Vintage Glamour-The Historic Royal York Hotel, Toronto Canada

This Sunday I am going for High Tea at the Beautiful and Historic Royal York Hotel in Toronto.

I have been to this hotel many times in my life (staying there a couple of times with my family before I moved to Toronto) and every time I’m blown away by its grandeur. It truly is a sight to see when visiting Toronto, a vintage lovers dream.

Royal York Hotel Vintage Toronto

Source: Wikipedia


The Royal York opened it’s doors on June 11, 1929. It was the tallest building in the British Commonwealth and quickly set the hospitality standard of the day. The magnificent hotel became known as a city within a city, rising in 28 floors of architectural splendor and replete with mechanical genius and opulence never before seen in Toronto.

It boasted 1,048 rooms – each with radios, private showers and bathtubs. The 1.5 acres of public rooms included a 12-bed hospital, 12,000-book library and ten ornate passenger elevators. The Concert Hall featured a full stage and mammoth pipe organ weighing 50 tons, which surpassed anything else in Canada with 300 miles of copper wire. There was a glass-enclosed roof garden, the largest hotel kitchen in Canada with a bakery that could produce over 15,000 French rolls a day, a 66-ft.long switchboard manned by 35 telephone operators, its own bank and golf course (now known as St. George Golf & Country) (Source).

1929 Royal York hotel Opening Ad

1929 Ad for the opening of the hotel. Source:

1930s Royal York Hotel Toronto

The Hotel on Front Street, 1930s.   Source: Toronto Archives

Thank you to the Fairmont Royal York for finding this AMAZING sketch of the fashions wore during the opening Gala Ball on June 11, 1929.

I will take…all the outfits!

1929 vintage fashion images

Source: Fairmont Royal York Hotel

Vintage Image of the Lobby

Postcard Royal York Hotel Toronto

The Lobby Today..pretty similar.

Royal York Hotel-Toronto Lobby

Below is a sketch of the Royal York Hotel ballroom, clearly in the year that it opened from the outfits I see.

According to the Fairmont Royal York Pinterest Page:

When the Royal York hotel opened its doors on June 11, 1929, it brought about a new social era, attracting a true “who’s who” list of royalty, celebrities, dignitaries and leisure travellers to the city of Toronto. On opening night, the Royal York hosted four grand balls where guests dined and danced until the wee hours of the morning. It set a new standard in luxury, elegance and entertainment.

Royal York Hotel Toronto Ballroom Vintage Image

Source: Fairmont Royal York Hotel

The Ballroom looks exactly like it did when it first opened-Stunning!

Royal York Ballroom Toronto

Royal York Ballroom Toronto

The Hotel did everything top-notch. Look how stylish the Bartenders look in the 1940s?

I wonder what they are making, it looks delightful whatever it is.

Historic Royal york hotel 1940s Toronto

Source: Toronto Archives

What a Buffet! Can you see the Ice Sculpture Deer in the background? I love fun details like that.

1940s Royal York Hotel Toronto

Source: Toronto Archives

Image of the 66 foot long telephone switchboard that required 35 operators to run it.

Fairmont Royal York Telephone Switchboard Vintage Image

Source: Fairmont Royal York Hotel

Of course a hotel on this grand of scale also had to have amazing entertainment.

Quote from the Fairmont Royal York Pinterest Page:

The Imperial Room was once the most sought after show room in North America, when it opened in the hotel in 1929 it was the city’s newest and most elegant dining and dancing establishment. It defined the Toronto social scene as the meeting site of high society functions and big band shows. The stage of the Imperial Room has seen headlining acts such as Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald and Bob Hope.

Imperial Room Royal York Hotel toronto vintage image

Source: Fairmont Royal York Hotel

The early bands often were employed by hotels, and many bore their employers’ names, eg, in Montreal, the Windsor Hotel Orchestra and Andy Tipaldi and his Ritz-Carlton Orchestra. The largest hotels in Canada had successions of orchestras which, by the 1950s and 1960s, also came to be used as showbands to accompany individual performers. Leaders at the Royal York Hotel (Toronto) have included Charles Bodley, Fred Culley, Rex Battle, Don Romanelli, Billy Bissett, Horace Lapp, Stanley St. John,Moxie Whitney, and Howard Cable (Source).

The band below is clearly the house band of the Royal York as the signs say “RY”. What kind of music do you think they are playing if the first row is all Violins?

