snapped l

Published around a century ago in the Saturday Star Weekly and the Sunday World, the snapshots below illustrate the breadth of social life that existed in Toronto. One end of this breadth was defined pictorially by Regents Park toddlers in their soap-box toboggans…

B. making the best of a  bad winter, Toronto Sunday World Feb. 2, 1913, detail caption: A FEW SYDENHAM ST. CHILDREN MAKING THE BEST OF A BAD WINTER. Sunday World Feb. 2, 1913

and the other end by Rosedale women in costly furs.

In the middle, where everyone came together, were the parks, the  all-season recreation grounds for  exercise, group bonding and spectacle.

S. A Full Load, Toronto Sunday World, March 16, 1913 caption: A Full Load, Sunday World, March 16, 1913

Within the democratic parks and at exclusive events, the higher ranks worked at maintaining their aura of power through display.  Society women had an important cultural role to play in a media culture. Their up-to-the-minute fashions were circulated through weekend papers so that readers could recognize the new patterns emerging from Paris.

The sidewalk, like parks, was where city residents, high and low, inter-mingled. For photojournalists it was a catwalk for fashion, theatre of cultural other-ness and barometer of women’s push into the public sphere. The visual reports from sidewalks and parks were not merely entertaining. The images took form around anxious debates about social climbing newcomers, immigration, poverty and loosening morals among the young.

 Street Style

Furs and feathers were part of a well-turned out appearance. The movement and texture of these contrasted with the sobriety of the tailored walking suit and, in the case of fur, added warmth to the thin outer layer necessary for a fitted outline.

The women below don’t acknowledge the presence of the camera man or stop to pose. The photos suggest that the dangling fur tails would have been in motion, twitching back and forth with each energetic stride

A. Furs As they Are Worn in Toronto, Star Weekly, Dec. 21, 1912 Furs As they Are Worn in Toronto, Star Weekly, Dec. 21, 1912

caption: … showing how furs are worn in Toronto are snapshots made during the past week in Rosedale. Some of the ladies are out for a morning constitutional; some are going shopping, and so on. It might be noted that the black tails are often sparingly used. This will be noted in the muff worn by a well-known Toronto bride whose picture is here show.

A. Some Representative Toronto Society Women in Furs, Toronto Sunday World, Jan. 19, 1913- Some Representative Toronto Society Women in Furs, Sunday World, Jan. 19, 1913

Yonge street sidewalks at the height of Christmas shopping was a lively backdrop for snaps.

A. Christmas Shoppers in Toronto, Star Weekly, Dec. 21, 1912 Christmas Shoppers in Toronto, Star Weekly, Dec. 21, 1912

caption: CHRISTMAS SHOPPERS. A snapshot on Yonge street one morning this week. ANOTHER YONGE STREET GROUP. The gentleman with the fur cap gives the picture a real old fashioned Christmas look.

New York society ladies who picketed were known as “the mink brigade”. Although Toronto suffragettes did not join their sisters on the picket line, local interest in the movement is reflected in the many published photos of marches in England and the United States.

A. Society Lady on Picket Line, Star Weekly Illustrated Section, Feb. 8, 1913  Society Lady on Picket Line, Star Weekly Feb. 8, 1913

caption: The daughter of the famous Senator La Follette of Wisconsin, a prominent suffragette, who has recently interested herself in labor troubles. She is here seen with a number of striking garment workers doing picket duty in New York City.

While it may seem that the muff was an object designed to make hands helpless, in the Star Weekly it was proposed that, in fact it signaled a modern freedom from an escort.

 A. Walking, Tenderly Clinging or Coldly Aloof, Star Weekly April 26, 1913 Walking, Tenderly Clinging or Coldly Aloof, Star Weekly April 26, 1913

A French journal has discovered that men and women no longer walk arm-in-arm in public. In other days, it said recently, the lady would place her hand within the arm of her cavalier, resting it lightly upon his sleeve; now such a couple walk coldly apart, the woman with both her hands in a muff, the man with his hands behind his back or in his overcoat pockets. …Here are methods of the four periods.—Drawn by Pecoud in The Sketch.

Silhouettes were used to highlight the shape of new fashions as well as to highlight who was seen together.

??????????????????????????????? SOME STRIKING SOCIETY SILHOUETTES SEEN AT THE WOODBINE RACE TRACK May 30, 1914

A. Princess Patricia and Colonel Farquhar Princess Patricia and Colonel Farquhar, Woodbine spring race meet 1913

Part street style, part social mission report, the snaps below document office and factory girls running towards their low-cost lunch provided by a canteen set up for them at the Central Methodist Church. An important aim of the program was to protect them from the predations of Yonge street “mashers”.

A. Toronto Girls On Their Way to A Church Restaurant, toronto Star saturday, May 3, 1912 p6 b. A. Toronto Girls On Their Way to A Church Restaurant, toronto Star saturday, May 3, 1912 p6 c

A. Toronto Girls On Their Way to A Church Restaurant, toronto Star saturday, May 3, 1912 p6 Toronto Girls On Their Way to A Church Restaurant, Star  Weekly, May 3, 1912 p6.

Play Spaces Safe from City Streets

Concern over the dangers of the street led to the creation of numerous free public skating rinks around the city in the same years that the playground movement was in full force. To complement its reports of posh society Sunday World had its photographers trawl through the city’s most humble neighborhoods to represent the working classes in their environments. The following snaps show the paper’s inclusive coverage of Toronto’s skating scene.

