Home Hairdresser REMEMBER THIS: The shocking truth about barbering (4 pics)

REMEMBER THIS: The shocking truth about barbering (4 pics)


In this week’s Remember This, Mary Harris explains that Barrie’s barbers of old were cut from a different cloth

The barbers of old were an unusual class of businessmen. They offered utilitarian haircuts to the working class while a wide range of frivolous and grooming services were available for those with extra cash to spend. These premium options often border on medical treatments and include questionable lotions, potions, and devices.

Perhaps in an attempt to lend some legitimacy to their range of goods and services, many barbers have given themselves the rank of professor. It was the 1860s and 1870s, a time when no one asked too many questions.

Andrew Cunio was probably Barrie’s first barber. During those early days, hairdresser was preferred to the term barber. The barber’s job was all about men’s hairstyles, as women rarely looked for a professional style at that time. In fact, it was considered improper for a woman to go to a hairdresser.

Professor Cunio operated a hair salon just opposite the present Queen’s Hotel and offered customers a five cent shave, haircut, invigorating hair oils and lotions and treatment with his Professor’s Hair King homemade cleanser .

This special shampoo was actually a hair dye. It would have been outrageous to see a woman with colored hair in the 1870s, but it was fairly common practice among men at the time.

“When you leave here for the streets, Your friends will smile when you meet them, And say what makes your hair so dark, Oh, it was the Professor’s Hair King wash, and it can make you black or brown. “

What local barbershops could not provide could be achieved through traveling sales events in larger communities. A regular visitor to the city was Professor Hildebert Dorenwend, a German émigré and owner of Paris Hair Works on King Street East in Toronto.

From about 1880, he moved into the Barrie Hotel and sold his wares to the inhabitants of that community.

“Front pieces, bangs, switches and wigs. Also unique manufacturer of Curline, the new preparation for curling, curling and curling hair. Dr. Dorenwend’s German Hair Magic, a massive repairer of bleached and gray hair, a growth promoter and a sure cure for dandruff. Golden Hair Wash to produce a golden blonde shade. The above preparations are guaranteed not to produce anything harmful.

With the approval of barbers and hairdressers at the beginning of the 20th century, these rather dubious elixirs were entrusted to pharmacists. In 1913, HG Robertson’s pharmacy was the only local stockist of Newbro’s Herpicide, a then well-known brand of hair restoration products.

In 1899 Dupont Newbro, a drugstore owner and copper mine manager, enlisted the help of a bacteriologist to create a preparation that would kill the so-called dandruff germ he theorized to be the cause of all cases of baldness.

This product has been selling like crazy for half a century. Surprisingly, its labels carried no ingredient list even after it was mandatory to do so. In 1941, the United States Food and Drug Administration sued them and the ingredients were finally revealed: salicylic acid, glycerin, alcohol, brucine and perfume. Essentially, it was a pleasantly scented mixture of acne medication and a potentially deadly poison.

Just because they couldn’t sell panacea bottles anymore, doesn’t mean barbers were completely out of the hair restoration game. In January 1914, Earl DeGeer began promoting the latest addition to tonsorial technology to arrive at his Dunlop Street East barber shop. He called it the barber’s x-ray machine.

The process involved having his client hold a glass tube through which Mr. DeGeer would send a stream of purple electricity into the client’s arm. When the barber touched the client’s hair, sparks flew, believed to perform some kind of treatment.

“Darken her gray hair, a rosy color on her cheeks that will last five to ten hours, cure that terrible ‘morning after’ headache, chase away warts, moles, and finish with the new shampoo and massage.”

I don’t know, but if I was a gentleman customer at a barber shop of the past, and had this information at my fingertips, I might be inclined to head for the door when “next, please” was called.