Royal York Hotel Toronto Vintage Images

Source: Fairmont Royal York Hotel

Guests from all walks of life stayed at the hotel, like Bob Hope, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly (swoon) and even….Queen Elizabeth II (seen below).

Queen Elizabeth the 2nd at the Royal York Hotel Toronto

Source: Fairmont Royal York Hotel

Here is an adorable image of an Ice Follies performer in the 1940s who was staying there. How cute is that outfit??

Royal York Hotel Toronto Canada Historic images

Source: Toronto Archives

Royal York also had various advertising campaigns over the years. Here are some great vintage ads.

I adore this cute early 1960s ad (I think) for their meeting rooms. Reminds me of a Mad Men episode.

vintage marketing ads for the royal york hotel toronto

Source: Fairmont Royal York Hotel

Looking to get married? The Royal York I will do the job nicely.

This ad is clearly from the same illustrator as above, love it.

Vintage Wedding at the Royal York Hotel Toronto

Source: The Fairmont Royal York

The Royal York has even hosted fun events like this Direct Broadcast party of the Grey Cup (superbowl of Canada) in November 1956.

royal york hotel Grey cup 1950s

Source: Toronto Archives

Complete with Marching Girls.

1956 Grey Cup in toronto Royal York Hotel

Source; Toronto Archives

Many clubs and companies hosted events at the Hotel over the years, like The Electric Club from the 1930s-50s. Who apparently liked their menus to have pretty girls in swimsuits on the front (and lassie).

vintage Electric Club Menu's for Fairmont Royal York - date ranging from 1937 - 1952

Source: Fairmont Royal York

After looking thru all these photos, reading stories on the Royal York I’m thrilled the Fairmont and Toronto has seen value in keeping it standing after all these years because this truly is a fantastic piece of Toronto History.

royal york hotel 1929 vintage image

Source: Fairmont Royal York Hotel


So Friends..have you been to the RY? Or do you have a favorite vintage hotel? Do Tell!

Liz 🙂

Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion – A Grand Piece of Toronto History

Toronto has a wonderful piece of history sitting on its waterfront called the “Sunnyside Beach Pavilion” that has been around since 1922. I have seen this structure at least a million times in my few short years living in Toronto and never ceases to amaze me on how beautiful it is. I even looked at is at a potential wedding venue 2 years ago that is how much I’m enamored with this structure.

Sunnyside Pavilion

1920’s Sunnyside

The name “Sunnyside” had been used to denote a beach and its surrounding area for 70-plus years before the amusement park and beach pavilion opened. The name may have been coined by George Howard, a prominent citizen whom in 1848 had built a home overlooking the shore on the sunny side of a hill (source).

By the 1920s, swimming at the foot of Roncesvalles Avenue had been popular for over thirty years, as there was a swimming area near a pumping station. This changed in 1913 when the pumping station was demolished to make way for the bridge connecting Lakeshore Road and the King/Queen/Roncesvalles intersection. A staircase was built for pedestrians to walk down to the shoreline. A slide was installed for bathers to slide down into the water (COOL!).

1912 Sunnyside Beach

1912 Sunnyside Beach Source: Toronto Archives

By 1920, this area was filled in and the beach was moved farther to the south. For the year 1921, the beach was recorded as having over 302,525 visitors (Source).

This influx of bathers to the area meant that there was a space needed where they could change, so on June 28th, 1922 the “Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion” was born.

Sunnyside Pavilion

Sunnyside Pavilion-Today



1920s Sunnyside Beach

1920s Sunnyside Beach and Pavilion

Sunnyside Beach 1924

Sunnyside Beach 1924

Information about the Beach building

The building, constructed of concrete, cost $300,000. Each wing held an outdoor changing area, lockers and showers, the women’s side on the east, and men’s side on the west. It offered over 7,700 lockers for patrons, a roof garden for 400. Admission fees were 25¢ for adults and 15¢ for children, and bathing suits and towels could be rented. In the center was a staircase leading to an upper terrace which overlooked the change areas leading to a rear terrace which ran the full length of the building and overlooked the beach.

The “Tank”

If you have ever been to Ontario and attempted to swim in the waters you would quickly realize that they are not the most ideal for swimming..cold! And so in 1925 a giant swimming pool called the “Tank” was built and could accommodate up to 2000 swimmers. It was considered at that time the largest swimming pool in the world and you can still go swimming in this pool today.

