Monday, January 20, 2014


From the big scrapbook of time, here’s a look at Canada in 1953--

Meteor is slotted between Ford and Mercury in price.
Meteor continues to be popular with the buying public. Workers at Ford turn out 40,115 of the mid-priced beauties for the 1953 model year. It is the fourth best selling car in the Dominion, after Chevrolet, Ford and Pontiac.

January 4: GM announces completion of a sprawling 7-hectare truck factory in Oshawa, Ontario. The price tag is a cool $4.5 million. Colonel Sam and his boys will recoup the expense handily; the new facility can turn out 50,000 vehicles a year.

January 9:  The Chevrolet Bel Air series is unveiled nationally. The snazzy and jazzy top-of-the line bowtie will cost anywhere from $1,954 to $2,204 f.o.b. Oshawa, Ontario.

January 9: Margeurite Pitre is hanged for her role in blowing up a Canadian Pacific Airlines DC-3, killing all 23 on board so she can eliminate her boyfriend's wife. It is the biggest mass murder in North American history. She is the 13th woman to ever hang and she will be the last because the death penalty will become history in 1976.

January 16: Workers at Ford have done their part to stop the spread of Communism by completing a $4.9 million military order for M-38 four-wheel drive trucks.

January 24: Chrysler Canada is awarded a $3.9 million military contract to build cargo trucks, ambulances and spare parts. Much of what is built will be headed for the conflict in Korea.

January 27: The debate rages on from coast to coast but the Canadian Dental Association and the Canadian Medical Association formally approve of adding fluoride to municipal water in an effort to fight tooth decay.

Crowds throng the fibreglass Chevrolet Corvette.
February 13: General Motors' famed Motorama opens at the Canadian National Motor Show in Toronto. It is the first Motorama exhibit in this country since the end of World War Two.

February 16:  Lanny McDonald is born in Hanna, Alberta. He will lace up his skates for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Colorado Rockies and lead the Calgary Flames to a Stanley Cup Victory in 1989. When he retires he will have 500 goals, 506 assists and 1,111 regular season games under the belt.

The most enduring of Kraft foods, 2010, we will consume 1.7 million boxes of KD of the 7 million boxes sold globally every week. KD will be the single most popular grocery item across the nation.
February 16: James Lewis Kraft is dead at the age of 78. The Stevensville, Ontario native was founder and president of Kraft Foods. As an inventer, he created products such as Velveeta, Miracle Whip and good ‘ole Kraft Dinner.

Introduced last year, the de Haviland DH-106 is the world's first commercial jetliner.
March 3: A Canadian Pacific Airlines de Haviland DH-106 Comet crashes upon takeoff from the airport in Karachi, Pakistan. All eleven on board are killed. This tragic incident marks the world’s first commercial jet crash.

March 13, 1953: The first domestically-built Hudson Jet rolls off the line in Tilbury, Ontario. The starting price for the pint-sized Hudson is $2,393. Only four-door Jets are produced in Canada and production will reach 1,267 units by the end of the model year.

March 19:  It’s Oscar Night in Hollywood and Neighbours, a National Film Board production, brings home a golden statuette.

Montreal architect Ernest Cormier was chosen in1950 to create our gift to the United Nations.
March 27: The people of Canada give a gift to the United Nations. Our gift is seven majestically sculpted doors that open into the General Assembly. Each door is glass and nickel silver with bas relief sculptures of Peace, Justice, Truth and Brotherhood.

March 30:  Domestic manufacturers used 2 million kilos of natural rubber, 2.4 million kilos of synthetic rubber and 770,000 kilos of recycled rubber in making new tires and tubes this month.

Space Command is the CBC's first dramatic series. It depicted life on space station SXW1. William Shatner was one of the stars.
April 8: The chairman of the CBC reports that it costs up to thirty times as much money to develop a programme for television as it does to buy one ready made from the US or the UK.

The 1953 Hudson exhibit at the London Motor Show in Earl's Court.
April 13: Hudson lines in Tilbury, Ontario are shut down because of parts shortages. Workers will be called back in two days but everyone will be glad when the war in Korea is over.

April 16: The Habs beat the tar out of the Boston Bruins in four games to win Lord Stanley’s cup.

April 18: Frederick Alan “Rick” Moranis is born in Toronto. He will grow up to become a comedian best known for being Bob—half of the Mackenzie Brothers. His wife will die of liver cancer in 1991 and he will retire from the limelight to raise his children.

May 3: Communist troops attack and defeat the Royal Canadian Regiment on Hill 97 in Korea. The death count is 26. Another 27 soldiers are wounded and seven have been taken prisoner.

