It seems that many of the small merchants who were early to take advantage of the postcard craze were booksellers or stationers or those already selling souvenirs or perhaps all of the above. For them it was an easy fit and postcards seemed to be a logical extension of the existing business lines. At least that seems to be the case in Charlottetown where firms such as Taylor’s Bookstore, Haszard and Moore, Maddigan, and Carter’s all had cards produced under their names.
Things appear to have been a little different in Summerside. In the Prince County capital druggists and drugstores were the ones to cater to the postcard enthusiasts with local products. Perhaps in the smaller community the pharmacies served then (as they often do today) as mini-departmental stores carrying a variety of small goods in addition to the medical supplies which formed the core of their activities.
Of course many of the national publishers such as Warwick & Rutter, Pugh, Stedman, and Valentine all had postcard images of Summerside and the surrounding communities and these would have been available from a variety of sellers in the town. However some of the merchants in Summerside also placed orders with publishers in Ontario and elsewhere and had cards published under merchant’s names with cards identified either as “published by” or published for.”
P.N. Enman was a Summerside druggist. In 1904 he took over control of a firm that had been founded in 1881 and accordingly was one of the oldest pharmacies in Prince County. The Enman name continued to be carried by a Summerside drug store for decades after Enman’s death in 1931. Percy Enman was also involved in the Summerside Improvement and Tourist Association and served in 1904 as the chair of the organization’s Tourist Committee. He probably recognized the value of postcards as tourism advertising. Enman appears to have been a customer of the Nerlich Company of Toronto because the postcards published for Enman and bearing his name also carry the Nerlich wordmark. While I have found only three cards of this type it is likely that a number of other images exist.
P.D. Enman Cards – click on any card to enlarge
Methodist Church, Summerside, P.E.I. – published for P.D. Enman, Druggest card # 732 H/21
Summer Street, Summerside P.E.I. – published for P.D. Enman, Druggist card # 732 A/25
Lighthouse, Summerside Harbor, P.E.I. – published for P.D Enman, Druggist card # 732 A/22
Enman was not alone in having postcards printed by Nerlich. The Red Cross Drug Store was in operation during the same period. It was operated by the McLellan family until 1915 when J.E. Gallant, formerly of Tignish purchased the business. Most of the Red Cross Drug Store cards carry the Nerlich logo while several cards for which the publisher is not identified were published for M. J. McLellan or Mrs. M.J. McLellan.
Red Cross Drug Store & McLellan cards – click on any card to enlarge
The First P.E. Islander – published for The Red Cross Drug Store, Summerside, P.E.I. card # A371 – Culhane Collection
Arguably the largest producer of postcards on Prince Edward Island was Carter and Company. Hundreds of different cards from the beginning of the postcard era into the 1960s bear the name of the company which was active for more than a century. Carter & Co. (more often than not abbreviated to C. & Co.) appears on many of the cards, others are unidentified as to publisher but contain clues and have a striking similarity to those that are.
Collectors love numbered series because they can more easily identify items they are lacking and the numbers can give a sense of completeness to a run of cards. Carter and Co. cards provide a more difficult cataloguing challenge. Only by amassing information and sharing it among card aficionados can one hope to get a sense of the range of cards. Carter cards appear as a number of different types, not identified on the cards as a series, but rather differentiated by style of the cards.
One of the earliest of the several styles is what I have chosen to call the “Red Letter Cards”.
These cards have the title in red ink with the lettering in block capitals. They also have a characteristic colour palette most noticeable in the sky colour which is almost invariably a light aquamarine shade. The series includes both landscape and portrait formats and the title can appear on either the top or bottom of the card. The card title seems always to contain the name of the province as “P.E. Island”.
The back of the cards in this series is in a standard format identified as a divided back “Souvenir Mailing Card”. The name “C. & Co.” appears on the bottom left of the card.
A slight variation of the card appears as “The Crown Series” printed just under the word “Mailing” on the card back. This sub-series has “Published for C. & Co, Ltd.” on the left side of the card. Several of these cards are in the Red Letter series but most of those in the White Letter run (see below) bear the Crown Series mark.