1920s Sunnyside Pool

Sunnyside Pool and Beach 1940s

1940s Sunnyside Pool

Bathing Pavilion Today

In 1980 the Bathing Pavilion was renovated with the outdoor lockers and changing areas being demolished and new changing rooms were built.

Sunnyside Beach Pavilion

Front of the Pavilion

Sunnyside Pavilion

Sunnyside Pavilion

Currently under construction to bring it back to former glory

The pool was rededicated as the ‘Gus Ryder Pool’, named after Marilyn Bell’s coach, the founder and coach of the Lakeshore Swim Club of New Toronto. I also just happened to find a plaque about Marilyn Bells near by as seen below…

Marilyn Bell Toronto

And that my friends is a brief history on the Sunnyside Bathing Pavilion.

As a lover of history in Toronto it thrills me to the bone that Toronto has taken the time to preserve this piece of history. I sometimes find our city is so preoccupied with putting up millions of condos that us regular folks can’t afford that they forget that we don’t have tons of places like the Sunnyside Pavilion still standing that they should not so quickly discard.

I look forward to sitting by this structure for many more years to come.

Do you have something like this in your home town? Or a structure that has lots of history that your city takes pride in preserving it? Let me know!

Liz 🙂


Canadian National Exhibition is Here! The Vintage Edition


Princess Gates 1920s

I have been living in Toronto now for almost 14 years and one of the events I have grown to absolutely LOVE is the CNE-Canadian National Exhibition. The CNE is basically a giant fair that runs for 18 days near the end of the summer and it’s known for its great shows, crazy food (anyone for a bacon, donut burger??), rides and all the cools things to see..bring on the Sham Wow guy! lol

The first Canadian National Exhibition took place in 1879, largely to promote agriculture and technology in Canada. Agriculturists, engineers and scientists exhibited their discoveries and inventions at the CNE to showcase the work and talent of the nation (Wikipedia). Apparently, prior to 1879, the fair had traveled throughout the province, but eventually settled where the crowds were after local stakeholders campaigned to make it a permanent city attraction (

That means that this year the CNE is celebrating its 135th season this year so I thought it would be fun if we checked out some vintage photos, advertising etc. of this historical event. So grab a bag of chocolate covered parmesan popcorn and lets take a trip down CNE memory lane…

CNE 1937 Ad

Image courtesy of the CNE Archives

CNE advertising 1947 TTC Toronto

To start, I’m doing a blog series on the wonderful book “Lets Dance. A celebration of dance halls and summer dance pavilions by Peter Young” and one of the sections briefly covers the “CNE TENT” that was erected in 1938 to bring in top-notch entertainers. Acts like: Benny Goodman with Peggy Lee, Artie Shaw, Guy Lombardo and even the Tommy Dorsey Band made their way to this tent. In Peters book he even mentions a story how in September 8th of 1939 the Tommy Dorsey band flew to Toronto on the American Airlines flagship craft to appear at the CNE. This was the FIRST time the entire band travelled by air so they marked the occasion by playing a few tunes right at the airport (“Lets Dance..”, pg 23, Peter Young).

CNE dance tent

The image above was from 1940 and you can see the dance tent in the background where apparently Eddy Duchin and his Orchestra were performing that very night (“take a ride back in history” by Mike Filey).

Then while scouring the internet for fun images/stories to share I stumbled upon the most AMAZING FIND! Did you know that the CNE created their own high-kicking dance troupe version of the Rockettes? The Canadettes and they made annual appearances from 1951 until 1967 at the CNE. How fun!

CNE 1960s Toronto

The Canadettes, circa 1961. CNE Archives, Alexandra Studio Collection.

Now for the random vintage pictures I promised you…

Two ADORABLE kids enjoying a coke break in 1959

CNE-1959 Toronto

Photo courtesy of “CNE facebook page

CNE 1940’s cooking demo

CNE 1940 cooking demo Toronto

Photo courtesy of “CNE facebook page

CNE-1937. I LOVE this photo! The couple in the front that stand out in the picture are just outstanding looking.

CNE-1937 Toronto

Photo courtesy of “CNE facebook page

CNE-1961. I’m enjoying eyeballing some of the great fashion in the pic 🙂

CNE 1961 Toronto

Photo courtesy of “CNE facebook page

Want to learn how to take care of your baby in 1918?

