Vintage Photo Tuesday: The Photo Booth

The Photo Booth, the precursor to the “Selfie”.

Now in this day in age photo booths while fun at weddings (we had one at ours), are mostly sitting empty in malls across the world. There is just no need for them with camera’s on our phones to document every moment in our lives. However in days gone by, the photo booth was popular by all walks of life to capture whatever moment in life they wanted (no different from what we do today).

Therefore for today’s ‘Vintage Photo Tuesday’ I wanted to showcase various photo booth photos that were taken by kids, lovers, friends and families. Photos that would of eventually ended up in wallets, on dresser tables and on walls, reminding the subject or the holder of the image of a special moment in time.

Let’s begin!

1950’s young couple in love.

vintage photo 1950s young woman and soldier in photobooth
Source: Etsy

1945 Chicago International Sportsmens Show.

Vintage Photobooth Photo 1945 Chicago International Sportsmens Show
Source: Etsy

Not sure what the numbers on the hats mean, but it’s a fun vintage photo of these two ladies (possibly something to do with their school?).

1920s vintage photobooth image of two women
Source: Etsy

Capturing the special moments. Like a Graduation!
Source: Etsy

Mountains and hair bows.

1940s young woman vintage photo take in photobooth
Source: Etsy

“Red”. The hat photo is a good one.

Vintage Arcade Photo Booths c1940s vintage photo
Source: Etsy

The little girl with the pretty hair. Circa 1930s/1940s.

vintage photobooth photo 1930s 1940s young girl
Source: Etsy

1930’s photo of a dapper man, mastering the art of the “side profile”.

1930s photobooth vintage image of man
Source: Etsy

Look into the camera and give your best “don’t mess with me impression”. Mission accomplished.

1940s vintage photobooth image of young teenage girl
Source: Etsy

A 1944 happy sailor.

vintage photo 1944 Sailor photobooth image
Source: Etsy

“Look Mom, I have a baby!” A proud dad showing off his little one.

Vintage Photobooth baby and father vintage image
Source: Etsy

Two goofy Soldiers having a good time.

Vintage Photo Booth Photo Two GI Pals Goofy Guys 1940's,
Source: Etsy

The Summer of Love.

vintage photobooth image of young couple in love
Source: Etsy

A big smile for the camera-1940s beauty.

1940s photobooth vintage image of a beautiful young woman
Source: Etsy


Question Time: Do you like photo booths? Have any fun memories? Share in the comments below!


Note: Some of the links on my blog from Etsy are Affiliate Links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Happy 184th Birthday Toronto! Souvenirs of Toronto’s Past

1960s Original Air Canada Toronto Travel Poster

Today Toronto celebrates it’s 184 Birthday! Happy Birthday!!! As many of you know my adopted hometown is Toronto and I have lived here since 1999 when I moved here for school and instantly fell in love (with the city and later with my husband). Where I live in the city, I can walk to local grocerers, bars, restaurants and public transportation (that takes us to all the fun things in the city). Our little piece of paradise is perfect for our lives and it’s also a GREAT place to visit. So for today’s post I wanted to showcase some cool vintage sourvenirs/items from Toronto’s past that one might of collected to remember their visit or time in the big city (p.s. the items below are all for sale at time of this post, if you wish to take a piece of Toronto history home with you).

Lets begin!

When you visit Toronto, attending the theatre was/is a must! Here is a vintage program from the Royal Alexandra Theatre (still standing) stating the upcoming announcements for the week of Dec 2, 1929.

Royal Alexandra theatre toronto vintage program 1929
Source: Etsy


Royal Alexandra theatre toronto vintage program 1929 inside page
Source: Etsy

Soldiers at Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto, Canada, which is showing the British film Balaclava (1928) after it was reissued as a talkie (Source).

Soldiers at Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto, Canada, which is showing the British film Balaclava (1928) after it was reissued as a talkie
Source: Wikimedia

Postcards were once a very popular way of communicating with friends and family about the fun you were having on vacation (my husband and I still send postcards on our trips). This 1930s Toronto postcard featuring our city hall (this building still stands but is no longer our city hall), is a beautiful example of this mode of communication.

1930s vintage postcard Toronto, Canada
Via Etsy

1920/1930’s Felt Pennant for St. Hilda’s College. St. Hilda’s was founded in 1888 as a women’s college & residence affiliated with the University of Trinity College. Initially St. Hilda’s students took separate pass lectures, but in 1894 all Trinity classes were opened to women. By 1904 the colleges merged with the University of Toronto and eventually would cease to be used as a building for education (Source). The building still stands today.

Vintage Original 1920s Felt Pennant Sewn Letters for St. Hilda's College, University of Toronto
Via Etsy

Sweets for your Sweets-Signed 1930’s Willard’s Chocolates Box. Willards is a Toronto brand that opened it’s doors in 1917 (In 1954 Willard’s was purchased and their named remained till 1968).

1930s Willards Chocolates Box Vintage Toronto History
Via Etsy

Canadians love their hockey but we also love our Baseball and in Toronto it’s all about the Toronto Blue Jays.

The below item is a Vintage 1930s Novelty Popcorn & Salted Peanuts Glassine Bags – Toronto Made, used at Maple Leaf Stadium. Now the Jays were not around to play at this stadium in the 1930s but the Toronto Maple Leafs were and they played there for 42 seasons (1926-1967).

RARE Vintage 1930s Novelty Popcorn & Salted Peanuts Glassine Bags - Toronto Made, Used at Maple Leaf Stadium
Source Etsy

Photo of a young boy with 2 members of the 1950’s Toronto Maple Leafs.

Toronto Maple Leafs baseball 1950s vintage image
Source: Pinterest

Local magazines are a great way of taking home a piece of the city or country you were in. The Star Weekly magazine was founded by J.E. Atkinson, the publisher of the Toronto Star (newspaper) and began it’s life in 1910. It was an attempt to create a Canadian counterpart to the popular British type of Sunday newspapers. Initially the Weekly was a grab-bag of features, articles by the daily paper’s reporters, advertising and pieces purchased cheaply from syndicates. Before long, however, the Weekly had comic strips, good illustrations and cartoons, and by 1920 it was lavishly using colour (Source).

Vintage (March 17, 1945) RARE! The Star Weekly | Toronto Star magazine WWII-era issue. Cover of a female soldier.
March 17th, 1945. Source: Etsy

Getting around the city is pretty simple (most times) because of our TTC system, the Toronto Transit Commission. We have streetcars, buses and subways to get you where you need to go and when you need to transfer onto another route, you need to take a ticket transfer. These tickets have been around for years like the vintage 1940s one seen below.

TTC 1940s Vintage Ticket - Instant Collection- Toronto Transit
Source: Etsy

The T. Eaton Company (Once Canada’s largest department store chain) welcomes you to early 1950’s Metropolitan Toronto. The below guide was created for the American tourist to easily get around the city and point them to the direction of the Eaton’s flagship store.

Eatons guide to Toronto 1950s
Source: Etsy

One more city guide from 1953 calling Toronto, The “Queen City” (never heard this nickname before).Cover Art: Toronto skyline as seen from the Royal Canadian Yacht Club.

1953 Metropolitan Toronto Vintage Visitor's Guide
Source: Etsy

The Canadian National Exhibition is the last 2 weeks of the summer and is beloved by residents and visitors alike. It’s basically a giant fair, with rides, food building, exhibitors, shows and animals and so much more. The 1950’s souvenior scarf below is a marvelous way to remember the fun that was had.

Canadian National Exhibition 1950s vintage scarf
Source: Etsy

Just like how the CNE marks the end of summer, it also ends today’s blog post. I hope you enjoyed browsing souvenirs of Toronto’s past. Happy Birthday Toronto!

Lastly, if you have been following my blog for a while, you know that I like to post about cool and fun vintage history posts on my city. I have done several over the years, and if you click on the link HERE you can check them all out.

