Too Much Charlottetown for a Single Card: An Early P.E.I Panoramic

As postcards became more and more popular in the beginning of the twentieth century publishers began to introduce novelty into their production.  One approach was the panoramic or bifold double card with a wide-angle scene folded to postcard size. Although special cameras had been developed as early as 1904 to record 360 degree panoramas and group shots, most panoramic scenes were taken using conventional photo equipment and by cropping the images to produce the wide angle effect. The sharpness of glass plate negatives could make the results quite striking. However in the case of this card the colour printing appears somewhat “muddy”.

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Bird’s Eye View of Charlottetown Waterfront showing the Beautiful Hillsborough River.  Private Post Card. Haszard & Moore, Importers, Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Landscape paintings had often had a horizontal orientation – hence “landscape” as opposed to “portrait” format – and this seems to have been preferred for most postcards. The panoramic images were reproduced on a number of folding panels, most frequently two, but in some cases three, four or more. Cards with as many as eight panels were produced.

Folded to standard postcard size for mailing the cards did not stand up well to handling and large cards with all panels still attached are scarce.  In some cases only a single panel has survived and a single card without any markings with only one torn edge may be evidence that it was once part of a panoramic card.

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Back of Bird’s Eye view card showing “Printed in Belgium” in the stamp box

The photo on this Charlottetown card was taken from the roof of the Colonial Building looking down Great George Street. Prominent buildings shown include, from left to right, the brick Methodist church, the Presbyterian church, Charlottetown’s Y.M.C.A. building, the Union Bank of Prince Edward Island building, Queen Square School (originally the Christian Brothers School)  with St. Dunstan’s cathedral behind, and the commercial buildings on Richmond street.  The promised “beautiful Hillsborough River” is barely visible in the background. Magnification shows the line of the Hillsborough Bridge visible behind the mass of the Methodist church and helps date the card to after 1905 when the bridge was completed.

Although Haszard and Moore appear to have printed some of the cards bearing their name it is unlike that the Charlottetown Bird’s Eye is one of them.  There is no indication that they possessed the colour presses necessary for the work. On the card itself they are identified as “importers”, and indeed the back of the card shows it was printed in Belgium.

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Bird’s Eye View East River. P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation Collection

Another Haszard and Moore card – Bird’s Eye View East River Showing Hillsboro Bridge, Charlottetown, P.E.I., appears at first glance to be the left hand half of the panoramic card but closer examination reveals this not to be the case. Although likely from the same negative, the East River card is cropped differently. It shows the whole of the Methodist church and a part of the roofline of the Colonial Building which are details absent in the panoramic card. Further, on the panoramic card the title is printed on the face of the card across both halves and any separation of the halves would be easily noticed. This was not always the case and some publishers printed the image both as a panoramic card and as two single image cards.

Whether this is the only experiment of a panoramic card that Haszard and Moore attempted is not known. The only other early panoramic card of Charlottetown that I have is not only a different scene but also is from a different publisher.

 

Another Edwardian Leporello from P.E.I.

IMG_1102BI ended a recent posting with a query concerning additional leporello cards from Prince Edward Island speculating that it was unlikely that a publisher would have printed only one image.

Within a fortnight I was proved correct but in a way I hardly expected. In reviewing illustrations in connection with a blog posting on the Hillsborough Bridge I spotted a reference to a small image at the Public Archives and Records Office. The reason the reference caught my eye was because it was included in a list of other post card views which seemed suspiciously familiar and so when I was next in the Archives I had a look.

“Scene at North Shore, Prince Edward Island” is clearly from the same publisher as the earlier card. It has the same metal hook closure for the mini-card pocket but as the photo shows it has suffered from some discolouration.

IMG_1105BThe card is unused and therefore no date information can be added to what was assumed in the note on the previous card. One difference on the card back is that the wording “book post” and the box for a two cent stamp is provided. This seems a little strange. Book post was a special rate designed for sending a packet of books. The standard post card rate at the time was 1 cent within Canada and to the United States. The letter rate was 2 cents for each ounce.  The book post rate up to 1903 was 1 cent for 4 ounces and it was increased to 1 cent for 2 ounces. The leporello card was heavier and thicker than a standard post card but it appears that the letter rate rather than the book rate was applied.