CNE Babies 1918 Toronto

Image courtesy of the CNE Archives

I will now leave you with a picture from my engagement photo session that was done at the CNE

CNE Engagement photo Toronto Vintage Inn

Photo Courtesy of David Tom Photography

If you live in Toronto and are attending the CNE or have attended the CNE I would love to hear your stories of your favorite things to do there.

Liz 🙂

“Let’s Dance”: Palace Pier, Toronto Canada (history post)

A while back…like several posts ago I mentioned that I picked up this awesome book called “Let’s Dance: A Celebration of Ontario’s Dance Halls and Summer Dance Pavilions” by Peter Young.

What is the book about:

“Let’s Dance: A Celebration of Ontario’s Dance Halls and Summer Dance Pavilions is a nostalgic musical journey, recapturing the unforgettable music of youth and lasting friendships, the days when the live mellow sounds of Big Bands wafted through the air — Louis Armstrong, the Dorsey Brothers, Bert Niosi, Art Hallman, Johnny Downs, Mart Kenney, Bobby Kinsman, Ronnie Hawkins …. Throughout the 1920s to the ’60s, numerous legendary entertainers drew thousands of people to such memorable venues as the Brant Inn in Burlington, Dunn’s Pavilion in Bala, the Stork Club at Port Stanley, to the Club Commodore in Belleville and the Top Hat Pavilion in North Bay — and the hundreds of other popular dance venues right across Ontario. From the days of jitney dancing through the introduction of jazz and the Big Bands era to the sounds of some of Ontario’s best rock groups, people of all ages came to dance and some to find romance on soft summer nights.”

"Lets Dance-by Peter Young"

The book was a wonderful read and especially since I’m a Lindy Hopper and I love all things Nostalgic around that era. So the book gave me the urge to:

A) Want to visit these places, existing or non existing;

B) Share some of the history with my readers and with the Ontario Lindy Hop dance scene as well.

So I thought I would do a blog series on many of these places, so here we go with our first post…


Palace Pier dance hall

Palace Pier

The Palace Pier was originally conceived in the late 1920’s to be a large amusement pier that was to rival the neighbouring “Sunnyside Pavilion“. The pier was to project 1800 feet into Lake Ontario with a  steamboat landing at the end. However financial difficulties and the depression stopped construction and only 300 feet of pier was created (see above). For most of the 30’s the Pier was vacant but on June 10th, 1941 the auditorium opened as The Strathcona Roller Rink, and then a short time later became The Queensway Ballroom in 1943. This reverted to the Palace Pier Dance Hall  and would soon become a favorite destination for dancers.

Here is a picture of where the Pier was located (the left image) in Toronto

palace pier location

Plans for the Pier before having to scrap almost everything (was to have had a bandstand, Theatre and “Palace of Fun” which I could only assume was rides).

Palace Pier

The Big Bands

The Pier saw many Big Bands pass thru it’s doors, bands like:

lionel hampton

There is a story from Ernie Ince who was the General Manager for the Pier for many years that recalls the effect one Bandleader had on the audience “Lionel Hampton would work the crowd into a frenzy. He’d soak 3 suits in a performance and play louder and faster as the night moved along” (“Let’s Dance” by Peter Young, pg 13).

Man I would of given ANYTHING to have seen that…sigh.

Palace Pier Big Band

The Pier’s heyday was the mid-40’s and into the mid-50’s with the 50’s seeing a renovation that had the Palace Pier boosting about having one of the largest dance floors around. 3 tiers were built with balconies surrounding the dance floor so that everyone could see the action on the dance floor (“Let’s Dance” by Peter Young, pg 13). CBC Radio even did live Radio broadcasts from the Pier over the years.

Changing with the Times

By the mid-50’s the Pier had to change direction to keep alive so they started booking country acts like Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash which ended up being very successful (“Let’s Dance” by Peter Young, pg 15). Also during the week they would book Bingos, Boxing matches, political rallies, proms and such to help pay the bills to get them to the weekend where they were still seeing around 1000 attendees coming out to celebrate music and dance.

The End

Sadly on January 7th, 1963 in the early morning there was a fire at the Pier and everything was completely destroyed and due to declining popularity it only made sense to not rebuild and sell the property. Condos were then eventually built on the spot where the hall stood (the Palace Pier Condos).


The building may not be standing anymore but you can still pay a visit to the monument on the Waterfront Trail at the Foot of the Palace Pier Court (it’s just west of the mouth of the Humber River. Walk over the bridge and keep going till you see the monument).

