne streets circa 1960 were several financial firms (including Cradock Securities and Price Waterhouse) and ticket offices for Canadian National Railways and Lufthansa.

Ammoniate Your Smile!

Originally published on Torontoist on March 8, 2011.

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Reader’s Digest, April 1949.

With users as pure as this mother/daughter combo, wouldn’t you trust the marketing claims of Amm-i-dent?

Adding ammonium to tooth-cleaning agents was a marketing craze at the time the above ad appeared. An article in the July 30, 1949, edition of Billboard magazine noted that the potential advertising revenue derived from clients like Amm-i-dent and Colgate made radio network and station executives “virtually froth at the mouth.” Amm-i-dent’s American parent Block Drug (maker of such fine products as Polident) had secured a lucrative sponsorship of The Burns and Allen Show. However, a University of Illinois study into ammonium-enhanced dental products showed that their use only reduced the incidence of tooth decay by 10%. As the thrill of ammonium faded, toothpaste makers soon moved on to other marketing gimmicks like chlorophyll.

Though nobody at 172 John Street is marketing tooth powder any longer, other products are getting polished there—thanks to the john st. advertising firm.

Additional information from the October 1953 issue of Changing Times.

Hypnotized by the Power of Super Fitness!

Originally published on Torontoist on May 3, 2011.

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Toronto Sun, March 21, 1983.

The man in this Super Fitness ad is:

1) Hypnotized by the pattern worn by the model to his left. As he is transfixed by the diamonds on her chest, she gently murmurs, “You will sign your friends up. You will sign your friends up…”

2) Stunned by the extreme value of the advertised offer. He then curses that he just paid three times as much to join the gym next to his office.

3) Shocked that Super Fitness spokeswoman Christine Steiger does not appear in this ad. Maybe she was off being cloned, as she was for a lesser offer three years later.

4) Awed by the rack dangling over him.

5) Bewildered by the imprecise instructions provided by the cameraman. Trying to save the shoot, he draws on his Method training and imagines how a fellow in his situation would naturally react.

Where Did Leonardo Learn About Art?

Originally published on Torontoist on July 5, 2011.

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Ontario Association of Art Galleries Magazine, Winter 1978-1979.

We’re surprised historians have never jumped on the amazing fact uncovered in today’s ad: Leonardo da Vinci learned about the fine arts not from observing his fellow Italian Renaissance craftsmen but by crossing the ocean to discover the riches (and coffee talks) of the Mississauga Library System. Sadly, all other references about Leonardo’s time in the court of Grand Duchess Hazel of Streetsville are lost to the mists of time.

Though libraries existed in Streetsville as early as the mid-1850s, the modern Mississauga Library System began when citizens of what was then known as Toronto Township voted in favour of creating a local public library organization in 1956. When today’s ad appeared, the main branch was located at 110 Dundas Street West, where it remained until the current Central Library on Burnhamthorpe Road was opened in 1991.

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Vintage Toronto Ads: Carpet with Civic Fibres

Originally published on Torontoist on February 16, 2007.

Next time you visit the library, take a look at the carpeting and furniture. Does it make you want to linger with a good book or run through the checkout as fast as possible?
2007_02_16MRLcarpet.jpgThe Toronto Reference Library, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in November, was breaking itself in when today’s ad appeared. Judging from the number of people seen sleeping there, the carpet colours may be too easy on some readers’ eyes. Architect Raymond Moriyama’s design, with carpeted walls, easy-to-browse open shelves and the 70s see-through elevator, lends a comforting, cozy feel, turning short trips into lengthy stays, especially in winter. Moriyama’s firm is still involved in the building, contributing to its renewal plan.
 
The Reference Library’s roots date back to 1830, with the establishment of the Toronto Mechanics’ Institute (originally named York, until the city changed its name in 1834). Modeled after similar groups formed in Great Britain during the 1820s, its aim, according to Robertson’s Landmarks of Toronto, was “the mutual improvement of mechanics and others who become members of the society in arts and sciences by the formation of a library of reference and circulation, by the delivery of lectures on scientific and mechanical subjects embraced by this constitution from which all discussion of political or religious matters is to be carefully excluded.”

Originally located on Colborne St, the Institute moved to the northeast corner of Church and Adelaide in the mid-1850s. By 1858, the library consisted of 4,000 books, available to 800 paying members. A city bylaw passed in 1883 established a free public library system, which the Mechanics’ Institute was folded into. When the library opened to full public access the following spring, the rush of people wishing to use it quickly led to increased staff and multiple copies of popular titles.

In 1903, the city received a Carnegie grant to build a new central library and several branches, including Yorkville, Queen/Lisgar (now used by the city’s Public Health department) and Riverdale. When the new Toronto Reference Library opened at St. George and College in 1909, it contained nearly 100,000 books. The Institute building remained a branch through the late 1920s, the was used as offices by the city’s public welfare department until it was demolished in the late 1940s.
In 1967, the Metropolitan Toronto Library Board was established to handle the reference library and special collections acquired over the years. Moriyama presented his design in 1970, with construction underway by 1975. The old library was sold to the University of Toronto and now serves as the Koffler Student Services Centre, which includes the main branch of the U of T Bookstore.

Source: Saturday Night, March 1978.