Surprisingly the images within the card pocket are not the same as for the card discussed earlier. This is a surprise for surely the easiest course would have been to print a common insert and glue it into the card. While both cards share images of the Colonial Building, Hillsborough Bridge, the Post Office, and the Market Building the Winter Steamer card has images of  the Boer War monument and a view of Charlottetown from Victoria Park while the seashore card substitutes a view of Great George Street and a scene on Victoria Row street for the latter images.

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I was certain that I had never seen this card before but in examining the archival folder protecting it I was astonished to find my own handwriting.  When I was assistant archivist in the 1970s I had catalogued this card!  Of course at the time I still held the view that postcards were simply ephemera and were not real historical documents. On this (and on many other things) I would like to think that my views have evolved.

So, for the second time in two months, I wonder if there are more cards of this type out there. While the cards sport P.E.I. views I am not convinced that they were published on P.E.I. Perhaps post card collectors or card scholars have similar cards from other locations. If so I would be most interested  in hearing about them.

The card is held in the collection of the P.E.I. Public Archives and Records Office Accession 3999 item 7.

Haszard & Moore postcards

For several years in the late 19th and early 20th century Haszard and Moore was a landmark in Charlottetown. The printing company and bookstore occupied a prime location on the north side of Grafton Street facing Queen Square, an area called “Sunnyside.” Besides books and magazines the firm handled what were referred to as “notions” and had a stock of toys, gifts and souvenirs. They also did plain and fancy printing and had a number of books to their credit. When the postcard fad hit at the turn of the century Haszard and Moore was well-positioned to extend their stock to cover the new souvenir item. But as a printing firm the company had a significant advantage over their local competitors. They could produce their own cards instead of relying on out-of-province printers such as Warwick & Rutter, McCoy Printing or W.G. MacFarlane.

One of the big differences between early post cards and those produced later is what is called the “undivided back.” In these cards the entire back of the card was devoted to the stamp and the address. No messages were allowed. They had to appear on the face of the card.  If the image occupied the whole face there was no room for correspondence so many of the early publishers left all or a part of the face of the card blank, either by having a smaller image or by dedicating a strip at the bottom of the card for a very short message. In 1902 Great Britain began to allow “divided back” cards on which half of the space could be occupied by the message and  the other half for the address. The move was quickly followed by France and Germany and in December 1903 the Canadian postal regulations were amended to allow for the divided back. It was not authorized in the United States until 1907. This division continues to this day.  However, undivided back cards continued to be published after 1903 and it cannot entirely be relied on for dating. It is not known when the Haszard and Moore cards were published.

Back of a Haszard & Moore card. The image on the address side of the card is a very unusual feature. PARO Accession 3999 item 1

The Haszard and Moore cards appear to be unique in that they also included a second image on the address side of the card. In the case of all the cards I have seen this is a photo of the Colonial Building from the south-east.

The P.E.I. Public Archives and Records Office holds a collection of six un-posted Haszard and Moore cards. This may represent the entire series and I would welcome information about any similar cards.  The cards have several interesting features. The scenes on the cards appear in different formats; an oval for Fairholm and rectangles of differing sizes for the other images. Unlike many card series there are a variety of type faces identifying the several views on the cards. On all of the cards save one the name of the publisher (Haszard and Moore Printers and Stationers, Charlottetown) appears on the lower right face of the card.

On the Haszard and Moore cards there is an additional element. As well as a scenic photograph there are vignettes on the upper right face each card. A wordmark, “Souvenir of Prince Edward Island” is used on the Fairholm and beach scene cards and a version in a different type face on the Post Office card. A stylized crest in green appears on both the Great George Street and Boer memorial card and a blue crest with supporters on the Queen Square card. This introduces an interesting cataloguing dilemma. One large thematic area in postcard collecting is the “patriotic postcard.”  Mike Smith has written the standard text on the subject and he defines “patriotic postcards” as postcards containing one or more of the following attributes: –  a Canadian serviceman, military theme or symbol –  a patriotic verse or slogan –  a prominently displayed Canadian symbol etc. – a Canadian or provincial flag etc. –  a famous Canadian event (e.g. Québec’s tercentenary celebrations) –  a prominent Canadian political figure.  It is probable that not all of these vignettes would fit into the patriotic category and therefore what was clearly published as a single series is artificially divided.  Click to enlarge.

