In these days of political correctness cultural appropriation is one of the several modern cardinal sins. We frown on theft of the elements of dining and dance, of costume and culture. What a surprize it was to find that Ontario had appropriated one of Prince Edward Island’s iconic scenes as their own.
A recent posting to the photo section of the TPC Facebook page featured a number of cards related to recreation. At the head of the posting was a Warwick Bros. & Rutter card #2065 titled “Fishing on the Humber”. A delightful scene – except that is not the Humber, not anywhere near Toronto, and not even in Ontario.
Looking closely at the image it does seem a little un-Humber like with its softwood foliage skirting the shoreline. Conspicuously absent are the limestone ridges and rocks which dot the shores of the real Humber and which can be seen in other postcards showing the river. So, if the scene is not the Humber, then where?
The answer can be found in another Warwick Bros. & Rutter card. The same image appears on card #1828, but this time with the title Trout Fishing Souris P.E.I. But this time the title is accompanied by the name of the photographer – a rare enough association in early postcards. William Steele Louson was a Prince Edward Island amateur photographer whose name appears on forty or so Warwick & Rutter cards and whose images were freely used and re-used without credit by competing postcard publishers and, as can be seen here, by Warwick & Rutter themselves. As we learn more about Louson it is evident that he was extremely important in the history of pre-WW1 P.E.I. postcards. He is the subject of an earlier Card Talk article “William S. Louson (1860-1921): Image Maker of Prince Edward Island” Vol. 36 No. 1 Spring 2015 by Andrew Cunningham.
The trout stream in question, although not named on the card, was most likely the Fortune River not far from Souris in the eastern section of the Island, site of tourist establishments and an American summer colony. Sections of the river look much the same today as they did at the time of the photo.
Unfortunately the image borrowed for the Humber was also used elsewhere as well although not quite so far from home. At the turn of the century the most famous trout stream on the Island was the Dunk River. A search of the images for that area brings up a vignetted sepia copy of the Souris image with the title “Dunk River P.E. Island”. The same image appears as well on a Valentine card #11420 with the title “P.E.Island Beauties, Trout Stream Near Souris” and a card from Carter & Co. with the caption “Not So Easily Caught, Scene in Prince Edward Island”.
With the appropriation of images and the transfer of locales rampant in postcard publishing it may be some solace to Ontario collectors that the movement was not all in one direction. For information about a Great Lakes image being fobbed off as Charlottetown Harbour see my posting at
This article was originally published in the Toronto Postcard Club’s magazine, Card Talk, Spring/Summer 2018.