Iceboat Postcard Photographer Identified

Ice Boats crossing from P.E.I. to the Mainland. Publisher not identified. ca. 1907  Image courtesy Phil Culhane.   

Early postcards used a variety of available images and the photographers are very rarely identified.  While some card series do specify the photographer it was not common practice. Moreover even if a photographer is occasionally identified the same image may be reused by the same or another publisher with no credit given.  In the postcard mania period before 1910 publishers grabbed images where ever they could find them and any photographs available to the public seemed to be fair game without credit or remuneration being given.

early divided backIt is always gratifying to put names to images. Such is the case with regard to the undated card shown above. This early divided-back card shows a dramatic scene with crews struggling to bring iceboats across a field of jammed ice or thick “lolly.” Unusually the boats are show with their small lug sails in use.  These were only deployed when wind speed and direction were favourable.  The photo is not particularly crisp and the quality of the reproduction poor but it is one of the earliest postcards to show the scene which was unique to the winter service on Prince Edward Island.

Screen Shot 04-14-22 at 07.32 PMIn researching the history of the iceboat service I stumbled across the same image, hiding in plain sight, with the identity of the photographer credited. In April 1903 the Prince Edward Island Magazine published  an illustrated article titled “Our Winter Navigation.” (available here) The illustrations consisted of images of the winter steamer captains and several shots of the iceboats and crews in action. Unlike some iceboat photos of the period these are not posed groups but action shots of the crews at work. These photos were most likely taken during the winter of 1902-1903.

Island MAg 5-2 Ap 1903 p1
Frontispiece. Prince Edward Island Magazine April 1903

Here as the frontispiece for the issue is the postcard photo but with the photographer identified – W. Erdley Hyndman.  Walter Erdley Hyndman (1875-1936),  was connected with a family with shipping and marine insurance interests although he does not appear to have been a member of the firm that continues today has Hyndman & Company. Instead he trained as a civil engineer and for more than thirty years worked as a district engineer with the provincial Department of Public Works.

This was not the only W. Erdley Hyndman image in the article to be published as a postcard.

Island mag 5-2 Ap 1902 pC

This image used in the article appears as the subject of a 1907 card issued by Charlottetown Booksellers and Printers, Haszard and Moore, although it was not printed by the firm as evidenced by “Printed in Belgium” in the stamp box.

Version 8
Ice Boat service from P.E.I. to Mainland. Haszard & Moore postcard. Author’s collection.

The article included one other Hyndman photograph – shown below – which does not seem to have been used for postcard purposes – or at least no copy of such a post card has yet been found.

Island Mag 5-2 Ap 1903 pB As well, there seem to be other images which may well have been taken by Hyndman the same day which were not included in the Prince Edward Island Magazine article. This is the case with “An Easy Stretch.” Other iceboat cards also appear to have used images which were taken by Hyndman although no credit is given. The card below, “Crossing to Prince Edward Island in Winter,” was sold by Taylor’s Bookstore and given the style, title type-face and subject certainly seems to be part of the same series although the card is monotone image.

Coming to Prince Edward Island in Winter. Taylor’s Bookstore postcard. Robertson Library UPEI.

This card too was printed in Belgium and the card back is identical in design save for the name of the firm selling the card which has been changed.

These appear to be the only iceboat postcards for which the photographer is definitely known with the exception of a later series of real photo postcards. Iceboat postcards constitute a thematic subject unique to Prince Edward Island and Northumberland Strait.  They will be the subject of a future posting.

Author: sailstrait

I am an archivist, historian and small boat sailor. Since 2011 I have been skipper of "Ebony", a 1982 Halman Nordica 20. I sail in Northumberland Strait between Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. A long time interest in marine and maritime history of the region has resulted in number of publications as well as the less formal presentations in this blog series. In addition I am a member of the Charlottetown Yacht Club, PEI Sailing Association and the Northumberland Strait Yachting Association. I have a specific interest in the history of the Charlottetown Yacht Club, Charlottetown Harbour, Northumberland Strait and the vessels that have sailed there over the years.

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