I am an archivist, historian and small boat sailor. Over the years have built several small boats, the most recent of which was a Medway Skiff. Since 2011 I have been skipper of "Ebony", a 1982 Halman 20. I sail in Northumberland Strait between Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Member of the Charlottetown Yacht Club, PEI Sailing Association and the Northumberland Strait Yachting Association. I have also an interest in the history of the Charlottetown Yacht Club, Charlottetown Harbour, Northumberland Strait and the vessels that have sailed there over the years.
Probably the most frequently encountered name in the century-old history of P.E.I. postcards is Carter & Co. Although they were not printers they commissioned series of postcards over an extended period. From the beginning of the postcard era until the 1950s Carter’s was easily the most important name in Island cards.
They do not, however, seem to feature highly on the interests of collectors. This may be owing in part to the large number of identifiable series – several with small numbers of cards – or because the designs they used were often associated with other publishers.
George Carter, originally of Winsloe, P.E.I., started in the seed business in Charlottetown in 1879 but quickly moved into other lines of business including books and stationary, soft goods and notions. In 1903 he met with financial difficulties and he had left the Island by 1905 but his brother Isaac continued the business under the Carter name. With the increase in tourism late in the 19th century the firm adapted quickly to the desire of visitors for souvenirs and was soon advertising the availability of products at their Charlottetown store. They published a number of souvenir photo books of the Island and in 1908 had a line of non-postal gummed stamps with Island scenes which could be affixed to envelopes. Carter & Co. were early adopters to postcards. In 1907 they indicated that they had 500,000 cards in stock and were likely providing wholesale lots to smaller merchants across the province.
One of the earliest series identified with Carter & Co. clearly identifies the cards with an unusual vertical text on the left side of the face of the card. I have chosen to call this the “souvenir” series to separate them from other Carter & Co. cards.
Michael J. Smith in his 2010 2nd edition of The W.G. MacFarlane Picture Postcard Handbook 1902-1910 identifies these cards as the work of Toronto publisher W.G. MacFarlane. Other MacFarlane cards for Prince Edward Island are part of a numbered series but the cards identified as “Carter & Co. Limited, Souvenirs, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island” have no number, nor does the name MacFarlane appear anywhere on the cards. The card have an asymmetrical divided back design which is identical with another series of P.E.I. cards which Smith does not identify as MacFarlane products.
The cards were certainly in use by 1906. Nineteen images have been identified in various collections although I believe there are additional cards as nineteen would be a very unusual number of cards for a printing run. The majority of the known cards are of public buildings and street scenes in Charlottetown. Several views also appear on cards from other publishers and some may be the work of Island photographer W.S. Louson.
A gallery of examples of the souvenir series cards follows. Click on any image to start a slide show. A full listing of known images appears as an illustrated checklist accessed here. I would be very interested in learning of any cards which I have not listed in the checklist.
In an earlier post I had noted the inordinate number of Pre-WW1 postcards depicting the Dunk River running through eastern Prince County of Prince Edward Island. I have recently identified another half-dozen cards showing the Dunk. Several of these are the work of amateur photographer W.S. Louson who appears to have had a particular attraction to the area but many more are unidentified as to photographer.
The Dunk was a popular trout stream, perhaps the most productive in the province and was a destination for many fishermen (and women). It is not however, easily reached directly by train as the line of the P.E.I. Railway crosses the stream only in its upper reaches at Breadalbane. The development of automobile access was difficult owing to the restrictive views of farmers who were able to place strict limits to auto use in rural areas before the War and most visitors approached the river by horse and buggy. A bridge near Lower Freetown was one of the closest spots to both Kensington and Summerside and many of the postcards have images in this location.
Rather than develop a complete new page devoted to these newly-found images I have added them to the gallery of Dunk River photos in my original posting. This gallery is likely only a portion of the cards that may be out there and I would be happy to learn of any other early images of the location.
My previous post posed a question relating to a postcard, labeled “Anglers’ Joy” of a hunter on the bank of the Dunk and with the discovery of another Warwick Bros. & Rutter card I have added a probable explanation for the strange title.
During the height of the postcard craze in the early 1900s millions of cards were produced and sent or collected. Moving from storage in shoeboxes to specially designed postcard albums collectors became more sophisticated in their preservation methods. Today many collectors mirror the early enthusiasms with topical collections (horses, hotels, mountains, libraries, butterflies etc.) or geographical ones. The latter group is probably the more common. My own interests are in the early cards for Prince Edward Island – early being before World War 1.
As the interest in cards grew additional products capitalizing on the cards began to be produced. One such product was the portfolio of cards rendered suitable for framing through the addition of a backing vignette neatly framing the card. These were probably produced by the original card publisher but may have been an “after market” item developed for collectors. This provided an easily framed version of the standard card which although often very attractive was also too small to display effectively in the Edwardian parlor. The portfolio was an excellent souvenir or gift for the tourists in the region.