Question Time: When you travel what things do you like to bring back that will remind you of your trip? Let me know in the comments below!

Liz 🙂

Disclosure: Some of the links on my blog from Etsy are Affiliate Links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 



Let Them Drink Tea! Vintage Tea ads from the 1920s-1950s

Let Them Drink Tea. Vintage Tea Ads from the 1920s-1950s

Glorious wonderful Tea. It’s been enjoyed for 1000’s of years all over the world from Kings and Queens to moms and dads, with no sign of ever going away.  Now I’m personally more of a coffee drinking, but I do enjoy a nice flavoured cup once in a while and I always have it on hand for guests (this is mandatory as a host).

1932 Ladie home Journal Ad featuring Tea
1932 Ladies Home Journal Illustration-Source: Etsy

For today’s post I wanted to share some vintage Tea ads from the 1920’s-50’s that I have gathered from various parts of the web. So I hope you will settle in (with a cup of tea maybe) and browse the world of vintage tea advertising with me.

1920s Tea Advertising Vintage Ad
Source: The Advertising Archives
Mappin And Webb 1920s France Cc Tea vintage advertising
Source: The Advertising Archives
1920s Vintage Tea Ad Home and Colonial Tea
Source: Pinterest

King Cole Tea is a Canadian tea company that has been around since 1910 from Saint Johns, New Brunswick.

King Cole Tea vintage 1930s Canadian Tea Company

Lipton’s Tea-1931.

1931 Lipton Tea vintage advertising

1940’s Australian Ad for Bushells Tea.

Bushells 1940s Vintage Tea Advertising
Source: Ebay
1940s Vintage Lipton Tea Advertisement
Source: Pinterest

1944 Tea Advertisement for Canterbury Tea published in the Family Circle Magazine.

Illustrated Vintage Canterbury Tea Advertisement, 1944
Source: Flickr

Tea Council Ad.

vintage tea advertising 1940s 1950s

Woman’s Day, November 1952. Note: Woman’s Day was originally produced for A&P stores as a free in-store menu/recipe planner (Source).

A&P Vintage Tea Advertising 1950s
Source: Flickr

Ty-Phoo Tea, Great British Tea since 1903.

Typhoo tea vintage advertising

Lipton Tea 1950 vintage ad
Source: Pinterest

1950 LIFE Magazine Tea Council Ad.

1950 LIFE Magazine Tea Council Ad - vintage magazine ad
Source: Etsy
vintage tea advertisement
Source: Pinterest


Hope you enjoyed this roundup of vintage Tea Advertisements friends. Do you have a favourite out of the ones listed? Are you a tea drinker yourself? Share your thoughts in the comments below and have a wonderful day!


The Vintage Inn Travels to Paris, France – Part 1

The vintage inn blog travels to Paris France

With Valentines day around the corner, I think it’s finally time to share my birthday trip this past May (2017) to Paris, France for my 40th. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little girl (after watching ‘An American in Paris’) to visit the city of Lights & Love and my wonderful husband made that dream a reality.

I of course documented every second of our “Paris on a Budget” trip, so that I would never forget a single moment. Don’t worry friends, I won’t bore you with ALL the photos, but here is Part 1 of the most fantastic trip ever!

Vintage Inn Blog visits Paris France
We arrived!

Our hotel location (Novotel Paris Centre Eiffel Tower):

My husband knows me well, very well so it was a wonderful surprise that I found out we were staying a short 20 minute walk to my favourite monument ever…The Eiffel Tower AND we had a view from our hotel room. (Note: Before you look at photo below please note that I said a “view” of the Eiffel Tower)

The Vintage Inn Blog Visits Paris France

Our room was an L Shape which meant that we also had a fantastic view of the River Seine (we would sit here at the end of our nights with a bottle of Champagne and cheese and enjoy the beauty of Paris). It was so great that I literally ran around my room trying to figure out what to stare at first (no joke lol).

paris france river seine

River Seine & Champagne

While I was staring out my window in awe that I was actually IN Paris I noticed there was a mini Statue of Liberty on the bridge you see in the image above. Turns out it was a gift from America to Paris in 1889 (as you know France gave the US the original Lady Liberty). COOL!

Extra Read: Extended history of why this mini statue exists can be found HERE.

Statue of Liberty Paris, France
Up close with Mini Liberty

We arrived on May Day (May 1st), so many things were closed but that did not stop us from heading out and exploring. We were starving so we did dinner first at a pub called, O’Neil (sorry no french food this night) that was hopping with Parisians and tourists and had good reviews. It was wonderful! The burgers were outstanding super inexpensive and they also brewed their own beer (which my husband and I loved as we are craft beer fans). Plus the staff and the manager treated us like we were old friends, we loved it and ended up going back on my birthday later on in the week.

O'Neils Microbrewery in Paris France

After dinner we hit the pavement and just started to wander the streets taking in the beauty & history that was around us.

Paris France Vintage Inn Trip

We eventually ended up at the Louvre and took in all that was there (we had tickets to see the inside of the Louvre later in the week).

Louvre, Paris France at Night

Louvre, Paris France at Night

Our evening ended with a visit to the Eiffel Tower. OMG the tower is even more beautiful up close and personal, I shed a tear it was so wonderful to see.

Eiffel Tower Paris France at Night


The Vintage Inn Blog at Eiffel Tower Paris

Day 2: Notre-Dame and wherever else we could visit on a budget before our feet fell off.

As stated above, my husband and I were on a budget and from our research Paris is known to be pricey. To save money, we went to the large grocery store that was next to our hotel each day and stocked up on food to eat as we walked around. This really helped us on costs. Also in our neighbourhood was a great bakery that sold delicious baquettes (and sandwiches) that we purchased to add to our food stash. Great cost saving tip!

Eating French Bread in front of the Notre Dame Paris France-Vitnage Inn Blog
Enjoying a Baquette in from Notre Dame

Notre-Dame was a must see on our list and it was totally free to visit as long as you did not head up to the Bell Towers and the crypt (which had a fee). I have been itching to see this church in person ever since my Art History classes in University, especially the Rose Windows AND the Flying Buttresses (an incredible archtiectural detail). I was not disappointed.

Notre Dame Paris France 2017

My Flying Butresses-So PRETTY!

Notre Dame Flying Buttresses

After Notre-Dame the sun was out and the weather was beautiful and we had nothing planned EXPECT to find me a French Macaron. ‘Un Dimanche A Paris‘ was where we stopped and boy was it good.

Paris France Vintage Inn Blog

The last half of our first full day in Paris, included picking up a bottle of wine and some cheese and heading to the most beautiful park I have ever seen (we don’t have parks like this in Toronto), called ‘Jardin du Luxembourg‘. The park is located in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, was created beginning in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici, the widow of King Henry IV of France, for a new residence she constructed, the Luxembourg Palace (seen below). The garden today is owned by the French Senate, which meets in the Palace. It covers 23 hectares and is known for its lawns, tree-lined promenades, flowerbeds, model sailboats on its circular basin, and picturesque Medici Fountain, built-in1620 (Source).

Jardin du Luxembourg Paris France

Medici Fountain

Medici Fountain Paris France

Palm Trees, kids playing with boats in a pond and even an Orangerie (bottom left image), this park has it all.

Jardin du Luxembourg Paris France

BUT I think my favourite part of this whole visit was having a bottle of wine with my husband and watching the world go by. In fact my husband was so relaxed that he ended up falling asleep and I was left alone with a half finished bottle of wine………Hiccup!

The vintage inn blog in Paris France drinking wine

After a long day and some dinner at a delish Vietnamese restaurant, we headed back to our hotel to have a bottle of Champagne and watch the boats go down the Seine, but not before checking out the Eiffel Tower light show from our local bridge. A great way to end our 2nd day in Paris.

(Video Link)


Stay tuned for part 2 friends!

