Vintage Toronto Ads: D-Day

As the reprints of older Vintage Toronto Ads columns wind down, this is the first in a new, occasional series. 

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Front page, Toronto Star, June 6, 1944.

As Canadians participated in the D-Day invasion, newspaper advertisers expressed their feelings, hopes, and prayers about its outcome. Here is a sampling of some of those ads, as published in the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star.

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Toronto Star, June 6, 1944.

Simpson’s department store suspended its normal sale ads for several days, starting on D-Day with a full-page prayer taken from Francis Drake’s attack against the Spanish at Cadiz in spring 1587.

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Toronto Star, June 6, 1944.

Near Simpson’s Queen Street flagship, the public gathered for a prayer meeting outside (Old) City Hall. Elsewhere in the city, schools held special assemblies, and all Anglican churches prepared for special services at 8 p.m. that evening. St. Michael’s Cathedral reported people streaming into the church as early as 7 a.m., many of whom were wives and children of soldiers serving in Europe. Special services were also scheduled at several war productions plants, including Massey Harris and, out in Malton, Victory Aircraft.

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Toronto Star, June 7, 1944.

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Globe and Mail, June 9, 1944.

Simpson’s followed up the prayer ad with two spotlighting leaders of the invasion. There was also an invasion-tinged full page spot marking King George VI’s official birthday celebration, even though his actual 49th birthday wasn’t until December.

By contrast, rival Eaton’s continued with their normal advertising, only adding an invitation published on June 6 from Mayor Frederick Conboy to attend a civic prayer service in front of City Hall two days later.

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Toronto Star, June 6, 1944.

For regular updates on the invasion, moviegoers could catch the latest at the Uptown and Loew’s (now the Elgin) theatres on Yonge Street.

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Toronto Star, June 7, 1944.

Radio listeners could follow CBC’s invasion coverage. CJBC, the flagship station of the CBC’s recently formed Dominion Network, swapped frequencies with CFRB in 1948 and moved to 860 AM.

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Globe and Mail, June 7, 1944.

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Globe and Mail, June 9, 1944.

Two examples of ads from the business community.

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Globe and Mail, June 7, 1944.

A listing of some of the Ontario residents who took part in the invasion.

Finally, a pair of editorials: one from the city, one from an outlying area.

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Toronto Star, June 6, 1944

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Orono Weekly Times, June 8, 1944.

Camp 30 Fights On

Originally published on Torontoist on May 8, 2012.

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Entryway to triple barracks, used to house 300 POWs at Camp 30.

Seventy years ago, a provincial reform school for boys on the outskirts of Bowmanville was transformed into a POW camp for captured German officers during World War II. Today, the surviving structures of Camp 30 are fighting another war, against vandals and time. Victory appears to be a possibility.

Recently, Torontoist joined a tour of the complex organized by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario’s Next Generation group. It will likely turn out to have been the last organized tour of Camp 30 for a while, because Kaitlin Homes, the property’s owner, still doesn’t know quite what to do with the site. Discussions regarding its future are ongoing.

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Tour guide and executive director of Clarington Museums and Archives Martha Rutherford Conrad praised Kaitlin’s decision to not demolish Camp 30 while long-term preservation efforts are underway. While Kaitlin is planning to build subdivisions on the north and south ends of the property, they have agreed to set aside the core 30 acres of Canada’s last surviving German POW camp.

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Front of Jury Hall, where POWs often posed for photos.

Opened in 1925 as a provincial training school for boys on land donated by local businessman John Jury, the site was chosen to hold POWs because it was easy to convert for those purposes. Several original school buildings, especially Jury Hall, show influences of the Prairie style of architecture as practised by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright, including flat roofs, and upper rows of windows designed to maximize natural light. When Rutherford Conrad approached American architecture experts about the buildings, they found it odd that the province chose a style that was at a low ebb when the school opened.

The front of Jury Hall was a popular spot for prisoners to pose for photographs when the Red Cross delivered their medals from Germany. Officers brought to Camp 30 were generally treated well: they were allowed to garden, produce plays, run a newspaper, and attend lectures given by visiting professors from the University of Toronto. They were even given occasional offsite access to swim in Lake Ontario or ski.

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The cafeteria, one of the main sites of the “Battle of Bowmanville.”

