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).
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.
Soldiers at Royal Alexandra Theatre, Toronto, Canada, which is showing the British film Balaclava (1928) after it was reissued as a talkie (Source).
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.
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.
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).
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).
Photo of a young boy with 2 members of the 1950’s Toronto Maple Leafs.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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’!
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.
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?
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.
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 …
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.
It’s great having a new and modern Television but there is just something special and beautiful about TV’s of the past (Don’t you agree?) So you can imagine my excitement when I was recently able to pay a private visit to Toronto’s MZTV Museum of Television & Archive thanks to Zoomer Radio. It was an incredible visit with so much history under one roof that I need to go back to make sure I did not miss anything.
For today’s blog post I am going to give you a peek, just a peek into what the museum has to offer because if possible I want you to go and see it sometime yourself (so why ruin all the surprises in this post).
The MZTV Museum and Archive seeks to protect, preserve and promote the Receiving Instruments of Television History. Whereas other North American Museums of Broadcasting feature Programs, ours is unique in its focus on the History of the Technology, as well as on the Sets Themselves.
Together with related original papers, discs, books, magazines, toys and other ephemera the collection offers some 10,000 objects to scholars and students as well as the general public.
The Museum’s mandate is to exhibit the world’s most comprehensive collection of North American Television Receivers for the formative fifty-year period from the 1920s to the 1970s. The MZTV Museum also aims to tell the story of the medium and to contribute to the understanding of the impact of television on the people who watch it
Lets begin with the Pioneers of Television section. This was a great high level overview of all the important people who made Televisions possible. I enjoyed this intro because it really set a nice tone for the rest of the museum tour.
Don’t like reading? No worries the museum also has a wonderful FREE app you can download with audio of the content, extra images and videos to give a little more to what is featured in front of you. The app was a great addition to my tour.
Now before reading ahead, who of my readers knows what role ‘Felix the Cat’ played in the beginning of Television? If you know the answer, pat yourself on the back and then continue reading below.
The Answer: Pictured above is the original papier-mache figurine of Felix purchased at F.A.O. Shwartz in NYC. This figurine of Felix would become Televisions first star when RCA would first transmit his image from the Empire State Building in 1928 and then again in 1939 for the first commercial television broadcast. This was a lead up to the formal unveiling of Televisions at New York World’s Fair.
Once you leave Felix on his turntable, the museum has you move to various sections that explain how Televisions were formed, how they worked, what they looked like in different era’s plus various other tidbits. Here are some images of those displays.
1930’s-1940’s Televisions (just a sample of what they have).
1950’s-1960’s. LOVE these TV’s. They are just so cool!
It’s all about the details.
Sample from the the space age TV’s.
There were so many stunning Television’s but I think the one that stood out the most for me was this 1950’s West Germany, Komet. You would need nothing else in your room but this work of art (also housing a turntable).
Beyond showing the timeline of Television sets, the museum also plays hosts to 3 special sets.
Up first this lucite beauty from RCA shown at the 1939 World’s Fair in NYC (The ONLY one in the world).
The 1939 World’s Fair was the first time many people had their first look at television and the centerpiece was the Phantom TRK-12 shown above, whose cabinet was made of transparent Lucite. Having the transparent casing convinced skeptics that TV really worked and wasn’t all smoke-and-mirrors. The TRK-12 had the CRT facing straight up, and the screen was watched by looking into a mirror (Source).
The next special TV is Elvis Presley’s early 1970’s set that was situated on the counter in his kitchen (which was very uncommon at that time).
It was a tiny TV as you can see below.
First Elvis, now a 1957 Magnavox Television from Marilyn Monroe (seen to the left in the tableau below).
The last part of my visit had a stop at the archives portion of the museum and it was jam-packed with advertising, books, photos and so much more. It was very cool to see (I adore anything archive related) and a great resource for anyone in the field or in need of historic information.
And that was my wonderful visit. Thank you to the fantastic staff for answering my questions and allowing me into the archives portion of the museum. I enjoyed myself immensely and I look forward to my next visit.
NOW it’s your turn! If you live in Toronto or are visiting Toronto soon (or someday), then make sure you make time to stop by the Museum you won’t regret it!
Location: 64 Jefferson Ave, Toronto, Ontario Canada
MZTV is open Tuesday-Friday: 2pm-5pm
Seniors and Students $5
Groups 10+ $5/person
CARP Members FREE
Children 12 and under FREE
Question Time: What style of vintage Television do you like? Share in the comments below.
