In 1912, a newspaper in Toronto cost a penny. In the final edition of the June 15th Toronto Daily Star, readers could peruse a report on the forty-eight cases of typhoid confirmed in the city that year. Also in the Daily Star that day, a Canadian Press dispatch from New York City, via a cable from London, England.
The page one article touted a medical breakthrough concerning the use of a new anaesthetic. Scientists were making the wondrous claim that this newfangled application of anaesthesia would at long last dull the pain of surgery. On the inside pages, there was a piece bemoaning the sorry condition of Toronto’s roadways. An unnamed cub reporter described the poor condition of city streets, comparing road surfaces to that of a nutmeg grater.
Advertisements in the newspaper included a half page ad for Adams Furniture Co., Limited. A thriving business at the turn of the last century, Adams Furniture was located on Queen Street, at the easterly portion of the long since reconfigured, City Hall Square. The ad in that day’s paper stated, customers could purchase a brass bed for $11.95. Listed amongst the classifieds was a notice of sale for a newly constructed semidetached house on Dufferin Street, asking price, $3,010.00. Ads for health and beauty products with names like, Blue Jay Corn Plasters and Kitty Gordon Face Cream, were numerous.
Of particular interest was the article that didn’t get into print that day. For a full three weeks, editors and newspapermen sat on a story pertinent to the social conscience of Toronto. On June 15, 1912, the newspaper didn’t run an article describing the opening of a fourteen room settlement house tucked into the heart of bustling Kensington Market. Located at 67 Bellevue Place, the settlement house would be known to the public as, St. Christopher House. Years later, an eyewitness recalled that sunny day in June, fondly reminiscing about the moment St. Chris’s doors swung open that very first day, whereupon waves of local children excitedly overran the brand new settlement house. Torontonians waited three weeks before the newspaper proclaimed the opening of St. Christopher House. In the July 6th Daily Star, under the column, Of Interest To Women, there was a brief article printed beneath the heading, ST. CHRISTOPHER OPENS ITS DOORS.
With the passage of time, St. Christopher House has forged an endearing relationship both within the community it serves, as well as with the larger population of Toronto. What appeared to be a seemly unremarkable event ninety-eight years ago, at least as far as the press was concerned, will be a cause for celebration in June, 2012 when St. Christopher House marks its 100th anniversary. The growth and evolution of St. Christopher House is reflected in the ever changing social needs of Toronto. From that long ago June day when youngsters swarmed through its doors, to the present, St. Christopher House has consistently positioned itself on the vanguard of community development, contributing positive change to Toronto’s social infrastructure.
An organizing committee consisting of volunteers, staff and board members has been formed to plan St. Chris’s centenary. The Century Committee meets every second month. Those interested in participating, passing along their ideas or sharing a memory, may contact Lidia Monaco at 416 532-4828 (extension 234), or email@example.com
Ed Brown can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org