Thursday, October 27, 2011

Photo: What Miss Toronto Looked Like in 1926

You might be familiar with this photo already, since it apparently inspired a mural on the side of the Rhino in Parkdale. It was taken at the very first Miss Toronto pageant ever, which was held in 1926, back when people made their bathing suits out of wool. The event was held at the Sunnyside Bathing Pavillion (which is still there) down by the lake. The organization of the event was eventually taken over by the Toronto Police about a decade later and moved to the CNE grounds.

They picked a Miss Toronto every year until 1991, when, it seems, we finally woke up to the whole tasteless objectification of women thing and decided maybe it was time to stop doing it. UrbanToronto has more photos of the pageants from over the years here. It's well worth a click-through and a scroll-down to get a quick and vague impression of how our city's idea of a superficial feminine ideal changed over the course of the century.


  1. That's Jean Ford (Tolmie)! She wasn't even single. :) She also won Miss Congeniality in the Miss USA pageant that year -- the organizers denied her from being in the finals due to being Canadian.

    If you search for 'beauty' in the Toronto Archives, most of the results are from the pageants.

    1. Jean Ford Tolmie was my great aunt.
      As my family has told us, she did enter the contest single and the reason her name was Ford was she borrowed that name from her mother's side; it was her mother's maiden name and she did so because it was scandalous for young ladies to do such things back in those days, at least my Great Grandparents would have thought so, but her brother was certain she would win (lucky guess) and so wanted to enter her.
      Also, the organizers denied her in the USA pageant because they found out she'd been born in Scotland.