Perhaps Pontiac will be assembled in the converted factory.

May 8: GM announces that its new Oshawa truck factory will be converted to auto assembly and expanded immediately to cover 17 hectares.

May 11: The first car rolls out the doors of Ford’s new assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario. The Ford Custom is the 2,794,525th vehicle built by workers at the Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited.

May 14: It’s a boy for Violet and Tuck Cochrane, a bush pilot in Lynn Lake, Manitoba. Their son Tom will be inclined to play the guitar and be lead singer for the group Red Rider. The seven-time Juno winner will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2003.

May 21: It is a little after 4.30 pm when an F4 tornado rips through Sarnia, Ontario leaving four dead, 40 wounded and 500 people homeless. Damage is estimated at $15 million.
1953 Studebaker Champion four- and two-door sedans.

June 1. The doors are shut at Studebaker’s factory in Hamilton Ontario. Because weapons of war have priority over civilian manufacture, there is not a transmission to be had anywhere in the land. Five hundred workers will wait at home until some can be built and shipped and the other 325 men will inventory the goods. They all go back to work nine days later.

June 2:  Millions stand in a London downpour to watch the coronation of our new monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. Film crews immediately fly the tapes to Canada, courtesy of the Royal Canadian Air Force. Eight hours later we are watching the historic event on the CBC. Even our soldiers fighting in Korea celebrate by firing red, white and blue smoke shells at the enemy.

June 20: The highest temperature ever --with the Humidex calculated into the equation—is recorded in Windsor, Ontario as folks swelter through 52.1C heat.

July 1:  It is Dominion Day throughout the land. Canada is 86 years old. Workers in Toronto build 238 Nash cars this month.
Listeners who wrote to CBW would receive a QSL card like this one, a written confirmation of reception.

July 5: The CBC affiliate CBW opens for business in a new, state-of-the-art $1 million studio complex located at 541 Portage Street in Winnipeg. Broadcasting at 990 on the AM dial, the clear channel, 50,000-watt signal can be heard throughout much of North America.

July 13: The Stratford Shakespearean Festival of Canada opens for the very first time in a large canvas tent erected on the banks of the Avon River. in Stratford, Ontario. Actor Alec Guinness is first to appear on the makeshift stage. The six-week event is a success and will grow into an eight-month long love affair with theatre. Sixty years later the Stratford Shakespeare Festival will draw hundreds of thousand of people the world over.

July 15: It is the birth date of Mila Pivnicki. When she is three, her family will move to Canada from Yugoslavia so that her father can study for a graduate degree in psychiatry at McGill University. Mila will study engineering at McGill but will drop out at nineteen, to marry a lawyer by the name of Brian Mulroney. Mrs. Mulroney will be active in many good causes, including the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

July 22: Paul Quarrington is born. When he grows up he will write quirky novels including Home Game and Hometown Heroes: On the Road with Canada’s National Hockey Team. The Toronto author will win the Stephen Leacock Award in 1987 and the Governor General’s Award for fiction in 1989.

July 27: The war is over. The North Koreans and the United Nations sign a truce to end the three-year long bloodbath. Millions of civilians are dead. Sadly, 314 Canadians were killed and 1,211 more injured. The troops can come home and life will get back to normal for all of us but Korea will still be divided sixty years later.

August:  The RCMP begin moving Inuit off their traditional lands and into settlements. The first to move are 53 Inuit who are taken from Inuujuak (Port Harrison), Quebec, and Pond Inlet, Cornwallis Island and Ellesmere Island to new land much farther north. The idea behind this scheme is to establish sovereignty over the Arctic.
The Right Honourable Louis St. Laurent is our 12th Prime Minister. He will serve as PM from 1948 to 1957.

August 9: The federal election is over. Voters have handed “Uncle Louis” and his Grits a commanding majority in the House of Commons. The Tories could only muster enough votes for fifty seats. The CCF takes 23, Social Credit wins 15 seats and six are taken by independent candidates.

August 24: A second heat wave that hits southern Ontario is so fierce that in Hamilton, Studebaker is forced to send the workers home for two days until the weather breaks.

October 7: The war is over but it is virtually impossible to find parts to build cars. GM cuts the workweek to 37 hours while waiting out the misery of parts shortages.
Canadian soldiers in Dieppe, France being marched to prison by their Nazi captors on August 19, 1942.

October 8: The Canadian War Claims Commission releases its shocking report filled with a long list of horrific abuses suffered by the 9,000 Canadian soldiers in Nazi POW camps.

October 16: The Roman Catholic Church issues a statement calling on parents not to allow teens to form romantic attachments. The social custom leads far too frequently to the “occasion of sin.”

