Saturday, August 30, 2014

bonus features: hans in the kitchen

This post offers supplementary material for an article I wrote for Torontoist, which you should read before diving into this piece.

If your appetite has been whetted, here are a pair of Hans Fread recipes I encountered during my research. First up, his take on chicken liver pate.

Source: Globe and Mail, November 16, 1957. Note steer behind Hans's head.

Second, from Fread's George Brown College course on "Cooking for the Budget Minded," a recipe printed in the September 12, 1969 edition of the Toronto Star.

Budget braised beef

1 piece beef fat, size of small potato
4-5 pounds beef, crossribs, or bottom round
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 tsp celery salt
1 tbsp crystallized ginger, diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 unpeeled lemon, thinly sliced
8 small potatoes, peeled
4-5 carrots, quartered
8 medium onions

Dice and melt the fat in a dutch over or pot. Brown the meat slowly on all sides, until it has a good-looking brown colour.

When meat is browned, pour the lemon juice on top, then the garlic, celery salt, diced ginger, salt, pepper, and slices of unpeeled lemon. Cover and simmer over low heat for 2-3 hours, or until meat is tender.

After 1-1/2 hours of cooking, place the potatoes, carrots and onions around the roast. Cover and continue to simmer until everything is tender.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

bonus features: allan lamport

This post offers supplementary material for an article I wrote for Torontoist, which you should read before diving into this piece.



If only more mayors kept scrapbooks as extensively as Allan Lamport did. To say the dozens of brittle, flaking volumes sitting in the City of Toronto Archives were a valuable resource in preparing this profile is an understatement. Throughout his political career, Lamport clipped every article mentioning his name and pasted them into the type of scrapbook you can easily pick up at Staples or Wal-Mart. During his mayoralty, volumes are organized by newspaper, which is especially helpful in the case of the yet-to-be-digitized Telegram.

Warning: due to the condition of the scrapbooks, you’ll need to brush the flakes off yourself after viewing them.

Monday, August 04, 2014

john the hugger and other scenes from toronto police court, 1909


As Toronto's police magistrate between 1877 and 1921, George Taylor Denison III passed judgement on thousands of people in his court. The press dutifully covered the proceedings daily, leaving historians with a record alternatively amusing, enraging, and heartbreaking.

Over the years, I've saved several police court reports, usually topped with a catchy headline like this one. Who doesn't want to know the sordid details surrounding "John the Hugger" that caused him to be hauled in front of Denison?

Let's dive into the details of John, the Stone family, the "saucy mendicant,"  and the other cases included in the News's court roundup on November 22, 1909...

Saturday, August 02, 2014

hippie gets rub in tub

Source: Toronto Star, September 29, 1967.
While this story is presented in a charming manner, complete with victim who apparently shook off being grabbed and dunked in a tub of water, it's hard to deny that the hippie-washers were out to commit acts meriting assault charges if attempted now. This wasn't an "attempt to do something constructive," this was a bunch of yahoos looking to stir shit up.

Note the look on the victim's face. His expression screams "Seriously? Are you kidding me? Riiight..."

Not everyone at U of T felt the same way about cleaning up Yorkville. A story in the Globe and Mail the following day noted that in a 78-56 vote, the Graduate Students Union endorsed financial aid for draft dodgers and for people arrested at a Yorkville sit-in the previous month.

Monday, July 21, 2014

dave keon invites you to try...

Dave Keon invites you to try... (1)
Click on image for larger version.
The 1970s. You have a pantry full of Campbell's Vegetable Soup. You can't decide what kind of sandwich will taste best while playing spelling games with the alphabet pasta. Who do you turn to!

Toronto Maple Leafs hockey star Dave Keon, of course!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

nautical 'n nice

Nautical 'n Nice (1)
Click on image for larger version
In the midst of recent housecleaning, this pamphlet fell out of a decaying cookbook I was about to toss out. Much screams 1970s: the layout, the nod to Canadian nationalism, and the heavy use of tinned food. Perhaps somebody worked very hard in Aylmer's test kitchen to devise these nautical-inspired dishes...or perhaps they were handed a list of products and told "do something with these!" Note the absence of "edible" in that sentence.

Brave enough to enjoy a taste of "Nautical 'n Nice?" Continue on...

Sunday, July 13, 2014

signs of insanity from windsor

Source: Eye, May 3, 2001.
While researching a recent Torontoist post regarding the demise of Eye/Eye Weekly/The Grid, I dug through a box of material meant to be scrapbooked over a decade ago. Besides finding a couple of fully intact issues focusing on the 2001 Toronto Fringe Festival, I unearthed this clipping of a long-shuttered Windsor pizzeria whose slowly-decaying sign provided years of mirth for my sister and I.

Over time, Star Pizza's sign lost more letters. By the mid-2000s you could buy a "lie" for 99 cents, which is a bargain when you're looking to hoodwink somebody.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

bonus features: proclaiming pride


This post offers supplementary material for an article I wrote for Torontoist, which you should read before diving into this piece.

Source: Toronto Star, November 1, 1978.
On my computer reside plenty of files I'm stumbled upon in the midst of research which I figure may be useful someday, no matter how absurd they are. Prime example: Art Eggleton dressed as a pickle. Based on the highlighting on the PDF copy of the original page, I discovered this gem while working on a Hallowe'en post. The original caption read as follows:
No sourpuss: Dressed as a pickle, but all smiles, Toronto Alderman Art Eggleton hands out a balloon to Diana Russo, 2, of Grace Street, at campaign headquarters last night. Supporter Robert Long offers Hallowe'en treat. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

dull, dull toronto


During some recent research, I stumbled upon a book review longtime Globe and Mail writer William French penned over 40 years ago for George Glazebrook's The Story of Toronto. French's introduction sums up the stereotypical view of Toronto history, and the battle I and my fellow historians face daily to present the city's past in fresh, engaging ways.
Anyone writing a history of Toronto faces an awkward problem: the story, on the whole, is dull. It lacks drama and dash, and our heroes are in a minor mode. Without exceptional effort on the part of the author, his book will also be dull.
Apart from the clash of arms in 1813 and the rattle of muskets in 1837—both encounters were marked by an almost comical incompetence—Toronto’s story is one of slow, plodding growth over the years. The major element in that story is a rather dull and narrow bourgeoisie, preoccupied with matters of property, finance, and morals. Until recently, anyway: the city is now undergoing a fundamental transition, but that’s current events, not history, and won’t be history until the transition is completed.

