Call – Holman’s Guarantee Satifaction – a DXers delight

Standard Novelty Manufacturing postcard of R.T. Holman stores Summerside and Charlottetown showing CHGS call sign and antenna. Card #431935. University of Prince Edward Island collection.

Summerside’s first radio station went on the air in 1925 using the callsign CHLC, later changed to CHGS which reportedly stood for Holmans Guarantee Satisfaction, and with a signal strength of 25 watts. The operation was owned by the R.T. Holman company, a wholesale and retail business with stores in Summerside and Charlottetown. A short time later the strength was increased to 100 watts.   The station was located in the store building on Water street in Summerside and had a roof-mounted antenna consisting of two wires strung between small masts on the building’s roof.

In the early 1930s the power was reduced to 50 watts but by the end of World War II had returned to 100 watts.  Initial programming was only 2 hours and 15 minutes each day but by the middle of the decade this has increased to nearly 10 hours per weekday and 7 hours on Sunday.  In the early years at least, the station did not include advertising although the ownership of the station by the R.T. Holman company was frequently noted.

Back of standard Novelty card used by CHGS as an acknowledgement of reception.

With relatively low power most of the listeners were in western and central Prince Edward Island but it could be heard regularly in nearby Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as well. The station was also occasionally picked up as far south as Pennsylvania and into Quebec when atmospheric conditions were favourable.

A Novelty Manufacturing and Arts Company postcard from the 1930s shows an image of the R.T. Holman stores in Summerside and Charlottetown, noting the CHGS callsign on the Summerside store. The images have been re-drawn with editorial changes. The Summerside store, which consisted of three sections – one of three stories, one of four and a link between the two –  is shown as neatly designed three story building. On the other hand the three story structure of the Charlottetown store has miraculously had a story added.

The back of the card is the standard Novelty back, easily identified by the wordmark. However, there was a special edition of the card which is very much related to the early radio industry. Stations prided themselves on how large their coverage extended but this was often difficult to ascertain unless listeners wrote to the station and some early newspaper coverage includes reports of distant locations where the signals had been heard.

Many stations, including CHGS, requested information from listeners asking for reports of reception of broadcasts and in response sent what became known as DX or QSL cards. Early radio listeners, often using home made crystal sets and long wire antennas, found radio stations few and far between. With the broadcast bands uncrowded, signals of the most powerful stations could be heard over hundreds of miles, but weaker signals required more precise tuning or better receiving gear. This became a hobby in its own right, the name of the hobby coming from DX, telegraphic shorthand for “distance” or “distant.” Stations began to broadcast special DX programming to solicit information about coverage. For commercial stations this became a selling point to advertisers. In the 1930s CHGS’s DX broadcast took place from 2:30 to 3:30 am during the winter season when reception was best.

CHGS postcard back with pre-printed DX message and station information.

The hobby became more refined when an American firm developed radio verification stamps. This became a big fad as broadcasters rewarded listeners by sending out stamp in response to reception reports.

Verified Reception Stamp from CFRB, Fredericton.

The stamps usually came on a card verifying the listener’s report since signal strength and coverage could vary widely depending on equipment and atmospheric conditions. Two firms out of Chicago were involved in making the stamps and albums for them. The more prominent was EKKO Company and the lesser known P.M. Bryant Company. CHGS bought stamps from EKKO and attached them to postcards verifying  receipt of the DX reports. Stamps came in a variety of colors including red, green, purple, brown, blue, gray and orange. The only CHGS stamps that have been located are red. More than 700 stations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Cuba participated in the promotion. Canadian EKKO stamps featured a beaver instead of an eagle.

CHGS postcard with Veriofied Reception Stamp affixed.

CHGS appears to have been the only station on Prince Edward Island participating in the promotion. By the mid-1930s, radio technology had improved to the extent that listener reception reports were no long needed for the conventional A.M. broadcast band. However DX hobbyists continued to send in reports. Holmans appears to have reverted to using standard postcards to respond as the interest in the hobby waned.

