Wednesday, 1 March 2017





The series of digital stories about Toronto history and culture which make up this project are the work of fifty-three Master of Museum Studies (MMSt) graduate students. The project was inspired by the 2015 Myseum Intersections – Telling Toronto’s Stories and invited each storyteller to select an object from local collections which has significance to Toronto’s past and present. The objects inspired the authors to connect historical events with contemporary context so that they tell stories about the multiple intersections that happen in the city.

Musings will be posting collected stories once a cycle. We hope that, after reading the stories, you will know Toronto a little bit better. And perhaps you will find similar stories in your own objects!

Our partners for this project, to which we are extremely thankful, are:
Now, without further ado, object stories from Scarborough Historical Society.



The Guild Inn, Scarborough, currently under renovation for new management at time of writing.
Photo credit, Sarah Harrison.

Hidden away in a quiet corner of Scarborough’s Guildwood Village stands an old run-down hotel. The hotel consists of about 90 acres of green space, where fragments from a variety of old buildings from the city of Toronto are displayed in the gardens. How did pieces from over 60 buildings arrive there? The answer starts with Herbert Spencer Clark (1903 – 1986) and Rosa Hewetson Clark (1888 – 1981). They purchased property in Scarborough and founded the Guild of All Arts in 1932, a craft co-operative ensuring that craftsmen-and-women would be able to produce handmade arts and crafts in an economically sustainable way. [1] However, in order to stay solvent, the Clarks decided to construct the Guild Inn to supplement the Guild of All Arts, so that the craftspeople would have a place to stay, in addition to generating income from tourists.

In the early twentieth century, Scarborough was a very fashionable place to take a holiday, as it was far away from downtown Toronto. In the later years of the Guild, Herbert Clark decided that he would turn the grounds of the Inn into an open-air museum. During the 1960’s – 70’s buildings were being destroyed across Toronto to make way for more modern architectural projects. This is when Mr. Clark, backed up by a group of wealthy friends, decided to salvage fragments from many buildings. Rick Schofield from the Scarborough Archive notes that, “[Mr. Clark] was saving artefacts from Toronto when the City of Toronto no longer cared about them”. [2] By preserving them on his property, Mr. Clark managed to collect sculptures, columns, walls, and in one case an entire pavilion. [3]

One example of the many buildings preserved here are two pieces from the same building: the entrance gate and sculptures from the Bank of Nova Scotia. This bank was founded in 1832 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. By the turn of the century, its head office was moved to 39 King Street West in Toronto. The same architects who designed many other buildings around Toronto, including the main building of the Royal Ontario Museum, built the head office of the Bank of Nova Scotia in 1903. The Bank’s facade is built from sculpted stone, and the entrance to the building is made of Ohio sandstone The Bank of Nova Scotia owned the building until 1951, when the head office moved across the street. [4] The building then became a public library, and was later purchased by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and then demolished in 1969. [5]

Sculptures and fragments from the Bank of Nova Scotia at the Guild Inn (built 1903, established 1832).
Photo credit, Sarah Harrison.
In the present day, people are more mobile than ever before, and so cities are in a state of constant change. Thus, Mr. Clark’s passion for collecting architecture is something to consider in relation to larger questions. As a city, what parts of our architecture should we value and save? As citizens, how do we preserve architectural heritage in a way that is accessible, so that we, as well as future generations, are able to enjoy them? 

Ohio sandstone entrance to the Bank of Nova Scotia, 1903.
Photo credit, Sarah Harrison.
Check out the Scarborough Historical Society for more info:

1. Lidgold, C.M. (2000). The History of the Guild Inn. Brookridge Publishing: Scarbourough, ON. Page 51.
2. Personal communication, October 16th, 2015.
3. Myzelev,A. (2012). “Regional Respite: Guild of All Arts and Craft Revival in Ontario”. The Historian, 74 (2). pgs 307- 329. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6563.2012.00321.x Page 328.
4. Walker, Hugh (1980). The Spencer Clark Collection of Historic Architecture at the Guild Inn. [Pamphlet]. Scarborough, Guild of All Arts. 11.
5. Arthur, Eric. (1986). Toronto: No Mean City. 3rd Edition. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Page 218.