October 25: The first privately owned television station in the Dominion takes to the airwaves in Sudbury, Ontario. CKSO will change its call letters to CISI in 1971 but it will still serve the area as a CTV affiliate in the 21st Century.

November 19: It’s a boy for Robert and Geneva Mays. They will joke that James’ first word will not be “mama” or “dada” it will be “Buick.” He will grow up to become an automotive historian, specializing in documenting stories of the Canadian industry.

November 23:  Built at Vickers shipyard in Sorel, Quebec, the 107-metre long M.V. William Carson is launched today. The 8,300-tonne freight and cargo ferry will sail between North Sydney, Nova Scotia and St. John’s, Newfoundland until the terminal in Port-aux-Basques is upgraded. She will sink in 1977 after striking an iceberg.

November 28: The 41st  Grey Cup match is won by the Hamilton Tiger Cats, having thumped the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 12 to 6 before a crowd of 27,313 fans at Varsity Stadium in Toronto.

December 10: A fire in seat cushion stock at Ford’s trim department does $10,000 worth of damage and causes the entire production line to be stopped for a day-and-a-half in Windsor.

December 10: Canadian Press reports that Manitoba has a total of 2,318 cases of polio, of which 85 have died. Government officials say this incidence exceeds all known Canadian and world figures.
Five-year old Elinor will help raise money for the March of Dimes, an organization that raises money to fight polio.
December 31: The nation reels in fear as 8,734 people have contracted polio this year. It will turn out to be the worst year on record for this horrible disease that cripples and kills.

December 31:  The Top Ten selling cars this year were Chevrolet, Ford, Pontiac, Meteor, Dodge, Plymouth, Buick, Oldsmobile, Studebaker and Monarch.


    From the big scrapbook of time, here’s a look at Canada in 1954--

    Ford is the second best selling car in the Dominion in 1954. The Mainline Tudor Sedan retails for $2,132.

    January: The Red Tide is creeping into British Columbia. The Mayor of Victoria, British Columbia tells the press that all Communist books have been removed from the public library system and destroyed.

    January 1: The Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto is created. Gone are the villages of Long Branch, New Toronto, Mimico, Weston, Forest Hill and Leaside. The Townships of Etobicoke, York, North York, East York and Scarborough are now boroughs. Metro will be dissolved in 1998 in favour of a more cost efficient City of Toronto.

    The compact Hudson Jet is built in Tilbury, Ontario.
    January 4:  The market for new cars is so weak that Hudson shuts down its Tilbury, Ontario assembly line. It will be closed for 60 days. In Hamilton, Studebaker has been closed since October 9 of last year and Nash turned off the lights in its Toronto plant on December 9.

    The 1954 Meteor Ranch Wagon is built in Oakville, Ontario.
    January 6: Ford plays host to nearly 1,000 dealers in Toronto to kick off its Golden Jubilee Conference in Toronto.

    January 8: The first oil from Alberta arrives in Sarnia, Ontario courtesy of a new pipeline. The Trans-Canada pipeline makes the country more energy self-sufficient.

    January 11: In a bid to stimulate sales, executives at Ford of Canada reduce the prices of the Monarch Lucerne and Mercury Monterey by $373.

    January 18: Engineers at Chrysler Canada’s powerhouse go on strike. The car lines will be down for five days and the truck lines for seven, idling 6,000 workers.

    January 22: The 1954 Mercury trucks are shown off to the public. New this year is the M-700 in the Big Job series.

    January 30: A freak, mid-winter tornado hits White Point Beach, Nova Scotia, producing hail and lightning along the Atlantic seaboard before touching down again near Liverpool.

    1954 Nash Rambler four-door sedan tipped the scales at 1 195 kilos on a stretched 2 743-millimetre wheelbase.
    February 8: Nash calls its 334 employees back to work. Two days later the company cuts prices of its Rambler by $43 and lowers the price of the Statesman by $270 to clear out a backlog of unsold cars.

    February 13: Agnes Campbell MacPhail is dead at the age of 63. The first woman to be elected as a Member of Parliament the House of Commons, the Honourable member represented the Bruce-Grey Riding  in Ontario for 14 years as a strong voice for progressive politics and stood strong on rural issues.

    Fargo is sold by Chrysler-Plymouth dealers.
    February 28: The revamped 1954 Dodge and Fargo trucks are unveiled to the public.

    The Oldsmobile 88 is General Motors' mid-priced entry in the domestic market.
    March:  Oldsmobile Rocket engines are now being built for GM Canada by McKinnon Industries in Grantham, Ontario.