The radio station was a particular interest of one of the Holman brothers, Robert Claude Holman who had trained as an engineer  and who lived in the U.S. before returning to Summerside after WW I. Family lore tells of at least one occasion when Claude, after an evening of illicit imbibing on prohibition-era P.E.I., wandered down to the store, turned on the station and broadcast an uncensored diatribe which very nearly lost the station its license when a few listeners complained. Operations of CGHS ceased on 31 March 1948 when R.T. Holman Limited exited the broadcast business. Over the nearly quarter century of operation programming had included musical renditions, sports reporting (including live coverage), talks, and broadcasting of church services.  Summerside was not long without a station as a number of former CHGS employees and local investors started CJRW which still broadcasts from Summerside.

Postcards from the Admiral’s Visit

Public events are often depicted in several different postcard views. The following story, which first appeared in my companion blog “Sailstrait“, shows how different these views can be.  It also shows that although we try, often in vain, to identify photographers, sometimes that knowledge comes to us from surprising places.   

It was not unusual for the harbour of Charlottetown to be visited by naval  vessels. Many of the ships of the Royal Navy Atlantic Fleet based in Halifax paid courtesy visits throughout the region but Charlottetown was hardly a regular port of call for an entire fleet.

SCVIEW291365

On 17 September in 1905 that changed in a dramatic fashion as not one, but four, of the latest and most powerful warships in the world steamed past Blockhouse light and through the harbour mouth to anchor off the wharves of Charlottetown. Not only was the fleet commanded by a Rear-Admiral, but the Rear-Admiral was His Serene Highness Prince Louis of Battenberg.

Louis of Battenberg1905

Prince Louis was not, as many in Charlottetown supposed, a prince of the realm. His title derived from his descent from Austro-Hungarian nobility being the grandson of Louis II, Grand Duke of Hesse, a matter which was to cause no little difficulty nine years later. On the outbreak of the Great War Prince Louis was forced to resign from his post as First Sea Lord owing to anti-German sentiment in spite of the fact that he had more than forty year’s experience as an officer in the Royal Navy.

In 1905 however he was celebrated for that same service. As Admiral at the command of the Second Cruiser Squadron he led his ships on a tour of Greece, Portugal, Canada and the United States and Spain.  In the United States he was lauded for his unassuming ways and democratic demeanor. Throughout his career his advancement had been as a result of his skills and not his royal connections. He continued to be promoted to higher ranks within the service and in 1912 was made First Sea Lord, essentially head of the Royal Navy.

Drake-14

If the commander was impressive the ships were equally so. His flagship was the H.M.S. Drake which had been launched in 1901 and completed in 1904. The ship had an overall length of 553 feet, a beam of 71 feet and a deep draught of 27 feet.  The 14,000 ton warship was powered by two 4-cylinder steam engines, each driving one shaft, which produced a total of 30,000 horsepower and gave a maximum speed of 23 knots. She carried a maximum of 2,500 tons of coal and her complement consisted of 900 officers and enlisted men. Accompanying the Drake were the just slightly smaller H.M.S. Bedford, H.M.S. Cumberland, and H.M.S. Essex, all Monmouth Class Armoured Cruisers each carrying 678 officers and crew.  The fleet was described as the swiftest squadron in the world’s naval fleets.

HMS Drake
The admiral’s flagship, HMS Drake also appeared on a Warwick Bros. & Rutter postcard #3441.

The ships had previously visited Quebec, St. John’s and Sydney. Arriving in Charlottetown on a Sunday afternoon the fleet was viewed by hundreds on the Park Roadway and on the wharves. The Guardian welcomed the vessels  but regretted that Canada, who benefitted from the power of the navy had contributed nothing to the defence of its ports and commerce and concluded;  “The much-enduring British taxpayer pays all the bills.” Local photographer W.S. Louson was busy with his camera and two post cards were later produced using his images. That evening the Prince visited Government House.

Battenburg

The next day saw formal visits to City Hall and the presentation of an address by Mayor and Council. In his response Prince Louis recalled several visits previously paid to Charlottetown when he was a mid-shipman on the H.M.S. Royal Alfred which had been stationed in Halifax in the late 1860s. In the afternoon a sports day was held at the Charlottetown Athletic Association grounds. Bands from the Drake and Essex entertained the crowd and both local athletes and ships’ crews competed in conventional events such as dashes at several distances, relay, and  high jump, but also crowd-pleasing activities including sack races, a wheelbarrow race,  an officer’s race, a jumble race (where crew members had to scramble to don articles of clothing such as tunics and boots), and  a tug of war. The festivities of the day concluded with a ball.

