While doing research for another blog post, I found some very interesting news stories on what life was like for Canadian Women after WW2. The all came from the CBC Archives (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and featured stories on:
Nylons Return Post-War: “The Battle of the Nylons”
The battle of the nylons was fought this week and, luckily, there were no casualties. Women started lining up early in the morning outside clothing stores across the city as nylon hosiery came back on sale for the first time since 1939. As we hear in this brief radio clip (below), one merchant took no chances, erecting barricades in case of a riot. The sale went off, however, without a snag.
Air Canada (TCA at the time) flight attendants rejoice! In 1946, the post-World War II uniform reintroduced nylons. During the war, the material used to make nylons was reserved for military purposes, making the fashionable item impossible to find (Source).
Here are some images of similar “battles” that happened in the United States.
A crowd of 10,000 in San Francisco await their Nylons.
Should women get the same wages as men? That’s the question tackled in this excerpt from a spirited radio debate about “the fairer sex” in the workplace. A female Teamster wonders why women were applauded for keeping factories running during the war and then handed substandard pay in peacetime. A male corporate lawyer allows that there are some jobs where women excel – tedious tasks, for example. A female executive says employers may have a point because it costs more to employ women. For example, their uniforms need to be “fussier”, company washrooms need to be “brushed up” and women take rest breaks while their male colleagues continue to toil.
Take a listen….
So friends, what did you think of these little snippets of postwar Canadian life (Share in the comments section below)?
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
North End Services Canteen.
Marcus Dance Show-1941.
Taking a break during or in-between shows-1941.
Naval Personnel at a dance-1941.
Service personnel and civilians at Orpheus movie theatre Barrington Street, Halifax.
Ajax Club-5 pints of beer or 10 glasses are allowed each man (that is a lot of beer!).
Evening of Music at the Quinpool Road Hostel-1942.
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.
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).
Nova Scotia Archives has a excellent virtual exhibit (where many of my images came from) on Halifax’s war effort. Check it out HERE.
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!
The Bill Lynch Carnival Show-A Staple of the Martime Culture (The East Coast of Canada).
While working on my post for Canada’s 150th Birthday, I stumbled upon a poster advertising a Canadian Carnival show in the 1940’s (Seen in my post HERE). I had never heard of the name ‘Bill Lynch’ before and was instantly intrigued and knew I just had to know more. And like the good blogger I am, I figured that if I did not know much about Bill and his Exposition Shows then maybe many of my readers hadn’t either. So lets explore the Carnival’s history together friends!
Meet William (Bill) Lynch
About the Show & Bill:
William Lynch (Born 1905) as a young boy growing up on McNab’s Island, Nova Scotia loved the annual summer fair on Findlay’s Picnic Grounds. In fact he loved it so much that when he became a teenager he took a job racking the balls and assisting with the old merry-go-round. All the while, he yearned to be a bigger part of this magical escape (Source).
1917 – Halifax has a horrific explosion which ends the summer fun and fairs as the city rebuilt and forces Bill back to regular life working in a machine shop.
BUT the dream is not dead and Lynch returns to McNabs Island in the spring of 1920, buying the famous merry-go-round for $800. He managed it until 1924, but people didn’t come to the island like they used to. Lynch decided to go to the people and starts to travel around to small towns in Nova Scotia (Source).
1928, he adds a second ride: a Ferris wheel.
In 1929, Bill wins the bid for the Halifax Exhibition and invests in 3 more rides and 3 shows to boost the size of his show to fit the exhibitions request. It was a hefty purchase that paid off and Lynch was asked back for the 1930 exhibition.
Changing the negative perception of Carnies & giving back to the community: Bill hired hundreds of Maritimers to run the games and partnered with service groups. Made donations to charitable groups in every town his roadshow visited and told the carnies that all disabled children should ride for free (Source).
By the 1940’s, The Bill Lynch Carnival is the Biggest in Canada and becomes “the search for relief from monotony from everyday living.”
