Monday, November 18, 2013

What the Toronto Santa Claus parade used to look like

santa parade torontoThe 109th annual Toronto Santa Claus parade, whether Rob Ford attends or not, will wind its way from Christie Pits to St. Lawrence Market via University Avenue later today, roughly matching the route St. Nick took in the 1920s and 30s during a series of T. Eaton Co. sponsored events.
Back then, the parade floats were of fairy tale characters and traditional Christmas scenes. The Mother Goose float - the biggest of all when it first appeared in 1917 - often took pride of place (behind Santa, of course) and was sometimes ridden by a band of musicians or clowns.
toronto santa paradeGiant toy soldiers and a group of slightly demented looking dolls were also part of the event in 1926.
The parade always ended at Eaton's, then a sprawling department store and factory where the Eaton Centre is today. Each November the company would build "Toyland," a festive paradise packed with toys, where Santa would greet city kids and hand out gifts.
toronto santa paradeIn 1936, the year some of these photos are taken, kids were tantalized in the Eaton's catalogue by a Buck Rogers rocket ship with genuine shooting sparks, a Buttercup Doll with real moving eyes, an electric train set, and a chemistry set stuffed with litmus paper, magnesium, and test tubes.
What a time to be young.
toronto santa paradeWooden soldiers snake round a bend in a road just behind Osgoode Hall, west of current City Hall.
toronto santa paradeGiant wooden dolls are guided on a leash in 1926.
toronto santa paradeNoah, his ark, and menagerie pass in 1926.
toronto santa paradeSanta, flanked by toy soldiers, greets the crowd from a balcony at Eaton's in 1925.
toronto santa paradeSanta Claus comes down University Avenue in 1934.
toronto santa paradeThe same Santa float on November 20, 1926.
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