The Carter Red Letter cards are usually identified as to location but several are more generic with titles such as “Hay-making”, “Pastoral Scene”, or “Morning Dip” – perhaps the Island’s first nudie card.
In early cards the words printer and publisher were often used interchangeably. While Carter and Co. had many lines of business, being a printer was not one of them. George Carter had emerged as one of Charlottetown’s leading seedsmen by the mid 1890s and before the end of the century was operating as a bookseller and stationer as well.
With the development of tourism on the Island Carter developed a sideline in souvenirs and as early as 1903 was advertising postcards for sale. A few years later advertisements would boast that the company has a stock of 500,000 cards on order. Carter’s served as a wholesale distributor for several lines of goods including souvenirs and postcards which continued to be distributed through the firm into the 1970s and later. Although specializing in later years in stationery and office supplies the stock in trade for Carter and Co. for much of the twentieth century was what was, at the time, termed “smallwares”
One of the largest wholesale distributors of smallwares in Canada was the Toronto firm of Nerlich and Company and much of the Carter stock may have come from them. This large firm had been founded in 1858 and continued in business for more than a century. The impressive building that housed the company at 146 Front Street in Toronto still stands.
Nerlich & Co. also were in the postcard business. Their cards have a distinctive Souvenir Mailing Card back with a wordmark with an intertwined N & C. in the same location on the card as the Carter crown series cards.
It is worth noting that the Nerlich cards state “Published by” rather than “Published for” as in the case of the Carter Crown Series cards. The face of the Nerlich cards also include the same design elements and colour palette as seen on the Carter cards. Nerlich cards are relative common for Ontario and a large collection exists for western Canada. Initially I believed that no cards of P.E.I. bore the Nerlich wordmark, but I have since received information to the contrary. [see addendum following example images below] Nerlich had salesmen across the country and wholesale links with manufactures in Japan and Germany. Many pre WW I postcards came from German printers and at least one Nerlich card (from an Ontario location) bears the words “Printed in Germany.” There does not appear to have been any published research to date on Nerlich’s postcard operations in spite of the fact that they were a major producer.
I think there is little doubt that the Carter Red Letter series came as a Prince Edward Island variation of the Nerlich and Co. card output.
There is a related sub-series of Carter cards which carry the Nerlich-type back and other characteristics except that the lettering is in a slightly different typeface and in white letters instead of red.
A selection of Red Letter postcards appears below. Click on any card to begin slide show. For an illustrated catalogue of the 39 Red Letter and 4 White letter known cards in this series click here. As always I would be pleased to learn of any images which might be added to the listings.
Typical Red Letter Card – “New Hillsborough Bridge, Charlottetown, P.E.. Island”
2 August 2017 – In my initial posting I stated that no examples of P.E.I. images with the Nerlich wordmark were known to exist. Phil Culhane, a collector from Ottawa has proven me wrong and sent along scans of two Nerlich card with the same images as Carter cards.
The Provincial Building has the same image as a Carter card except the title of the card is on the bottom rather than the top and the title includes the word Canada. The Fort Edward card is exactly the same as the Carter example.
The back of the card is the standard Nerlich design with wordmark and the phrase “Published by Nerlich & Co. Toronto, Canada.” Since then a number of other Nerlich cards published for P.E.I. card sellers have also been located. See the posting titled Drugs…. and Postcards
The obvious question following from this discovery is how many more Nerlich cards of P.E.I. are out there?
Although I have tried to limit my collecting to postcards with Prince Edward Island scenes, sometimes an item comes along that is too good to exclude. Such is the case when I discovered a card recently offered in the Toronto Postcard Club members auction.
Unlike most of the items in my collection this one is a “real photo postcard” (RPPC). There are not many real photo postcards from Prince Edward, especially from the period before the Great War and this card proved to be a treat both from a technical and a subject perspective.