Question time: Have you ever been to Paris? If yes, what did you love? If no, what would you be most excited about seeing if you did visit? Share in the comments below!



Vintage Photo Tuesday: Winter Olympics-1920’s to 1950’s

The Winter Olympics are right around the corner (February 9th) and I’m ridiculously excited because they are hands down my favourite (sorry Summer). Maybe it was because I grew up downhill skiing, watched figure skating on TV with my mother and cheered on Canada’s hockey team to gold medal wins. Whatever it is, I love these Olympics and so today’s Vintage Photo Tuesday is dedicated to them.

1st Winter Olympics: Chamonix, France 1924

General view of the Olympic Stadium.

1924 Winter Olympics Stadium view Chamonix, France

Figure skaters Medalists-Herma Planck-Szabo of Hungary, Ethel Muckelt of Britain and Beatrix Loughran of the U.S.A. Planck-Szabo won gold, with Loughran and Muckelt taking silver and bronze respectively.

Herma Planck-Szabo of Hungary, Ethel Muckelt of Britain and Beatrix Loughran of the U.S.A. Planck-Szabo won gold, with Loughran and Muckelt taking silver and bronze respectively.
(Photo by Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Pairs Figure Skating: Andrée Joly and Pierre Brunet (FRA) 3rd.

BRUNET, Pierre, Chamonix 1924 France, Figure skating, Winter Olympics Vintage Image

English speed skaters training in Chamonix for the Games.

English speed skaters training in Chamonix for the Winter Olympic Games, 16th January 1924.
(Photo by Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

British Four-Man Bobsleigh team (this totally looks safe).

The British four-man bobsleigh team in action at the Winter Olympics at Chamonix, February 1924.
(Photo by Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

28th January 1924: The British Curling team.

28th January 1924 The British Curling team during the Winter Olympics at Chamonix, France.
(Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

St. Moritz, Switzerland 1928-These Winter Games were the first to be held in a different nation from the Summer Games of the same year.

Opening ceremony-the Canadian delegation.

Saint-Moritz 1928-Opening ceremony-the Canadian delegation

Competitor jumping over barrels.

Saint-Moritz 1928-Competitor jumping over barrels.

15-year-old figure skater, Sonja Henie of Norway takes the Gold during the Games. Her record as the youngest winner of an individual event stood for 74 years.

Sonja Henie 1928 Winter Olympics

Lake Placid, United States 1932

Group portrait of the American men’s Olympic ski team seen on the opening day of the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, February 4, 1932.

Group portrait of the American men's Olympic ski team seen on the opening day of the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, February 4, 1932.
Source: FPG/Getty Images

Ski trail finish line.

Lake Placid 1932-Ski trail finish line

Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany 1936

Alpine Skiing-Oddbjörn Hagen.

alpine skiing olympics 1936 HAGEN Oddbjorn

German skater Maxi Herber practives her jumps in preparation for her performance, with partner Ernst Baier, in the Mixed Doubles Figure Skating Competition. Herber and Baier went on to win the gold medal in the event.

Maxi Herber Practices Her Jumps 1936 Winter Olympics Skating

16 Feb 1936: Fireworks explode above the big ski jump tower during the Closing Ceremony.

Fireworks at Closing Ceremony 1936 Garmish Partenkirchen

St. Moritz,  Switzerland 1948. After a 12-year break, caused by World War II these Games were named the “Games of Renewal”.

Saint-Moritz 1948-A lunch
Lunch Break. Source:

Hedy Schlunegger (Switzerland-Left) becomes first women’s downhill winner.

Saint-Moritz 1948-SCHLUNEGGER Hedy (SUI) 1st and BEISER Trude (AUT) 2nd.

Barbara Ann Scott (Canada’s Sweetheart) becomes the first and only Canadian woman to win figure skating gold.

Barbara Ann Scott Gold 1948 Winter Olympics

Oslo, Norway 1952

Austrian skier Trude Beiser-Jochum (#8, left) and German skier Anne Marie Buchner (#3) watch one of their competitors in the Women’s Slalom event.

1952 Winter Olympics women's slalom
(Photo by FPG/Getty Images)

Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy 1956

Cortina 1956-Skaters training
Training. Source:

Anne Heggtveit (CAN) 29th, at the start.

Cortina 1956-HEGGTVEIT Anne (CAN) 29th, at the start.

This last image is the conclusion of our Vintage Photo Tuesday. I hope you enjoyed taking a chilly but interesting walk down Winter Olympics lane?

Question Time: Are you a fan of the Olympics? And if so what is your favourite sport? Share in the comments below and Happy Tuesday Friends!



Roundup of My Favorite Vintage Online Reads & Videos-January 2018

I don’t know about you friends, but here in Toronto the weather has been making me miserable (and sick). Freezing one moment, snowy the next, warm(ish) another day and no sun for days. Winter you are making me blue and you’re keeping me indoors, a lot more than normal!

The one good thing about seeing the inside of my apartment all the time, is all the reading and video watching I’m accomplishing. So today’s post is all about some of my favourites, starting with our first article…

WARdrobe: Fashion during World World II via Fashion History Museum

About: Fashion did not stop when war was declared. In the first Paris collections shown after the start of World War II, practical clothes were designed with an eye for beauty. Utilitarian coats and trouser suits, zipper-front jumpsuits and print cotton frocks were cut with a smart look and a sense of style. Life went on between the air raids and women still looked in the mirror. Where hope existed, so did fashion.

Black cotton skirt and red and blue striped cardigan sweater (1944 - 1946)

‘Naomi Parker Fraley, the Real Rosie the Riveter, Dies at 96’ article by The New York Times.

Unsung for seven decades, the real Rosie the Riveter was a California waitress named Naomi Parker Fraley (seen below on the right). Read her story HERE.

The Real Rosie the Riveter
Mrs. Fraley, right, in September 2016 with her younger sister, Ada Wyn Parker Loy. Credit John D. Fraley

Diary of Vilma the Unconquerable-Lost History of Vilma & the Clifton’s Camera Girls

About: In the 1950’s, Vilma penned a vivid account of her single life as she blossomed into womanhood. She worked and played in the glitz and glamour of Old Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles. As a “Camera Girl” on staff at some of the main tourist attractions of the time such as Clifton’s Cafeteria, The Paris Inn, China Town and The Pike (in Long Beach), she made her living strolling through the crowds with her camera offering a souvenir photo for a keepsake of the exciting nightlife.

Cliftons LA 1940s

The Fastest Feet Dance Competition at The Snowball 2017 in Sweden (this is a MUST watch!)

How Benny Goodman Orchestrated ‘The Most Important Concert In Jazz History’ by NPR

Benny Goodman

By 1938, clarinetist Benny Goodman was already known as “The King of Swing” — the leader of the most popular dance band in America at a time when swing jazz was America’s most popular music. But nobody knew how it would be received in Carnegie Hall, America’s temple to classical music.

Goodman and his supporting cast would go on to claim a new place for jazz on the American cultural scene that night, in what has come to be seen as the most important jazz concert in history.

Read about the Concert HERE and watch some of the highlights below.

How Debbie Reynolds Preserved Movie History: “Hollywood Owes a Huge Debt” by Hollywood Reporter

About: The actress was one of Hollywood’s greatest memorabilia collectors and an early advocate for the preservation of the town’s history.

Debbie Reyonalds and her movie collection

1950s Gangs of New York – Google Arts & Culture

About: Photographer Bruce Davidson investigates a teenage gang in Brooklyn, New York, capturing the spirit of post-war youth culture that inspired the rival gangs of West Side Story.

1950s Gangs of New York
Source: Google Arts & Culture


Wildwood Book by Elinor Florence

Some of you might have remembered the book I mentioned on my blog (and had a contest for) called ‘Birds Eye View‘ from Canadian Author Elinor Florence? It is the unforgettable story of an idealistic young woman who joins the air force after her town in Saskatchewan becomes a British Commonwealth Air Training Base during the Second World War. Well I LOVED it (read it twice) and now Elinor is about to release another novel called ‘Wildwood‘ (seen above) and I was able to have an advance read.