Despite their relative comfort, the Germans were still prisoners and made regular escape attempts, many plotted in the triple barracks building. Some POWs made half-hearted efforts to flee; there were stories of prisoners who, having performed their escape duty, went to nearby farms and asked the farmers to drive them back to the camp. Other efforts were intended to return figures like U-boat commander Otto Kretschmer to battle, but his tunneling attempts failed. A move to shackle the POWs following similar German actions after the battle of Dieppe led to the “Battle of Bowmanville” in October 1942. Prisoners took over key buildings for several days and fashioned weapons from whatever was on hand, from china to ketchup bottles. The cafeteria, the oldest structure at the camp, was the last building to fall back into Canadian hands.

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Graffiti in the Generals House/hospital.

Camp 30 was quickly turned back into a reform school after the war, which it remained until 1979. Several private schools used the site over the next 30 years until Darul Uloom, an Islamic boarding school, departed the premises in fall 2008. Afterward, Camp 30 fell prey to vandalism that has accelerated over the past two years. The walls of the general’s house/hospital are spray-painted with the Joker’s catchphrases, while the theft of vinyl siding from the cafeteria exposed its wood to the elements. A nightlight Clarington Museums hoped to preserve vanished at some point within the past year. Fires played a role in demolition of the former administration building and left marks on other structures. While high schools have frequently shown interest in visits, potential liabilities from hazards like broken glass and open manhole covers have scared them off.

As for Camp 30’s future, a request for a National Historical Designation has been filed and will be determined in July. Discussions are also underway with Parks Canada to transform the site into an urban national park like the Rouge Valley will be if all its approvals come through. Work is underway to establish a stewardship foundation that would restore and operate the site. Rutherford Conrad hopes to have that up and running within six months. She is optimistic about Camp 30’s ability to attract visitors, based on high interest when it was part of Doors Open in 2009 (1,400 people passed through the gates, with 400 more turned away) and a “Spirits of Camp 30” tour last October that included historical re-enactments. Five buildings are being recommended for preservation, while other structures, such as the natatorium (a combination swimming pool and gymnasium), are regarded as less architecturally significant or unsuited for safe reuse.

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The natatorium.

If funding was available, Rutherford Conrad said she would love to brick up the buildings to ensure their survival before more interior damage can be done. A long-term plan would be developed, and ideas beyond museum use—such as community gardens and offering the cafeteria as a reception hall and restaurant space—would be explored. Anyone interested in helping the efforts to preserve Camp 30 can contact Clarington Museums and Archives.

UPDATE

An agreement was reached between Clarington and the developers in 2016 which transferred the buildings to the municipality. As of December 2017, efforts were underway to designate the site under the Ontario Heritage Act.

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: Less Sugar Tonight in My Coffee

Originally published on Torontoist on March 1, 2011.

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Toronto Star, February 5, 1942.

As World War II reached its midpoint in 1942, Canadian consumers increasingly felt the effects of the conflict. Partly out of a desire to free up shipping vessels and materials used in packaging to aid the Allied war effort, food rationing gradually went into effect over the course of the year. When it was announced that the sugar supply would be curtailed, a sense of panic quickly ensued.

Sugar rationing went into effect on an honour-system basis on January 26. When word reached edgy Toronto consumers that they would only be allowed three-quarters of a pound of the sweet stuff per person per week, they rushed to their neighbourhood department stores and grocers. Some of those stocking up worried the new regulations would prevent them from sending sugar to friends and relatives affected by the war in Europe, but government officials quickly reassured them that as long as the quantity exported was taken out of their ration, the practice could continue. Other people were just plain greedy, as demonstrated by four local hoarders caught stowing away up to sixty pounds of sugar. Though they weren’t charged (likely due to their sheepish attempts to return the sugar once investigators were hot on their trail), it was legislated that those who tried to skirt their ration could faces fines of up to $5,000 and two years in jail.

Retailers like Loblaws, who were given little guidance in how to combat hoarders, held emergency staff meetings. Some tied the amount of sugar one could purchase to the final tally on the grocery bill. Others printed signs with patriotic messages stressing how hoarding hurt the war effort and constituted an offence against decency. Customers looking for alternatives found plenty of advice in newspapers from dieticians who embraced the reduced circulation of sugar. The recommended alternative was honey, and beekeepers across the province promised a bumper crop for 1942. Another alternative would receive less favourable press today: corn syrup, which had been used as a substitute in sodas during World War I. One expert told the Star that “it is not as sweet as sugar but otherwise its presence will not be noticed in soft drinks.”

