Let’s Read Canadian Homes and Gardens, August 1956!

Canadian Homes and Gardens! Like Better Homes and Gardens, but Canadian! Actually, they were an entirely independently conceived magazine that ran from 1925 to 1962 by Canadian media conglomerate McLean-Hunter. From 1962 to 1978, the magazine was known as Canadian Homes, probably because they got fed up with being mistaken for a different magazine that they had nothing to do with. Targeted to upper-middle class women, the magazine cultivated a sense of domestic-sphere nationalism by advertising Canadian products and aspirational dream houses, particularly ones in Vancouver. I’ll leave you with this juicy bit of midcentury “are you freaking kidding me?”, per Wikipedia:

“In 1954-55 there was disagreement between the male-dominated National Industrial Design Council and the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC), whose members were mostly women. The Design Council refused to require performance testing, and routinely gave awards to products that women in the CAC thought were faulty, but refused awards to products the CAC favored. Kathleen Harrison of the CAC wrote an article discussing the issue called “How Good is Design Award Merchandise”, but Canadian Homes and Gardens decided not to publish it. The CAC was given the message that women were expected to accept product designs, not contribute to them.”

This issue is addressed to the principal of a Timmins, Ontario high school, which amazingly doesn’t actually have an address on the label but is just PRINCIPAL/ HIGH SCHOOL, presuming that the mailman knew exactly where that was and didn’t need to bother with an actual address. I guess in 1956 there was only one high school in Timmins, Ontario?

I think they mean in the modern sense of well-maintained restrooms, not necessarily one in which one is, uh, supervised.

Also let’s take a moment to appreciate that women on road trips were expected to dress in heels, gloves, hats, and pencil skirts. To sit in a car all day, and when they hit up rest stops like this they took 40 minutes to completely refresh their makeup. What did you wear while traveling on your last vacation? I wore yoga pants and hair grease.

I wonder if “you kids behave, or I’ll sell you to the potato farm!” was a common household threat at the time.

This is from a longer article on taking your family to see agricultural sites around the country, “if you’re worried that your children may grow up deafened by the noise of Canada’s booming industrial economy”.

I’m rather fascinated by those side-tables, and the bowling trophy lamps on top of them.

I thought at first that “Patricia MacDonald Moyra Otterson” was one person with an amazing name.

New “Scarnmnmnor” furniture from Simpston’s!

Apparently basements are totally uncool in the Canadian homes of the future. This is what they had to say on basements, and they smack you with some harsh truth: “This is a highly controversial point because most Canadians still demand a basement in their home. What they don’t stop to consider is that a basement is probably the most expensive room you buy for the use you get out of it. Even in basements that include a recreation room, most of the space is used primarily to store broken furniture, cast off clothes…face it – most of it is junk people should throw away, but don’t.”

Nice nod to the heavily Catholic Montreal and the need to prepare for the ton of children that you’ll be sharing your home with.

Put all your cast off clothes and broken toys in the car port of this basement-less house in Vancouver! Built on the edge of a ravine, where you can bury bodies undisturbed in the night time.


The Canadian Prefabricated Home Industry of The Future, assuming The Future is now, appears to exist mostly to support the current tiny house craze. I don’t think the writers of this article were envisioning The Future with people putting their money into “sexy shipping container bars“.

Say you just bought a nice new house with a fashionable big window that looks out into your suburban street – what’s that? You hate your gigantic street-level window that allows random strangers outside on the sidewalk to look into your house and watch you like a human zoo exhibit? Well, do better than just putting a stupid LAMP in that window and check out these tips for accenting the gigantic mistake you made when you bought this house and will regret until the day you move somewhere else without a huge picture window.

How about curtains? How about little curtains in front of your big curtains?

Wh-how…how did we go from football to hard struggles to eleganza chandelier?

12 Boy Scouts died in this avalanche* but the tea house survived, thanks Plywood Manufacturers Association of British Columbia!

*no one died in this particular avalanche. Which I guess doesn’t make it that significant of an avalanche, if it didn’t kill anyone or even level a structure, but points to the PMABC for sensitivity I suppose.

…tripping out with a bunch of draft dodgers in a VW van, probably.

Going forward, I will judge all of my future car purchases on whether they match the luxury of a bushel of roses or a bale of mink. A whole bale!

I love that the suburban swatch color palette has all of three butt-ugly hues to it. Apparently blue was not a hip color of 1956 suburban Canada.