About the book: 

Broke and desperate, single mother Molly Bannister of Phoenix, Arizona, accepts the stern condition laid down in her great-aunt’s will: to spend one year in an abandoned farmhouse deep in the remote backwoods of northern Alberta. If she does, she will be able to sell the farm and fund her four-year-old daughter Bridget’s badly needed medical treatments.

With grim determination, Molly teaches herself the basic pioneer skills, chopping firewood and washing her clothes with melted snow. But her greatest perils come from the brutal wilderness itself, from blizzards to grizzly bears. Only the journal written by her courageous great-aunt, the land’s original homesteader (from the 1920’s), inspires her to struggle on.

But there’s another obstacle to her success: an idealistic young farmer, Colin McKay, wants to thwart Molly’s strategy to sell her great-aunt’s farm to an oil company. Will Molly be cheated out of her inheritance after all? Will she and Bridget survive the savage winter, and what comes next? Not only their financial future, but their very lives are at stake.

The story was absolutely wonderful and a must read for all my vintage readers. I especially enjoyed reading about how 1920’s life was for a Canadian Pioneer Woman. Fascinating!

The book releases in February, so pre-order HERE.


We have now reached the end of our roundup for this almost finished month and I hope you enjoyed all my finds. If you have something that you read or watched recently, please share in the comments below. I still have plenty of winter to get thru……



Meet the Host Behind Zoomer Radio’s ‘Vintage Favourites’- Gene Stevens

Gene Stevens. Music Collector, Historian, DJ and Vintage Traveller. These are just a few of the titles for Zoomer Radio’s resident host of Vintage Favourites and the subject of today’s interview.

Note: This interview is chalked full of incredibly interesting information (and I’m not just saying that because it’s on my blog, it’s great!), so make sure you set aside some time to read all about Gene and his adventures.

Gene Stevens Zoomer Radio Vintage Favourites Host

Before we begin our interview here is a brief bio on Gene:

  • born and grew up in Toronto … record-collector and, prior to broadcasting career, a live DJ for dances/weddings, etc. (first radio gig – University of Toronto Varsity Radio show host.)
  • In broadcasting since 1972 – as on-air host, music director, promotion director, program director and general manager in Leamington, Peterborough, St.Catharines, Brampton and Brantford, before Toronto.
  • Previously: AM 740’s first Program Director from launch in 2001 through 2011.
  • Previously: Program Director at Toronto’s EZ Rock 97.3 1995-2000, and various other positions including Program Director of Toronto’s 590/CKEY in late 80s.
  • Host of ‘Vintage Favourites’ Sundays 2:00 – 4:30pm. (on-air since March 2007).
  • Gene is a music collector and has often lectured to university groups on the subject of pop music and culture. He has traveled the America’s and Europe, and loves history and film.

Part 1: Zoomer Radio (Part 2 (below part 1) will focus on fun vintage miscellaneous topics)

Q. You have worn many hats in your career, what do you currently love about being a radio host? What do you love about doing the ‘Vintage Favourites program?

A. My first passion was playing music for people. I took my 45s to house parties as a teenager and soon realized I could ‘run the party’, from a corner turntable.  Once I started learning about the music’s history, I loved to tell stories about the songs and the artists. From those basement house parties and then spinning records at weddings, I wanted to move to the next level, and play my songs to a huge audience as a show-host on a radio station.

The only way to really ‘manage the show’ was to be the station’s Program Director.  At my third station (St.Catharines) I was appointed Program Director at 25, and took on the job – with all its challenges and demands – really, to play what I thought was the best music selection for a particular radio station’s targeted audience. It’s been such fun, and so very fulfilling, to research listeners’ preferences, differentiate your station from others, put the finest programming together, and to ultimately satisfy the audience, day in and day out.

After 40 years in management, with various radio stations in various cities, working through the changing times and technologies, and having completed ten years as the first Program Director of AM 740, I wanted to shed the management work in 2011, and return to my original passion – to tell stories about the music I love.  I wanted to stay ‘on the Zoomer team’ and I’m truly fortunate that our founder Moses Znaimer – who’s a fan of ‘Vintage Favourites‘ – invited me to continue the show I had launched back in 2007.

What I love about hosting ‘Vintage Favourites’ – is the total freedom I’ve been given and the trust our management has in me. I’m inspired to explore the exciting and fascinating musical times we’ve lived through, and tell its countless stories for our Zoomer audience.

Gene Stevens Zoomer Radio with photo collages with some of the musicians he has met over the years
Gene Stevens with photo collages with some of the musicians he has met over the years

Q. Do you have a favorite Vintage Favourites Episode?

A. Since launching in 2007, I’ve created over 560 editions of ‘Vintage Favourites’ – in addition to over two thousand short and long-form music features during my career – so it’s difficult to pick a favourite episode. I really enjoyed the 2016 series of ‘The Vintage Year‘, where each week I put the spotlight on a specific year between 1930 and 1979, highlighting the top news, sports and entertainment stories along with the biggest songs of each year.  That was fascinating.  But then, I also loved last year’s ‘Music City‘ series, spotlighting songs about cities like Chicago, New York, San Francisco, LA, Detroit, New Orleans, Memphis, Liverpool, London and Toronto.

There was a show inspired by our founder, Moses Znaimer, about God – pop songs about religion, and ‘the big issues’. Then there was the show with math professor Jason Brown, invited to speak at IdeaCity, who discovered exactly how The Beatles created ‘that note’ at the start of ‘A Hard Day’s Night‘ – although I never liked arithmetic, I loved ‘The Mathematics of Rock’n’Roll‘ edition (Watch Jason’s talk HERE). Another stand-out show was the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, interviewing our ‘Conspiracy Show’ host Richard Syrett, and playing songs about Kennedy. I suppose one of my real favourites is telling the story of how rock’n’roll evolved – tracing it back to early R&B, even earlier to the late 1920s, and even earlier to 1913’s ‘The Rite of Spring‘ by Igor Stravinsky and the uproar it caused. There are many ways to tell that story, and I look forward to telling it again later this year.

vintage favourites with gene stevens swing era zoomer radio
Past Vintage Favourites Show

Q. You were the program director at the beginning years of Zoomer Radio, how has the station changed since 2001?

A. Well, everything is always changing – right?  The only constant is ‘change’. That’s a law of nature, and it certainly applies to radio stations. There are three key areas of change. First is the age of the ‘target audience’ and the passage of time, second is ‘texture’, and third is ‘focus’. I’ll give you a brief overview.

Our purpose was – and remains – to be that unique station serving a ‘older demographic’. The so-called ‘target audience‘ (the age group a station hopes to primarily attract) when we launched was 50+. In 2001, that meant someone who was aged 15 in 1966, or earlier. At present, Zoomer Radio is designed to appeal to a 45+ audience, and that means someone who was aged 15 in 1988, or earlier.  I mention ‘age 15’, in reference to a long-standing research theory that says people form their primary music tastes around that age; songs from our teenage years remain ‘special’ forever. Of course, our musical tastes mature into adulthood, and we will appreciate, and even love, music from later years – but those teenage songs will always appeal in a different way. So, the first difference is a result of the time that’s passed since our launch; the 15 year old of 1966 and of 1988, have a different tolerance/appetite/expectation of music.

And one of those key differences can be described as ‘texture‘. Put simply, someone who grew up with the electric guitar as the primary source of pop music has a different appreciation and acceptance of music, than someone who did not. (In the decades to come we’ll see that same discussion over growing up with ‘rap’ music)  Our station’s ‘texture’ was originally ‘softer’ and ‘gentler’; and the ballads gave us a romantic content in a medium tempo. We used to say “we don’t rock, we swing.” That’s now changed to a more uptempo, energized ‘texture’.