1956 the show is now massive, towing 27 railway cars of rides, games and performers all around the Maritimes. Lynch hired acts such as The Turtle Woman, The Tattooed Man, The Worlds Fattest Couple, and conjoined twins Ronnie and Donnie (Source).
After 52 years in the business, Lynch dies in 1972. The carnival has changed hands a couple of times and units of it have been sold off to different people, including Pat Hinchey, who continues to operate a rides and amusement show in Cape Breton and surrounding areas (Source).
1941 Monkey Race.
The Famous Ferris Wheel-1941.
And the Merry-Go-Around.
Sailors watching either a ride or a show in 1941.
Advertising for a show in Saint John, New Brunswick.
This Saturday marks Canada’s 150th Birthday and I’m so excited to be celebrating this special day with friends and family. It’s going to be a fantastic celebration.
In honour of Canada’s birthday I wanted to do a roundup of awesome Canadian vintage posts, images and items focusing on the years between 1940 and 1969 (my blogs favorite timelines).
Let the roundup begin!
One of the main symbols of Canada is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP/The Mountie) and this Rare 1950’s vintage needle sewing book with a Mountie on it, is a pretty outstanding find.
The Bill Lynch Show a carnival that was the largest in Canada during the 1940s (this is new information for me, so stay tuned for a future blog post on this subject).
Summer is the perfect time to get married and if you really want to share the day, Canada Day is the day to do it on.
A good vintage tie is always something one should have in their closet and if it has a bit of Canadiana on it, even better. Here is a 1940’s Vintage tie featuring beautiful Jasper National Park Alberta.
Saskatchewan souvenir scarf, 1950s.
Vintage 1941 Montreal Felt Banner (love this!).
Interesting articles on Canada’s history (click on the links to be taken to the posts):
Molly Bobak’s War-For a time it had seemed that the only Canadian woman to be officially appointed as a war artist during World War II might not make it overseas at all. Article by Philip Jensen
A few months ago, my mother sent an article over to me via email and said “I think you might like this for you blog”. I opened it up and it was a small article on a Canadian woman named Ruth Lowe (who I had never heard of). It was a very interesting read about her life, her famous song “I’ll Never Smile Again”. and how she played a BIG part in Frank Sinatra’s success. Indeed a perfect post to share with my readers and today friends…..is that day.
Meet the beautiful Ruth Lowe.
And now please take a moment to acquaint yourself with her song “I’ll never smile again” (Link to video).
Ruth’s Earlier Years:
Born in Toronto, August 12th, 1914 to US-Canadian parents.
They moved to California when she was very young and she lived there during her early teens.
The family returned to Toronto with only the piano after her fathers grocery business went sour during the depression. The same piano that Ruth and her sister Mickey had learned to play on.
After her father died, Ruth quit school at 16 and found a job in the ‘Song Shop’ where she demonstrated sheet music on the piano. This trade was called “Song Plugging” and if customers liked what Ruth played (plugged) they would take it home to learn.
During her evenings, Ruth played in a very intricate two piano act with her friend Sair Lee at various nightclubs.
One day while at the store, Lowe heard that the famous all-femaleIna Rae Hutton Orchestra (The Melodears) needed a piano replacement for their 1935 appearance in Toronto. She got the job and so impressed Hutton that she ended up touring the United States with the orchestra for a few years after (Source).
Here is a clip from 1936 “Doin’ the Suzie Q”, that I believe should feature Ruth on the piano. Can we also take a moment to be in awe of Ina’s outfit…wow! (Video Link)
How the song “I’ll Never Smile Again” came to be:
While traveling with the Melodears in 1938 in Chicago, Ruth met Harold Cohen a music publicist and fell madly in love. They were married and lived happily until a year later Harold died tragically during surgery*. Ruth returned home to Toronto devastated and during this grief she penned “I’ll Never Smile Again”.