I’m a big fan of vintage music, especially music from the 1920’s-1960s. Swing, Blues, Jazz, Rock n Roll and I have quite a big collection of music in my possession (well I think it’s big). However even though I have all this music at my finger tips, sometimes I want to change-up and have someone else supply the soundtrack from my day and this is where radio stations will give me the fix I’m looking for.
Insert ZOOMER RADIO in Toronto. It’s a station that plays timeless classics (music from the 1920’s and up, in various styles) and also has several vintage radio programs that are right up my alley and I know my readers as well.
So I’m excited to announce that I will be working with them on a more frequent basis to bring awesome vintage content (20’s-60’s) for my readers and for their listeners as well. Stay Tuned (hehehe Radio Pun)!
Now what exactly does Zoomer have that the Vintage Inn readers might like? Well that is easy. Lots of great vintage programs! Check out my suggestions below and then mark you calendars to listen to them live or online (for anyone outside of Toronto).
For the Blues Music Fans-Midnight Blue with Ziggy (Monday-Thursday 12am-1am): Songs from the 1930s and 40s that were never played on radio, and more recent songs teetering ‘on the edge’.
Robbie Remembers 60s, 70s & 80’s (Monday-Friday 6pm-10pm): In Toronto, Robbie Lane and The Disciples were one of the city’s top bands, and now, decades later, Robbie Lane continues the rock’n’roll tradition – he plays the clubs on weekends, and hosts two hours of great oldies you just won’t hear anywhere else – ‘The Sixties at Six’, remembering the British Invasion, surfing, folk-rock and Motown, and then ‘The Seventies at Seven’ with the great singer-songwriters like James Taylor, Carole King, and the pop stars like ABBA, Three Dog Night, Elton John and Fleetwood Mac. Robbie Lane will also be talking about the top Eighties hits at Eight.
Saturday Night Bandstand (Saturday’s 7pm-1am): Neil Hedley helps you dust off your dancing shoes with everything from rock and roll to disco, including your requests!
Theatre of the Mind (Monday-Friday 10pm-11pm): Frank Proctor selects, and then describes some of the greatest shows from the golden age of radio — the 1930s and 1940s — like The Shadow and Fibber McGee & Molly. A half-hour of drama, mystery or suspense is followed by a half-hour of comedy — Vintage Inn Fav!
Vintage Favourites (Every Sunday 2-4pm): Gene Stevens hosts this weekly adventure into truly vintage music –from 1950s and 60s… and way back to the 20s, 30s, and 40s as well. Vintage Favourites is AM740’s weekly adventure into the music of the past … radio veteran, music historian and story-teller, Gene Stevens puts the spotlight on a new theme. –Vintage Inn Fav!
The British Invasion (Saturdays 6-7pm): The British Invasion will proudly feature the terrific acts that came out of England with Cliff Richard in the late 50s, through the glory days of Merseybeat and Beatlemania, with countless groups and singers from The Pacemakers, Animals, Searchers and Herman’s Hermits, to the Stones, Kinks, Small Faces, DC5, and Moody Blues – and of course, Dusty Springfield, Tom Jones, Donovan, Pet Clark, Manfred Mann, Peter & Gordon..and so many others.
Consignment Heroes (Sundays 1pm-2pm): Consignment Heroes is hosted by Paul Kenny, his son Bogart Kenny and Zoomer’s Ben Mercer. Listen and call in for advice on: appraisals, collections, how to store stuff, dispose of or sell stuff in the best way.
Happy Listening Friends!
P.S. Scroll down to see the Halloween party we attended at the station.
Beyond their radio programs they also host events, like their most recent ‘Live To Air Boo Bash featuring the Dreamboats‘ that myself and a few friends attended. The night was so much fun! We danced to awesome 50’s music from The Dreamboats (go and see them if they are in a town near you), ate yummy foods and met so many wonderful employees and listeners of the radio station. I enjoyed every minute. There was even a costume contest for $250 and my friend Jacquie the creator of the Toronto Vintage Society was a finalist. In the end the most beautiful woman who was in her 80’s won the grand prize and it was well deserved (seen below).
Below are some of the photos I took and then please visit the link HERE to check out Zoomer’s images.
And the prize for most non creative costume goes to….ME! I went as my “own character” from GREASE called “leggs”. I just ran out of time to bring something new to the table this year.
Yours Truly & Toronto Vintage Society’s, Jacquie (finalist in the best costume contest).
My awesome friends.
The Dreamboats in action!
Photo with the band and friends in between their sets.