Finally, there is the difference in the ‘focus‘ of the music mix. In our early days I adhered to the conventional wisdom of a narrow focus – every successful radio station had a clearly defined and consistent ‘sound’ you could distinguish instantly. That wisdom said your advertising and promotion bring listeners to sample your sound, and hopefully decide to stay; that sound needed to be as consistent as possible to maximize one’s marketing efforts, and to continually ‘deliver on your promise’.

However, the past decade of increasing digitization, has given us almost limitless choice, on demand. Shorter attention spans have led to less patience, and a kind of restless energy – while a musical smorgasbord is only a click away in our omni-present ocean of choice. One’s music tastes are constantly being teased, satisfied, and altered. Put your personal music library on ‘shuffle’, and you’ll bounce around the various music genres that comprise your accumulated personal experiences with music.

That’s now reflected in Zoomer Radio’s wider focus, which I might describe as ‘diffused’ – offering the listener a ‘shuffle-like’ ever-changing palate of musical memories, from the many genres in our station’s huge music library. After our launch, we played ‘All Time Favourites‘, represented pictorially as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley. In a typical half-hour you’d hear John McDermott, Neil Diamond, Bobby Darin, Nat King Cole, Michael Buble, Anne Murray and even Glenn Miller.

Today we play ‘Timeless Hits‘, and our menu is much wider, with more unexpected ‘surprises’; a typical half-hour could feature Beatles, Four Tops, Guess Who, as well as Meat Loaf, Dixie Chicks, April Wine, and even Jimmy Durante.  In a nutshell, our station has evolved to reflect the changing times, demographics and tastes.

Having said all this, I want to add, the station launched with – and continues to this day – with a dazzling variety of specialty shows that satisfy various groups (and sub-groups) of music fans with big band, Irish, British Invasion, and blues programs, rock’n’roll oldies, countdowns, celebrity profiles and themed programs. That genuine effort to offer substantive and compelling content has never changed, and I believe, is a defining characteristic that separates us from ‘the rest’.

Q. If Zoomer asked you to create a new radio program right now, what would you create?

A. I’m very satisfied with the wide latitude of music genres, themes, and selections I now explore weekly on ‘Vintage Favourites’.  The station already has so many wonderful and long-running specialty programs (many of which I launched) … it’s pretty hard to find a ‘missing niche’. But – since you asked – I think the 1950’s and early 60s would be fun.  A program dedicated to the pre-rock’n’roll pop music of that era, as well as that innocent early ‘pre-Beatles’ sound.

Part 2: Miscellaneous Vintage Questions

Q. My readers are collectors of vintage items; and I have read that you’re a collector of music. How long have you been a collector and can you let us know what your favourite item or most prized possession is?

A. Ah collecting is such a blessing – and a curse. I first caught ‘the bug’ in the late 1960s, collecting 45 rpm records. First came the CHUM Chart hits of the day – as well as the CHUM Charts themselves. I eventually collected all the CHUM Charts from the early 60s through to their end in the mid-80s. Alas, I stupidly marked many of them and glued them into scrapbooks – immediately devaluing them as ‘collectables’. I did the same – marked my name – on many of my earliest 45s.

CHUM Hit Parade Toronto 1960s
Source: 1050 CHUM Memorial Blog

Later came the trolling through dusty record store basements, private collections, and the insatiable acquisition of new songs, and the endless search for ‘holy grail’ oldies.

I learned to respect the collection, and accumulated hundreds of vinyl albums and 15,000 45s – all neatly jacketed and much-loved.  I learned so much about music, and collecting – until one day, vinyl died! The CD era had arrived, and when I moved into Toronto, I could no longer afford to dedicate an entire room to my vinyl. And there was family and children, and other priorities.  Besides, ‘vinyl was dead’!

So I built up my CD collection, and sold my vinyl – often a bargain-basement prices. Thus I learned about the ‘curse’ of collecting – its obsessiveness is only matched by the pain of letting it go. Then came the Internet, streaming, and putting your music onto your laptop’s hard-drive – huh – no more need for CDs either?  How many times did I let the industry (and technology) fool me into buying the same songs in newer ‘formats’?  So don’t even ask me how I feel about the ‘Return of Vinyl’ – Bah, humbug!

My prized possessions are some early records including ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale‘ (my first purchase), and the many I have with artist autographs on them, along with a pretty decent CD library with artist autographs, some signed books and plenty of photos.  One of my ‘surprise favourites’ is a hard cover copy of ‘Papa John‘ – autobiography of Mamas and Papas’ John Phillips, who signed it: ‘To Gene. This is the last damn book I’m signing.’ Ha – what a character he was.

Gene Stevens of zoomer radios Vintage Favourites with vintage record collection
Gene with some of his collection: Beatles Rarities, Elvis in Concert and Chuck Berry live, and that little 45rpm. is ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ – Gene’s first record. Behind are some of his prized records – some autographed – others, just ones Gene loves, and (still) loves to look at in his living room.

Q. If you could interview one musician that is currently no longer with us, who would it be and why?

A. A fascinating question:  My first (and shakiest) interview was while a student at U.of T.’s Radio Varsity, I was asked to interview Kelly Jay, of Crowbar.  It was 1971, and Crowbar was having a big hit with ‘Oh What a Feeling‘ – and I was scared.  Kelly couldn’t have been nicer – virtually carrying the interview by himself.

Over my career, I was rarely the go-to guy for interviews – I tried to schedule the stars to speak with our strongest on-air hosts – and that wasn’t me. But in all those years, and the many various meetings, I’ve been blessed to meet and chat with everyone from Tony Bennett to Phil Collins, The Everly Brothers to Julian Lennon, Michael Buble to Anne Murray and so many more.

Gene Stevens Zoomer Radio with John's first son - Julian Lennon
Gene with John’s first son – Julian Lennon

Who would I like to talk with – who’s no longer with us ?  Well, Elvis comes to mind, of course. But so does someone like Sam Phillips, who owned SUN Studios – can you imagine the stories? Yeah, I’d like to chat with Sam Phillips – about Elvis and Roy, Jerry Lee and Johnny Cash, and how it was in the south, being among the few who’d work with blacks and whites, and feeling the change coming, and catching ‘lightning in a bottle’ that July night in 1954 when he recorded ‘That’s All Right’ with Elvis, and Scotty and Bill.

Gene Stevens Zoomer Radio at SUN Records studio on Union Avenue
SUN Records studio on Union Avenue
Gene Stevens Zoomer Radio inside Sun Records
Inside the studio. Gene is standing at precisely the spot (It’s marked by an ‘X’ on the floor) where Elvis stood while recording ‘That’s All Right’ and the other songs at his first session July 5, 1954. Note the technician’s booth behind the glass was behind Elvis – so he wouldn’t be distracted.

Q. 2017 was a year of loss in the music (and film industry) and you recently did an ‘In Memoriam’ show discussing all the musicians we had lost this past year. Which ones in particular hit you the hardest and why?

A. Every death is sad, and a loss – knowing a real family somewhere has lost their loved one, while we fans will never again hear anything new from him/her. I think the death of Glen Campbell moved me the most because of the cruel ravages of Alzheimer’s – a brilliant musician, terrific entertainer and great singer, who faded away – from his family, friends, fans and his own fantastic life-story. That really is sad.

Glenn Campbell 1960s Capital Records handout
Source: AZ Central

Q. It’s a Saturday Night in Toronto, where do you go to listen to live music? Do you have any bands or venues in the city that are your favourite that my readers should check out (I’m particular to Grossmans Tavern and the Cadillac Lounge)?