Lowe told the Toronto Daily Star in 1940 that the ballad “seemed to fill my head and guide my fingers as I picked it out on the piano (Source)”.
Here are the sad words Ruth Lowe wrote:
I’ll never smile again until I smile at you I’ll never laugh again what good would it do For tears would fill my eyes My heart would realize that our romance is through I’ll never love again I’m so in love with you I’ll never thrill again To somebody new within my heart I know I will never start to smile again Until I smile at you Within my heart I know I will never start to smile again Until I smile at you.
Song Success and Frank Sinatra:
Life went on and Ruth found herself working as an accompanist at the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), where she passed on the sheet music to the song to Toronto composer-conductor Percy Faith. Percy would later record the song for his CBC radio program ‘Music By Faith’. The Song made it’s official Debut!
It was not till a few months later though when the famous Big Band leader Tommy Dorsey was performing at the 1939 Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) that Lowe (who wanted to take her song to the next level) took matters into her own hands. Lowe waited — acetate recording in hand — by the musicians’ tent for her friend, a guitarist with the band, who arranged a meeting with the New York bandleader at the Royal York Hotel (Source).
One year later Dorsey who liked the song and thought it had some merit, decided to test out on a ‘Coming-Out’ number for Frank Sinatra, who had joined the orchestra as their new vocalist.
The recording, of “I’ll Never Smile Again,” was released on May 23rd, 1940 (as heard in the version I posted above).
The Song was a SUCCESS! It was No. 1 track on the very first Billboard sales chart in 1940 (seen below) and it propelled Sinatra into Super Stardom that would carry on for decades.
Lowe told her son (Tom Sandler) that the timing — it was the beginning of the Second World War — was key to her success. “It was a song that spoke to everyone in the country,” he says. “Their loves were going to war and most of them weren’t coming back” (Source).
After this success, Ruth was approached by Sinatra in 1942 to write a closing song for his radio program. The song she wrote was “Put Your Dreams Away”, which would go on to become Frank’s Signature Song (Video Link).
Ruth married Nat Sandler and happily settled into married life and kids in Toronto. She continued to write songs and play the piano, but her day’s of traveling with orchestras and pushing for her music to be produced were behind her.
In 1955 one of the most popular television shows at the time, “This is Your Life,” devoted a full segment to Ruth Lowe. She was loved that much by the public.
Ruth passed away on January 4th, 1981 at the age of 66. In 1982 her 1940’s “I’ll Never Smile Again” received an honorary Grammy and in 2003 she was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame
In the end Ruth’s greatest tragedy ended up bringing her career success and a place in history. The only thing left is for Ruth to have greater distinction in the Canadian music world. Her son Tom is pushing for her to receive a star on the Canadian Walk of Fame and to also be acknowledged by the Junos (The Canadian Grammy’s). I could not agree more and I do hope it happens sooner then later.
Thank you for the music Ruth.
*Other sources have said that Ruth’s husband died after 2 years of marriage.
Vintage Photo Tuesday is back for 2017! And as mentioned in my previous post ‘Come Visit Canada! Vintage Travel Posters‘, I will be doing a much bigger focus on Canada for a lot of the vintage content that you will see on the blog this year. And in case you missed the “Why?” it’s because Canada is celebrating 150 years as a country and so I think that is a good enough reason to celebrate all year-long. Don’t you agree?
Today’s VPT is on Niagara Falls, Canada. Known for its magnificent Falls and awesome wine country, Niagara is a must visit for all travelers to Ontario (I’m pretty sure my family has taken ALL my German relatives there throughout the years). But like any town, anywhere it has its vintage roots and for today’s VPT, I will be exploring some of those images from my favorite era’s, the 1920s to the 1960’s.
1920’s Frozen Falls in the dead of winter. Apparently the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) use to commission vehicles to take you directly to the Falls.