Interesting fact: The base of the monument are the original concrete pier footings



Here I am with the monument. I have to say I could actually envision everyone dressed to the 9’s coming down here to listen to some amazing Big Band Music on a Saturday night. It made me wish I had a time machine so I could of joined in on the fun.



To end my little trip, my husband put on some Glenn Miller “Moonlight Serenade” and we closed our eyes and actually pretended it was the 1940’s for a moment and we danced. It was a fun experience and I’m sure we got some weird looks but I did not care, I got to dance at the Palace Pier even if it was just in my mind.

Please let me know if you have visited this spot as well and stay tuned for another post in this series.

Liz 🙂

Gatsby Garden Party

This past Sunday I attended an event called ” The Gatsby Garden Party” that was run by the Spadina Museum right here in Toronto. It was a lovely afternoon filled with music, croquet, lemonade & ice-cream, Charleston lessons and a tour of this outstanding historical house (I might do a future blog post on the house and the family as this house was really amazing).

spadina museum

The day turned out to be so beautiful, hot but sunny with not a chance of rain anywhere and lots of people came out in full 1920’s style, which I was really glad. Nothing worse than going to a 1920’s party and being the only person IN 1920’s clothes 🙂 I wore a 1920’s reproduction dress from Unique Vintage that was actually my mothers and a 1950’s hat (which looked very 1920’s) from Cabaret Vintage. I received many many compliments on this dress and it was truly beautiful BUT due to the weight of the beads after 4 hours my shoulders were feeling the pain (ahhh what we do for fashion lol). That’s okay I felt fantastic in it and when I danced the beads spun around in the most magical way and I truly felt like I was a part of the Gatsby world.

Here I am out front of the Spadina House

Gatsby party

Recently I have a joined a Meetup group to meet vintage like-minded ladies and our recent get-together was at the party. I have to say that if you are looking to meet people who share the same likes/interests as you that coming to events like this or joining “Meetup” is a good place to start. These ladies are fantastic and so nice and I am really looking forward to doing more things with them.

Here is a pic of our little group

Gatsby Summer party

As mentioned above there was live music at the event and one of the bands that played is a favorite of Swing Dancers in Toronto, “Combo Royale“. Their style according to their website is “Old-Time Foot Stompin Jazz” and that statement is really true for when you are around them you can’t help but clap, sing, dance etc. I love the band and I have also become friends with a few of the members as well 🙂

Combo Royale

As well as music there was Croquet. I really wanted to learn how to play this game but the sun was pretty hot and I was starting to melt so I had to pass this time around.

Gatsby Garden Party

Here is an awesome picture of the back of the Spadina House and I did not realize that when I took the picture that this very handsome and well dressed man was in it lol! Clearly he thinks I’m taking a picture of him with that perfect pose, when I was really focused on the house. But I’m very happy he did pose because I love this photo even more now.

Gatsby Party 1920's

Here I am with a fellow swing dancer (whose names escapes me). Her outfit was outstanding and I think she might of also won the costume contest.

Gatsby 1920's Party

The museum was kind enough to let us tour the home as part of the activities of the day and boy oh boy was I glad I did, for this house is truly a masterpiece (and very well restored). The early 1900’s-1930’s décor was drool worthy and I became slightly obsessed on trying to figure out how I could move in here without anyone knowing lol!

Here is a window from the front foyer…wow! Pssst…can you see the animal in the pic? It was a stuffed wolf that welcomed you when you walked in and boy did it look real!

Spadina Museum

Front sitting room (sorry for the blurry pic).

Spadina Museum

The wallpaper in the house was so incredible and I think I spent a lot of time staring at it and talking about it (my husband was pretty sure I had gone crazy lol), but don’t you agree that it is pretty awesome wallpaper?? According to the guides when the house was given over to the city in the 1980’s they discovered that the Austin family were a bit of hoarders and kept everything, from grocery receipts to….wallpaper swatches! So when the restoration/replication started they had an easy job when it came to recreating the wallpaper. Yay for antique hoarders!

Spadina Museum

This was the closet in the main bedroom, so envious on the size! My closet is an Ikea wardrobe 😦

Spadina Museum

Vintage dresses on display in the closet of my dreams (see why I wanted to move in).

Gatsby Garden party

Another Wallpaper shot 🙂 AND the most lovely pictures of the owner and her two daughters (I believe).

Spadina Museum

Close up of the pictures. Look at the hair? Beautiful.