    March 4: Catherine O’Hara is born in Toronto during a winter blizzard so fierce it forces GM and Nash to shut down their factories for the day. O’Hara will star in two dozen flicks, including Home Alone and Beetlejuice.

    The Soviet team at opening  ceremonies of the 21st World Hockey Championship.
    March 7: The USSR sweeps Canada to win the World Hockey Championship in Stockholm, Sweden. The final score is 7 to 2.

    March 8: Prime Minister St. Laurent inspects the 25th Canadian Brigade, serving in South Korea.

    Ford's Plant One in Windsor, Ontario.

    March 10: Ford and Meteor assembly is transferred to Oakville from Windsor.

    March 26: Figures released today reveal that 8,000 Canadians to have polio and 441 died of the horrible disease last year. It is hoped that a new vaccine currently being tested will stop the epidemic.

    This picture was taken on opening day. The 7.4-kilometre long system has 12 stations, stretching from Union Station to Eglinton Avenue.
    March 30: The subway system in Toronto opens to the public. Hopefully, the subway will take some of the vehicle traffic off of Yonge Street. By 2010 “The Rocket” will carry 1.5 million commuters daily.

    April 8: Trans-Canada Airlines Flight 9 leaves Montreal bound for Vancouver. The pilot of the North Star collides 1,829 metres in mid-air with an RCAF Harvard Mark II training jet that has taken off from Moose Jaw, bound for Saskatoon. All 33 people on board the TCA flight are killed,  the two on board the Mark II and the occupant of a house on which much of the debris fell.

    April 16: The Redwings take it to the limit as they trounce the Canadiens in the seventh game to win the Stanley Cup.

    April 18: Rick Moranis is born in Toronto. He will become of the world’s funniest people. The TV and Hollywood star will  make many blockbuster movies but he will always be best loved for his role as beer-guzzling host “Bob Mackenzie” in the SCTV comedy sketch, The Great White North.

    April 19: Desperate to sell cars, the Chevrolet Bel Air Six convertible’s price tag is slashed by $191.

    1954 Fargo YA is built by workers at Chrysler Canada in Windsor, Ontario.
    April 23: The last truck built for export rolls out the doors at Chrysler Canada. From now on, all export haulers will be manufactured in the United States.
    Joseph R. Smallwood has been Newfoundland and Labrador's only premier since joining Confederation in 1949. He will leave office in 1972.

    April 24: The RCMP charges Newfoundland’s former Director General of Economic Development with the crime of extorting money from firms he dealt with. Premier Joey Smallwood is the whistleblower.
    The Hudson Hornet and Wasp is imported from the United States. The Jet is built in Tilbury, Ontario.

    May 1: Nash and Hudson merge in the US to become American Motors. A de facto merger takes place here but American Motors Canada Limited will not become a legal entity until January 1956.

    May 10: The Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway is open for business. The 414-kilometre standard gauge ribbon of steel runs from Sept Isles, Quebec and Schefferville, Newfoundland and Labrador, where there are huge iron ore deposits.

    May 12:  Ford’s truck line is closed in Windsor because of slow sales. The 723 men will be called back to work in 24 days.

    May 13: American President Eisenhower signs a bill committing the US to spending $103 million on construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway.  Canada’s part of the Seaway project is estimated to cost $300 million.

    May 15: GM lays off 1,200 workers until the market strengthens.
    People who don't yet have a television set at home can come downtown to Eaton's Department Store on Portage and watch.
    May 31: Folks living in Manitoba can warm  up their Electrohomes and tune into CBWT-TV on Channel 4 as the CBC begins television broadcasting in the Keystone Province.  The station will be found on Channel 3 in 1958.

    June 3: Daniel Grafton Hill IV is born in Toronto. He will grow up to be a pop singer, best known for his hit songs Sometimes When We Touch and Can’t We Try.

    June 4: Some Chevrolet and Pontiac convertibles will no longer be imported. Softtop models 1067D and 2067D are now built in Oshawa.

    June 7: At eight pm CHCH TV in Hamilton, Ontario signs on the air for the first time. It will be a CBC affiliate until 1961 when the station becomes an independent broadcaster. CHCH will go national, become a Canadawide superstation on January 1st, 1982.

    June 30: Ford reports that soft market conditions and the move from Windsor to Oakville have forced it to lay off 6,100 workers since March 12.

    August 7; At the Fifth Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, Roger Bannister of the UK wins the Miracle Mile with a time of 3:58:8. Some 35,000 spectators at Empire Stadium witness the event.

    August 9: Hudson assembly in Tilbury, Ontario is closed forever. The cars will now be built in Toronto on the same lines as Nash in its plant on the Danforth.