The images themselves are not uncommon and several of them appear on P.E.I. cards from a number of publishers.  A gallery of Haszard and Moore undivided back cards appears below. Click on any card for larger images.

These cards are of high quality but it seems that Haszard and Moore did not continue in the post card publishing business. Their imprint appears on a number of coloured  cards but they appear identical with cards from larger off-Island publishers. Haszard and Moore continued in business until 1912 when they were succeeded by Maritime Stationers at the Grafton Street address.

The lack of publishing information makes attribution difficult for Canadian postcards. The problem is compounded for those publishers and printers from small communities which may have had a very limited selection and small press runs. These Haszard and Moore cards merely lift a small corner of the curtain.

All cards from the P.E.I. Public Archives and Records Office.

An Early Leporello Postcard from Prince Edward Island

Unless you ae a Mozart aficionado or a well-educated and avid post card collector the title of this posting probably will mean absolutely nothing.  Since I am neither, the term “leporello” sent me scurrying to Wikipedia where after some research the mystery was unravelled.

Marco Vinco as LOporello in the San Francisco Opera 2011 production of Don Giovanni. Photo by Cory Weaver from operawest.com
Marco Vinco as Leporello in the San Francisco Opera 2011 production of Don Giovanni. Photo by Cory Weaver from operawest.com

Let’s start with the Mozart because that holds the explanation for the name. Leporello is Don Giovanni’s manservant in Mozart’s 1787 opera Don Giovanni.  Don Giovanni, a young, arrogant, and sexually promiscuous nobleman, abuses and outrages everyone else in the cast until he encounters something he cannot kill, beat up, dodge, or outwit. Don Giovanni, is betrayed to a new conquest by his servant who tells her that he is unfaithful to everyone; his impressive list of seductions and conquests include 640 women and girls in Italy, 231 in Germany, 100 in France, 91 in Turkey and 1,003 in Spain. In displaying the conquests the manservant pulls the list out of the book in an accordion fold. The term leporello is applied to books and publications that use this endless page device. The leporello became quite common in the Victorian era. Panoramic scenes in travel accounts as well as images of culture and customs often used the device. After the development of photography it became an effective way to show very wide images, or a linked series of photographs.

In early postcards the leporello often takes the form of an album of mini images folded into the postcard itself. They were more commonly used in Europe but North American postcard publishers used the leporello as well although they are scarce if not rare. Because of the format the cards do not hold up well to handling. They have to have an inner pocket that protects the mini album and there is much folding and unfolding to see the images.

I hardly knew what to expect when I ordered the card from a German on-line dealer. The photos in the listing were not very good and it was obvious that the card was not in particularly good shape. The face image of the card was an uninspiring view of the winter steamer Stanley in ice but it was not one I had seen before. The photos on the sale site showed only two of the mini images and I would not have been surprised to see that any others had long since come loose and disappeared.

Front of the leporello. The latch pin can be seen holding the image pocket closed.
Front of the leporello. The latch pin can be seen holding the image pocket closed.

The card was pretty banged up. It had obviously been well handled and there were blemishes and folds that may well have been inflicted by the postal authorities or they could simply be from mis-handling over the years.

Leporello card back showing address in France
Leporello card back showing address in France

The back of the card showed it had been mailed from Souris East on P.E.I. on 23 July 1906 and sent to an address in Caen in Calvados district France and then re-addressed to Carteret in Manche.  Again the latch pin holding the mini album flap closed can be seen. As well in this photograph the cardboard core of the card which makes a pocket for the smaller images can be seen.

When I gingerly opened the latch pin I was surprised to find that the contents were not only intact they were in excellent shape.  A total of six images appeared in the folds: Legislative Building and Law Courts, Hillsborough Bridge, Charlottetown from Battery Point, General Post Office, Market Building, and South African Volunteers Monument.