The ships left the following day, one being delayed as its anchor had become detached and had to be retrieved by a diver.  Following a visit to Halifax where the centenary of the death of Lord Nelson was commemorated the fleet visited the United States and was back in Great Britain early in 1906.

Although Prince Louis never returned to Prince Edward Island several of his descendants have visited over the years.  In 1917 Louis relinquished all his German titles and became Louis Mountbatten. His daughter Princess Alice had married into the Greek royal family in 1903 and her only son, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, took on the Mountbatten name when he became a British subject in 1947. Philip married into a family that had also changed its name owing to its former German connection. He became the consort of Elizabeth Windsor, later Queen Elizabeth. Louis’ grand-nephew and his wife, and several of their descendants have been welcomed in Prince Edward Island.

Postscript January 2020.

Although W.S. Louson is clearly identified as the photographer for the Warwick and Rutter postcard (shown above), the rather poor image on the Carter & Co. postcard at the beginning of this entry does not contain a photographer credit. Thanks to a serendipitous acquisition by Ottawa collector Phil Culhane (in Spain of all places) this has been remedied. He has found a photo of the Battenburg fleet in Charlottetown harbour bearing the stamp of Charlottetown commercial photographer J.A.S. Bayer on the reverse. Bayer published a number of real photo postcards (RPPCs) and his images were probably used by other postcard publishers but this image seems to exist in only the Carter and Co. version.

EPSON MFP image

 

A scarce postcard of winter sporting activities on Prince Edward Island

Winter scenes on early Prince Edward Island postcards are rare and many of those that were published focussed on the winter steamers or the ice boat service which operated up until 1915. Although skating, snow shoeing, and hockey were popular winter past-times the difficulties of winter outdoor photography meant that there are few images, let alone post cards, of winter sports on the Island.  This postcard depicts a toboggan slide but the specific location is not given.

Winter Sport in Prince Edward Island. Published by Carter and Company.

Tobogganing was a winter activity which became popular in Canada in the 1860s and 1870s and like many such activities became somewhat of a fad. Beginning in Quebec the idea of embracing healthy outdoor activities to combat the long Canadian winters soon spread across the country. The building of a slide on Dufferin Terrace in Quebec City is still a feature of the Winter Carnival. Like any popular activity tobogganing was a fit subject for literary expression:

The hurrah for toboggans! A fine starry night;
And a jolly big moon, with its beams clear and bright.
Ready?– All Ready! Away then we go,
And we rush like the wind down the slope of the snow.
Oh! Light are the hearts that fly down with the wind;
Who rides a tobbogan leaves trouble behind.

There had been an earlier toboggan slide at Government House  and it was sketched by visiting military officer Henry Buckton Laurence while posted on the Island between 1866 and 1868.

Henry Buckton Laurence

Popular illustration of tobogganing.

One of the earliest reports in PEI newspapers appeared in February of 1883 noted a toboggan party at Tea Hill and in December of that year it was announced that toboggan slide was being erected in Victoria Park  in  preparation for the tobogganing season.  The writer of the report noted that “with a toboggan slide, a lively snow shoe club, a good skating rink, and other places of entertainment, Charlottetown looks forward to a pleasant winter.”

The slide was built for the Victoria Toboggan Club  and was opened for use just after Christmas. Built on the southern part of the Park and faced the harbour, it was a substantial wooden frame structure 100 feet long, 10 feet wide and stood 23 feet high.  The path of the slide extended three hundred feet to the breastwork on the shore of the Park and when the ice formed it would carry the tobogganers right out onto the harbour ice.  In 1885 the slide was lighted for night activities with not one but two electric lights installed! By 1887 the popularity of tobogganing was having a negative impact on attendance at the skating rinks in the city and the Club was considering making the slide higher and longer.

However all was not as well as the rosy news reports would have it, for in 1889 the toboggan slide was offered for sale  with the purchaser being required to dismantle it and remove it from the site.

It is unlikely that this was the slide pictured on the postcard. The card was not issued until 1906 at the earliest and while it was not unknown for earlier photos to be used for cards the thicket of woods behind the slide is most definitely not Victoria Park.

A far more likely location is a newer toboggan slide which was built at the Belvedere Golf Club late in 1905. This slide was considerably larger than the Victoria Park slide being 135 feet long, 35 feet high and having a double shute. The slide opened on Christmas Day afternoon with a large crowd present including the Lieutenant Governor.  This seems to more accurately describe the slide on the postcard. It is not known how long the slide continued in use.

