It is always exciting to come across a postcard with an image that one has never seen before so when the listing for “The Pond at Victoria Park” appeared I was anxious to see the card. There were lots of postcards showing other areas of the park including the battery of cannon facing the harbour and some showing the militia training that used to take place there. The grove of birches in the park was a popular subject, especially from cards from Charlottetown photographer W.S. Louson. There was also at least one postcard with what became known as “Deadman’s Pond but this new (to me) view was clearly something else.
A plan of Charlottetown’s Victoria Park in Meacham’s 1880 Atlas of Prince Edward Island showed a pond on the north-west section of the park. However in the mannered plan with its formal paths and drives, and a parade ground and cricket ground (complete with pavilion) the water feature is shown as “proposed lake.” There are few photographs of this area of the park but comparing the postcard view with the plan, and indeed with the present layout of the park it was immediately clear that the postcard was mis-labeled. Even the proposed lake could look nothing like this and the vantage point for the photo was impossible for a Charlottetown scene. So, if not Charlottetown, where was this pond?
It is amazing how many towns and cities in Canada have a Victoria Park. Because so many communities developed urban parklands during the reign of Queen Victoria it was a popular feature to name after the Empire’s head. A partial list includes the Victoria Parks in London, Niagara Falls, Calgary, Kitchener, Regina, Edmonton, Milton, Truro, Hamilton, Ingersol and Cobourg. I started checking on Google maps to try and match up the postcard view with what appeared on the ground but was saved by the appearance of another postcard which is shown below. The view is the same, albeit it with lower printing quality and a less flamboyant approach to the hand colouring.
The Belleville card does match the present layout of the park in that Ontario community so the Charlottetown card can safely be added to a growing list of postcard errors and omissions. Given the diverse interests of postcard collectors I am sure that someone is specializing in amassing a collection with this focus.
As for the pond at Victoria Park in Charlottetown, it appears that the proposed lake was not built. The swampy corner of the park was never dug out to make the serpentine lake of the plan and may have been filled in to some extent with the mud removed when Deadman’s Pond was dredged in the 1920s. Even today, when the spot is home to a children’s playground, it is the lowest and dampest section of the park and prone to flooding in storm surges.
There is another tenuous link between the Belleville postcard and the one from Prince Edward Island. The back of the Belleville card shows it to be published by Charles Sulman of that city. It is almost certain that Sulman had nothing to do with the Charlottetown card however the design of the card back is identical to that appearing on cards published for the Charlottetown firm of Carter and Company so it is not unlikely that they shared a printer.