Real Photo Postcards were made through a photographic process rather than by conventional printing. They put many photo studios and a number of amateur photographers in the postcard business.
Although some RPPCs exist from the late 1890s the creation of Velox photo paper by Kodak in 1902 was the real beginning of the RPPC. This paper came with a pre-printed postcard back. That, coupled with a new folding camera design, launched a year later, which produced negatives in the postcard format, made the production of postcards a simple process. A few cards or even a single card could be produced from a photographic negative and could be sent through the mails without an envelope.
Real photo postcards were often created to record local events or places of local significance because they could be produced in small quantities unlike printed cards which required the creation of printing plates and a press run and so were not economical unless a larger quantity came off the presses. More technical information about Real Photo Postcards can be found on the excellent Metropolitan Postcard site
Because it was difficult to add information to the photo negative, and the back of the card came pre-printed, most RPPCs have no identifying information which can pinpoint the subject, the scene or the publisher. This makes them both attractive and frustrating for collectors. Sometimes the card message holds the only clues as to the subject of the card. Such is the case with my latest acquisition. Although not mailed the original owner has recorded the event pictured: “Hoisting the British ensign, when we commissioned the H.M.S. Earl Grey at Halifax” The inscription suggests this was a souvenir retained by a member of the ship’s crew.
Even without the inscription I was able to name the vessel. She was quite familiar as in my blog Sailstrait I had done two long postings, one dealing with the Earl Grey’s Canadian history and the other concerning the ship’s adventures after she was sold to Russia in 1914.
The real photo postcard neatly bridges the two chapters as it captures the ship in the process of being transferred to the Russians. On 1 August 1914 the ship was transferred to the Canadian Navy. Four days later she became H.M.C.S. Earl Grey of the Royal Canadian Navy. The postcard is the picture of the official raising of the Royal Naval ensign symbolizing the commissioning of the ship. The postcard shows the ratings in their naval whites assembled overlooking the stern of the vessel while the officers in darker uniforms salute the ensign.
While the card was obviously produced in Halifax and is not technically a P.E.I. card the content is related to a vessel which was very important to the Island. I trust that purist collectors will forgive me.
Note – an earlier version of this page suggested that the vessel was commissioned as the H.M.S. Earl Grey of the Royal Navy rather than the Royal Canadian Navy.
Normally postcards depict the visual delights available to visitors. On Prince Edward Island it is unusual for a card to show images of the primary industries. While agricultural scenes may abound it is because of the landscape views which include farms and animals. Prolific Island photographer W.S. Louson was particularly active in depicting what would be much later captured in the tourism slogan – “The Gentle Island”.
Also missing in many Louson photos are people, and if they are present at all they seem to appear simply as props. The fishing industry lacked the landscape appeal of a rolling farmstead and is even less well-served by early postcard images. One of the few exceptions is a Louson card which appears in the Toronto publisher Warwick Bros. & Rutter group which I have referred to as the sepia series. This is an unusual style of photo for Louson as the focus of the image is the dozen or so workers, posed with arms folded or hands behind backs.
This card from an unidentified location shows the workers in a lobster factory appearing in front of their worksite. Lobster factories, or canning plants, were ubiquitous to the coastal areas of the province. The canning of lobsters had begun in the 1850s but it was not until twenty years later that the activity became an industry. Changes in improved canning methods and fishing techniques, as well as the development of export markets led to a lobster boom. By the close of the nineteenth century it had grown to include 2,353 boats and 4,655 men engaged in the fishery. They pulled over 283,000 traps with a yield of 2,420,000 pounds of lobster. Almost all of this lobster went to the 240 lobster factories scattered around the provinces coast.
The factories were cheap to build and cheaply built. Often located on sand spits or beaches most were temporary structures in use for only a few weeks a year. Larger operations included cookhouses for the lobster, bunkhouses for the staff, a kitchen, can-making plant and storage sheds for traps and equipment. The factories provided one of the few opportunities for rural women to work outside the home and provided income beyond the chicken and egg production of rural farms. Because of the short season work at the lobster factory was easily added to the variety of rural occupations.