A. My very first concert was Lighthouse in St.Michael’s College high school gym, and soon after, I saw my first arena show – Creedence Clearwater Revival at Maple Leaf Gardens. Once I got into ‘the biz’ I was privileged to see so many shows in huge venues and tiny intimate cabarets. I also spent precious hours waiting backstage to glimpse some star for a 15 second handshake and photo, or autograph. Nowadays I seldom see live shows.  Among my favourite spots are the CNE Bandshell – I’ve gone to the EX every year of my life! The Cameron House is delightfully intimate, and I liked The Cadillac Lounge. And, really, does any place sound as good as Massey Hall?  I remember singing on that famous stage – OK, I was in my high school choir and it was the Kiwanis Festival – but still…

Gene Stevens Zoomer Radio on the Levitt Shell Stage in Memphis
Levitt Shell stage – formerly called The Overton Park Shell – in a large downtown Memphis park – the location of Elvis’ very first concert July 30th, 1954. Elvis was last on a bill topped by country crooner Slim Whitman along with Billy Walker and The Louvin Brothers. He sang two songs: ‘That’s All Right’ and ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ – the songs he had just recorded July 5th,and were just starting to get local radio airplay. Elvis played the Shell later that same summer and again in 1955 when he headlined for another SUN Records artist who was making his own first-ever live performance – Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two.

Q. I saw on the Zoomer website that you did a program on why you felt that 1957 was the best year for Rock n Roll (The 50’s in a nutshell were pretty awesome)? Can you summarize for this interview why you felt this way?

A. Although I was only 6, and still a decade from starting to listen to radio (yeah, a late bloomer) … I’ve come to appreciate how massive rock’n’roll was in 1957. That was the year this new music for kids really broke through. ‘That’s All Right‘ was ‘the big bang’ in 1954; ‘Rock Around the Clock‘ was the first #1 hit in 1955, and Elvis broke through in 1956 … but it all came together in 1957 – Elvis was ‘The King’, Buddy, Jerry Lee, Fats, Chuck, Don & Phil – they all had hits, Sam Cooke gave us soul, and ‘American Bandstand’ went national, bringing rock’n’roll into every living room, and Ricky Nelson became our first TV idol.  It would never again be so pure, so powerful, so precious.  In 1958, Elvis was drafted, soon after Buddy died, Chuck was jailed, Jerry Lee married his 13 year old cousin and was banned, Little Richard found religion, and ‘payola’ showed how commerce was taking over; ‘American Bandstand’ would bring on a second wave of pretty boys, perfect for the TV sponsors.  By the time The Beatles revived us after JFK’s death, rock’n’roll was ready for its maturity as ‘rock’ – darker, harder, heavier, cerebral, ethereal, surreal, and … and changed.  1957 was ‘the best year’!

Gene Stevens Zoomer Radio Vintage Favourites was answer 1957 rock’n’roll’s best year.

Q. Beyond music, you also are a big film buff. Many of my readers, including myself are lovers of film particularly vintage movies (I’m a big MGM Musical fan). What is your favorite genre and why? And of course we would love to know what your most favorite movie of all time is?

A. You’re right, I love the movies. In fact, if anything’s taken some of my time away from music, it’s the movies.  My girlfriend Trudy, and I, see at least one new movie almost every week, and probably rent another.  Favourite movies are a bit like favourite songs – tough to decide, and easy to change your mind by mood – but here goes: Among the classics I love ‘Casablanca‘ and the film noir genre – ‘Double Indemnity‘ and ‘Postman Always Rings Twice‘ are such watchable classics. My all-time favourite is probably ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ – and although I own the Indiana Jones box set, I never watch it. That’s the funny thing about favourite movies – at least for me – I don’t choose to actually watch them. I’d rather spend that time watching something I haven’t seen.  Among recent movies, I loved ‘Star Wars – Last Jedi‘ and ‘Get Out‘ was good, but my favourite of ’17 is the less-well known British award winner ‘I, Daniel Blake‘.  A ‘little’ film about British bureaucracy – gritty, stark, sad, and rewarding.

Casablanca the movie

Q. Several of the blog posts I do over here on the Vintage Inn, has a 1920’s-1960’s‘Canadiana’ history focus, I just love learning and sharing info on less talked about topics like vintage dance halls, women on the home front etc.  If could go back to one moment in history and watch it happen as an observer what would it be and why?

A. History is my favorite subject; I love history books, historic films, and, of course – the history of popular music !  I’ll give you two answers; the first relates to music. I’d love to be there in Liverpool’s Cavern Club, on one of those sweaty nights in 1962, when The Beatles were just breaking, and ‘the in-crowd’ was right there. That’d be fun.  I’d also love to be a ‘fly on the wall’ during the Warren Commission hearings, to hear just how the ‘story’ of the JFK Assassination was manufactured – it’s a defining moment in a Boomer’s life, and for many of us – me included – that mystery confounds us to this day. Who, how, and why?

Gene Stevens Zoomer Radio at Indra where the Beatles place in 1960
Hamburg Germany, with Gene standing before the Indra Club, located on that famous street (Grosse Freiheit, which translates as ‘the great freedom’), in the seedy ‘red-light’ Reeperbahn District. The brass street marker identified ‘The Indra’ as the first of several Reeperbahn clubs John, Paul, George, Stu (Sutcliffe), and Pete (Best) played. The first Beatles performance in Hamburg (Aug.17th, 1960), 2 years before their first UK recordings gave us ‘Love Me Do’.

Q.  I have heard that from your travels you have many fantastic stories. It would be great if you could share 1 or two of those stories that my vintage readers and zoomer listeners would love to hear.

A. My travels have taken me across North America and Europe several times these past 5 decades – and as a history buff, I’ve been drawn to places both famous and infamous, places of great performance and terrible tragedy. But staying with music – among my favourite places included the Elvis pilgrimage from his birthplace in Tupelo, to various locations in Memphis, including Graceland, SUN studios, the Overton Park Shell, and Beale Street. I enjoyed visiting Hamburg’s naughty Reeperbahn district to check out the places where The Beatles first played during the early 60s.  I’ve stood in the decaying shell of the punk music palace – New York’s CBGB’s, and country music’s hallowed Ryman Hall, Cleveland’s Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, LA’s Grammy Museum, Detroit’s Motown studio, Chicago’s Chess Records studios and London’s Marquee Club.

Gene Stevens Zoomer Radio at Grammy Museum
Grammy Museum

Here’s one story in some detail:

The legendary Les Paul – an inventor of the electric guitar and hit-maker of the early 1950s – was a regular listener, from his New York home, during our early years as ‘AM 740’ in the 2000s. This station has a huge night-time signal blanketing much of the north-east. One evening Les Paul called in to chat with our on-air host Bob Sprott, and that started quite a friendly relationship between them. This living legend – Les Paul – phoned in several times and for delightful chit-chat with our own, very knowledgeable, ‘legendary host’. It so happened, I was planning a vacation trip with my twin daughters to New York, so I decided I’d drop into the Iridium Jazz Club on Broadway where Les Paul entertained weekly. My girls and I took our seats, and soon, in walked the man himself – who had just recently played the room with an adoring Paul McCartney. There were no guest-stars that night, and Les, approaching age 90, would only do a fairly short set. But afterward, he sat and met every person who wanted to see him – that certainly included my daughters and me. He spent a generous amount of time – and confirmed my question about his car accident decades earlier, which broke his arm so badly it had to be permanently set – as he directed – in a guitar-playing position.  And, yes, he signed a t-shirt for our Bob Sprott, and posed for a nice photo with my girls and me – one for the albums, and for the ages!  Les Paul – one of only a few inductees to the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame with a permanent exhibition.

Q. Last Question: Sun Records vs Chess Records who had the better lineup in your opinion (or is this an impossible question)?