Spadina Museum

OMG! Everything about this photo is outstanding. Hair, clothes,! Love 🙂

Spadina Museum

I sadly did not take a lot of pictures of the inside of the house because I think I was spending too much time gawking and not picture-taking lol! So you will just have to visit Toronto and see it with your own eyes (it is worth the trip trust me). If you do visit you can pop over next door and tour Casa Loma as well.

Here I am at the end of the day in front of Casa Loma.

Gatsby 1920s Party

Have you attended any Gatsby like parties recently?

Liz 🙂

Easter Parade-Toronto’s oldest tradition that is really all about the Hats!

Here in Toronto on March 31st, Bees Knees Dance is continuing on a tradition that has become famous in New York City, called the “Easter Parade”. The Easter Parade is an event consisting of a festive strolling procession on Easter Sunday with participates usually wearing their best Easter finery that normally consisted of the best of modern clothes and hats of that time. For the Easter Parade in Toronto, Vintage clothing and hats is encouraged as everyone parades down Yonge St, which is one of our main streets in the heart of downtown.

Details & pictures from last years event can be found here:

easterparade-judy Garland

History of the Easter Parade in Toronto

Toronto’s Easter Parade is one of its oldest Traditions, starting in the early 1900’s along the waterfront at Sunnyside Park (Toronto album 2: More glimpses of a city that was by Mike Filey).

Fashion was very important and in an article written on April 26th, 1914 in the Toronto World Newspaper an amusing headline appeared…. Are women of Toronto behind New Yorkers in style? The accompanying caption (for the pic below) reads: “The fashion show on Fifth Avenue, Easter Sunday – in the foreground a mandarin jacket of ruffled taffeta, straight-brimmed hat, trimmed with wing rows – a brocaded crepe coat is shown in centre.”

new York easter parade

New York Easter Parade-1914       Image courtesy of Toronto Archives

Yes the women in this New York picture looking amazingly fashionable but were the Toronto women that far behind in fashion? Not really we were just more covered up lol! Easter weekend in Toronto can be cold, which may account for why the Easter parades in our city were perhaps a bit more humble than New York’s 5th Avenue event. The photograph below from 1924 shows Toronto flappers in their Easter finery parading along the Sunnyside boardwalk in their warm jackets (Toronto Archives). I think they look pretty amazing even WITH their jackets on.

easter parade toronto

In 1922 an amusement park opened up at Sunnyside park and the Easter Parade became a more structured event, complete with sponsors and prizes.

easter parade 1920 sunnyside

But by the early 1950’s the amusement park had shut down and with it went the Sunnyside Easter Parade. However the parade was not gone for ever and it was reborn on Bloor Street till about the middle of the 1960’s where it then moved East to the Beaches and has remained there ever since. Very cool!

Now there is the history of the Toronto Easter Parade but now onto the most important part of the parade…the hats!

So what does one wear on her head to the “Vintage Easter Parade”? Here are some of my favorite choices from Etsy that can be purchased right now.

The Hats

Now this darling just screams DRAMA! and the rest of your outfit can be plain as ever if you are wearing this piece.

etsy 1930 hat

Etsy Seller: Union Made Bride. Hat: $95 US

This next hat is to adorable for words! Simple but a real showstopper. Love it!

1950's orange hat

Etsy Seller: Alex Sandra’s Vintage Emporium   Hat: $75 US

This next hat is something I can see our favorite Bomb Girl “Gladys” wearing.

1940's hat

Etsy Seller: Alex Sandra’s Vintage Emporium   Hat: $89 US

The lovely 1940’s purple number is just jaw dropping beautiful and would look good on pretty much anyone! I just adore her red hair too, so pretty.

1940's purple hat

Etsy Seller: Vintage Pickle  Hat: $34 US

If I was going to the Easter Parade I would wear the below hat I purchased a couple of years ago but unfortunately I will be in Las Vegas for VIVA (so it’s not really that sad lol) but I look forward to seeing all the pictures from the day.

my fancy hat

My 1950’s Vintage Hat, courtesy of Gadabout Vintage here in Toronto

I will now leave you with a great article from the Queen of Vintage website on “Top Tips on Vintage Hats” that is a must read before you don that special work of art you have been saving for the parade.

Happy Strolling!