And that is a wrap. I’m hope you enjoyed learning all about this awesome radio station and when you get a chance, check out some of their vintage programs I mentioned above.
Question Time: Do you have any vintage radio stations you like to listen to? If so share in the comments below.
I have written about the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) a couple times on my blog, because it truly is one of my most favorite summer events. The CNE is an annual event at the end of summer held in Toronto and with approximately 1.3 million visitors each year, the exhibition is Canada’s largest annual fair and the seventh largest in North America.
Online, the CNE Heritage has an amazing collection of images from its archives and for today’s post I wanted to pull some of my favorites from their collection (1920’s-50’s) and share them with you. Lets begin!
Simpson’s Ad In CNE Programme, 1928
CNE Programme Cover, 1931
Suede Shoe Ad In 1935 CNE Fashion Show Programme. In my personal collection I have this exact show program.
CNE Bandshell & Manufacturers Building, 1948.
CNE Guests, 1927.
This poster celebrates the opening of the new Ontario Government Building (now Liberty Grand) in 1926.
Hollywood Chimp Show, 1937.
1939 CNE Poster-Transportation and Communications Year.
Auto Show, 1936.
RCA Victor Display, 1940.
Safety Quiz, 1948. I think the first part of the quiz should be, “You should always keep your eyes on the road, Yes or No?”
Canadian Women at War!
Fashion of the Day on display in 1940.
Miss Toronto Contest, 1951. Read all about Miss Toronto HERE.
Swimming Sensation, Marilyn Bell in 1954 with Roy Rogers & Dale Evans.
From CNE Heritage:
In 1954, a 16-year old high school student named Marilyn Bell became a sensation when she became the first person to swim across Lake Ontario.
She became an instant celebrity, beloved by fans across Canada.
It all began on September 8th, when three swimmers began a 32 kilometre race from Youngstown, New York to the CNE grounds.
American marathon swimmer Florence Chadwick was the favourite, followed by Canadian swimmer Winnie Roach Leuszler; Marilyn was the underdog.
It became clear early in the race that she was a contender, remaining in the water after her competitors dropped out.
Newspapers covered her every stroke through the cold waves of Lake Ontario. After 21 hours, Marilyn made it ashore to the acclaim of the nation.
The following year, Marilyn was the star of the CNE’s “Canadiana” Grandstand show, sharing the stage with American television host Ed Sullivan.
The highlight of the show was Marilyn diving into a specially designed tank of water on stage.
Pez Anyone? 1954.
Defying Gravity in the Rotor! 1953.
Jimmy Durante and Friends, 1951.
Derby Race, 1950.
Even TV’s Lassie made an appearance in 1955.
Kitchen World with Marie Fraser, 1955.
And that is it for today’s post friends, I really hope you enjoyed this walk down some of the CNE’s past.
Question Time: Do you have a big fair or exhibition that you like to attend every year? Share in the comments below!
The Toronto Vintage Society this Saturday will be throwing our last party ever for the vintage community in Toronto. But don’t worry we aren’t going anywhere, we will still be online telling you all the fun vintage events to attend and of course we will be at many of them ourselves! We just felt it was time to pass the vintage party gauntlet onto the community that has grown in leaps and bounds since we started our events 3 years ago. So that said, I wanted to take a walk down memory lane to our past parties as we prepare to have our ”Last Dance”.
Warning..lots of awesome fun photos ahead!
First Up..a big THANK YOU to Jacquie the creator of TVS and the main brain (and worker) behind every one of our events. Jacquie’s dream was to find more friends to attend cool vintage events with and she accomplished that and much more.
The Parties & Events:
Mad Men Viewing Party 2013- The First Official TVS Event
And now we come to our final party this Saturday. Obviously no pictures but as per usual follow me on Instagram to see the party in action.
Final Words. Being part of the TVS events team has been so much fun and I will be honest, I will be sad to hangup my MC microphone for the last time this Saturday. BUT as I said before this is not the end of TVS only the beginning and I’m very excited to see what the future brings.
Final Final Words..To all our fans and supporters over the years..THANK YOU!
While scouring the internet for all things vintage and interesting I stumbled upon a cool article about the history of everyone’s favorite Ginger drink..”Canada Dry’s Ginger Ale“. Well maybe it’s not everyone’s favorite but it sure is a fav of mine and also TRULY Canadian (not just using the name here). And since I love sharing cool Toronto history with you, today’s post will be highlights from the beginnings of this drink and then showcasing a bunch of my favorite vintage ads I found from the 30s, 40s and 50s.