    August 5: In one of the most controversial trials in history, 43 year old Wilbert Coffin is found guilty of killing three American hunters in the Gaspe. The jury took only 34 minutes to deliberate. Death will be by hanging.

    August 10: Prime Minister Louis St. Laurent, New York Governor Thomas Dewey and Ontario Premier Leslie Frost are on hand in Cornwall, Ontario as construction starts on the St. Lawrence Seaway. Now estimated to cost a cool $1 billion, the first dynamite charge is set off.

    August 6: Emilie Dionne is dead of an epileptic seizure at the age of twenty. She is one of the famed Dionne Quintuplets. Made wards of the province, the girls grew up in Quintland where as many as 6,000 tourists a day watched them through one-way mirrors
    Workers build 1955 model year Chevs in the new South Plant.

    September 8: GM begins operations at its new South Plant in Oshawa, Ontario. Workers will build Pontiac and Chev wagons for the first time in 15 years.

    September 9: After 21 hours in the water, 16-year old Marilyn Bell of Toronto reaches the shore of Lake Ontario to the cheers of 250,000 fans who have come to witness her triumph. She tells the press that her 52-kilometre swim is “for the honour of Canada.”
    CKLW-TV will become CBET, owned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on September 1st, 1975

    September 16: CKLW-TV—Channel 9--begins broadcasting at 2.50 pm to the good folks of Windsor, Ontario, Essex County and southeastern Michigan. The station is an affiliate of the CBC and the Dumont Network in the United States.

    September 30: As production of the 1955 models gets underway in Hamilton, Studebaker boasts that it has 225 dealerships throughout the country.
    The 1955 Buick Super four-door sedan.

    October 6: More than 2,000 dealers, managers and salesmen preview the 1955 GM lineup at a week-long extravaganza in Toronto.

    October 10: Angry that they have been without a contract since February 19, some 5,200 workers at Ford in Windsor go on strike. Employees in Oakville join their Windsor colleagues on the picket line five days later. They will have to wait until next year for before a new deal is hammered out.

    October 15: Hurricane Hazel roars north at the rate of 110 kilometres an hour, killing 81 people in Metro Toronto and leaving 4,000 homeless.

    October 29: General Motors introduces the Pontiac Sedan Delivery. It retails for $2,253 with a 4.2-litre six-cylinder mill and $2,373 when an eight-cylinder engine is ordered.

    November 9: The government agrees to reduce the cost of GM vehicles shipped to western Canada by 30 cents per hundred pounds. The sweetheart deal will stimulate business and is retroactive to May 7.
    The 1955 Studebaker President has a wheelbase of 3 060 millimetres and weighs in at 1 397 kilos. In Regal trim the price is $2,702 f.o.b. Hamilton.
    November 24: Despite the strike, Ford of Canada’s stock hits a high of $104 per share. Studebaker shuts down temporarily in order to add the top-of-the-line President to its domestic production mix. Publicity says the President is the style leader with cars “of truly impressive power and superb proportions; each a masterpiece in interior elegance—carrying prestige anywhere in the world.”

    The International-Harvester R-Series pickup truck was built from 1952 to 1955.

    November 29: International-Harvester officials announce that the company will spend $650,000 to expand its truck plant in Chatham, Ontario. The move will increase domestic content of I-H vehicles.
    CKCW will become part of CTV in 1969.
    November 30:  Folks in Moncton warm up their Electrohomes and Northern Electric television sets to watch CKCW broadcast for the first time. Part of a regional Lionel Television System, its mascot is Lionel the Lobster. It airs programs from the CBC.

    November 30: Chrysler Canada is awarded a $1.3 million defense contract to manufacture practice ammunition.

    December 25: It is an uncertain Christmas for the first Newfoundlanders who have been moved from isolated Outports to approved municipal centres. By the time the resettlement scheme is finished in 1975, more than 30,000 people will be relocated and some 300 communities will disappear from the map forever.
    The 1955 Packard is imported from Detroit.

    December 31: Nash reports it has 117 dealers throughout the Dominion. Studebaker Corporation of Canada, Limited and the Packard Motor Car Company of Canada, Limited merge into a single operation.
    The ninth best selling car this year is Monarch. It is slotted between Mercury and Lincoln in the Ford family lineup.

    December 31: The Top Ten selling cars for the calendar year are Chevrolet, Ford, Pontiac, Meteor, Dodge, Plymouth, Buick, Oldsmobile, Monarch and Studebaker.

     The imported 1954 Hudson Hollywood Club Coupe sells for $3,697, f.o.b. Tilbury, Ontario. Hudson sold only 842 cars in total during the calendar year, including 211 domestically assembled compact Jets.