Friday, December 31, 2010

rewinding through 2010

...or an excuse to revisit some of this year's scribblings.

Historicist: Icy Discrimination (Torontoist, March 6)
Bonus Features (Blog, March 18)

The story of a discriminatory ice rink in North Toronto garnered a lot of positive feedback, including an email of thanks from the niece of one of those involved in the story.

Roncesvalles Construction Sucks (Torontoist, January 25)

Though the streetcar has returned, the bump-outs have debuted, and two-way traffic is back, Roncesvalles isn't out of the woods yet when it comes to construction chaos. More work to come in the spring.

Historicist: Measures of War (Torontoist, June 27)
Historicist: Kill Bill 99 (Torontoist, July 10)
Your G20 Stories (Blog, October 19)

Pieces written during, about, and inspired by G20 weekend.

The Empire Strikes Back (Heritage Toronto, July 28)

The first of a series of Toronto newspaper histories that should continue through 2011. - JB

Sunday, December 19, 2010

how deep is snow in metric?

Part of a series of spots from the mid-1970s, around the time Canada began its switch to metric measurement. Can't say that this message made an impression in the Windsor area during my childhood - apart from the local CBC television station, everyone continued to measure snow in inches and feet. Even now, I still convert to the old system in my mind whenever I listen to the weather.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

vintage street & smith college football ad

Vintage Ad #1,272: Who Cares?

It's cleaning time at the Warehouse. Among the scraps of paper we found were ads clipped out of college football yearbooks tossed out long ago. Most concerned "handicapping" services for die-hard sports gamblers.

We figure Baystate knew their target audience. Much like Scoreline Man, the guy boring his lady friend in the tub with the latest spreads on the Bears-Packers game looks like a stereotypical example of a man who'd use a sports handicapping service. He's an average guy with a slight paunch, receding hairline and a taste for cheap wine and cigars. What average Joe wants to endure high-pressure tactics from phone bookies? If the advertised relaxed approach pays the promised high dividends, maybe you too can use those winnings to treat your wife/partner/girlfriend/hired companion to a weekend of relaxing in a hotel jacuzzi.

Just don't bore her with two hours of conversations centred around point spreads, OK?

Source: Street & Smith 1983 College Football Yearbook - JB

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

one fine weekend of dining in montreal (1)

I Heart Cheese (2)
Rather than wrack my brain in an attempt to start this post off by waxing poetic about all things Montreal, I’m going to cut to the chase: Sarah and I recently spent a weekend there and made our stomachs very happy.

Disclaimer: Two Montreal food staples we didn’t have or barely sampled on this trip: smoked meat (almost got into line at Schwartz’s, but decided to keep my rough pattern of indulging in their famous sandwiches on every other trip to the city…and I wasn’t really in a smoked meat mood this time around) and bagels (did have one as a morning snack on Saturday, was going to bring a bag home but determined we had enough stuff to lug onto the train).

One related amusement: posters around the core for a musical about Schwartz’s. Hey readers: which Toronto culinary landmark deserves a song-and-dance ode?

Thursday, December 02, 2010


Nix No Never Not

While searching though back issues of the Toronto News for holiday-related material for an upcoming Historicist column, I stumbled upon a cartoon that seemed to fall into the genre of strips/one-offs whose plot was built around getting one of the characters to say the title in the final panel. You be the judge as to whether this style of humour still cuts the mustard a century on.

The same page of the News found the gruff old Scot on the left passing judgement on the quality of pipes found at Toronto branches of United Cigar Stores. This stereotypical depiction appeared in the retailer's advertising of the period, with different captions under his satisifed visage to suit the ad copy.

News stories on the same page:

  • A bedroom fire at 69 DeGrassi Street destroyed a $20 feather mattress belonging to a Mrs. Dowling.
  • Windsor dry goods merchant Joseph Appelbe won a partial appeal of a judicial dismissal of an injunction against the Erie Tobacco Company to cease the "obnoxious odors" eminating fom their factory. The new judgement ruled that the injunction go into effect six months later, so that Erie Tobacco could fix the problem.
  • Federal Minister of Finance W.S. Fielding returned to work after a bout of illness (referred to as "facial trouble"). A date for the resumption of reciprocity negotiations with the United States had yet to be established. The deal he reached was a key factor in the defeat of Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier's government the following September.
  • The state treasurer of New York gave away $500 worth of gold to his office staff, orderlies, and elevator operators at the government offices in Albany.
  • Words of wisdom: "If a man's conversation is heavy it's safe to bet that his words carry but little weight."

Source: The Toronto News, December 23, 1910. - JB