Unfortunately Louson’s postcard titled “Lobster Factory and Crew” does not have a location and so seemed to be consigned to the growing list of postcards simply recorded as “scene”.
However I was recently reviewing the holdings of Louson photos at the Public Archives and Records Office in preparation for an upcoming exhibition. I had looked at this collection before in hopes of finding the original photos of some of the Louson postcard scenes but had had little success.
What I did find was a photo which was from the same time and place. This time the whole building was shown and the assembled crew was posed differently but it was undoubtedly taken the same day. While the photo is not of the same quality as the one used for the post card it may be a better documentary item.
Best of all it had a location noted – Graham’s Creek. Alan Rayburn’s Geographical Names of Prince Edward Island notes a Grahams Creek in Lot 22 on the eastern shore of New London Bay, inside the Cavendish sandspit. However, something about this location didn’t seem right. For one thing, although on the shore of the bay it was far from the lobster grounds and factories were built as close as possible to the grounds to enable the sail and oar fishermen to tend their traps.
On the eastern shore of the Island, Graham’s Pond in Lot 63 between Gaspereaux and Launching looked to be a better candidate. A newspaper search revealed that the two terms were used interchangeably. Graham’s Pond has a lobster factory to this day.
Many group photos of lobster factory exist and some even have the individuals identified. Perhaps in a family album or scrapbook there is a copy of one of the two photos which will rescue the workers of the Graham’s Creek factory from the anonymity imposed the passage of a century. No longer simply a “scene” we have found the place. It would be nice to know the people.
As a city, Charlottetown looks south. The town was built to face the harbour and as the ground gently rose to the few modest hills given grand names by country estates such as Mount Edward and Sidmount the well-planned street pattern began to break up. In the ideal of Charles Morris’ plan the town lots were edged by a common and then, further out, the royalty which was a band of country lots. Perhaps it was envisioned that each of the 500 town lots would also have a 12 acre royalty lot to provide for crops and grazing for the town residents. The system soon broke down as there was ample space within the slow-growing town for gardens and pastures. The colonial officials sold off the common and royalty lots and farms were created at the edge of the town. When the City of Charlottetown was incorporated in 1855 it was comprised of the Town and Common. The royalty was beyond the fringe.
Almost all postcards of the Edwardian era follow the harbour based approach. If there is a an overall view from the tall building the view is toward the harbour. This is the case for a Haszard and Moore postcard showing the view from the Colonial Building noted in an earlier posting. But there was an exception. One tall building was located in the north part of the City. Prince Street School, built by the Methodists, was a four-story structure which peered out over the residential area.
This rare double card published by Valentine & Sons shows the view to the north as the city bleeds out into the countryside. The school was built in the northern part of the Common and the view goes beyond the city limits. The vista runs from the Newlands Estate in the west to St. Avards in the east.
The left half of the card shows a cluster of houses, many still standing, at the north end of Prince Street. Malpeque Road can be traced extending out past St. Dunstan’s College, whose brick mass is seen squatting on the horizon.
This no-man’s land of mainly modest houses, tiny lots and narrow streets was Gaytown. It had been settled by those who sought the lower costs and lower taxes outside the city limit which ran just to the north of Gerald Street. Businesses sprang up along Malpeque Road and Allen Street. The area acquired its name when J.J. Gay, who had a market garden and nursery in Pownal moved to the area in the 1890s to better serve his town customers both at the downtown market and directly from the nursery. Gaytown became a neighbourhood and then a community. Although administratively linked to the Village of Spring Park it had an identity all its own. By the 1930s the area had a number of sports teams playing hockey, baseball soccer and volleyball. The newspapers mentioned the Gaytown Rovers, Gaytown Ramblers, and Gaytown Hawks. The fields at the edge of the community included the grounds of the Charlottetown Athletic Association near Allen Street.