The beginning (the Highlights):
In 1890, Canadian pharmacist and chemist John J. McLaughlin of Enniskillen, Ontario opened a carbonated water plant in Toronto after returning from Brooklyn where he is was working in the pharmacy business.
McLaughlin set himself the goal of developing a pale, dry ginger ale, ostensibly as a non-alcoholic rival for champagne but more likely in the hope of surpassing the popular ginger ales then on the market (Source).
In 1904, McLaughlin created “Canada Dry Pale Ginger Ale”, which was a refined version of their long produced “McLaughlin’s Belfast Style Ginger Ale”.
“It has a snap and a tingle; a smart spry taste,” early ads claimed. It was known as “the champagne of ginger ales” for its light taste and was marketed with a beaver icon and a map of Canada (Source).
Rapid growth and popularity quickly followed after it’s launch, with plants opening up in other areas of Canada and the trade name registered in 1907.
The sweet drink was even appointed to the Royal Household of the Governor General of Canada where the label featuring a beaver atop a map of Canada was replaced with the present Crown and shield.
Canada Dry stayed in the family business till the 1920s, where growing popularity in the United States had the family expand into New York City (Note: McLaughlin died suddenly in 1914).
It was sold in 1923 to P. D. Saylor and Associates, who renamed it Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Inc. and forever removing the ties to Toronto.
It has been in United States hands ever since (being purchased by several companies over the years).
Side Note: His brother, Samuel McLaughlin, was busily growing their father’s business into what would eventually become General Motors of Canada during the beginnings of Canada Dry.
For a full detailed history lesson on Canada Dry make sure you check out the ‘BlogTO’ article HERE.
The vintage ads:
1937-So many “Remedies” from one drink.
1930s Ad- Kids love it, it’s made thru a scientific process, it’s great at parties and served at fancy exotic hotels. Canada Dry is truly the Best!
1935 Ad- “Against the brilliant social background, it’s Canada Dry”.
“Cool Off with Canada Dry” (cute swimsuit!)
1940s- Canada Dry says “Keep up the good work”
Keeps his Ginger Up? I do marketing for a career and even I don’t know what that means.
1950s Ad-The Ginger-Upper 🙂 This is better then the above use of the words ‘Ginger’ and ‘Up’.
Esther Williams for Canada Dry, 1956. Do you think those are her kids (according to the ad) or “fake kids”?
We are deep into the Holiday season right now and now that I’m not stuck in bed with the cold, I can finish my shopping and get some presents wrapped (thank goodness, I was so far behind).
For today’s post I wanted to share with my readers images of what the Christmas season looked like in Toronto in years gone by, particularly 1960s and older.
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) Christmas Fleet 1956 outside of the CNE Princess Gates.
The hustle and bustle of the season at shopping malls is not just a modern-day issue. This image from downtown Toronto in 1935 shows you the traffic jams that have been going on for days leading up to Christmas.
1920s St. Lawrence Market building all decked out for Christmas.
City Hall Christmas Tree in the 1950s (now called ‘Old City Hall’). Residents of Toronto will notice the ‘Eaton store’ in the background. This is now a mall called ‘Toronto Eaton Center’ but no longer holds an Eaton store.
Christmas light tour circa 1950s.
Toronto annual Santa Claus Parade (see Blog post HERE).
December 23rd, 1930-Childrens Christmas Party via the Lions Club. Can someone explain why there are kids dressed as clowns in the crowd?
Snapshot of what was under the Christmas Tree at Miss Marjorie Lang’s home in 1930s Toronto.
Christmas windows at one of the big department stores in Toronto (either Simpsons, or Eatons. I believe Simpsons).
Christmas Carols for everyone! Wanting to make sure that everyone remembered their carols, the Toronto Telegram inserted the below leaflet into their paper for their readers to have (circa 1960s).
Santa’s helpers are everywhere, like on airplanes (Trans Canada Airlines to be exact) taking the first consignment airmail from Toronto to Winnipeg in 1939.
Family in Toronto unwrapping their Christmas presents in 1953 (notice the vintage Archies and Krazy Kat comics? ohhh want!).
And there you have a snapshot into what Toronto looked like during Christmas of times gone by. I hope you enjoyed taking a peek into another view of the city I live in.
Every year keeps getting bigger with year # 3 being our biggest! Woo hoo! One of the cool activities we do at our Tiki party is the “Vintage Swim Suit Competition“. Last year we had a wonderful turnout of fantastic suits and I’m really excited to see what this years attendees will bring to table. I’m sure they will be amazing!