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All of the photographs, save one, were common postcard shots and in fact I had full-card images of all of them in my collection. The images appear to have been used by a number of different publishers but this card helps date them from 1906 or earlier. The remaining photo is one I had not seen before. It shows a still-unfinished Hillsborough Bridge with the swing-span open. Because the last of the spans was not put in place until June of 1905 this card must have been a recent publication when it was purchased and mailed.

I am unaware of any earlier leporello cards from Prince Edward Island and would be interested in knowing if there were other images from this period. It is unlikely that a publisher would have produced only one. Adding this unprepossessing item to my collection shows that cards from Prince Edward Island can run to some fairly exotic specialties.

 

 

 

Where was Pulpit Rock?

The soft sandstone underlying Prince Edward Island is easily sculpted by the wind waves and ice. As the cliffs are eroded they often develop memorable shapes and configurations. In recent years among the more celebrated formations was Elephant Rock not far from North Cape but the constant change in the shorelines mean that the fanciful shapes do not have a long life and Elephant Rock was no exception. Now looking nothing like an elephant, it is evolving into something quite different
When I was a child the Lone Rock at Cavendish was a local landmark. Intriguing as an island at high tide it also had the extra characteristic of having a hole in the rock though which small boys could crawl. However, like Elephant Rock it gradually changed, eventually disappeared and is gone except in memory and some late 1950s postcards.
For early postcard photographers this dramatic rocky shore was an attraction. We did not have rugged mountains or exotic landscapes but we did have this curiously changing shoreline. Certainly early postcards of rocks outnumber those showing beaches by a wide margin. There are a number of views of features such as a stone arch at Darnley, the three sisters formation at Campbelton, and outcrops at both sides of the Charlottetown harbour mouth.

Another famous (at least at the time) sight was Pulpit Rock. Not like any pulpit I have ever seen but I suppose you have to call it something. There is however a slight problem – just where was it?

We have two postcards showing the scene and they are obviously both made from the same photographic image although one is more closely cropped. The differences in the colouring applied by the two publishers can clearly be seen. In both cases the publisher has an identifiable style. Only the Warwick & Rutter card identifies the photographer – in this case W.S. Louson.  Louson had a thing for the sort of rock formation pose – see, for example, his cards of the harbour mouth found on my Sailstrait blog. But more than the difference in appearance the cards have two different locations.

 

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Nature’s Pulpit Kildare Cape, P.E.Island – Carter & Co.

The complexity is compounded by another issue of the same image with slightly a different title. “Nature’s Pulpit” is also located at Kildare Capes as seen in the attached image of a card issued by Carter and Company.   According to Mike Smith’s book on the cards of McCoy Printing the image also appears on another of the McCoy Printing cards – but attached to a different location from the card seen above. Card #94 has a split image – “Gathering Shells” and “Nature’s Pulpit, Kildare, P.E.I.”

 

In the early 1900s Rustico was already a tourist destination with summer hotels and guest houses. It was easily reached from Charlottetown and from a postcard marketing perspective may have been a more attractive location for card sales. Kildare Capes was in the exotic north-west part of the province and was less likely to be actually visited by tourists. We do know however that William Louson has at least one other Kildare Capes postcard to his credit and there are a number of cards of nearby Alberton and Montrose which he could have taken.

Both locations have the eroding headlands which might have been the site of the rock formation but today any trace would be long gone so unless there are other references we may never know for sure. However I am inclined go with the Warwick & Rutter information as they seem to have taken more care with their descriptions.

 

Up in the Air Above Charlottetown

Over the past few years I have been gathering information about Charlottetown architect Charles Benjamin Chappell. A remarkable number of his buildings are featured on postcards of the day and when I spotted a beautifully detailed view of Prince of Wales College I had not seen before I was anxious to acquire it.

