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

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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?).

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.”

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.

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Globe and Mail, March 22, 1950.

Christmas at Mackenzie House, 1963

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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.

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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).

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

 

1933 Mail and Empire Women’s Pages 7: See the New Cookery Methods and Latest Fashions

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Mail and Empire, April 6, 1933.

And so (after a long hiatus for this series), we roll into day 3 of the Mail and Empire‘s cooking school and fashion revue.

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Mail and Empire, April 6, 1933.

A sampling of the prizes used to entice readers to attend the cooking demonstrations.

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Mail and Empire, April 6, 1933. Click on image for larger version.

A sampling of the styles displayed during the fashion revue.

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Mail and Empire, April 6, 1933.

Beyond the reminders to attend the cooking school, regular content carried on. In this case, recipes for crepes suzettes and mayo.

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Mail and Empire, April 6, 1933. Click on image for larger version.

A full page of recipes, alongside ads for the cooking school’s suppliers. The Acme Farmers Dairy plant was located on Walmer Road south of Casa Loma. After a succession of ownership changes, the plant closed in 1986 and was replaced with housing. Pickering Farms was acquired by Loblaws in 1954.

Mrs. Shockley was rolling in endorsements during her stay in Toronto. On April 6 alone, besides these two ads, she also pitched Mazola Corn Oil and Parker’s Cleaners.

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Anchora of Delta Gamma, January 1932.

Sidebar: a contemporary biography of Katherine Caldwell Bayley (1889-1976), aka Ann Adam. Beyond what’s mentioned here, she also wrote several cookbooks as Ann Adam or whatever house names her clients used. Based in Toronto, she ran Ann Adam Homecrafters, a consulting agency which operated through the 1960s. Among her assistants was Helen Gagen, who later became food editor of the Telegram.

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The Globe, February 21, 1935.

An ad for one of Bayley’s regular radio gigs. CKGW, which was owned by Gooderham and Worts distillery, was leased by the forerunner of the CBC around 1933 and changed its call letters to CRCT. On Christmas Eve 1937 it became CBL.

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Bayley’s first “Today’s Food” column for the Globe and Mail, September 24, 1942.

When the Mail and Empire merged with the Globe in November 1936, Bayley’s columns were not carried over. Six years passed before she joined the Globe and Mail as a daily food columnist on “The Homemaker Page.”

Her reintroduction stressed the realities of wartime home economics. “This daily column is designed to help you with the sometimes rather complicated problem of adjusting your cooking and meal-planning to the regulations necessary in a country at war,” the page editor wrote in the September 25, 1942 edition. “Some foods are rationed; some are no longer obtainable, and of others we are asked voluntarily to reduce our consumption. All this, and the effort, in spite of it, to increase, rather than decrease our physical efficiency to enable us to fill wartime jobs, involves more careful catering for our families and a skillful use of substitutes.”

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Globe and Mail, February 27, 1963.

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Globe and Mail, December 31, 1964.

Bayley’s final G&M column received no fanfare elsewhere in the paper, but went out in a partying mood.

Back to the cooking school…

 

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By April 7, the cooking school was front page advertorial copy…um…news.

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Mail and Empire, April 7, 1933.

Next: the cooking school wrap-up.

1933 Mail and Empire Women’s Pages 5: From Chowder to Pigeon

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Mail and Empire, March 18, 1933.

Missing from this list of chowders is the kind you might expect: clam. The first printed recipe using the term, published in Boston in 1751, reads like poetry.

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Mail and Empire, March 18, 1933.

One of the few pieces on celebrities to slip into the M&E’s women’s pages so far during our look at them. Norma Shearer did not appear in any films during 1933, returning to the screen in Riptide in March 1934. As for her two-year-old son, Irving Thalberg Jr. grew up to be a philosophy professor.

And now a word from our sponsor…

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Mail and Empire, March 18, 1933.

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Mail and Empire, March 20, 1933.

Bride Broder’s moaning about late winter weather in Toronto is not a recent development.

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Mail and Empire, March 20, 1933.

Let’s embrace spring and make some fresh lemonade syrup.

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Mail and Empire, March 21, 1933. 

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Mail and Empire, March 23, 1933

A double-dose of Ann and Katherine for you, heavy on desserts and sweet treats.

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Mail and Empire, March 23, 1933. 

A suggestion to create community gardens in poor areas of the city in the midst of the Great Depression. Note the nod to The Ward, a historical Toronto neighbourhood which has been the subject of much research and reexamination in recent years.

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Mail and Empire, March 24, 1933.

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Mail and Empire, March 24, 1933. 

These days, pigeon is not a meat you can easily walk into a supermarket to buy. And it’s not a dish that gets much publicity. But modern recipes can be found, such as this one from Jamie Oliver’s site.

A quick Googling also found that contraptions similar to today’s featured utensil exist, even though I’ve never seen one in action.