The right half of the card looks out from the school roof to the grounds of the experimental farm with its thicket of woods around Ravenwood and Ardgowan. Many of the houses on Gerald and School Street (now Walthen Drive) are still standing. A hint of industrialization can be spotted by the presence of oil tanks bordering the P.E.I. Railway line as it headed out of the city.
As the area outside the city grew so did the problems. Without the benefits of municipal water and sewage systems and dependant for the most part on Charlottetown for fire protection the area was seen as a health and safety risk. As late as the 1950s there was still a public well at Spring Park. In 1957 the Village of Spring Park amalgamated with Charlottetown and became ward 6 of the city. Parkdale continued on its own for several more years.
Although in common use well into the 1950s the name “Gaytown” has all but disappeared. While other neighbourhoods such as Brighton and Parkdale are still identifiers only a one block long street – Gay Avenue, where the nursery was located – remains to remind us of the settlement.
A postcard depicting the fields of the experimental farm which almost accidentally captured the view of rooftops may be the only view we have of a vanished community.
If there is one commonality between current postcards of Prince Edward Island and those created prior to the Great War it is scarcity of images taken in winter. The postcard collector might be excused if, based on the subject matter of the cards, they though that there were only three seasons on the Island – summer, spring and fall – and very little of the latter two.
Winter scenes are scarce if not rare. Even with the photographic advances with dry-plate negatives, winter photography could be difficult. While winter photos of Prince Edward Island are not common, postcards with winter scenes are even less so. With only a few exceptions those photographs that can be found mainly show ice-bound winter steamers.
As an island in the northern latitudes the winter posed unusual challenges for transportation and the bulk of visitors (and postcard purchasers) never experienced the barrier that the Strait became in winter. From Confederation in 1873 until near the end of the Great War Prince Edward Island’s relations with the Dominion Government seemed to follow a predictable pattern. The Island would complain that the Confederation promise of continuous steam communication was not being met by Ottawa. A new and more powerful steamer built to tackle the ice would be promised and eventually built. The steamer would fail the test posed by Northumberland Strait’s tide-packed ice. The Island would complain. Another steamer would be built and then another and another. Some of the most attractive postcards of the period are shots of these vessels in the icy grip of winter, stuck between Prince Edward Island and the mainland. An account of the steamer passage in winter can be found on the Sailstrait blog site.
At the same time a unique and more interesting mode of transportation was forced on the Island. The nine mile distance between Cape Tormentine in New Brunswick and Cape Traverse on the Island was the shortest passage across the strait although the fast running tidal currents could also create towering ice-jams. In the mid 1880s the ice-boat service which had begun as contracted passage of the mails was improved by the Dominion government following a disaster on the ice which saw passengers and crew marooned on the ice by storm conditions. As the passage of the strait was seldom a simple stroll across the ice the boats had to contend with open water, slush, slurry, small ice cakes, floes, pans and board ice. Using a locally-developed design special ice-boats had been developed. The heavy boats had two iron runners on the boat bottom so that the boats could be hauled and pushed across both flat ice pans and wrestled over pressure ridges with the crew linked to the boats by leather straps which allowed them to pull but also served as a primitive safety mechanism when they slipped or fell through the ice. As well the boats had to be seaworthy to cross open water that might exist almost the whole distance one day and disappear the next. Professional ice-boat crews manned these boats. However the addition of passenger traffic to the handling of the mails introduced a new element. There was a two tier pricing system. A premium price allowed the passenger to sit in the boat all the way across battling the bitter cold. A lesser price required the passenger to help haul the boat, usually at some considerable risk of getting wet.
To date I have found only three postcard images of the iceboat crossing. Two are carefully posed photos, quite possibly taken by W.S. Louson and used on Warwick Bros. & Rutter cards printed in Toronto. The other was printed in Belgium and published under the Haszard & Moore imprint. This is more of an action shot and is a rare image in itself as it shows the small sails which were sometimes used when conditions allowed.