Liz 🙂

Miss Toronto Pageant-The Early Days

There is a pub/bar/my local beer hangout called the Rhino Restaurant in Parkdale, Toronto. They have a mural on the side of their wall that for some reason I only noticed recently that I have found very intriguing and has encouraged me to write a blog post about it. Here is the mural (sorry for the side image but the patio was closed and this was a close as I could get).

rhino miss toronto pic

It’s a mural of the “Miss Toronto Pageant” in the 1920’s…1926 to be exact, the year that the Miss Toronto Pageant started at Sunnyside Park.

WOW…I never knew Toronto had done anything like this. I moved to the city in 1999 and from my reading I discovered that the pageant closed it’s doors in 1991, so of course I would not of read or heard anything about it. Anyways as I was looking thru some very cool vintage pics of the “early days” of the pageant (lets say pre 1960’s because that is what my blog focuses on) I discovered the original image that the mural was based from. Here it is…the first Miss Toronto winner of 1926 – “Miss Jean Ford Tolmie” in her full glory (holy flower hat!) at Sunnyside Park.

Miss Toronto

Image source: Toronto Archives

Look at the hair and the bathing suits and stockings but the best part is how very unhappy the ladies who did not win are. Totally Miserable! Cheer up ladies you are all beautiful and I would not of known who to have picked if I was a judge!


There is not a lot of history online about the pageant but what I could find, after its initial startup in 1926 it seemed to remain dormant till about 1937. In 1937 the “Toronto Police Amateur Athletic Association” who wanted to add something “extra special” to their annual Police Games decided to take over the Pageant and run it again. It was not without controversy though, no sooner had the pageant been announced than it came under fire from the Local Council of Women of Toronto in a letter to the Board of Control and the chief of police. The council’s issue was not that the pageant objectified women—as feminists would assert in the future—but rather that the pageant was “not in good taste.” Their letter read in part:

“We look to the heads of the police department not only to see that existing laws pertaining to standards of decency and good taste are enforced, but also to be most punctilious in seeing that nothing they sponsor may tend to have a lowering effect on the standards of the people in general.” (

But this did not stop the pageant from moving forward with 350 pretty 16+, British Subjects entering. 66 were then chosen to compete in the finale at the CNE Grandstand (Canadian National Exhibition) on July 17th, 1937. The website “” has a super post on what went down that day that eventually had the very pretty 17-year-old Billie Hallam become “Miss Toronto, 1937“.

Please Read:

6 of the ladies –Look at their cute shoes and the hair..fantastic!

1937 Toronto contestents

Toronto Archives

Your 1937 Miss Toronto Winner-Billie Hallam”isn’t she just a doll?

winner 1937 pagent

Toronto Archives

With her win, the lovely Miss Hallem won $200 cash (a lot of money in 1937), Free trips to the police games in several other cities, invite to the Miss American pageant, jewellery, and sponsorship deals with companies like “Ponds Produce” & “Star Taxi” to name a few. She even had a potential chance to screen test with R.K.O. Studios…amazing!! ( This was a huge deal for a 17-year-old in Toronto.

The pageant continued on until 1991 where backlash from Feminists and declining sponsorship eventually saw it shut it doors but thanks to the internet we can relive some of those wonderful pageant moments thru the pictures that still exist today. Lets take a look…

Some of the other contestants from the 1937 pageant. OMG the parasols!!!

Miss Toronto 1937 city of toronto archives

Now for something slightly different…”Miss War Worker 1942“. This contest was created to encourage women to enter the workforce during the war (not sure how a pageant would do this, but ok).

miss war worker1942-1 toronto archives

Miss Toronto 1946 – Her surfing bathing suit is totally adorable and something I would love to have today. Check out the ladies in the background, the one to the left looks a bit like Ava Gardner.

Miss Toronto 1946

Miss Toronto 1947 – Look at the handsome Police officer hoisting her in the air. Lucky her! Once again her shoes are divine!

miss toronto 1947 toronto archives

Miss Toronto 1948-The bathing suits are super amazing. These ladies all look like they stepped out of a movie set.

miss toronto 1948

Miss Toronto 1950 contestants Beautiful!!

miss toronto 1950

Miss Toronto 1956 – Ummm Hello! Where can I get THAT DRESS???? yooza!

Miss Toronto 1956

Miss Toronto 1957 – The runner-up should have won because her shoes were the cutest 🙂

1957 miss toronto city of toronto

So there you have a brief early history/pictures of the “Miss Toronto” Pageant, hope you enjoyed learning a bit about the Glory Day of the Pageant.