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Toronto Star, January 27, 1942.

Rationing also brought out the stand-up comedian in editorial page writers. One knee-slapper from the Star: “Canadians are restricted to three-quarters of a pound of sugar as a war ration, but young men will be relieved to know that there is no restriction upon 115 pounds of honey.”

Tighter restrictions on the purchase of sugar went into effect when coffee and tea were subjected to rations on May 26. The sugar allocation was decreased to half a pound per person per week. Restrictions were also placed on how restaurants could serve sugar—containers and packets could not be placed on tables, while those wanting to sweeten their favourite hot beverage were limited to three lumps. Despite a vow to remain on the honour system, ration books were soon in the works, and when the first ration books were mailed out later that summer, sugar was among the items for which coupons were issued.

Those with a sweet tooth had to wait two years after the war was over before their favourite ingredient was available without restriction. Sugar was one of the final food products to be removed from rationing when the federal government decided in November 1947 that supply restrictions were no longer necessary.

Additional material from the January 26, 1942, January 27, 1942, and May 26, 1942 editions of the Toronto Star.

Vintage Toronto Ads: Canned Food Will Change Your Tune

Originally published on Torontoist on May 4, 2010.

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Chatelaine, February 1945.

HE: Scientific cooking or not, I want food now! By the way, dear, were you suggesting that the food I’ve raved about all these years was not made from scratch by your lovely hands?
SHE: Umm…er…yes…but think of all the metal I’ve donated to the neighbourhood scrap drive! Besides, every time I make something from scratch, you complain it takes too long and that “something tastes off tonight!”
HE: You’ve got a point. Now be fox-quick and fix me some beans!
SHE: Keep your loincloth on, Tarzan, or else next time you can cook for yourself…if you can figure out how to open a can. Now that would change your tune!
US: Canned foods may not be able to solve marital discord, but we guarantee the arguments will end once you taste the freshness inside!

Eager readers may have taken advantage of the wonders of canned foods if they followed the daily menu suggestions for February found on the next page. Several of the suggested bills of fare specifically listed canned fruits as an item to liven up a meal, though never on Tuesdays (no reason given). If the charts were followed to the letter, a wartime homemaker could carefully plan their rations and never worry about what to feed the family.

Curious about what Chatelaine’s typical daily suggestions were? Here’s the recommended menu for Tuesday, February 13, 1945:

BREAKFAST: grapefruit juice, grilled smoked fish, brown toast, coffee, tea
LUNCHEON: barley broth, potato and parsley salad, egg garnish, strawberry jelly whip, wafers, tea, cocoa
DINNER: rolled lamb shoulder, browned potatoes, creamed celery, fig shortcake, lemon sauce, coffee, tea

A Wartime Letter

Originally published on Torontoist on November 11, 2008.

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One activity that today’s remembrances of those fallen in war might prompt is a look through boxes in attics and archives for letters sent home by those on the front lines. As demonstrated in a series currently running in The Globe and Mail, these letters provide a snapshot of what it was like to be caught up in conflicts far from Canada. In these documents, the joy at receiving small pleasures of life from home stand out, whether it’s a shipment of candy bars or a newspaper clipping announcing a friend’s wedding.

Here is one of those letters, sent by a Toronto fighter pilot (my great-uncle) to his family during the early years of World War II.

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Douglas Morrison Waldon, known as “Morrey” to friends and family, was born in Deer Park in 1914, one of five children of a TTC conductor. After graduating from the Toronto Normal School, Waldon worked for Royal Trust for five years before his dreams of flying led him to sign up with the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940. After several months of training at Uplands near Ottawa, Waldon was sent over to England in February 1941 and served as part of No. 403 Squadron.

Waldon composed a steady stream of letters, including this one for his older sister Helen (my grandmother). Military censorship prevented any descriptions of his flying activities, but the letter is rich in details about items sent from home and hijinks that made life bearable. There is a strong sense of how he misses everyone at home, especially when he writes about the family garden back in Deer Park.