On a recent visit to the Scarborough Archives, archivist Rick Schofield showed me a marble date stone for Woburn School or S.S. No. 6 and told me that there was a mystery attached to it. Now I was intrigued!
Photo of Date Stone on Woburn School circa 1900,
Photo by Maureen Marshall
Schofield explained the mystery to me. When Woburn school was demolished in 1956, the Scarborough Archives asked to have the date stone donated to them. The stone arrived and it was much larger than typical date stones for other schools in the area. Also, it had the word ‘Scarboro’ carved into it, whereas most schools simply had the school section number and the date engraved onto its bricks. He wondered what was so special about this school built in 1863 at the intersection of Markham Road and Ellesmere that warranted a date stone that was out of the ordinary. Also, according to his records, the local farmers paid only $5 for this stone whereas farmers down the road paid $8 for a smaller stone for their school built in the same year at the corner of Eglinton and Birchmount. This stone was definitely different!

Date Stone for Woburn School, S.S. No. 6,
Photo by Maureen Marshall
When the stone arrived at the Scarborough Archives, the staff had the extra cement that had been used to glue the stone to the wall of the school cleaned off and discovered that the back of the date stone was a recycled tombstone!
Tombstone showing damage,
Photo by Maureen Marshall

Schofield explained that the tombstone was carved for United Empire Loyalist, Thomas Hubbard (1759-1854), who incidentally was an early Pickering-Whitby councilor who then became Pickering Township’s first clerk in 1811 and later Justice of the Peace. Upon closer inspection, the stone appeared to be damaged in the bottom left hand corner. Apparently, when the stone carver was making the tombstone, a part of the facing fell off and he had to discard the marble. Along came local farmers looking for a date stone for their new school and the rest is history! The stone carver sold them the stone for a discount and offered to carve ‘Scarboro’ at the bottom as it was larger than the standard size and could accommodate the inscription. Mystery solved and everyone is happy!
And what of Mr. Thomas Hubbard and his tombstone? A new tombstone was carved for him and it rests in Brougham Cemetery. Since it has been exposed to the elements, it hasn’t fared as well as the original!



The Plastic Milk Jug introduced by
the Scarborough Branch of the Silvewoods Dairy in 1967.
Photo by Katherine Wilson.
Since the 1890’s families in the GTA had their milk delivered daily in glass bottles by their neighbourhood milkman. Trucks full of glass bottles of milk would leave the dairy every morning and return at the end of the day full of empty bottles. According to historian and head archivist at the Scarborough Archives Rick Scofield, things began to change in the 1950s, when more and more families had their own cars and “one stop shopping plazas” became favoured places to shop. One of the major innovations that contributed to this shift from home delivery to self purchasing was the introduction of the Plastic Milk Jug, such as this one found at the Scarborough Archives.

In 1967, the Scarborough branch of Silverwoods Dairy began mass producing milk in plastic jugs. Silverwoods Dairy, while based in London (Ontario), provided services across Ontario acquiring a number of smaller dairies. While plastic milk jugs were first introduced in London, Silverwoods chose to test the waters in Scarborough before introducing them widely throughout the GTA. These three quart jugs were made of high density polyethylene plastic and were lighter than glass jugs. While dairies thought these plastic bottles would benefit them, they were lighter, easier to transport, and made no noise, it was convenience and grocery stores that ultimately benefitted more from this change.

Home milk delivery was popular throughout the 1950s, but during this decade a number of factors impacted the lifestyle of those living in the GTA. Many families had their own cars and could therefore buy large quantities of groceries and household goods from shops. In addition, appliances, specifically refrigerators, were more affordable and families did not have to rely on fresh milk every day. Convenience stores like the new and popular Ontario chain Becker’s began selling milk in plastic jugs. Becker’s was bought out by Silcorp in 1996 and is now affiliated with the network of Mac’s Convenience Stores.

Eventually, two things caused dairies to rethink their decision to produce milk in plastic jugs. First was the environmental concern. While the dairies originally believed that the plastic jugs would retain even less odors than glass bottles it was soon discovered that it was difficult to disinfect the porous plastic containers and they could only be used once. The second was financial. Dairies like Silverwood attempted to return to distributing milk in glass bottles for home delivery experimenting with different sizes but corner stores continued to sell milk in the three quart plastic jugs at a cheaper price. The dairies could not compete with the discount prices of these new convenience stores and many families elected to by their own milk from the store than have it delivered.

The plastic jugs continued to be sold, but soon gave way to cardboard cartons and finally, plastic bags of milk. The plastic milk jug is easily ignored as it is quite commonplace. It was this jug however, that launched the milk revolution in the GTA.