Back of the Carter toboggan card. Image courtesy of Phil Culhane.

The card itself was one of an un-numbered series  published by Carter and Company in Prince Edward Island. Another card in the same series also contains an image from Belvedere Golf Course but showing a summer scene.

There was at least one other slide in Charlottetown, built somewhat later than the period of the postcard. The Mount Edward Tobogganing Club was formed in 1911 and there are several references to the Mt. Edward slide but its exact location is not clear. Certainly one possibility was on the crest of the hill now occupied by the Dominion Experimental Farm.  The slide was blown down during a September gale in 1932 and was probably not re-built. By this time tobogganing had ceased to be the exotic social activity it had been half a century earlier.  Increased use of automobiles in winter meant that families could leave the city in search of longer and higher hills at such places at Tea Hill. Meanwhile in the city, slopes at the Experimental Farm and what was called the “back hill” in Brighton (alas now built over and somewhat leveled) were frequented by tobogganing children; adults were seldom seen.

The Prince at the Pavilion: a short-lived memorial

Among the postcards loaned to the Robertson Library at UPEI by collector Ed McKenna, and subsequently included in his book Historic PEI: Vintage Postcards of Prince Edward Island, is a striking RPPC (Real Photo Postcard) image of a freestanding structure identified as “Pavilion Victoria Park.”  The ornate building, complete with shields and flags stands near a wood. In the middle stands a man, as pleased as punch, and off to the side are children, moving too fast to be caught in focus in  the long exposure.

Pavilion at Victoria Park 1912. RPPC

The building was not familiar to me  and I had seen no other photos so I convinced myself that this was not Charlottetown’s Victoria Park but another. There were after all, dozens of Victoria Parks across the country. See here for an example of the type of name confusion which could result in error.  The nearest Victoria Park is in Truro and I posted the image on a Nova Scotia Postcard site to see if someone could correctly place it. I even found a spot using Google Earth where the pavilion could have stood. The photographer was unknown to me – after all Wallace was “not an Island name” and was more associated with Nova Scotia. As it turns out it is not surprising that there were no  answers forthcoming.

I let the matter drop for a while and took on several other projects among which was research on John P. Nicholson, a previously unknown Charlottetown architect who is now in the Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Architects.  One of the links to his work led me to his credit as designer as pavilion for the visit of the Duke of Connaught.  That visit took place in 1912, the same year as the postmark on the card!

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At Charlottetown Depot. The Canadian Courier. 17 August 1912.

The visit was a major celebration for Prince Edward Island. Not only was he Governor General but he was also a bona fide Royal, being the third son of Queen Victoria. Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert, Duke of Connaught and Strathern  was accompanied by his wife, Princess Louise, and his daughter Princess Patricia.   The Duke and Princess Patricia arrived by train from Summerside while the Duchess, feeling poorly, met them after taking the steamer Earl Grey down the Strait. The visit had all the pomp one might expect with a royal visit (and not merely a vice-regal one). There were military parades and the streets were lined with uniformed Islanders from the several branches of the local militia. There were balls and speeches and addresses of welcome and royal responses. Princess Patricia even played a round of golf at the Belvedere Golf Club while the Duke took an incognito motor tour of the city.

For many the best view of the royal visitors was at a public gathering at Victoria Park where thousands of Islanders gathered to gawp and listen the addresses. After listing to several speakers welcome the Duke on his first visit to the Island he gently reminded his audience that he had been here before, in 1869, while en route to join his regiment in Quebec. That occasion too, had been a celebration with the ball at the Colonial Building going on until 4:00 a.m.

But was the speaking platform at Victoria Park the same one as the pavilion depicted on the postcard?  Fortunately the Royal Visit to Charlottetown was documented in an issue of the Canadian Courier, a weekly magazine published in Toronto.  The article included photos taken by Charlottetown photographer J.A.S. Bayer. One of these “The Welcome in the Park” shows the postcard pavilion and neatly ties up one of the larger loose ends.

The Welcome in the Park. The Canadian Courier 17 August 1912.

