christmas commercials

10 classic Toronto Christmas commercials you'll want to watch all over again

Nostalgia tends to hit like a haymaker during Christmas time, when everything from music to sweaters to alcoholic beverages can elicit memories from years gone by.

That seasonal déjà vu feeling extends to advertising, when catchy commercial jingles from decades ago are still rattling around, haunting our minds like the ghosts of Christmas commercials past.

Here is a collection of 10 classic Toronto Christmas commercials you might remember from the last three decades.

Leons - Ho-Ho-Hold The Payments (1992)

In the 1990s, local furniture titan Leons got a lot of mileage out of their annual “Ho Ho Hold the Payments” series voiced by the late great Harvey Atkin.

Its doubtful this kind of commercial would make it to air nowadays, but it was considered peak comedy back in 1991:

Canadian Tire - Give Like Santa, Save Like Scrooge (1990)

Canadian Tire’s simply genius Christmas campaign, which ran uninterrupted for over two decades (1982-2003), spotlighted the miserly Scrooge (played by the late great stage actor John Davies), who was satisfied that the Tire’s low prices ensured he could save lots of money.

Why this slogan was ever retired is a true mystery of the ages:

Swiss Chalet - Festive Special (1990)

This season marks the 22nd consecutive Christmas without a Toblerone as part of the Swiss Chalet Festive Festival. They were dropped in 1999 (!) and replaced by perennial Grandma favourite Lindt chocolate balls.

But back in the 90s, a Festive Special with a Toblerone, all the trimmings (and that bun) could be had for less than $6. What a time to be alive!

Stitches - Holiday Hook-Ups (2002)

So 2002 might have only been 20 years ago (!), but those baggy Exco sweaters feel like 200 years ago.

Early 2000s era fashion is starting to look alarmingly retro:

Yorkdale Shopping Centre - Santa Arrives (1982)

Yorkdale Shopping Centre used this classic downtempo disco beat to announce the arrival of their Mall Santa every year.

The Mall was only 20 years old when this was filmed and was still flexing the title of the largest indoor shopping Mall in the World (it's now only the third largest in Canada). 

Department of Highways Ontario - Snow Plows (1972)

Such was the increased incidents of road rage towards Snow Plows in the 1970s, the Government of Ontario ran this Public Service announcement to tell people to chill out and respect the flashing blue light.

Not technically a “Christmas” commercial but a stone-cold seasonal classic regardless.

Weall & Cullen - Christmas Tree Centres (1993)

Fronted by Mark Cullen, son of the famous Len Cullen, creator of the mighty Cullen Gardens and Miniature Village and the Cullen Country Barn, Weall & Cullen Christmas Tree Centres were like Christmas heaven – with over 20,000 Christmas decorations and a selection of more trees than Tokyo Smoke.

Anyone who visited Weall & Cullen or Cullen Country Barns as a child will no doubt still remember it as an epic Christmas wonderland:

The New Eglinton Mall - Christmas Shopping (1983)

Not so new anymore, the Eglinton Mall is still a Scarborough spot for last minute Christmas gifts – although it is doubtful anyone is looking for “Cinderalla” dresses anymore:

Zellers - The Laws of Toyland (1990)

It's been almost a decade since the Zellers chain dissapeared into the night, but the intense nostalgia for Zeddy and his enforceable Laws of Toyland has only grown.

While the Zellers brand might be making a return, we won't accept its legitimacy until Sheriff Zeddy is re-instated: 

Simpsons - Here Comes the Simpsons Spirit! (1984)

Any kid who visited the Yonge Street Simpsons location at Christmas and saw Toy Land in the 80s knows – the Simpsons spirit was a real thing. 

Not only was Today's Special filmed there, but their absolutely overwhelming toy displays featuring He-Man, Barbie, Care Bears and Star Wars were the stuff of playground legend.

These "Simpsons Christmas Spirit" commercials only added to the lore, and even featured Quebec pop sensation Véronique Béliveau with some decade defining hair (and those headbands!):  

Be sure and check out Retrontario's Vintage Christmas Commercial Livestream running 24/7 until Saturday. 

Lead photo by

Retrontario


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