In preparation for August 29th, I have rounded up some of my favorite vintage swimsuits from the internet to inspire, purchase or just admire. Enjoy!
(P.S. These are also great suits for VIVA as well).
Playsuits that turn into swimsuits are fantastic for summer parties, because you only have to worry about one outfit for the whole day. This 1940s beauty on sale on Etsy right now is the perfect example.
Another Playsuit/Swimsuit from the 1950s. Who does not love Gingham?!
I love details like lovely scalping on the bust of a suit.
(P.S. this suit is from a Canadian seller: “Trunk of Dresses” for any Toronto ladies interested).
This next suit is stunning and so very 1930s. This suit is luxuriously sleek white and silver striped Lastex stretch satin with skinny black pinstriping. Wow! You would turn heads everywhere you went, that is for sure.
Ohhhhh I wish this next darling of Marina Del Mar swimsuit would fit me, it’s just so beautiful. At last it won’t so I will have to wish for it to go to a good home instead. Bummer.
1950s Swimsuits with pleated skirts is the ultimate in style, especially when it looks like it would be good to from the pool to the tennis court. Fantastic!
This lovely is also being sold in Canada on Etsy so you can still scoop it up just in time for the party.
This number would be perfect for VIVA with its patriotic red/white/blue theme but honestly it could be worn anytime because CUTE is perfect anytime.
(Note: Also a Canadian Etsy Seller)
Sometimes all a swimsuit needs is a few fantastic details, like this Ivory cream piping scalloped wave pattern with buttons on the below 1950s swimsuit. So pretty.
This 1950s Jantzen Rhinestone beauty is a bit pricey but it’s too stunning to leave on Etsy PLUS it has its vintage ad to match!
Lets not forget the men! Can we all take a moment to revel on how PERFECT these 1950s vintage swim trunks are for the Tiki party? Or for VIVA? WOW!
Here is another perfect Tiki 1950s Vintage Swimsuit for the guys.
And there is the roundup. Still looking for a suit? Etsy and Ebay are always good places to go (as seen above) as well as vintage shops in your hood. Live in Toronto? We have lots of places that might have a suit or 2 (check out our directory on the TVS website) but if vintage is not your thing for swimsuits then please check out our Tiki Party sponsor “Doll Factory by Damzels“.
Now Question Time: Do you own a vintage swimsuit? Or is one on your bucket list?
While looking thru Flickr the other day for some inspiration I stumbled upon this absolutely wonderful photo of 8 of the most stylish men and women 1940s Toronto has ever seen! Aren’t they just fantastic?? My favorite is…all of them 🙂
The post inspired me to gather up other images of stylish folks in Toronto during the same time period and put them together into one giant fashionable post.
Now lets see who was in “Vogue” shall we?
The below image is of Betty Willis (vocals) and Frank Wright (vibraphone), two early stars of the Toronto jazz scene in the 1940s and ’50s.
I’m not 100% sure what is on her dress, but I do know I like it on her (great hair as well). Great examples of 1940s suits as well, such well dressed men.
Of course you must have a Beauty Pageant or 2 to showcase more great style (see a past post on Miss Toronto). In this case, great swimsuit style.
Even if you had to do your part for the war effort, true style still shone thru (even if it was how you did your hair or the colours of your nails). Here is the “Miss War Worker Beauty Pageant of 1942”, showing just that.
We cannot leave out Toronto’s very own Rosie the Riveter-“Veronica Foster the Bren Gun Girl”. You can read all about Veronica HERE. This is her “after work is done look”.
Remember Miss Toronto 1946 in the swimsuit above? Well here she is again, modelling our Transit system very stylish uniforms for women in 1946. Pretty smart, right?
More ladies in the uniforms of the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission).
Off to school? With storefront windows like this one in Toronto in 1942 you were guaranteed to not miss the hottest looks on campus. How do I make the look on the right mine?
Have children and think you don’t have time to be stylish? Not a problem for the lovely lady Mrs. Jack Wright and her two sons Ralph Wright and David Wright in 1943 doing her shopping in Toronto in a stunner of a dress (source). Aren’t her kids just adorable??
Think being stylish is only reserved for adults? Pish Posh, look at these 2 well dressed boys doing some reading of some very important books for their generation.
This last image is of a young couple with a lovely lady who was a member of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps in 1944. Can we take a moment to admire the 2 doves on the one woman’s dress? Fantastic!
And there it is, Stylish Toronto of the 1940s. Did you have a favorite photo from this collection? Or maybe you have your own photos of stylish folks from your town or even a favorite image. Do share!