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Blog: “For Best Service”: John Lissee’s Appliances on Ossington

Once the dispensary was removed, the sign for John Lissee’s appliance shop was revealed. Image: C.Ryan, September 2018.

Kathleen and I recently took a quick vacation to Toronto (as well as Hamilton and locations across Manitoulin Island) and while walking around, noticed this well-preserved and recently-revealed sign on one of the empty commercial properties along Ossington Avenue. 

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Ottawa Housing Statistics, 1961

An unnamed census enumerator poses for National Film Board cameras in 1961 at the Carleton Lodge. Image: Rudi Wolf / National Film Board / Library and Archives Canada, Acc. 1971-271 NPC, Box 85, Item 96768 (e011177427).

One of the more important sources I have relied on to gain some type of impression of the state of housing in the Ottawa area is, unsurprisingly, the Census. Although not immune to critique, Census data, even at the worst of times, has been a useful source to raise further questions, develop leads, and find new and interesting ways to reframe our understanding of just what it meant at various times to take, produce, regulate, manage, maintain, improve, demolish, and – darn it – actually enjoy shelter.

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Ethnicity and Segregation in Ottawa-Hull, 1961

The basic search screen for the CityStats tool.

One of the more interesting tools that I have used for understanding the ethnic and racial composition of Canadian cities in the postwar era is called City Stats. Billed as a tool “designed to encourage the use of measures of residential segregation in Canadian urban history,” it allows the user to run calculations, from the basic to the complex, to understand segregation better in one, several, or all urban areas in Canada.

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A Dog By Any Other Name (Season 6)

Although the writers were clearly beginning to run out of steam (at least, arguably), the sixth season of the Littlest Hobo was not intended to be the last.1Matthew Fraser. “Canadian shows on CTV agenda,” The Globe and Mail, May 22, 1985, S5. Mulroney-era changes in subsidization policy, financial troubles at CTV, changing tastes, and the unfortunate decision to use Hobo to fill Cancon quotas ensured that it would nevertheless be so.2Hobo almost seems to have been the only show used for this purpose as it seems to have become a byword for “Cancon policy filler programming” in reports on the policy. See Jeffrey Simpson, “A dramatic void,” The Globe and Mail, September 12, 1986, A6; John Haslett Cuff, “New Canadian content rules could reduce TV ad revenues,” The Globe and Mail, September 24, 1986, C5.

Although the writers were clearly beginning to run out of steam (at least, arguably), the sixth season of the Littlest Hobo was not intended to be the last.3Matthew Fraser. “Canadian shows on CTV agenda,” The Globe and Mail, May 22, 1985, S5. Mulroney-era changes in subsidization policy, financial troubles at CTV, changing tastes, and the unfortunate decision to use Hobo to fill Cancon quotas ensured that it would nevertheless be so.4Hobo almost seems to have been the only show used for this purpose as it seems to have become a byword for “Cancon policy filler programming” in reports on the policy. See Jeffrey Simpson, “A dramatic void,” The Globe and Mail, September 12, 1986, A6; John Haslett Cuff, “New Canadian content rules could reduce TV ad revenues,” The Globe and Mail, September 24, 1986, C5.

Notes   [ + ]

1. Matthew Fraser. “Canadian shows on CTV agenda,” The Globe and Mail, May 22, 1985, S5.
2. Hobo almost seems to have been the only show used for this purpose as it seems to have become a byword for “Cancon policy filler programming” in reports on the policy. See Jeffrey Simpson, “A dramatic void,” The Globe and Mail, September 12, 1986, A6; John Haslett Cuff, “New Canadian content rules could reduce TV ad revenues,” The Globe and Mail, September 24, 1986, C5.
3. Matthew Fraser. “Canadian shows on CTV agenda,” The Globe and Mail, May 22, 1985, S5.
4. Hobo almost seems to have been the only show used for this purpose as it seems to have become a byword for “Cancon policy filler programming” in reports on the policy. See Jeffrey Simpson, “A dramatic void,” The Globe and Mail, September 12, 1986, A6; John Haslett Cuff, “New Canadian content rules could reduce TV ad revenues,” The Globe and Mail, September 24, 1986, C5.
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A Dog By Any Other Name (Season 5)

I chose it because Glen Eagles Motel seems to have contained a Timmins pennant. The Glen Eagles burnt down in 1990. The site at Twyn Rivers / Sheppard is now a “vista”.

The fifth season is about where I begin to remember (in my dullest possible memories) seeing Littlest Hobo episodes as they aired. Granted, when the season was going, I was approaching two years, but I also know that MCTV aired Hobo reruns frequently.

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A Dog By Any Other Name (Season 4)

In Season 4, Hobo’s human partners were more likely to give him a name than they were in Season 3. It might have been due to the multi-part episodes.

In Season 4, Hobo’s human partners were more likely to give him a name than they were in Season 3. It might have been due to the multi-part episodes.

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A Dog By Any Other Name (Season 3)

Hobo knows that something is amiss.

Carrying on this little series, in The Littlest Hobo, Season 3, the show’s writers were less likely to ensure that his human companions gave him a name. Of the season’s eighteen episodes, he was named seven times.

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A Dog By Any Other Name (Season 2)

A dog of many names and many adventures.

I haven’t exactly hidden that The Littlest Hobo is one of my favourite shows. In addition to being a consummate piece of Canadiana, it was the first show I ever really was able to identify and I get to play “where in Toronto is this” when I watch. The other day, Kathleen remarked that it would be funny if someone had tracked all of the names that Hobo was given by his human costars through the series. Although someone may have, after a brief search, I did not find a source. A bit surprised, I figured that I’d go ahead and do it myself.

Continuing on with Season 2.

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A Dog By Any Other Name (Season 1)

The finest of all the dogs.

I haven’t exactly hidden that The Littlest Hobo is one of my favourite shows. In addition to being a consummate piece of Canadiana, it was the first show I ever really was able to identify and I get to play “where in Toronto is this” when I watch. The other day, Kathleen remarked that it would be funny if someone had tracked all of the names that Hobo was given by his human costars through the series. Although someone may have, after a brief search, I did not find a source. A bit surprised, I figured that I’d go ahead and do it myself.

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Apartments, the Depression, and Research Never Completed

Snear Miller’s “Val Cartier” in 2016. I could have walked the 30 seconds to shoot it myself, but Google Maps provides. It was a nice morning, at least. Image: Google Maps, 2016.

Interest-based research is a wonderful thing. Something catches your interest, you ride it out, put it aside. It’s that last part that really gets you. All that effort should, really, result in something. At least a poorly-written blog post, if not something more substantial. This has been one of my peskier issues.

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The Heritage: Seniors Housing for Regina, 1971

The Heritage: a home for Regina’s seniors since 1972. Image: Google Maps, September 2016.

As I explore a bit in an upcoming piece about the MacLaren House nursing home (1967-1993) in Ottawa, shelter for seniors came to be a major concern in housing policy during the 1960s.1To be certain, it was a known issue long before that, but it was not until the 1960s in Canada that it received a dedicated policy response.

Notes   [ + ]

1. To be certain, it was a known issue long before that, but it was not until the 1960s in Canada that it received a dedicated policy response.
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Skyline Hotel, Etobicoke, c. 1962

The Skyline Hotel, c. 1962. Image: City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1464 File 24 Item 5.

Midcentury hotels are one of the first things that got me into urban history. There is just something about their design and the role that they tended to play that proves endlessly interesting. Although hardly competition for the Constellation Hotel down the road (now demolished), the Skyline recently caught my eye.