1913 Diary of a Lovestruck, Flawed University of Toronto Student, Son of Prominent Canadian, Dr. Perry Ernest Doolittle
Toronto, Ontario Canada, 1913. Softcover. On offer is the 1913 coming-of-age diary of Gordon Westover Doolittle (1891-1972) of Toronto. Gordon was the son of prominent Canadian, Dr. Perry Ernest Doolittle (1861-1933) , a surgeon whose true love was transportation. Dr. Doolittle was well-known as the “King of Canadian Roads” and the “Father of the Trans-Canada Highway”. While our diarist did not achieve his father’s level of notoriety, his diary exposes a deeply sensitive, flawed and glaringly intelligent young man. Through his words the reader is transported back to early 20th Century Toronto in all its pre-war glory. [BIO NOTES on Gordon and Percy Doolittle can be found at the end of this summary]. Gordon Doolittle kept this diary August 27 through November 7, 1913, while he was a second year arts student at the University of Toronto, where he pledged Phi Delta Theta. During this time, Gordon was coping with challenges in the dating department, intense academics, pondering the meaning of friendship, and taking the lead in beginning a social club. He treats his diary like a friend and writes honestly and regularly. In his first entry he has just returned from a summer working construction on the Transcontinental Railroad in Grant, Ontario, which is now a ghost town. The next day, his entry introduces us to one of the many women in his life. An excerpt follows: “...called on Helen Jackson…We had a fine talk together and at last Helen realizes that I will always feel the same toward her as a brother so we celebrated the fifth anniversary of our fraternity” [Aug 28, 1913]. On August 30, Gordon begins talking about Doris, a young woman for whom he pines throughout his diary, and who repeatedly rejects his romantic overtones. Excerpts follow: “Doris came home to-day from Prouts Neck…she refused to let me hold her hand and says she must remain an ice box for some time to come” [Aug 30, 1913]. “Doris tried to teach me to do the new dance on the verandah but I do not approve. We danced all evening…Doris objected to seeing me smoking cigarettes…” [Sept 6, 1913]. “...I went down to see Doris and she told me I was not to speak to her or think of her as more than a friend. I wrote and told her that I would not speak but that I could not help thinking and said that my journals this summer were written to her as more than a friend they were wrong for her to have them and that I would like Irene to have them as she shared my love…” [Sept 17, 1913]. “My life has not been very good. Up till three days ago I have smoked. Doris then found out called me a Hypocrit [sic] and a coward and called off any idea of mine as to more than friendship. I have decided to do Gods will and prove that I am a man and work hard” [Nov 8, 1913]. In late September, Gordon begins to focus on the proposal and eventual development of a Social Culture Club he wants to form through the university. Its founding members will be Gordon and his friends. Meetings will be held at his home, 619 Sherbourne Street, and members are required to agree to a club constitution and give “serious consideration” to the club’s monthly discussion topics. The club would discuss “literature, music, art, religion, experiences, athletics”. He records their first meeting in early October. In between discussing his studies, his love life, his social life and his future plans, Gordon inadvertently writes a love letter to Toronto, dropping in references to places and events that would make any modern-day Torontonian nostalgic. Excerpts follow: “...went out to the Exhibition we had a fine time…we took in the midway and I was nearly sick..saw the grandstand performance…” [Sept 2, 1913]. “...we walked down to the Metropolitan and walked home…we took the car to Reservoir Park and walked to her place for tea…took Doris to church at St. Paul’s…” [Sept 7, 1913]. “Florence drove me downtown [to] the Royal Alexandra and we saw ‘The Blindness of Virtue’ a fine play on the dangers of not telling children the truth about sexual relations. We walked home. ” [Sept 13, 1913]. “I took Doris to the Strand then tea at Brown Betty. We called for a dress at Eatons and walked home” [Oct 11, 1913]. A particularly touching component of Gordon’s diary is that he transcribes letters he writes for his memories. Notably, he spends six pages transcribing a letter that he wrote to his best friend, Lillah Worthington, on the topic of friendship. He composed the letter to give to her to read while she was on a train headed to Cleveland on holiday. A short excerpt follows: “They say one is judged by his friends and this must be because our character is shown by the choice we make as it is indeed shown by all our actions, and what a choice we have! Fat ones, thin ones, good or bad, we can really have any kind of friends we like…” [Sept 11, 1913]. While Gordon only writes for a few months, a very fulsome picture of this 21-22 year old man emerges, as does a picture of the beautiful city that was his playground. This diary is a gem as it is rare to find male diarists who give so much detail about their feelings and flaws. This journal measures 8.25 inches by 4.25 inches and contains 44 pages. It is 100% complete. The cover is a heavier paper and is in good condition. There is some light staining around the edges. The binding is coming loose but remains mostly in tact, and all the pages are in good condition. The handwriting is legible. Overall G. BIO NOTES: Gordon Westover Doolittle: Born September 29, 1891, Gordon was a graduate of the St. Andrew’s College Cadet Corps. He attended the University of Toronto and graduated with an Arts degree in 1916. During his tenure at U of T, Gordon enlisted in the Canadian Army during World War I. He served in England as a part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force with the Eaton Armoured Car Battery. Following university, Gordon worked for Burroughs Adding Machine Co and later with Geo. B Williams, selling real estate and insurance in Toronto. He spent time in Britain, and married Anne Muriel Lake Doolittle (1890-1952) there in 1916. While there, he joined the Great Britain Royal Aero Club Aviators’. He held the title of Lietenant in the Royal Flying Corps. Back in Toronto, Anne and Gordon lived in the borough of East York at 22 Glebeholme Avenue. Existing records do not show any children born to the couple. BIO NOTES: Dr Perry Ernest Doolittle (1861-1933) (These notes are taken from https: //www.mountpleasantgroup.com/en-CA/General-Information/Our-Monthly-Story/st ory-archives/mount-pleasant-cemetery/PE-Doolittle. Aspx and were written by Mike Filey in the bookMount Pleasant Cemetery: An Illustrated Guide Second Edition Revised and Expanded). “Recognized as "the father of the Trans-Canada Highway," This was the first of many of his cycling creations, and, between 1881 and 1890, Doolittle won more than fifty cycling trophies including the 1883 Canadian championship. Doolittle also constructed the nation's first motorcycle and it was his deep interest in riding his creations that made him such a strong advocate for improved roads. Doolittle became an even stronger advocate of good roads and with a few friends established the Toronto Automobile Club, forerunner of the modern CAA. In addition to advocating what would become years later the Trans-Canada Highway and a uniform set of traffic regulations from coast-to-coast, Doolittle was also largely responsible for officials in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island changing their respective province's basic rule of the road from "keep to the left" to "keep to the right." By doing so, as Doolittle kept pointing out, they too could take advantage of the money being spent by touring American automobile drivers. Doolittle died at his Sherbourne Street residence on December 31, 1933 at the age of 72.”; Manuscripts; 8vo 8" - 9" tall; 44 pages; Signed by Author. Good with no dust jacket .
Katz Fine ManuscriptsProfessional seller
Book number: 0011119
USD 1255.99 [Appr.: EURO 1157.75 | £UK 990.75 | JP¥ 189033]
Keywords: Canadiana History