The identity of Wallace, the photographer, has not been resolved. Perhaps he was simply one of the dozens members of the press who were following the tour.  The identity of the man standing before the pavilion is likewise unknown but I would like to think it was John P. Nicholson standing in front of his design.  The structure was clearly a temporary one, indeed the roof may simply have been of fabric and it may have been disassembled shortly after the visit. I have been able to find no other images or references. One more enduring reference to the Royal Visit was the re-naming of Pownal (or Jail) Square as Connaught Square but both names continue to be used.

Ponies at Victoria Park (detail). Rogers Family Album

Post Script 1 December 2019 – Through the courtesy of Charlottetown heritage advocate Ian Scott I have been provided with one additional image showing the pavilion. This is a detail from the photo with children and their ponies at Victoria Park. The original is found in the W. Keith Rogers family album held by the family.

 

Hijacked for the Humber

Appropriated image. Warwick Bros. & Rutter postcard #2065

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?

Correct location. Warwick Bros. & Rutter postcard #1825 . Photo by W.S. Louson.

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
https://straitpost.wordpress.com/2017/02/23/a-post-card-error-or-a-postcard-plan/

This article was originally published in the Toronto Postcard Club’s magazine, Card Talk, Spring/Summer 2018.

“This is Murphy but he is dead.”

Most postcards are about places rather than people. In fact it is somewhat rare that the identity of individuals appearing on the face of cards is known. If seen at all they are usually innocent bystanders captured by the photographer.  But sometimes an individual is depicted because they have become as much an institution in the community as the public buildings, parks, and street scenes. Such was the case with James Murphy, “Charlottetown’s Popular Cabman.”

Murphy’s Irish Jaunting Car, Charlottetown P.E.I. Pugh Manufacturing postcard #524-18. Murphy, along with his dog, is pictured on Grafton Street with the corner of Great George Street in the background.

James Murphy was born in Ireland in 1850 but unlike many of the Irish immigrants to Prince Edward Island, he came late, arriving with his wife Letitia in 1882 when he was already over thirty years old. He appears to have established his business at an early date being identified as an expressman, which we might now characterize as a deliveryman, in the 1901 census. Certainly by the early 20th century he was already a well-recognized figure on the streets of Charlottetown with his Irish jaunting cart in use as a cab. This was an uncommon rig in the province.

enl_2702
Murphy in front of St. Paul’s Church. From “Charlottetown the Beautiful City of Prince Edward Island” ca.1903

At the time of his death the Charlottetown Guardian identified him as a “veteran cabman” and stated “Mr. Murphy was one of the best known on the street of past years, his occupation bringing him into contact with all classes, especially the travelling public with whom he was most favourably known.”  James Murphy died on 18 January 1910 predeceased by his wife and leaving an adult son, Michael J. Murphy.

He is memorialized on at least two postcards and images of him and his horse and jaunting cart appeared in picture books produced as souvenirs.

My copy of the card shown above has the following flippant message on the back: “This is Murphy but he is dead. The town is nearly dead but pretty. Having a pretty good time so far but quiet.” Perhaps not the most eloquent testimonial  for Charlottetown.

Charlottetown’s Popular Cabman, Mr. James Murphy, Charlottetown, P.E.I.  J.D. Taylor postcard #2581 published by Stedman Bros. This image shows Murphy and passengers in front of the Victoria Hotel on Water Street.

Visual list of Pugh Manufacturing Co. postcards of P.E.I. updated

D.G.S.S. Earl Grey in Ice, Northumberland Strait. Pugh # 206-1. Culhane Collection.

The list of images of P.E.I. postcards published by the Pugh Manufacturing Company has been updated with the inclusion of more than twenty additional images bringing the total to more than seventy-five views of the Island.  Most of these confirm or fill-in previously identified gaps in the numbering sequences.  Based on the assumption that other gaps identified are for still-missing images there are likely another half-dozen Pugh cards for Prince Edward Island which have not been identified.  Thanks to Phil Culhane and other postcard collectors who have shared images in order to make this listing more complete. Any collectors having cards filling in these missing numbers are asked to contact the blog author.

The updated Pugh listing can be found here.

Many More Maddigan Postcards

Indian Encampment, Prince Edward Island

In an earlier post I wrote about Grocer R.F. Maddigan’s venture into postcard distribution and provided a visual guide to the cards I knew of at that time.  Since then I have acquired images of a number of additional cards and have revised the visual listing of Maddigan cards for Prince Edward Island to show all 60 of the cards that I have been able to locate.

Post Office, Charlottetown, P.E.I.