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Dear Helen, Lorne & all the family,

The weather here has been quite bad for the past few days, so we had a rest from flying. It is now 3:30 P.M. and I am sitting in our Flight Dispersal Hut as I write this letter. I had hoped by this time to have some pictures to send to you, but I have had only one roll developed as yet. However, I hope to have some ready for my next letter. The mailman was very good to me this past week and I received 4 letters from Phil, two from Dad and one from Jack [younger brother]; and last but not least an elegant parcel from Hartley [older brother]…In case the rest of you don’t know what was in the parcel Hart sent me, I will tell you. 20 packages of Wrigley’s gum, 25 chocolate bars, a case of Planter’s Peanuts, two films for my camera, razor blades, toothpaste, toothbrush, two pads of this writing paper and a lovely pair of socks which I think were Lot’s handiwork [Hartley’s wife]. Opening that parcel was almost as good as Christmas and I was certainly very, very grateful for it. The chocolate bars lasted for one afternoon and evening and were enjoyed by all. My roommate and I [and] a Scotch lad we call “Haggis” finished the peanuts and a box of marshmallows the same evening. As a result of my indiscretion and not controlling my fingers, I am sporting 3 lovely cold-sores, which would make Bea [older sister] very unhappy if she could see them.

I am glad that you reminded me about my Air Force Pin which I had quite forgotten, It is on my greenish shirt in the clothes closet of what was your room at home. I am not sure but I think that is on the trousers above the watch-pocket. It is also possible that it is on my sports coat. You are very welcome to it.

From all reports, the garden at home must be really something to see this year [and] I would like very much to be sun-bathing there right now. There are lots of delphiniums around here which remind me of home. We have several large beds of beautiful roses around our mess here and we have fresh roses on the mess dinner table each day. They certainly help to make the dining room pleasant, along with the W.A.A.F. waitresses. I was pleased to hear that the front yard has been freshly sodded & if it gets lots of water it should make a great improvement.
I don’t think you need to worry about me over-drinking but I do like to join the boys occasionally on a pub-crawl as often times there is nothing else to do. However, I am not a confirmed drunkard or anything like that.
Your good wishes for promotions for me are appreciated Dad, but from now on they are very slow [and] rather hard to get.

Last Wednesday, I was invited out for dinner and an evening of tennis, both of which were very enjoyable. As a result of meeting a very nice girl that evening I was invited to a super party on Friday night. The evening started with a cocktail party and then we went on to the home of a Lady Somebodyorother for dinner and it was the best dinner I have had since coming to England, bar none. After dinner we went to a lovely country club where there was dancing and supper until 12:30. The dance was a real good one and there was an outdoor swimming pool for those that became overheated. I got to bed around 1:45 and so I had to get up again at 4:30 that morning. I was very tired. I had also volunteered to do late readiness for one of the boys going on leave last night, so the inclement weather pleased me very much. The girl I was with is the daughter of a banker in a nearby town. She is tall, dark, devastating and very, very interesting. Perhaps she will want my picture. Woo! Woo! Dogpatch style [a reference to the popular comic strip L’il Abner].
My R.A.F. life has been much the same as in previous weeks so there is nothing new to report there. It is hard to believe that I have been away from home for five months and I must say that time is going very, very quickly.
It is time to say good-bye now. Best regards to all the family and lots of love.
Morrey

P.S. Thanks again for the parcel.

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This proved to be one of the last letters Waldon sent. Three days after his father received a note indicating that all was well, the family was informed that he had gone missing while piloting a Spitfire fighter over France on August 9. Cables from the International Red Cross over the next month indicated that he was a prisoner in a German hospital. In mid-September, the family was informed that Waldon had died of injuries soon after he was shot down over Gravelines.

When interviewed by The Toronto Star, his father noted that “it was a great disappointment to us. Douglas was a strong and healthy boy and after five weeks passed we had high hopes for his safe recovery.” Waldon was buried in the British Commonwealth section of the Longuenesse (St. Omer) Souvenir cemetery. Back in Toronto, a service was held at Christ Church in Deer Park soon after his death was announced. He was one of six fallen parishioners remembered at the church’s Remembrance ceremony that November.

Additional material from the August 11, 1941 and September 13, 1941 editions of the Toronto Star and the Telegram.