PWC001Folks who collect post cards are rarely interested on what is on the back of the card (although there is a strange subspecies that does collect them for their postmarks). Usually the message is banal and uninformative of the “Having a wonderful time – wish you were her” variety. The message on the back of the Prince of Wales College post card was of a slightly different character and like a message in a bottle begged for an explanation.  Addressed to a residence in Wollaston Massachusetts it contained only a few cryptic and puzzling sentences:

Harry's mysterious message
Harry’s mysterious message

Am here at Charlottetown PE Islands. Arrived here from Halifax N.S. last night. I made good in Halifax & got all the money. Made seven flights in six days all on time. five of them made in wind and rain. Lapham dropped five times from three thousand feet. Raining now Hell of a country

 

[signed] Harry

030112-rodman1It turns out that “Harry” was Harry Bingham Brown, an English pilot who was one of the pioneer aviators in the United States. He seems to have begun flying in about 1909 and by 1912 he was taking paying passengers for rides in his single engine, twin-propeller Wright airplane and set an early altitude record at over one mile above New York with passenger Isabel Patterson.  The same year he seems to have teamed up with another aviator Leo. Stevens as his business manager to develop a new act.  Earlier that year the first parachute drop from an airplane had taken place and Brown engaged Frederick Rodman Law to leap from his bi-plane. The following year  Arthur Lapham  replaced Law and the act went on the road stopping at aeronautical events, exhibitions and county fairs throughout New England and into Canada. These barnstorming acts became very popular and continued through to the 1930s.  Many resulted in tragedy as pilots pushed their flimsy aircraft to offer more and more extreme aeronautical feats.

Brown and an unidentified passenger posing in his aero-plane. Many photos of Brown show him with a lit cigar sitting next to the gas tank.
Brown and an unidentified passenger posing in his aero-plane. Many photos of Brown show him with a lit cigar sitting next to the gas tank.

The Brown and Lapham act was booked into the P.E.I. Provincial Exhibition in late September 1913 and was expected to be one of the great drawing cards of the event. Unfortunately things did not go off as advertised.  On Thursday the 25th Brown and Lapham took off but the engine was not working properly and the aeroplane unable to raise to the necessary height.  It was then captured by a strong wind and the two aviators disappeared from view.  They came to earth near the Dinnis Fox Ranch and  after tinkering with the engine Brown returned to the exhibition grounds albeit without Lapham.  The latter may have recalled an earlier experience near New York when he jumped from 400 feet and the parachute failed to open completely. Lapham landed feet first in a Staten Island marsh, was buried up to his neck and had to be extracted by ropes and boards. He was found to be suffering from shock.  A second Charlottetown flight took place later the same day but without Lapham. This time to the dismay of the crowd the aircraft did not return and spent the night somewhere outside the city.

Brown at the controls of his aircraft. Location unknown
Brown at the controls of his aircraft. Location unknown

The following day was a repetition of the first. Brown made a number of ascents, flew at  low altitude and came back to ground outside the exhibition grounds.  Eventually one of these unplanned landings resulted in damage to the plane and the show came to an end.

Brown barnstormed for four years putting on demonstrations in Canada, the United States and  the West Indies.  He flew in Hollywood in the movie version of “The Perils of Pauline” with Pearl White.  However he married in 1914 and at the request of his wife gave up flying and bought a farm in Walpole New Hampshire where he died in 1954.  Arthur Lapham also gave up his aeronautical adventures at an early date and lived a long earth-bound life.

Their trip to Charlottetown may not have been the highlight of the tour but thanks to a postcard it has not been completely forgotten.

NOTE:  this posting originally appeared in my companion blog on the nautical history of Northumberland Strait – Sailstrait

William Cumming’s postcards

In general most of the photographers whose pictures were to be found on early Prince Edward Island postcards were anonymous. Publishers appear to have freely used images without attributing artistic creation (and I suspect without remuneration) and frequently re-cycled images appearing elsewhere.

William A. Cumming. photo from the collection of Donna Collings
William A. Cumming. photo from the collection of Donna Collings

Fortunately for a number of more than 500 postcard images of the Island published before the Great War there are exceptions and there are photographers credited with the image. One such named photographer was William Steele Louson whose work was the subject of a recent edition of The Island Magazine (#80 Fall/Winter 2016).

Another is William A. Cumming.  Relatively little is known about Cumming and I am indebted to Donna Collings of Montague for furnishing a number of leads which have contributed to the following.