"Fundamental transition" might be an understatement, given the changes the city underwent during the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s.

Source: the Globe and Mail, December 4, 1971. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

appreciating archives

Conservatory Lab, Archives of Ontario
Conservation lab at the Archives of Ontario. Photo taken during a Doors Open tour in 2010.
Plug in the laptop. Attach the cooling pad to ensure the computer resists self-immolation. Wait for research materials to arrive, or start in on an order placed ahead of time. If waiting, sign on to the internet, work on other projects, or grab a pencil (no pens allowed!) and scribble random thoughts on scrap paper or in a notebook. When the boxes and file folders arrive, dive headfirst into the past.

Yep, just another day researching in an archive.

***

I love working in archives. Flipping through holdings brings forward the same feelings of discovery I had as a student while working with my father’s archival-sized collection of newspaper clippings. In both cases, beyond gathering the information required for the project at hand, I enjoy stumbling upon odd, unrelated tidbits. These side findings are good for a laugh, for shock value, and for inspiring future articles. Anything that pushes the wheels in my head is a bonus.

Each archive has its own character. Size wise, work spaces I’ve utilized in Toronto range from the roomy research hall at the City of Toronto Archives to the cozy, residential setting of the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives. The D.K. “Doc” Seaman Hockey Resources Centre is attached to an arena in Etobicoke, so it’s possible to catch some shinny when your work is done. Out in Scarborough, I’ve worked amid a collection of century-old musical instruments at the Salvation Army’s archives. Just today, I made my first visit to the Ontario Jewish Archives, a collection whose slightly hidden location within a large North York complex enhances the treasure hunt atmosphere.

The archives I’ve mentioned are only a small sampling of the historical records sources available in the city. The internet has widened exposure of collections large and small—beyond posting archival documents and photos, archive websites allow better preparation for visits by allowing you order materials before dropping in. The time savings hit me when I forgot to place an order before my first visit to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, resulting in an hour-and-an-half to kill before my materials were scheduled for delivery.

Staff is a critical asset. Archivists and their associates will answer your questions regardless of how bizarre they might seem. They’ll hunt far beyond your initial request and deliver material from sources (or suggest search terms) you hadn’t considered, or something will spark their memory of a deeply-buried item suited to your quest.

And so, on Archives Awareness Week, this is thanks to all of those working in archives who offer their expertise to researchers of all stripes.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

past pieces of toronto: cbc don mills broadcast centre

Jesters on Top of the World
Photo taken on Gordon Street, Toronto, December 3, 2009.
From November 2011 through July 2012 I wrote the "Past Pieces of Toronto" column for OpenFile, which explored elements of the city which no longer exist. This is the final installment to be reprinted, one appropriate for today as it was originally posted on April 1, 2012. 

That date is key, for the following is an April Fools joke, one I learned several lessons from. Prepare yourself for another lengthy preamble.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

past pieces of toronto: knob hill farms


From November 2011 through July 2012 I wrote the "Past Pieces of Toronto" column for OpenFile, which explored elements of the city which no longer exist. I've republished all but two of those pieces on this website. 

Here's the first of the final pair, both of which provided good lessons for future writing. Prepare yourself for a lengthy preamble.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

scenes from st. lawrence market, 1934

Scenes from St. Lawrence Market, 1934 (2)

Sifting through files on one of my 7,853 USB keys, I found a folder of material I'd copied from City Lights, a short-lived (1934-35) Toronto magazine from the mid-1930s. Its content fell somewhere between the New Yorker and a Depression-era Toronto Life. City Lights is also one of those subjects that is perennially on my Historicist back burner - someday a profile will see the light of day, once I can find any information about its brief existence.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

the poetry of william lyon mackenzie

Last night I went to Second City for the first time in ages. Little did I know the comedy wouldn't stop when I got home.

The interwebs were abuzz with news of  2010 Toronto mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson jumping into this year's race. Said candidate decided to launch their campaign with a lengthy poem which provoked waves of derision, because that's what you automatically do when you have a platform which allows only 140 characters at a time (though in this case, it is a train wreck of verse).

In my fatigued state, the following thought sprang into my head:


The only offhand example I thought of was a piece of doggerel I encountered while researching the incorporation of Toronto in 1834. Technically, William Lyon Mackenzie wasn't running for mayor when the following piece was written - the position didn't exist yet - but he'd be named our city's first chief exec soon enough.

Context: Mackenzie, along with some other Reformers, opposed Upper Canada's legislation to incorporate the Town of York as the City of Toronto, viewing as little more than an attempt to raise taxes and control who sat on the new city council.

And now, a sampling of the poetry of William Lyon Mackenzie:
Come hither, come hither, my little dog Ponto
Let’s trot down and see where little York’s gone to;
For forty big Tories, assembled in junta
Have murdered little York in the City of Toronto

If I stumble upon more verse by our city's past mayors, or mayoral wannabes, you can bet it'll find a home here. 

Source: The Firebrand by William Kilbourn (Toronto: Clarke, Irwin & Company, 1956).