From this it is clear that he was a major player in the postcard business in the province, likely serving as a wholesale distributor.  He certainly did not publish his own cards and those appearing with his name came from a large number of publishers. The listing shows cards with the Maddigan name that were clearly the same as those from Pugh, McCoy, Valentine and even one card from Warwick & Rutter. To date I have identified nine different card backs suggesting that he changed suppliers frequently.  Trade publications suggest that it was easy to acquire cards and simply by sending images to the publisher one could arrange to have them printed under your own name. Selecting an image already appearing on cards with another’s name on them was not considered a barrier as with limited exceptions copyrights were not filed.

On the Beach, Montague River

This makes it doubly difficult to get a handle on how many different Maddigan cards are out there.  To date I have identified 60 cards under the R.F. Maddigan name but I have little doubt there are many more in collections that have not been discovered.  The current listing includes images from my own collection, from public holdings available on-line and those of other collectors.  I am particularly indebted to Phil Culhane of Ottawa who has graciously permitted use of information from his site at http://www.peipostcards.ca  As always I am interested in learning of images that I have not included to date.

The latest listing has cards sorted by location and then alphabetically by title.  If the card contains a catalogue number it has been posted to the entry.

Click here to go to the latest catalogue.

 

 

Fifteen Edwardian Views of Queen’s Square

As the central square of the City of Charlottetown, Queen’s Square was a frequent subject of Edwardian postcards.  The Square housed most of the Province’s major public buildings and was bordered by the main commercial streets of the city.  Most cards publishers of the period showed one or two views, with the Provincial Building being easily the most common.

The Bandstand in Queen’s Square. The three-story building in the background is on the corner of Great George and Grafton streets.  Pugh postcard #524-2

However the cards of the Pugh Manufacturing Company have a remarkable deviation from the norm. Of the 80 or so Pugh cards for Prince Edward Island published before WWI at least fifteen show Queen Square or the streets surrounding it. There was certainly much to see on the Square. In 1905 there were four large buildings which represented the major public and government presence in the city. At the west end of the square was the William Harris designed market building (1903) with its adjacent weigh scale house.  The land in the square to the north and south was the public market square.

A street, now vanished  separated the market from the cluster of government buildings. The central section of the Square consisted of three uniformly large brick or stone buildings. These were; the Cabot building (1887), also designed by William Harris, which was the post office and Dominion Government building, the Provincial (or Colonial) Building (1847) now erroneously referred to as Province House*, which contained the provincial legislature, most government offices and land registry; and the Thomas Alley designed Law Courts Building (1876) which replaced an earlier law courts destroyed by fire in 1884, on the site of the Cabot Building This part of the Square also contained the band-stand and the public gardens designed by Arthur Newbury.**

Another street cutting the square separated state from church with the Church of England (1896), Sunday School and Anglican Rectory, all in harmonious sandstone occupying the remainder of the public land in the centre of the city.

Sunnyside (a section of Grafton street) to the north, Victoria Row (Richmond Street),south,  and Queen Street, west, provided the sites for the city’s major businesses. The east side of Queen’s Square was Prince Street which was, and is, a residential street.

View of buildings on Queen’s Square. The uniform setback resulted in a large open public area which was developed as the Queen’s Square Gardens. Pugh postcard #898-15.

Oddly the Pugh series of cards does not contain a card showing the Colonial Building, except in combination with other buildings, a view which was invariably included in the offerings of other postcard publishers.  Perhaps even then the image was too common to be remarkable.

For architectural historians post cards can be frustrating for they usually show only a single elevation the backs and sides of buildings rarely make the cut.  The Pugh cards  show images from all around the square. Perhaps it was the well-maintained gardens which were being featured but we have rare views of the bandstand which later vanished from the Square and something other than the usual elevations of the Market and Cabot Buildings. One event at the Boer War memorial is a card subject but the memorial itself features on another.  

Today most of these views could not be taken. The building of the Confederation Centre of the Arts in 1964 eliminated the street separating the market square from the rest of the block,  reduced the Cabot Building to rubble and forced the disappearance of the Gardens.  The brutalist structure elbowed its way to the edge of the streets and forced what little public open space was left up onto a plaza visibly at war with the surrounding streets.

The Pugh views speak to a much different time when the city centre was open and welcoming. We are fortunate that it has been so well documented.