William Cumming's Gem Photo Studio ca. 1905. The individual in front of the studio is believed to be Cumming. photo: Town of Montague Garden of the Gulf Museum Collection
William Cumming’s Gem Photo Studio ca. 1905. The individual in front of the studio is believed to be Cumming. photo: Town of Montague Garden of the Gulf Museum Collection

William A. Cumming (the name is often mis-reported as Cummings)  was born in England about 1867. He and his brother John  emigrated to Montreal and from there came to Prince Edward Island about 1900 or 1901.  The two men were associated with the Canadian Gem Photo Company and in 1901 were operating a travelling studio on Prince Edward Island. In June they were in Alberton and in September local press noted that “These gentlemen intend erecting their tent in Montague Bridge and no doubt they will be largely patronized.”   In October the Charlottetown Guardian reported on a collection of views taken in different parts of the Island which Cumming Brothers intended to make available in a series suitable for framing. Some of these may have later been used for postcards.

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#2512 Georgetown Station. photo Public Archives & Records Office item 4390/2

It is not known what became of John Cumming but William Cumming evidently found Montague to his liking and opened a photographic studio in the town. In 1915 he was operating with another local photographer under the name Cumming and Jordans Studio. In 1909 he married Novella Martin, who later served for many years as the postmistress. Failing health necessitated the closure of the studio and he died in 1926.

There are at least a dozen of the Warwick Bros. & Rutter company postcards bearing the Cumming (or Cummings) name but it is probable that a number of other P.E.I. cards are from the same photographer.  While some images were taken as far away as North Cape and Dunk River, the majority are from the Montague area.  The Warwick and Rutter series also has another dozen images from Montague and nearby communities such as Georgetown which do not name a photographer and it is quite possible that there are from Cumming’s camera as well.

Gallery of Warwick Bros. & Rutter postcards credited to William Cumming. Click any image to begin a slide show.

All photos from author’s collection unless otherwise noted.

Shooting Trout on the Dunk River

2296001The Dunk River wanders through the woodlands and farmlands of Prince Edward Island a few miles east of Summerside. It was named in 1765 by surveyor Samuel Holland for George Montagu Dunk, Earl of Halifax. At the beginning of the 20th century it was the province’s leading trout stream and its pastoral appearance made it an ideal subject for postcard photographers. While there are images of the Dunk from several publishers including Valentine & Sons and a number of the uncredited images were copied and re-copied it seems to have been the ideal subject for W.S. Louson and several cards show his particular style.  Louson’s work which was published by the Toronto firm of Warwick Bros & Rutter depicts a sympathy with the tamed landscape of a largely agricultural province but contains an element of wistfulness for a wilderness largely absent.

In the later 19th century trout fishing emerged as a sporting activity suitable for men and women alike and in Louson’s work, as in that of his fellow Warwick & Rutter photographer William Cumming the idealized locations for the activity are featured. Louson especially liked to use the brooks and streams of Prince Edward Island in his pictures.

2621saWarwick & Rutter card # 2621 bearing the title “Angler’s Joy  Dunk River P.E.I.” shows a single fisherman on the bank of the slowly flowing river framed by a tree trunk and backed by a forest grove.   Like so many of the  postcards of the period the colours added by the publisher are invented and in some cases are far from reality but still give magical sense to the scene.  There are several editions of the card with slightly different wording and placement of information. The image is one that pre-dates the Island’s tourism department use of the slogan “the gentle Island” but might well have been used as a scene typical of the province. There are many locations on the Dunk which look the same today as they did in the early 1900s when the photograph was taken. However siltation from heavy agricultural use and forest clearing has had a negative impact on the fish population as has a number of instances of fish-kills from farm pesticides.