The example in my collection consists of a set of five pages – although the original number could have been more – in an attractive folder measuring 295 mm by 230 mm. It is probable that the design was used for multiple locations with the name of the city or province inserted for different press runs.
The printed 290 x 225 mm vignette pages are all different and each has a specific theme which seem to be related to the various recreational activities in which a visitor may be interested. These include; fishing, canoeing and rowing, golf and travel, hunting, and sailing. The vignettes are artistically designed in an art deco format. The cards are tipped onto the backing and owing to the thickness of the backing paper it is not possible to view the card backs. The card identification is based on identical cards in my collection.
There is no direct relationship between the subject of the vignettes and the cards themselves. The cards are all published by the McCoy Printing Company of Moncton and seem to be from the Acadian Series. That series numbers at least 15 cards according to The McCoy Printing Company Picture Postcard Handbook 1900 to 1910 by Mike Smith and William P. Angley and it is possible that the portfolio originally held the entire series. It is more likely that there was a smaller selection.
My portfolio holds the following cards: Street Scene in Charlottetown P.E.I. / Victoria Park & Harbor near Charlottetown P.E.I. (Acadian Series #82), Shore Scene at Keppoch Prince Edward Island (Acadian Series #80), Law Courts Building, Charlottetown, P.E.I. (Acadian Series #74), Pastoral Scene, Prince Edward Island (McCoy card using Valentine& Sons image #100923, not in the Smith listing), Post Office, Charlottetown, P.E.I. (Acadian Series #17)
Portfolio gallery. Click on any card to see enlarged images.
A Street Scene in Charlottetown P.E.I. /Victoria Park & Harbor near Charlottetown, P.E.I. Acadian Series #82
Post Office, Charlottetown P.E.I. Acadian Series #17
Pastoral Scene, Prince Edward Island Valentine image 100923
Shore Scene at Keppoch Prince Edward Island Acadian Series #80
Law Courts Building, Charlottetown P.E.I. Acadian Series #74
I would be very interesting in learning of any other portfolios of this type which may have survived and whether this frameable vignette was in common use.
One of the more popular areas for topical postcard collection is the depiction of ships on cards. While the ports of Prince Edward Island were hardly major destinations for steamers the fact of being an island meant a dependence on vessels for connection to the mainland and there are a number of interesting cards showing these essential vessels.
One group of cards centres on the unique needs of the province for “continuous steam communication” sought by the Island Government in 1873 as a condition for confederation. The struggle for links across the winter ice-bound Strait of Northumberland gave rise to a series of ice-breaking steamers and later car-ferries whose images are captured on early postcards. Ships such as the Stanley, Minto and Earl Grey are frequently shown imprisoned in the ice. The irony is that many of these cards were sent by summer visitors who had no direct knowledge of the difficulty and boredom of the winter passage.
These tourists and residents were much more likely to have reached the Island on one of the ships of the Charlottetown Steam Navigation Company which provided service while the strait was ice-free, usually between April and December of each year. The Company had been incorporated in 1890 but was successor to the Prince Edward Island Steam Navigation Company, formed in 1863, and so had a near-monopoly for decades before the postcard boom.
At the turn of the 20th century the Charlottetown Steam Navigation Company had two vessels; the S.S. Northumberland, launched in 1891 and the S.S. Princess, built five years later. Increased passenger travel and freight led to the sale of the Princess in 1905 and the launch a new vessel, the S.S. Empress the same year. The Northumberland normally served the Charlottetown-Pictou route while the Empress travelled between Summerside and Point de Chene New Brunswick. Schedules of both vessels were linked to railway timetables to provide good communication to Halifax, Boston and Montreal. On my companion marine history blog, Sailstrait, I have provided details about thePrincess, Northumberland, and Empress.
Although the Princess may well have been the subject of a postcard as it was still in the service in 1905 I have not been able to find any examples and indeed any photographs of the vessel are scarce. This was not the case with regard to the Northumberland and the Empress.
Although built fifteen years apart the two ships were of a similar appearance and size. Indeed, as shown below, in at least one case a card shows one ship incorrectly identified as the other. A clue to help determine the correct identification may be found by examining the smoke patterns of the two ships in the galleries below. One additional key to sorting them out is that the Empress had more lifeboats than the Northumberland.
Almost all the major publishers that had cards of Prince Edward Island had at least one showing a ship of the Charlottetown Steam Navigation Company and some publishers such as Valentine and Warwick & Rutter had images of both. Often the cards drew on the same photographic imagery although the photographer is not identified – with one exception. The Summerside image of the Empress at dock is noted as a W.S. Louson image on a Warwick Bros. & Rutter card and although the ship is not identified in his card titled “Anticipation” the Empress was the steamer servicing the Prince County port.
