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    Toronto’s slums had chickens in living rooms, leaky roofs, wet basements and cellars, overflowing outdoor privies, and high rents

    November 29th, 2013

    Chickens in the living room, nine children crowded in a single rag-covered bed, one outdoor water tap for 16 houses; these were among Toronto 1910 slum housing conditions described by Medical Director Dr. Charles Hasting in a talk to the Irish Benevolent Society. Six month’s later, Hastings spelled out more excruciating detail in a groundbreaking report. Read the rest of this entry »


    A spinster deplores social ban on female marriage proposals

    October 29th, 2013

    In a letter to the editor an anonymous lady deplores the social prohibition against female marriage proposals and suggests that every year be leap year. Read the rest of this entry »


    Hanged thieves are stark warnings

    October 20th, 2013

     The public hanging of a horse thief and two burglars was seen as a warning to others

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Dancing deemed immoral by 19th century preachers

    October 19th, 2013

    Nineteenth century preachers were divided on the morality of dancing. Many called it immoral, and sought to stop it. British Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) said it would be acceptable as long as men and women danced in separate rooms. Read the rest of this entry »


    How you going to keep ‘em down on the farm?

    October 12th, 2013

    Schools were accused of contributing to the exodus of young men from the farm to the cities a century ago, Read the rest of this entry »


    Cockfight draws big crowd but police chief too busy curling

    October 11th, 2013

    Illegal cock-fighting reportedly flourished in Lindsay, Ontario in 1899 under the blind eye of the chief of police. Read the rest of this entry »


    Gun-toting gold rush miners of Vancouver Island

    October 10th, 2013

    Vancouver Island was the scene of a gold rush in the 1860s, although the colony’s mountain streams never panned out as well as the richer and more spectacular diggings on the Fraser River and in the Caribou country. Many of the prospectors who swarmed north were Americans. Although carrying revolvers was illegal, such gun toting was apparently common, Read the rest of this entry »


    Hoop skirts hobble 19th century ladies

    September 22nd, 2013

    Hoop skirts, worn by high society women at formal events, were the height of fashion in the mid-nineteenth century. With crinoline attached to a bell-shaped frame of whalebone, metal or other stiff material, the hoop skirt was an inner petticoat followed by a second petticoat and then my lady’s dress, which was thereby formed into what was deemed to be a fashionable shape. Read the rest of this entry »


    Canada’s father of human rights. An excerpt from About Canada

    September 21st, 2013

    Three-and-a-half years after the founding of the United Nations in San Francisco, the nations of the world met in General Assembly in Paris to lay a foundation stone, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). It is “the international Magna Carta of all mankind,” in the words of U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Read the rest of this entry »


    Farmers’ “never do” list; success hints for anyone

    September 19th, 2013

    Secrets of the successful farmer, as revealed by the Brockville Recorder, November 11, 1836, might offer some hints for success in today’s world.

    Read the rest of this entry »


    Nova Scotia’s illiterate, lazy vagabond teachers

    September 18th, 2013

    Nova Scotia needs “a general system of education,” financed by direct taxation, with teachers who are better than half-educated “lazy vagabonds,” Read the rest of this entry »


    Winnipeg doctors cashed in on booze prescriptions

    September 17th, 2013

    At least some doctors made a good thing of prohibition. You could quench your thirst if you could get a doctor’s prescription for liquor for medicinal purposes. In Manitoba, some doctors were selling liquor prescriptions by the caseload, Read the rest of this entry »


    When chivalry masked male chauvinism

    September 6th, 2013

    Chivalry in the nineteenth century was often no more than blatant male chauvinism.  Women do not need the vote, nor power, nor the right to join any of the professions, the military or the church, Read the rest of this entry »


    Social Darwinism

    August 6th, 2013

    “The growth of a large business is merely the survival of the fittest. The American Beauty rose can be produced in the splendor and fragrance, which can bring cheer to its beholder only by sacrificing the early buds, which grow up around it. Read the rest of this entry »


    Last of the saddleback preachers

    July 18th, 2013

    The passing of the  fiery itinerant preachers, who galloped by horse throughout Canada,  from hamlet to hamlet, to spread the gospel in the backwoods of the  nineteenth century, is foretold by Toronto Saturday Night, June 15, 1901. Read the rest of this entry »


    Sound of silence, and other noises

    April 19th, 2013

    The great compensating benefit of being hard of hearing is the easy ability to tune out. Unplug. Abolish noise pollution. Turn the roar of the world into meow. I speak from experience.

    Another benefit is that civic authorities would likely have much less trouble on their hands if more people were hearing impaired. Few things seem to occupy the authorities of big cities and small towns more than noise, judging by a Google search that yielded a score of news reports about noise, all dated within two days in mid-April, 2013.

    In Durham, North Carolina, police issued a citation to the New Hope Church Read the rest of this entry »


    Too many books: “One of the great diseases.”

    April 10th, 2013

    Never has it been this easy, nor cost so little, to publish books, which digital technology causes to issue forth in floods.

    An overcrowded market is the anguish of authors.

    “One of the great diseases of this age is the multitude of books that… overcharge the world” with an “abundance of idle matter,” is the complaint of English author Barnaby Rich.

    “A vast chaos and confusion of books; we are oppressed with them, our eyes ache with reading, our fingers with turning,” is the lament of Robert Burton, another English author. Read the rest of this entry »


    When fanatic Christians massacred while Islam was tolerant

    March 23rd, 2013

    For a period of hundreds of years the vast world of Islam was more advanced and tolerant of religious faiths while intolerant Christian fanatics massacred millions and committed atrocities whose horror has never been exceeded. Read the rest of this entry »


    Democracy’s challenge is inclusiveness

    June 12th, 2012

    The democracy envisioned by the towering figures of the Enlightenment, who were our Founding Fathers, was one of limited participation in the right to vote, but a society meant to serve the interests of all the people. Read the rest of this entry »


    The pain of exclusion

    May 1st, 2012

    Rejection can cause people to become more aggressive and dramatically lower IQ scores, according to researchers at Case Western University in Ohio. Read the rest of this entry »