Even after more powerful ice-worthy steamers were developed the ice boats were called on from time to time as the ships did not always battle with the ice successfully. The service did not end until 1917 when the powerful railcar ferry S.S. Prince Edward Island began service at the Capes. The iceboat postcards soon became images of an obsolete response to the winter isolation of Prince Edward Island.
Charlottetown’s Victoria Park was established in 1875. It was carved from a property on the western side of the city designated as the Governor’s Farm. When Charlottetown was laid out it had five squares: Queens, Kings, Pownal, Hillsborough and Rochford. By the mid 1800s these were becoming inadequate to the city’s needs. Queens Square was occupied by the market and other public buildings, Pownal Square housed the city jail. A chance to set aside public space on the waterfront was lost when the Imperial government gave up the ordnance grounds at the west end of Water Street. The colonial authorities decided to auction the lots off instead of establishing a park. The possibility of turning over part of the Governor’s Farm for a park was raised in 1869 and was discussed during the negotiations leading to the Island’s entry into Confederation.
Finally in 1875 40 acres constituting the westernmost part of the farm were handed over to the city. The grant excluded the Prince Edward Battery which was retained for military uses. By 1880 the field nearest the harbour was identified as a cricket ground and one near Brighton Road (now Memorial Field) became a parade ground for the several military units in the city. Access to the park was from Brighton Road because the proposed roadway extending Kent Street in front of Government House was opposed by various Lieutenant Governors until 1896. The roadway to the Battery was completed a year later and was extended to join Brighton Road in 1899. In 1905 additional land was carved out of the Government House Farm and the Park reached the size it has today.
As the premier recreational space the Park was the subject of many postcards highlighting the natural setting and the activities which took place there. First and foremost it provided a vantage point of the harbour with the open channel to Hillsborough Bay.
An extremely popular postcard subject was the view from the Prince Edward Battery (usually misidentified as Fort Edward) back toward the city. A single image was used by a number of publishers and others appeared which were only slight variations of the view.
In the early 1900s the military installation was still very much in use. The main army drill hall and other structures were on the east side of Governor’s Pond. The Battery was used by the artillery for both training and ceremonial uses. The 4th Artillery Regiment was particularly successful in Dominion competition and frequently led the country in the national results.
The annual Militia camps took place in the park until the Great War and provided an entertainment for visitors and residents of Charlottetown. Militia groups came from across the Island to set up camp in the Park and engaged in drills and competition while under canvas. The patriotism of the Boer War period made membership in the militia a popular form of comradeship and interest in civilian soldiers continued through to the Great War.
But military camps were not the only users of the park. Although there were limitations on the use of the park for shows and commercial activities which had a paid admission charge, community groups were frequent users.
The vast majority of the early postcards images of Victoria Park deal with the natural views in the park. A number of carriage lanes, some still in use as pathways today, had been opened in the predominantly birch forest and the striking groves of white birches served as both subject and background for Charlottetown photographers. W.S. Louson, whose photos were used by the Toronto postcard firm Warwick Bros. & Rutter was particularly enamoured by the park as a photo venue. [click an image to enlarge or begin slide show]
Warwick Bros. & Rutter postcard #1741
The Pond in Victoria Park (Deadman’s Pond) In the 1930s as a works project 500 cartloads of mud were dredged from the pond and spread on low areas in the park. Stedman Bros. postcard
The tennis courts can be seen to the right in this photo. Wawick Bros. & Rutter postcard #1741
Warwick Bros.& Rutter postcard #2638
The Three Sisters. Haszard and Moore postcard.
Victoria Park was a popular spot for carriage rides until the age of the automobile. Taylor’s Book Store postcard.
Today Victoria Park continues to be the site of postcard views and increased use of the park had led to more and more structures; fieldhouses, a bandshell, and changing rooms. During the Edwardian era the only buildings were the battery magazine, the tennis pavilion and the keepers house. Now it becoming overbuilt and is harder and harder to pretend, as our ancestors did in the beginning of the 20th century, that the park represents a bit of the country in the city.