2621001What then to make of another Warwick & Rutter card from the Dunk? Although my copy is slighty cropped it is clear that it bears the same number and title. In this card, which may indeed depict the same river the background is of newly cleared land and split-rail fences making it more of a pioneer landscape.  What is more puzzling however is the figure in the foreground. Notwithstanding the “Angler’s Joy” title the main figure is not a fisherman but the silhouette of a hunter, his gun cradled under his arm and ready for action.  Is this an attempt to broaden the appeal of Prince Edward for sportsmen or to suggest that trout are so numerous that they can be shot easily?  More likely it simply an error, either a mis-labeled “Hunters Paradise” card to bracket the fishing image or, more likely, simply the insertion of the wrong image in a re-publication of the card.  Absent a change of title and another catalogue number I lean toward the latter explanation.

Several other Dunk River images appear below from both the Warwick & Rutter listings and those of other publishers. It is worth noting that in at least one case, the image of the two women fishing, the image has been “borrowed” from another location and re-labelled as the Dunk.  The original image is a W&R card #1828 located at Souris, P.E.I.

A Postcard Error or a Postcard Plan?

     

Entering the Harbour at Sunset - Charlottetown

It was an evocative photograph and must have seemed even the more so at a time when the standard was a simple black and white.  The light passing below a low cloud catches a vessel coming into port. The silhouette of the town is in the background, the skyline punctuated by church steeples.  What matter that the colour was introduced by the printer and may have had no counterpart in the reality of the Charlottetown sky.

Guardian 8 July 1907 p.4

The period from the turn of the century to before the Great War – the close of the Victorian era and the Edwardian years – were the heydays of the postcard mania.  A series of relaxations of the postal regulations made postcards possible and the world began sending and collecting cards. Prince Edward Island was not exempt and hundreds of thousands of cards were sold here. In 1907 Carter and Company, only one distributer, advertised they had contracted for the manufacture of half a million coloured cards from European manufacturers.  The same year Guardian noted that between seventy-five and a hundred new views of the Island would be available for the coming season.  Although no exact count has been undertaken the total number of Island post card images produced between 1900 and 1920 could easily have exceeded five hundred.

Some cards were produced by Island publishers: Carter and Company and The Journal Publishing Company were two who had cards made for them. Other cards were part of the output of national and international publishers:  Valentine & Company, Steadman, W.G. MacFarlane, Raphael Tuck & Sons all had Prince Edward Island views in their collections, usually printed in Germany or England.  One of the most productive was the Toronto firm of Warwick Bros. & Rutter whose high-quality cards were printed in Canada.  This company produced over 7,000 different Canadian views and more than 140 of them were from Prince Edward Island.  Many. if not most, of the P.E.I. Cards were by amateur photographer William Steel Louson. His images had an atmospheric appearance much removed from the normal documentary depictions of public buildings and street scenes and so it is not unreasonable to conclude that he might be the originator of the “Entering the Harbor at Sunset” card pictured above.

Except for the fact that the card itself is a fraud.

Although at first glance the card is one of Charlottetown Harbour there are a few difficulties.  With the city in the background the photo must have been taken from Southport or Bunbury. If so, where is the vessel heading, and why is the shoreline so far away? Ships did pass up the river through the Hillsborough Bridge; small coal steamers unloaded directly at the Falconwood wharf.  If it is indeed Charlottetown in the background where are the characteristic three steeples of St. Dunstan’s or the mass of the Notre Dame Convent which dominated the east end of the city?  There is a navigation buoy just aft of the ship which should suggest that the ship should be hard aground on Minchin’s Point. The ship itself is a puzzle as it looks more like a lake boat suited to the Great Lakes canals than a coaster serving the Atlantic seaboard.

The answer can be found in the caption for the image below.

Although it was not unusual for postcard publishers to appropriate images (Louson photos appear un-credited in a half-dozen different publisher’s offerings) it is less common to shift locations. It did happen however – one Island fishing scene is labeled by one publisher as being near Souris and by another as the Dunk River.

The hundreds of pre-war post cards are excellent historical images and provide rare views of Island scenes now much altered or which have disappeared., but not when they are lifted from one location and transported to another.  Unless of course there is another Charlottetown on the shores of Lake Ontario.

NOTE: An article W. S. Louson and his postcard images “Our Quiet But Engaging Scenery” appears in the most recent (Fall/Winter 2016) issue of The Island Magazine. More on the photographic work of W.S. Louson can be found in the Spring/Summer 1991 issue of The Island Magazine