A. Hah – chocolate or strawberry (neither studio was ‘vanilla’ !)  Elvis or Chuck Berry? Are you kidding?  That is impossible. I think it comes down to personal taste. My tastes lean toward SUN – I love rockabilly, and it was ‘created’ right there. But one of history’s most famous R&B classics – ‘Rocket 88‘ by Jackie Brenston and Ike Turner, was recorded at SUN Studio by Sam Phillips in 1951. He then licensed it to CHESS Records in Chicago where it was distributed.  So, one of the all-time greatest R&B classics actually belonged to both SUN and CHESS. SUN gets my nod – because it had a wider scope, doing R&B, rockabilly, rock’n’roll, and country … whereas Chess focused on blues and R&B.

I was fortunate to tour both legendary locations.  Another story?

My girlfriend Trudy and I visited Chicago a few years ago, and by the time we got to 2120 S.Michigan Avenue, the doors were closed, and I was left peeking into the storefront window.  As the custodian was leaving, he saw me looking forlorn – and my Trudy asked him to ‘puhleeze’ consider letting me in – ‘just for a little peek’.  He couldn’t refuse – and took me in for a whirlwind – and personal – tour of where the Chuck Berry/Bo Diddley/Muddy Waters magic happened. I think I floated out of there …

Gene Stevens Zoomer Radio Brill Building
Standing at the doors where hundreds of famous musicians and songwriters, publishers, engineers, and promoters all walked through for years in the late 50s, 60s, 70s and even today – that’s The Brill Building at 1619 Broadway at 49th Street, just north of Times Square in Manhattan. This is where songwriters toiled in tiny rooms with just enough space for a piano and a chair, and walls thin enough to hear their rivals next door – churning out the songs we grew up with from ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ and ‘Stand By Me’ to ‘You;ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’, and yes ‘On Broadway’.


BIG GIANT THANK YOU to Gene for taking the time to answer my million questions (Gene is just so interesting and I had to share all the stories). I hope you enjoyed this interview and you can check out Gene’s show every Sunday 2:00pm-4:30pm (online or on the radio at AM740/96.7FM) on Zoomer Radio.

QUESTION TIME: What did you think about Gene’s Interview?  Have any questions for this super versitale man of many hobbies? If so comment below and I will pass them onto Gene.


The Halifax, Nova Scotia Women Volunteers of WW2

Recently on Instagram my friend Meghan posted a link to a Canadian history mini movie called “Dancing was my Duty” (video avail at end of post). It was about the WW2 homefront work of the women in Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada. Now being a swing dancer and a lover of Canadian history from the 40’s, I instantly needed to see what this as all about.

f halifax canada during ww2

WOW was my reaction after I watched the movie. How have I never heard of this in my history classes? These women did so much for the homefront in such a short amount of time and their story needed to be shared.

So friends lets not have you wait a minute longer and fill you in on the Canadian women who “knitted socks and hats and scarves and absolutely all of the nice, warm, cozy things that our military personnel needed in Europe” (Quote from Janet Guildford Halifax Women’s History Society Chair).

1940's Canadian Women Homefront war effort. Canadian Red Cross Volunteer
Source: Halifax Archives

Background of Halifax during WW2

September 10th, 1939 Canada declares war on Germany. Halifax, a small gritty seaport city of only about 78,000 instantly becomes the principal and closest staging point in Canada for the war in Europe (Source).

Halifax Canada before ww2 vintage aerial view From Prince Street to Cogswell and Cunard Streets
Halifax Before the War. Aerial view From Prince Street to Cogswell and Cunard Streets. Source: Halifax Archives

In just over 5 years the city would grow to 117, 000 as an influx of transient sailors, soldiers and airmen and, often, their families came and went. These new numbers of “residents” would strain every resource and create a shortage of housing and diversions for the troops, who were often bored while waiting for active duty (Source). The people of Nova Scotia and Halifax stepped up and volunteered their services (in huge numbers), with the majority being women. They worked in canteens, service clubs and hostels, providing food, entertainment and a ‘home away from home’ for the thousands of troops who flooded into the city.

Simpsons Catalogue Cover 1942 Canadian women on the homefront
Source: Halifax Archives

The below is an excerpt from the Halifax Women’s History Society Website going into further detail about their contributions:

Women joined national organizations such as the Red Cross, the IODE, the Salvation Army, and the St. John Ambulance. In the Halifax/Dartmouth/Bedford area alone there were 18 separate branches of the IODE.

Local women also formed and launched groups such as the North End Services’ Canteen, the Halifax Central Magazine Exchange and the ANA Club. The hand of friendship was extended to thousands by churches and clubs offering hot meals and entertainment.

Women also formed groups to knit what were called “comforts” for sailors and merchant seamen, and for people in England, who were dealing with the German bombings. The women volunteers made quilts, clothing and bandages, collected salvage, helped organize blood donor clinics and encouraged people to buy war bonds.

A Few Important Statistics (source):

  • The North End Servicemen’s Canteen served 400,000 hot meals in a two-year period.
  • The Halifax Central Magazine Exchange distributed 4 million magazines and 30,000 packs of cards by June 1942 for troop and merchant ships in the harbour to alleviate some of the boredom and stress.
  • There were 13 nursing divisions of the St. John Ambulance brigade in Halifax alone. The women’s volunteer brigades contributed more than 200,000 hours of nursing aid.

Knitting and sewing for overseas relief also was undertaken by women volunteers. The output was astounding. These figures are for the year 1945 alone:

  • Knitted comforts for men overseas (mittens, scarves, etc.)  42,282
  • Surgical dressings   33,263
  • Quilts for civilian relief   4,664
Members of the Halifax North (Women’s) Division of the St. John Ambulance Brigade Association in a practice at their headquarters on West Young Street. Halifax Civil Emergency Corps, September 1942
Source: CBC News. Members of the Halifax North (Women’s) Division of the St. John Ambulance Brigade Association in a practice at their headquarters on West Young Street. Halifax Civil Emergency Corps, September 1942

Volunteers at Work

Magazine Department of the Naval Reading Service-1940.

Magazine Department of the Naval Reading Service 1940s Halifax Canada
Source: Halifax Archives

Naval Reading Service 1942.

Halifax naval reading service 1942
Source: Halifax Archives

Corporal Daisy Nunn working in the hospital of the RCAF Station Dartmouth (Note: Dartmouth is a community and former city in Halifax. Dartmouth is located on the eastern shore of Halifax Harbour).

Corporal Daisy Nunn working in the hospital of the RCAF Station Dartmouth
Source: Halifax Archives

Woman crocheting-1941.

Woman crocheting
Source: Halifax Archives

Picking and Packing Apples-1941.

1941 picking and packing apples halifax canada vintage image
Source: Halifax Archives

Red Cross, girls drilling-1941.

1941 Red Cross girls drilling in halifax canada ww2 vintage image
Source: Halifax Archives

Red Cross Knitting Instructions for War Work-1942. Side Note: Her set looks like my usual messy vintage set. Glad to see I’m true to history!

1942 Canadian Women in hair curlers learning to knit for the war effort vintage image
Source: Halifax Archives

Entertaining the Troops

Halifax Canada WW2 womens homefront war effort vintage photo marcus dance show
1941-Marcus Dance Show. Source: Halifax Archives.

Excerpt from Halifax Archives:

World War II brought Royal Navy warships and Armed Merchant Cruisers to Halifax, spilling hundreds of sailors on to the streets in 1940-1941. They encountered a city which had become very ‘straight-laced’ during the 1930s.

Drink was available but under restricted circumstances that gave way to bootlegging and speakeasies. Social conventions of the time also looked down upon informal mingling of the sexes outside of marriage. As a result, there was not a lot for servicemen and war workers to do — so many took to entertaining themselves outdoors, and as they wished.

Before long, a network of hostels and canteens sprang up throughout the city, catering to servicemen and seamen and providing them with food, drink, a bath, sometimes a bed, and always a friendly ear. There were Merchant Navy Hostels, YMCA Huts, Knights of Columbus Huts, Salvation Army Canteens, IODE Canteens and the North End Service Canteen, as well as dedicated clubs for servicemen from foreign countries such as France and Norway.

