<b>The <i>Empire</i>, December 22, 1894.</b><br><br />
An excerpt from the <i>Empire</i>’s Christmas Day 1894 editorial: “To the mind of the child this is the glorious season of the year when there is no cloud in the sky to dim the sunlight of pleasure in which infantile natures rejoice; but to the mature it is a period, apart from its spiritual associations, the delights of which are tempered by gravity and the joys of which are tinged with sadness, for as men grow memories gather. Looking back upon the Christmases of the past, who is there among us who does not feel that change and decay have wrought their mysteries as the years rolled on, taking here a friend and there a companion and leaving gaps in the ranks more significant and impressive at this time than at any other, so that even at the feast, and where rejoicing reigns, the heart stops for a moment that sorrow may supply its chastening touch.”<br />
<b>The <i>News</i>, December 23, 1914.</b><br><br />
The Copland Brewing Company’s Toronto roots stretched back to 1830, when William Copland opened a brewery on Yonge Street shortly after arriving in Upper Canada. By 1914, most of its products were brewed at its plant on King Street East between Ontario and Berkeley Streets. Bought by Labatt in 1946, the site was later occupied by the <i>Toronto Sun</i>.
<b>The <i>Mail and Empire</i>, December 25, 1920.</b><br><br />
An excerpt from the <i>Globe</i>’s Christmas Eve 1920 editorial, written two years after the end of the First World War: “The note of festivity will not be loud-sounding nor the holiday mood all-pervasive in the Christmas celebrations this year. Facts and conditions are more a challenge to sober thinking than to mirth and festivity. The children should have their innocent joys and revels even where care broods over the home, but sympathy and the desire for service will be the overmastering impulses in hearts attuned to the true spirit of the day ... The Great War is past, but peace on earth is still a far-off ideal. National hatreds and jealousies are rife; famine and pestilence sweep over wide areas, and the sum of want and misery is beyond anything within living memory except the tragedy of the war itself ... There will be no peace on earth without good-will between man and man, between class and class, and between nation and nation.”
<b>The <i>Mail and Empire</i>, December 25, 1930.</b><br><br />
Simpsons centred its 1930 Christmas ad around verse from poet <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bliss_Carman">Bliss Carman</a>, who passed away the previous year. <br />
<b>The <i>Mail and Empire</i>, December 20, 1933.</b><br><br />
Despite the effects of the Great Depression, the <i>Mail and Empire</i> urged its readers to light up the city at Christmas time. We doubt any displays inspired by this contest were accompanied by a menagerie of front-yard inflatables. <br />
<b>The <i>Telegram</i>, December 23, 1933.</b><br><br />
Given that the establishment of Sick Kids was a pet project of <i>Telegram</i> founder John Ross Robertson, the paper took every opportunity during the holiday season to solicit donations for the hospital. Heart-tugging stories to invoke contributions were printed in the <i>Tely</i> around Christmas, bearing headlines such as “CHILD SWALLOWS LYE THROAT BADLY BURNED” (December 19, 1923).
<b><i>Maclean’s</i>, December 9, 1961.</b><br><br />
Though the corporate descendant of the O’Keefe Brewery was merged with Molson in 1989, traces of its long history in Toronto remain around the city today, including O’Keefe Lane near Yonge-Dundas Square and the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts (originally the <a href="http://torontoist.com/2012/10/historicist-jesus-think-of-the-hangovers-that-went-into-this/">O’Keefe Centre</a>).
<b><i>Maclean’s</i>, December 9, 1961</b><br><br />
From 1912 to 2006, Kodak’s Canadian division <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodak_Heights">called Mount Dennis home</a>. Its large campus near Eglinton Avenue West and Black Creek Drive is slated <a href="http://www.insidetoronto.com/news-story/4363548-a-drive-to-refocus-the-former-kodak-lands/">to be redeveloped</a> and serve as the western end of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line[<a href="http://www.thecrosstown.ca/sites/default/files/pdf/reports/mountdennismobilityhubstudypart2.pdf">PDF</a>]. When it opens, perhaps someone who received a Kodak camera under the Christmas tree will be inspired by the site’s history to haul it out and shoot the ceremony.
<b><i>Weston Times-Advertiser</i>, December 22, 1964.</b><br><br />
Politicians love sending seasonal greetings, and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Eagleson">Alan Eagleson</a> was no exception. Before he achieved fame in the hockey world for forming the National Hockey League Players’ Association and infamy in the hockey world for his criminal actions regarding pensions and disability claims, Eagleson sat as a Progressive Conservative MPP for Lakeshore from 1963 to 1967.
<b>The <i>Enterprise</i>, December 20, 1967.</b><br><br />
An excerpt from the <i>Enterprise</i>’s December 13, 1967 holiday editorial, which criticized the trend toward war toys like G.I. Joe, which kids might have asked Miss Suzie for as they received a candy cane: “War toys are not going to make a killer out of a child, but they do instil an acceptance which lasts into adult life. In other words, war toys are a marvellous propaganda instrument ... The only way to counteract war toy propaganda is for the consumer public to boycott any kind of violent toy—and encourage manufacturers to produce just as interesting toys whose emphasis is not military.”
<b>The <i>Globe and Mail</i>, December 25, 1970.</b><br><br />
A stylish seasonal ad from a fashionable Kingsway-area women’s clothier. Two weeks earlier, Lipton’s published a gift certificate order form in the <i>Globe and Mail</i>, positioning it as “great trim for any woman’s tree!”<br />
<b><i>Toronto Life</i>, December 1974.</b><br><br />
While CHUM-FM offered a slender Santa for the holidays, its AM sibling distributed its usual <a href="http://wp1050chumto.blogspot.ca/2014/12/1050-chum-chart-saturday-december-21.html">1050 CHUM Chart</a>. Topping the Toronto hit list on December 21, 1974, was Carl Douglas’s <i><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9TgoF-ccdGM">Kung Fu Fighting</a></i>, followed by Elton John (<i>Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds</i>), Bobby Vinton (<i>My Melody of Love</i>), Harry Chapin (<i>Cat’s in the Cradle</i>) and Paul McCartney (<i>Junior’s Farm</i>). Nothing remotely Christmasy was listed among the top 30 tunes.
<b><i>The City</i>, December 3, 1978.</b><br><br />
Simpsons felt a little punny during the 1978 holiday season. It was a time of change for Simpsons—Hudson’s Bay Company had launched <a href="http://torontoist.com/2013/12/historicist-simpsons-sears/">a bid to acquire the department store chain in November</a>, while shoppers at its Queen Street flagship location (now Hudson’s Bay) would have seen the south end of the Eaton Centre near completion.
A scene from Christmas past… or Christmas present? A front-page story from the December 22, 1964, edition of the Weston Times-Advertiser on the joys of the last-minute holiday shopping crunch applies as much today as it did 50 years ago:
It’s a few days before Christmas and all through the city, not a creature is stirring—except about two million pushing, rushing people. They are taking part in one of the country’s most cherished traditions—the Christmas Rush.
In the downtown area, people find it expedient to park the car and walk from store to store. But there is a certain amount of risk involved even in this basic form of travel. Some citizens, rest their brave souls, are lost in human stampedes. They are crunched by fat ladies whose arms are loaded with parcels to the point where they can no longer see. Last Christmas, one fellow was caught in the revolving door of one of those fancy department stores. He is still revolving today!
Don’t get trapped in that revolving door. Sit back, relax, and enjoy our gallery of Christmas ads and stories from Toronto’s past.