1933 Mail and Empire Women’s Pages 4: Suggestions for St. Patrick’s Day

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Mail and Empire, March 17, 1933.

I’m going to guess that, much as now, much of the “gay doings” Ann Adam expects around St. Patrick’s Day involved consumption of copious amounts of alcohol. This may partly explain why the Mail and Empire‘s morning competition, the Globe, barely mentioned the occasion at all. The Globe‘s owner, William Gladstone Jaffray, refused to run ads for alcohol even after prohibition ended in Ontario in the mid-1920s, and I can’t imagine him endorsing any articles remotely celebrating drinking.

Since this article encourages readers to tint their party pleasing foods green, I checked if green beer was a thing in 1933. According to Smithsonian magazine, the practice dates back to the early 20th century, but didn’t catch on widely until the 1950s.

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Mail and Empire, March 17, 1933.

And now a word from our sponsor…

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Mail and Empire, March 16, 1933.

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Mail and Empire, March 17, 1933.

In Search of Ireland (1930) was among the numerous travel books written by English journalist Henry Vollam Morton (1892-1979). Here’s how Kitty Hauser described one of Morton’s most popular works, In Search of England (1927), for the London Review of Books in 2005:

In Search of England came out of a series Morton wrote for the Daily Express in 1926. It is an account of a journey around England in a Bullnose Morris, written ‘without deliberation by the roadside, on farmyard walls, in cathedrals, in little churchyards, on the washstands of country inns’. Its tone is jaunty, as the narrator leaves London and reels at whim in his two-seater down country lanes and past historic sites in search of an essential and timeless England. It is a quest to find in reality the England that existed as myth for a war-ravaged generation; the village at dusk, smelling of woodsmoke, surrounded by green fields; the thatched cottages and rambling gardens; the time-worn historical monuments. This was the land ‘worth fighting for’ in the propaganda of both world wars. That Morton apparently found it, many times over, in the course of his travels (reaffirming it in every new edition), reassured readers that it really was out there, even if it might not be visible to those living in cities or their ever-expanding suburbs. What Morton demonstrated to his predominantly urban readers, with a deceptively casual air, was that this England – the ‘real’ England – was just a car journey away, down an inviting and empty country road.

Morton moved to South Africa in 1948, just as apartheid was being implemented in that country, a political direction that didn’t seem to bother him.

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Toronto Star, March 17, 1933.

As for what the other Toronto papers had to offer for St. Patrick’s celebrations, the Star published recipes for Shamrock Cake and Mint Jelly.

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Toronto Star, March 17, 1933.

The Star also published a photo of an unidentified baby wearing a St. Patrick’s Day hat.

I couldn’t find any references to a St. Patrick’s Day parade happening in the city. More digging reveals that processions that day ended in 1877, and did not resume until 1988. Public processionals of Irish identity — or at least Irish Protestant anti-Catholic identity — were reserved for the Orange Parade on July 12. According to the July 13, 1933 edition of the Globe, 50,000 people marched across municipalities throughout Ontario to mark the 243rd anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne. Dignitaries and Orange Lodge officials addressing these gatherings declared their allegiance to the British Empire and denounced atheism, bilingualism, and Communism.  In Toronto, where 10,000 people marched, the parade went from Queen’s Park to a rally at Exhibition Park. In front of attendees such as Mayor William J. Stewart and Premier George Henry, participants denounced what they believed was an “organized effort to make Canada a bilingual country” by criticizing French language instruction in schools and radio programming.

1933 Mail and Empire Women’s Pages 3: Tempt With Rarebits and Have a Fishy Lent

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Mail and Empire, March 6, 1933.

Merriam-Webster defines “waltonian” as “of, or relating to, or having the characteristics of Izaak Walton or his writings on angling.” So referring to the 17th century author of The Compleat Angler in the headline makes sense for Ann Adam’s fish-centric menu.

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Mail and Empire, March 6, 1933. 

Question about the “mock rabbit” recipe: What would have been considered “grated Canadian cheese” back in the 1930s? Would this have been processed cheese the home chef would have grated themselves, a packaged product similar to grated cheddar or Parmesan we generally associate with pasta, or something else entirely?

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Mail and Empire, March 6, 1933.

The friendship between cheese and tomatoes was so close that they developed their own language, devising names like “Rinktum Diddy.”

Seriously, a quick Google search digs up plenty of recipes for Rinktum Diddy aka Rinktum Ditty, which Merriam-Webster defines as “a mixture of tomato sauce, onion, cheese, egg, and seasonings served on toast.” The origins of the name appear to be unknown.

As of 2019, Parkers Cleaners continues to provide Torontonians with cleaning services.

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Mail and Empire, March 6, 1933.

A quick word from our sponsor…

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Mail and Empire, March 6, 1933. 

This marks the first appearance in this series of “Woman’s Point of View” columnist Bride Broder, the pen name of M&E women’s page editor Mary White. More on her in a future post.

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Mail and Empire, March 6, 1933.