Works Cited:
Chetroff, E. (2012, August 1), “The Surprising History of the Milk Carton,” Retrieved: November 23, 2015

Grey, J. (2013, December 21, Saturday), “When Milkmen Still Rode Down Toronto’s Streets. Toronto’s-streets/article16073542/ Retrieved: November 23, 2015

“Ontario Dairies: The Most Comprehensive Image Archive of Ontario Dairies,” Retrieved: November 23, 2015. 

“Switch to Plastic Jugs,” The Scarborough News, March 9, 1967, pg. 16.



A few bottles of Northrop and Lyman Co.’s “Bickle’s Anti-Consumptive Syrup” can be found at the Scarborough Archives in Toronto, Ontario. Housed in formerly a prosperous general store operating from 1891-1967 [1], the Scarborough Historical Society preserves the building for to promoting Scarborough’s heritage. Archivist Richard Schofield explains, “it is important to learn and share history so that future generations will have a better understanding of our past.” Schofield’s passion for research and conservation continues to provide access to authentic historical objects such as this cough syrup bottle, which reveals a fascinating narrative about culinary history and material culture in 19th century Canada.

These expired bottles of “Bickle’s Anti-Consumptive Syrup” offer knowledge on Canada’s early pharmaceutical industry and on the development of cookbooks.

Northrop & Lyman Co. Bickle’s Anti-Consumptive Syrup
(Scarborough Archives. Photo credit: Jessica Lin Zhang).
During mid-19th century, Canada had seen an emergence of three new types of culinary manuals: community cookbooks, including fundraising or charitable cookbooks; advertising or promotional cookbooks; and educational cookbooks for cookery classes. [2] Under the advertising genre of cookbooks, famous Canadian pharmacists Henry Northrop and John Lyman published for public distribution various cookbooks and almanac pamphlets promoting their patented medicines.

In a review of the Northrop and Lyman’s Family Recipe Book and Guide to Health, dating to ca. 1877, it was evident that the pamphlet was designed for Canadian housewives. The pamphlets offered a basic selection of recipes - for instance, how to prepare pickled plums, strawberry jelly, raspberry jam or apple jelly. [3] The cookbooks also included testimonials about the effectiveness of the different medicines, descriptions of symptoms for various illnesses frequent at that time such as tetanus or blood-poisoning, paired with the appropriate medicine recommended to combat each illness. [4]
Front cover of Northrop & Lyman Co. publication of Family Recipe Book and Guide to Health 1877
(Toronto Reference Library, special collections).
Page spread advertisement of Bickle’s Anti-Consumptive Syrup in Family Recipe Book and Guide to Health 1877
(Toronto Reference Library, special collections).

The pharmaceutical advertising in cookbooks spoke to the essential home economics skills asked of women at that time. The recipe pamphlets intended to teach, inform, and advise the community by assisting women to make healthy homes, thus improving the standards of their Canadian lifestyle. [5] Northrop and Lyman Co. proved to be highly successful and the business became one of Canada’s first and largest patent medicine manufacturers and wholesale dealers. [6]

This bottle of cough syrup traces an important moment in Canadian history. Its biography reveals many important ideas and stories about the pharmaceutical industry and its connections with early Canadian print culture and culinary practices as “cookbooks can be read as a small-scale manifestation of a larger subject – the importance for Canadian women of associational life as a means of contributing to their society”. [7] These connections are historic but continue today.

1. Scarborough Historical Society, 2013; pp. 1.
2. Driver, 2008; pp. xxii ‘Introduction’.
3. Northrop and Lyman Co., 1877; pp. 27.
4. Sullivan, 1983; pp. 22.
5. Driver, 2008; pp. xxvi ‘Introduction’.
6. Driver, 2008; pp. 301.
7. Driver, 2008; pp. xxix ‘Introduction’.

Works Cited
Driver E. (2008). Culinary Landmarks: A Bibliography of Canadian Cookbooks, 1825-1949. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Print.

Northrop and Lyman Co. (1877). Family Recipe Book and Guide to Health. Toronto: Northrop and Lyman Co. Print.

Northrop and Lyman Co. (1896). Almanac and Guide to Health. Toronto: Northrop and Lyman Co. Print.

Scarborough Historical Society. (2013). Scarborough Historical Notes and Comments 23: W. J. Morrish Store and 1891 Diary. Toronto: Scarborough Historical Society. Print.

Sullivan, C. (1983). The Bottles of Northrop & Lyman, A Canadian Drug Firm. Material Culture Review / Revue de la culture matérielle, 18. Retrieved from

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