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL

Douglas Morrison Waldon Air Force Portrait and Death Notice

The material I used for this story comes from a box which belonged to my paternal grandmother. It contains photos and newspaper clippings stretching from the 1920s through my first regular media gig, a monthly highlight column for my elementary school written for the Amherstburg Echo when I was in grade 8. Much of the material is World War II vintage and revolves around my great-uncle Morrey.

Pilot Officer from Toronto Listed Missing

This is the notice that appeared in the Toronto Star on August 11, 1941, when Morrey was reported missing. A similar story appeared the same day in the Telegram. The loss was devastating to the family. His name lived on among several nephews, including my father, who was given Douglas as a middle name when he was born the following year.

"They Died For Freedom's Sake"

The Telegram, November 11, 1942.

Morrey was one of 26 airmen honoured by the city in a Remembrance Day ceremony the year after he died.

Official Opening of Mountain View RCAF Station

Globe and Mail, July 21, 1941.

While he was overseas, it appears the family journeyed east to attend the opening of an RCAF station in Prince Edward County. My grandmother is getting a crash course in how to operate a plane in the middle picture.

Vintage Toronto Ads Goes to War

Plucky Boys Need Their Smokes

Originally published on Torontoist on June 16, 2009.

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The News, May 6, 1915.

Given the attitudes, health concerns, and advertising restrictions regarding tobacco products, Toronto newspaper readers won’t be seeing appeals to send smokes to Canada’s overseas forces in their morning read anytime soon—a general appeal for morale boosting/easy to barter items would be more likely.

The soldier depicted in this ad was created by cartoonist Bert Thomas for a similar campaign across the Atlantic for the Weekly Dispatch newspaper in November 1914. The image of a Cockney “Tommy” telling Kaiser Wilhelm II that he needs a smoke break helped raise approximately ₤250,000 in donations from the British public. “Arf a mo’ Kaiser!” became a catchphrase whose use appears to have lasted in the U.K. through World War II, when it underwent a slight alteration to reflect that conflict’s German leadership.

Cows Have War Jobs Too

Originally published on Torontoist on September 15, 2009.

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Acme Farmers Dairy billboard, circa 1942-44. City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1488, Item 6611.

During World War II many Torontonians worked towards victory and, as this billboard testifies, cows were not excluded from doing their part to tackle Hitler and Tojo. The regional bovine population contributed to the war effort by providing food-solid goodness for the home front. Officials of local dairies soon discovered that the helmets they issued refused to stay on any cow’s head (straps were at a premium), so they were utilized as feed buckets or souvenirs for children touring their facilities.

Located on Walmer Road south of Casa Loma, the Acme Farmers Dairy site is currently occupied by the Castle Hill townhomes.

Wartime Target for Tonight

Originally published on Torontoist on November 10, 2009.

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Mayfair, March 1944.

A dazzling view of the Toronto skyline welcomed visiting flyers like this Royal Canadian Air Force pilot throughout World War II. The glimmer of city lights, the Royal York Hotel, and other pre-war skyscrapers as he approached Port George VI Airfield (as the island airport was officially named upon opening in 1939) was a far more welcoming sight than enemy fire.

A year after opening for service, the island airport was pressed into wartime use as a training facility. Pilots from Norway used the site from fall 1940 through winter 1943, which led to the establishment of “Little Norway” across the channel. After the Norwegians departed for expanded facilities in Muskoka, the RCAF used the airport for the duration of hostilities.

Around the time today’s ad appeared on the newsstand, one flyer leaving the airport almost made Sunnyside their target. On February 13, 1944, RCAF Flying Officer John R. Talkington required a rescue after he was forced to land one hundred yards from shore inside the seawall near Windermere Avenue. Talkington was piloting a training plane destined for Selfridge Field near Detroit when trouble struck. The Toronto Star picks up the story:

“The engine quit,” said Flying Officer Talkington, describing his experience afterward, “So I just let her down in the water.” The young pilot, a native of California, sat on the cockpit hood, his feet dangling in the water, until [he was] taken off. The rescue was made within twenty-two minutes of the time the mishap occurred…Talkington resumed his flight an hour later in another plane. Life-savers rushed to Humber station in a car, obtained a punt and paddled out to make the rescue.

Once the peace O’Keefe hoped for arrived, the airport was restored to civilian use and likely employed some of the clear-eyed men destined to work in the post-war aviation industry.

Additional material from the February 14, 1944 editions of the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star.