1921 Aerial View of the Horseshoe Falls and the City of Niagara (It does NOT look like this anymore. The Falls yes, but the Town no).
The Royal Tour 1939: King George VI & Elizabeth at the Niagara Parks Commission Administration Building.
Hotel General Brock where the King and Queen had dinner during their Royal visit. First opened in 1929, it was the first high rise built in Niagara and has hosted many other famous individuals. Like: Walt Disney, Shirley Temple and Jimmy Stewart. It is now known as the Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls and has maintained much of it’s vintage glamour.
Visiting in the Summer and needed to cool off? Then you would have checked out the Niagara Falls Cyanamid Swimming (seen below, 1940’s). The pool was owned and operated by the adjacent Cyanamid Company’s giant Niagara plant and was once a popular swimming area.
Volleyball by the Cyanamid Swimming Pool (now closed).
Visiting the Falls is a year round activity, sometimes involving having to dress up in your winter best to capture the perfect picture. Circa 1940’s.
1953 – Picnic by the Niagara River below the Falls.
1960 – Or you can picnic in front of the Falls (I’m not sure if you can even get this close anymore?).
Need a closer look? Put some money in this binoculars and in a second you will be transported to the roaring power of the Falls.
There is so much to see and do that you must stay the night.
Across the street from the famous falls is the lovely ‘Oakes Garden Theatre’. Constructed in 1936, designers capitalized on the contours of the landscape to create a curved pergola overlooking a central amphitheatre. Rock gardens, lily ponds and shrub borders have been created around formalized gardens, with attractive ornamental iron gates (Source). Here are 2 friends visiting in 1949.
Still standing today is the Skylon Tower. It’s door’s opened to the public on Sept 31st, 1965 and was inspired by the Space Needle Tower in Seattle, Washington. It is Niagara’s tallest structure, measuring 520 feet above ground level and 775 feet above the base of the Falls.
Even the stars liked to visit the Falls, like everyone’s favorite blonde bombshell, Marilyn Monroe.
Lastly, over the years many people who visited Niagara Falls wanted to go down the falls in a barrel or some other contraption. Some tried, very few succeeded. In 1956 Woody Woodpecker was in a film called ‘Niagara Fools‘ about the pitfalls of going down those falls (click on the image to watch the cartoon).
Like what you saw? Then check out a more detailed breakdown of Niagara Falls History, HERE.
Question time: Have you ever been to Niagara Falls? Did you enjoy it? If you have not been there, does this post make you want to visit?
Happy New Year! We made it to 2017 and I just have this wonderful feeling that its going to be an awesome year. One of the cool things happening in Canada this year, is our 150th Birthday, yes Canada is turning the big 1-5-0 and she is still looking good (even better if I may say). I’m excited this year to get out and explore more of my beloved country and share my adventures with all of you. So stay tuned!
For today’s post we will be exploring beautiful Vintage Canadian Travel Posters & Advertising.
Join us in British Columbia.
The water is nice at Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta ( BTW Friends: I will be doing a ‘Vintage Travel to do list post on this hotel next week).
The Mountie and the Rockies, iconic Canadian symbols.
Saskatoon, is the largest city in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. There was also a song written about it in 1915, as seen in the sheet music image below.
Here is what the song sounded like. So very Ragtime!
Cruise the Great Lakes of Ontario.
You MUST go to Niagara Falls when you visit, it’s breathtaking!
The poster is correct, Quebec is truly a Winter Wonderland.
My dad attended Expo 67 in Montreal.
Head to the East Coast to discover a truly charming part of Canada.
Known world-wide for the beloved and spunky character, Anne of Green Gables, Prince Edward Island will truly delight.
‘Canada’s Happy Province’. This slogan from a 1965 ad for Newfoundland and Labrador made me giggle. I guess the rest of Canada’s provinces are grumpy and unwelcoming?
Canada also has 3 Territories: Yukon, Northwest Territory and Nunavut.