Rutherford's Cut Rate Drug Store
400 SPADINA AVENUE
The wonderfully cluttered Rutherford’s Cut Rate Drug Store window display illustrates some of the popular goods sold at Toronto pharmacies during the early twentieth century.
Take a look above the doorway—notice anything special?
Rutherford’s signage features “Yinglish”: a transliteration of English into Yiddish. An eastern-European language, Yiddish is written using characters from the Hebrew alphabet, and was the mother tongue of the residents of Kensington Market.
Previously known as “the Jewish Market,” Kensington was settled largely by eastern European Jews who had spoken Yiddish in the old country. Over time, as they began to assimilate into the larger anglophone community, fewer Jews in the Market spoke Yiddish. Yinglish signage, such as that featured in Rutherford’s windows, represents the Jewish community in transition. Yinglish communicated English words in Yiddish script, allowing residents who were not yet literate in English to recognize what they were reading.
Just like bilingual signage is used today in businesses in many neighbourhoods such as Chinatown and Little Italy, owners of Kensington storefronts frequently included Yinglish and Yiddish to attract and accommodate their clientele.