This man has the crazed eyes of someone who is ready to satisfy a lot of thirsty holes, if you get my drift.

I’m not sure what melody that tagline is supposed to go with, but I keep hearing it to the tune of “My Echo, My Shadow, and Me”, which is a song about crushing loneliness. Maybe that’s what these people are pointing at. Look at the lonely person! They’re so lonely! Ha ha! Let’s be on our way to the gas station bathroom or wherever it is that we’re so patently overdressed for!

Fave? I like the Magnolia.


They don’t actually have a lot of horrifying recipes in here (however, there was a remarkably long article on a bazillion ways to cook eggs. Eggs with tomatoes! Eggs on toast! Eggs! Eggs!). I do appreciate the attempt to reinvent the hamburger, though. Who wants a hotburg? (I apologize if this is a national dish or something)

The age of the glamorous filter.

“Mother, don’t put a ghostly white woman in the screen door!”

I’m trying to figure out if this ad is selling me diving equipment or a bank account. Either way, that dog is unimpressed.

1956 makeup tips!

Well, today is my 20th birthday, and yesterday I was a rose petal but now I’m doomed to that #crocodilelife. Better get out that tv-strength cake makeup before someone makes a purse out of my old haggy face.

Reminder of the shit your grandma put herself through in order to be pretty.

Now, now, children, don’t all fight over the bell pepper garnish at once. I’m also kind of fascinated by the addition of just everyday normal bacon on top of canned spaghetti.

Ohh you thought you could get this far without an unnerving gelatin recipe? This one isn’t too horrifying, for once, and by that I mean “no mayonnaise, nuts, cabbage or olives in the raspberry jello”. I am, however, mildly perturbed by the deliberate choice of a mold that is evocative of the general shape and size of a human brain.

It’s rather presumptuous to assume that anyone would want to steal your butt-ugly centerpiece made of bulrushes and fake fruit, but maybe put it in your living room window and it will scare off visitors.

I don’t call it the bathroom anymore – I call it The Glamour Room.

That lady in the illustration is probably snapping at the little girl to stop playing with the room divider, because in my personal childhood experience I believe that 90% of a child’s time in a room with a folding wall divider is spent being yelled at for touching it.


I like the
weird free verse
style they’ve got going
to describe
a beer
so avant garde

That anniversary tray is hella cute. I think the little hearts just say “paper”, “cotton”, “gold”, etc. as a reminder of what you’re supposed to get each other for the year. Apparently the traditional gift for wedded year no. 6 is candy, but it could also be iron. That’s really weird.

I’m also a fan of the “novelty” Dutch cookbook, the novelty of which seems to stem entirely from perfectly normal Dutch recipes.

What is this reverse psychology gender role brainwashing bullshit? What does one really learn from How To Memorize Key Vocabulary About Electrical Wiring And Bring Up Choice Phrases To Your Husband So That He Will Fix Something For You With Some Vague Idea That You Know What You’re Talking About When You Have No Actual Idea And He Remains Secure In The Knowledge That He Has The Upper Hand on Things That In No Way Threatens The Balance of Gender Roles In The Home When All This Time You Should Really Be Learning How To Do Things Like Install A Hanging Light And Fix The Doorbell, Patricia?

This whole section is just for general home-making topics that you can send away for more information on. Elsewhere is a directory of addresses that correspond to the number of the particular ad, in case you really are that interested in more information on begonias.

I would say that this Crystal Beer ad is the perfect encapsulation of household roles in 1956, but we haven’t gotten to the back cover yet.

Chips Disston is the husband of Patricia MacDonald Moyra Otterson in my brain, they are both adorable cartoon rodents with cute Canadian accents and they’re always in the middle of fixing something or lending a hand to other adorable Canadian cartoon rodents who need their living rooms decorated or their roof reshingled.

Thank you internet! The article is digitized and is a pretty great, legitimately harrowing story. Also, I don’t want to spoil the good parts, but a key moment of intensity hinges on whether or not a man will throw away a bag of contraband potatoes to save the woman he loves. I couldn’t find much followup on what happened to the Peggs since the article was published, but I hope they had a good long and loving life together.

Queen approved!

I hear that for every person this doll murders in their sleep, a new pearl is added to her necklace.

That’s it for this week! Let’s all give a huge round of applause to the awesome Rex Reilly for this magazine and several others! Are you down for more Canadian homemaker magazines of this ilk? Because I have a bunch now, and would love to keep sharing them. Next week we’re looking at some dreamy teens in Teen World from 1972!