The most famous of them all, the Ajax Club, opened in 1940 and welcomed naval ratings and petty officers from all the Allied navies. Monthly attendance was estimated between 10,000 and 15,000 men — until the club was unceremoniously shut down in 1942.

Another wartime entertainment initiative, The Halifax Concert Party, was created out of freely-given volunteer talent; show after show was produced throughout the war years for an unending sea of men in uniform. As well, troops and Halifax residents alike were routinely entertained by travelling productions such as The Marcus Show, which brought ‘the world’s foremost exposition of female loveliness’ to town, to relieve the tedium and horror that was otherwise known as war.

Ping Pong Game at RCAF Station Dartmouth.

Ping pong game at RCAF Station Dartmouth
Source: Halifax Archives

North End Services Canteen.

north end services canteen 1940s nova scotia canada vintage image
Source: Halifax Archives

Marcus Dance Show-1941.

Marcus Dance Show 1941 halifax Nova Scotia vintage image canadian wartime homefront
Source: Halifax Archives
Marcus Dance Show 1941 halifax Nova Scotia vintage image canadian wartime homefront Sailors
Source: Halifax Archives
Marcus Dance Show 1941 Women performers Halifax Canada vintage image
Source: Halifax Archives

Taking a break during or in-between shows-1941.

Marcus Dance Show 1941 Vintage showgirls halifax Canada vintage image
Source: Halifax Archives

Naval Personnel at a dance-1941.

1941 Canadian Homefront vintage dance image naval personnel and women
Source: Halifax Archives

Service personnel and civilians at Orpheus movie theatre Barrington Street, Halifax.

Service personnel and civilans at Orpheus movie theatre Barrington Street, Halifax
Source: Halifax Archives

Ajax Club-5 pints of beer or 10 glasses are allowed each man (that is a lot of beer!).

Ajax Club 1941 Halifax Nova Scotia WW2 vintage image
Source: Halifax Archives

Evening of Music at the Quinpool Road Hostel-1942.

Evening of Music at the Quinpool Road Hostel-1942
Source: Halifax Archives

After the war ended, Halifax returned to normal fairly quickly (however not without a big bang, which you can read all about HERE). The troops went home, Canadian troops returned and the women went back to the lives that they had before the war started. Life carried on without any recognition to the hard-work and sacrifices made by these women.

Present Day & Wonderful News!

In 2017 these amazing women finally received public acknowledgment with the below monument, thanks to the efforts from the Halifax Women’s History Society. Thank you to the society and thank you to the women of Nova Scotia.

Read about how this historic monument came to be HERE.

Halifax Women WW2 Volunteer Monument
Source: CBC News

Dancing Was My Duty

It is now your turn to watch the movie that is the focus of this blog post. Click on the image below to be taken to the film. Enjoy!

NOTE: Out of Canada readers, I have been notified that CBC would let you watch the video. I have currently dropped them a line to see if there is anyway around this. I will update here if a solution is found (updated Jan 14th, 2018).

Dancing was my duty halifax womens ww 2 history
Source: CBC

Further Reading:

  • Nova Scotia Archives has a excellent virtual exhibit (where many of my images came from) on Halifax’s war effort. Check it out HERE.
  • Halifax Women’s History website has lots of wonderful gems about this time period.

Question time: How did you like this post? Have you heard of these amazing women before? Maybe you have your own story to share about a grandmother, mother, aunt etc. who were one of these volunteers. Share your thoughts and comments below, I love hearing from you!


Vintage Las Vegas: The Roundup

It’s that time of year again! I’m off to Las Vegas for a fun weekend celebrating German Karneval (Mardi Gras). I cannot wait to get out of Toronto because right now it’s so cold all my windows and patio doors are frozen shut! That is too cold way too cold. Bring on the sunshine and pools (even though many of the pools are closed during this time of the year as it’s offseason. Not my hotel though!).

Vintage black and white photograph of two girls by the pool. Las Vegas, 1955
Las Vegas 1955. Source: Etsy

For today’s post, I put together a roundup of ‘Vintage Vegas’ images to help put me in a sunny mood for a visit to one of my favourite cities.

Lets throw a quarter into the machine and begin the fun!

Nevada Club, Las Vegas: Vintage RPPC Souvenir Photo, c1950s
1950’s Nevada Club. Source: Etsy

TWA 1956 Travel Advertisement.

Vintage TWA Las Vegas Print, 1956 Advertisement
Source: Etsy

Alaska Motel, Las Vegas 1949.

Alaska Motel, Las Vegas, NV, July 1949
Source: Etsy

The Sal Sagev Hotel (now the Golden Gate Hotel) on Fremont Street, Las Vegas.
The postcard also shows the El Trovatore Auto Court on Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona.

Sal Sagev now Golden Gate Hotel Fremont St Downtown LAS VEGAS NV Vintage Linen Postcard
Source: Etsy

Group photograph of entertainers at the Dunes, including Anna Bailey and Frank Sinatra.

Group photograph of entertainers at the Dunes, including Anna Bailey and Frank Sinatra via UNLV
Source: The African American Experience in Las Vegas, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.

Photograph of a showgirl posed at the swimming pool of Moulin Rouge Hotel and Casino, [May 22], 1955. The Moulin Rouge was the first desegregated hotel casino, it was popular with many of the black entertainers of the time, who would entertain at the other hotels and casinos and stay at the Moulin Rouge (source).

Photograph of a showgirl posed at the swimming pool of Moulin Rouge Hotel and Casino, [May 22], 1955
Source: The African American Experience in Las Vegas, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.
Moulin Rouge, Las Vegas, 1955.

Moulin Rouge, Las Vegas, 1955
Source: Pinterest

The Westerner, Circa 1950’s.

 Film transparency of the front exterior of the Westerner Gambling House (Las Vegas), circa 1950s
Source: Manis Collection, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.

Las Vegas gambling scene, 1930s.

 Photograph of a Las Vegas gambling scene, 1930s
Source: Manis Collection, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.

Neon sign for the Silver Slipper Gambling Hall (Las Vegas), after 1958.

 Photograph of neon sign for the Silver Slipper Gambling Hall (Las Vegas), after 1958
Source: Manis Collection, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.

Photograph of the June Taylor Dancers posing at the Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, circa 1949.

 Photograph of the June Taylor Dancers posing at the Flamingo Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, circa 1949
Source: Bill Willard Collection, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.

Vintage Las Vegas ~ Flamingo hotel cocktail napkin “The Show Place of the Nation”.

Vintage Las Vegas Flamingo hotel cocktail napkin
Source: Pinterest

Travel Western Airlines!

Las Vegas Western Airlines vintage ad
Source: Pinterest

1950’s Strip Fun.

vintage image of two women 1950s las vegas
Source: Pinterest

One last picture before we leave. Circa 1950s.

visiting las vegas in the 1950s vintage image
Source: Pinterest

That is it for this weeks post and now I’m off to pack. If your interested, follow my adventures on Instagram and have a great week friends!

Question Time: If you have been to Vegas before, share your favourite hotel or things to do in the comments below I would love to know!



Happy New Year Everyone!

Martha Hyer; Hollywood New Year's publicity photo.
Martha Hyer; Hollywood New Year’s publicity photo

As we approach New Years Eve, I want to take a moment to wish all of my readers..that is YOU, a Happy New Year! It has been quite a year for everyone and I’m so happy that my little blog has been a source of distraction and enjoyment for many of you. On my side it has been a pleasure and a joy to put together these vintage posts and I look forward to many more in 2018.

So thank you for being such loyal readers and I hope you stick with my blog as I have many exciting topics, images and fun ahead.

See you in January 2018!!

new years vintage poem

Liz aka the Vintage Inn Blog