Granny’s at Walker House


One of the reasons I love writing for the CDR is the bizarre trivia that can come from the most innocuous of designs. This advertisement was found on the inside cover of the Toronto Telegraph’s (huh?) June 6th 1968 issue (front cover to be posted on June 6th — it’s a doozy).

This piece advertises an event at Granny’s, the hotel bar at the Walker House. The Walker House Hotel was (“was”, because it was demo’ed in 1976) an architectural heritage building at 123 Front street, in downtown Toronto. From what I can tell, Walker House was in operation from at least the late 1800s, and during that time was seen as either the crown jewel of Front street, or as a glorified flop house.

In addition to Granny’s, which hosted some of the more groundbreaking music of the time, the Walker House was home to Rathskeller’s, which was a much-celebrated restaurant serving German, French, and Canadian cuisine. In effect, Walker House was the Gladstone Hotel of the 50s and 60s.

So, what are the New Sounds? Well, the advertisement makes a point of name-dropping Don Thompson and Diane Miller, both of which turned out to be members of Music Hop’s house band the Rhythm Rockers.

Too young to remember Music Hop? Me too. Turns out from 1963 to 1966 Music Hop ruled the afternoon airwaves and was, in effect, the CBC’s answer to Dick Clarke’s American Bandstand. Best of all, Music Hop was hosted by a teen heartthrob named Alex Trebek. Yeah, that one.

And that’s why I love writing for the CDR. The advertisement itself isn’t all that amazing (perhaps a little racy for the time), but the myriad tidbits of social and cultural trivia one can glean from the context of this design make up an incredibly rich narrative of time and place in this country’s history. As do all of the more than two thousand pieces of Canadian design chronicled on this site.

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