Thirteen other Pugh images of Queen’s Square are available. Click on any image to start the slide show and enlarge the images.

  • * The name Province House rarely appears in printed sources before 1964 and when it did the reference was usually to the Legislature Building in Nova Scotia.
  • ** For information on the Queen’s Square Gardens see The Island Magazine Fall/Winter 1990

Five Generations Postcards Became an Early Tourist Promotion

Two cards with family photos are among the most well-known of early Prince Edward Island postcards. However, the cards are somewhat of an anomaly.  Published by the Toronto publishers Warwick Bros. and Rutter, the Garden of the Gulf Series of cards more often showed the traditional fare of landscapes and buildings. This is even more evident when dealing with the cards attributed to amateur photographer William Steel Louson who produced scores of P.E.I. images for Warwick & Rutter.  In fact, people are conspicuous by their absence in most of the Louson cards.

Uncropped “All Pullers Together” image. Photo: Public Archives and Records Office.

However two cards stand out from that group as exceptions and they both stem from a visit by Louson to the western P.E.I. community of Tignish in 1903.  He was probably there in his capacity as a commercial traveller for the Greenshields wholesale firm of Montreal but it was not unusual for him to carry his camera on his visits to rural stores across the province. While in Tignish he visited with the family of Colo [Nicolas] Poirier, the patriarch of a branch of the large Poirier family, descendants of Prosper Poirier of Malpeque and later of Tignish.  What was remarkable about Colo Poirier was that in 1903 five generations of his family were living in the community. Colo was 97 years old and his wife was 93. Married for over seventy years the couple had twelve children, seven of whom were still living in 1903. At the time there were 201 living descendants of the pair.

Louson photographed the couple at “their clean little home by the sea-shore,” the residence of their eldest son Gilbert.  By special request of the couple the prayer-book and cross were included in the photo posed in front of a flag hung to protect them and to hide the shingles on the side of the house. Both were pipe smokers and Louson brought a gift of tobacco for them.  He found them in remarkable health, Colo still worked on the cod flakes and cut and sawed his own wood. With them in the photo was their great-great-grandson Master Joseph Poirier.

At the same time, although possibly in a later visit, Louson posed the family in a number of carefully composed group shots, two of which were to become postcards.  The first, seen as a photograph above,  was taken on the shore near Tignish with a fish stage in the background and male members of five generations of the family holding the painter of a small, beached vessel, a type used for both lobster fishing and hook and net catches. The cropped and coloured image, titled “Five Generations All Pullers Together” became  Warwick and Rutter card # 2730.

Another image, which was published as Warwick & Rutter card # 1801, shows the four adult men, their spouses and the child. Louson described the image in an article written for the Guardian newspaper in November 1903. “Here is our third picture, the husbands and wives with little Joseph are represented. What a happy reunion this is, surrounded by lobster traps all appear as happy as clams.”

There were probably no later photos of the group.  Colas died at Skinner’s P0nd in the fall of 1904 and his wife followed him less than a year later.

Detail of Pioneer Family card showing added artwork at card edge.

There is an interesting feature of this card which can be seen under closer examination.  The image supplied to the publisher by Louson apparently could not be cropped to fit the landscape format of the Warwick & Rutter cards with their title block at the bottom  without losing detail from either the heads or feet of the subject.  The solution arrived at was to manually add to the width of the image. Carefully drawn images of the lobster traps and background were extended in order to fit the format  of the cards.  Once the alteration is notice it can be easily spotted on both the left and right of the image of the card.

Page with Poirier photos from Charlottetown, The Beautiful City of Prince Edward Island. Carter & Co. [1904]
Louson made good and repeated use of the images. He was an occasional contributor to the Montreal Standard and the Poirier story and images appeared on its pages. Besides coverage in the Charlottetown Guardian in an article written by Louson the images also were included in two souvenir albums of P.E.I. scenes published by Carter & Co. in 1904.  The cards themselves were very popular and the family “Five Generations” card exists in at least four editions with minor variations including one where the location is misspelled “Tidnish.”

For Louson, who was a tourism booster for his adopted province, the Poirier story and photos served as an example of the healthy life-style of the Island and longevity of Islanders. He promoted the bringing together of the extended families of the province such as the Poiriers,  which could provide tourism benefits flowing from what he referred to as “Come Home Excursions” and which later emerged as “Old Home Week”.