B. On the Roncesvalle Free Rink, Toronto Sunday World, March 16, 1913 On the Roncesvalle Free Rink, Sunday World, March 16, 1913

B. A Group of Girls on the Rink in Riverdale Park, Toronto Sunday World, March 9, 1913 A Group of Girls on the Rink in Riverdale Park, Sunday World, March 9, 1913

B. Girls skating, Toronto Sunday World, Feb. 23, 1913  Girls skating, Sunday World, Feb. 23, 1913

A. Society People who Skate on Victoria Rink, World March 10, 1912 Society People who Skate on Victoria Rink, Sunday World March 10, 1912

A. Skating on Grenadier Pond, Toronto Sunday World, Feb. 9, 1913 Skating on Grenadier Pond, Sunday World, Feb. 9, 1913

Us and Them

The Sunday World branded itself as a frank-talking populist publication. In this image it aired common prejudices not expressed in the more progressive pages of its rival, the Star Weekend. The subtext of the dual images below was the definition of “the foreigner” as a counterpoint and threat to Toronto’s Anglo-Protestant rural ethic.

C. Early Morning Stroll, forturne tellers World June 26,.1910 p. 6 Sunday World June 26,.1910 p. 6

caption: AN EARLY MORNING STROLL. One of the beautiful walks in Riverdale Park, along which hundreds of Toronto people daily pass. FOREIGNERS OF OUR CITY. …fortune-tellers passing along Queen-street toward their quarters, after a morning’s shopping.

C. Foreigners in Toronto World July 3, 1910 p 6Sunday World July 3, 1910 p 6 caption: FOREIGNERS IN TORONTO. Italian women on Bay-street, responding to the photographer’s “Look pleasant, please.”

C. Rag and Bone man, canoists on Humber,  World June 19, 1910 p6Sunday World June 19, 1910 p6

caption:  “OPPOSITION IS THE LIFE OF TRADE” Hebrew dealers of the Ward bidding against one another for a particularly fine assortment of “rags and bones”. ON THE HUMBER RIVER PLAYGROUNDS. Canoists enjoying a mid-day loll on the green carpet of the Huber banks.

Worthy Ladies

Toronto’s strong Methodist ethic to help the poor and the ill was channeled through women’s groups such as the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire. Membership in the I.O.E.D. guaranteed the status of the old family compact and new mercantile aristocracy but numerous other women’s groups from church auxiliaries to clubs measured their value through hands-on help. These snaps, with the recipients of their charity, capture the social identity of the worthy ladies.

D.Preventorium opening,  1913 May 17 detail  Preventorium opening, Star Weekly May 17, 1913

D. Heather Club, Toronto Sunday World, Aug. 10, 1913 Heather Club, Toronto Sunday World, Aug. 10, 1913

Private Party Glimpsed by Flash

The elegant assembly portrayed below must have stood frozen and well prepared as the photographer triggered the mini-explosion that illuminated the porcelain plates at the farthest reaches of the room. In contrast,  a less carefully rehearsed detonation of flash at Mrs. Purdy’s party caught more spontaneous expressions among the guests.

E. Flashlight Photograph of Mrs. E.F.B. Johnston s Dance, Toronto Sunday World, Dec. 15, 1912 Flashlight Photograph of Mrs. E.F.B. Johnston s Dance, Toronto Sunday World, Dec. 15, 1912

Beautiful ballroom of Mrs. E.F.B. Johnston’s residence, St. George street showing some of her valuable china and pictures. Among those in the picture are….

E. Party Given by Miss Grace Pudney, Toronto Sunday World, April 27, 1913 Party Given by Miss Grace Pudney, Toronto Sunday World, April 27, 1913

The Island Park

The Toronto Islands provided a vital escape from the summer heat. Large gatherings such as the Methodist picnic where young people were kept busy with games under the careful eye of their elders were still common. Increasingly however the autonomy of working girls made possible a new kind of scene at the beach and amusement park.

 F. A Hot Day at the Beach, Toronto Sunday World, Aug. 10, 1913 A Hot Day at the Beach, Sunday World, Aug. 10, 1913

F. A New Device Hanlan s Point, Toronto Sunday World, Sept. 21, 1913 A New Device Hanlan s Point, Sunday World, Sept. 21, 1913

F. Lined Up in the Water, Toronto Sunday World, Aug. 10, 1913 Lined Up in the Water, Sunday World, Aug. 10, 1913

F. Royal Grenadier Picnic High Park, Toronto Sunday World, Aug. 10, 1913 Royal Grenadier Picnic High Park, Sunday World, Aug. 10, 1913

F. Methodist picnic race Exhibition Grounds, Toronto Sunday World, July 6, 1913Methodist picnic race Exhibition Grounds, Sunday World, July 6, 1913

For those looking to join their own sort, the snapshots of recreation spots relayed a wealth of information.  Thanks to new technology, the Victorian artfully posed or regimental group photo was replaced by images of people caught mid-interaction. With the focus on body language, clothing style and setting, the images convey the “feel” of an event or moment.

These fast-draw social sketches in the most popular public spaces offered weekly updates on “the latest thing” and cumulatively, a grand chronicle of city living. The following post displays examples of snapshots from the James collection in the City of Toronto Archives. In photocopy format they will be exhibited at the Wychwood Farmers’ Market tomorrow.

Be snapped at the market and insert your portrait among those of other Torontonians of a century ago.

this post is related to:  snapped ll  and    head garnish.

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