The identification is confirmed by a Carter & Co. “red letter” series card showing the same scene and undoubtedly taken at the same time (there are differences in the placement of the boy fishing and the spectator). These two cards are also an excellent illustration of the different treatment given to similar images by publishers. Title, cropping and most particularly shading, clarity and colour can result in cards that initially appear to be quite different but in reality are almost identical.
An action photo of the Empress steaming is the most commonly seen image as it is used in cards from at least three publishers. Indeed Warwick Bros. & Rutter uses the same image on two cards with different titles. The image is also used on a card by McCoy Publishing and another produced for Maddigan.
Publishers with Northumberland Strait steamer cards to their credit include Kennedy, McLellan, McCoy, Maddigan, Valentine, Journal Print, Pugh, Stedman and Warwick & Rutter. I have been able to find only one card showing both vessels, the Stedman card #2572 probably published for J.D. Taylor and shown to the right.
The cards depicted in following galleries do not exhaust the possible varieties of Northumberland Strait steamer cards but offer a representative sampling of the cards most often seen. Clicking on any of the cards will show an enlarged image.
Cards showing the S.S. Northumberland
Cards showing the S.S. Empress
The activity of the two vessels coincided with the golden age of the postcard. With the beginning of the ice-breaking rail-car ferry service in 1917 both ships were sold and the company wound up. Henceforth postcards detailed the loading, unloading and sailings of the S.S. Prince Edward Island and her successors.
Both of these vessels continued to be the subject of postcards after they left Prince Edward Island waters. The Northumberland sailed on Lake Ontario until destroyed by fire after World War II and there are many cards showing the vessel. An excellent history of her life on the lake can be found here. The Empress was put on the Saint John to Digby route across the Bay of Fundy and there are a number cards of her in this role.
As always, I would be interested of learning of other postcards which show the Northumberland Strait steamers, especially the Princess.
There seems to be a thing with four-leaf clovers. When you start looking you can’t find them anywhere. So you stop looking. Then you find one. Suddenly there are four-leaf clovers everywhere.
The same phenomenon occurs with post cards.
When I first stumbled across a reference to the large Nerlich & Co. output of post cards I knew of not a single one with a P.E.I. image. Then a fellow collector suggested I look at some Summerside cards he had found and I started finding Nerlichs all over the place. By the same token it was a long time before I made the connection between drug stores and postcards in Summerside but when I discovered it there seemed to be a lot of examples that had been right under my nose.
Now these occurrences have converged. This time it is in relation to a card depicting the High School in Summerside. The school itself had been opened in 1879 as the Davies School. Louis Henry Davies (later Chief Justice of Canada) was premier at the time and among his accomplishments was the passage of a Public Schools Bill which created a provincial Board of Education and non-sectarian schools. The eight-classroom structure in Summerside offered grades one to ten. Ten years later the school was renamed as the “Summerside High School” and provided only the upper grades. The building was enlarged in 1915 and again in 1932 when it was renamed o0nce more as “Summerside High School and County Academy.” A fire in 1935 destroyed the part of the building shown on the early postcards.
The first postcard showing the building that I had seen was a Warwick Bros. & Rutter card showing the front of the school.
This black and white card was printed for Summerside merchant W.H. Jardine and may actually have been a later image as the cards noted below do not show several small trees seen in the picture.
As well as the Jardine card, there was another showing the school in the Warwick Bros. & Rutter line. This was one which had probably been published earlier and bore the name of well-known amateur photographer W. S. Louson. It is one of the few cards identified as Louson’s work which depicts a civic structure. Most of his cards are of rural scenes with more of an emphasis on “artistic” settings.
The card shows the building with more of a side view as seen from the top of Summer Street.
However the same photograph is used for two other cards which appeared at about the same time (dating the sequence of these cards is all but impossible). Neither of these cards give credit to Louson but the images actually show more of the scene with additional foliage seen on the left side of the card so they were not derived from the Rutter card which has different cropping owing, in part, to the characteristic title band on the card bottom. (click to enlarge images)
High School,from Summer Street, Summerside, P.E.I. published for P.N. Enman, Druggist. Nerlich & Co., # 782 B/40
Central High School, Summerside, P.E.I. Published for Wm. Kennedy, Druggist, Summerside, P.E.I. publisher not identified.,
While these two images have slightly different cropping, different titles, and different clouds and colouration the real difference is on the card back and this is where we get back to the clovers. Not only is there another addition to the list of Nerlich cards but there is the name of yet another drugstore in Summerside that was in the card business.
The P.N. Enman card (left) clearly shows the Nerlich wordmark
…and on the left side of the back the publication notice
The Kennedy card (right) likewise has significant information on the back of the card. However Mr. Kennedy has proved to be a little more elusive that others in the drug business in Summerside as I have been unable to find information about his business, or about him for that matter.
I expect, however, that there are a few more four-leaf clovers in the field yet to be found and that this exploration will not end with the postcards of the Summerside High School.
Since I began collection early P.E.I. postcards I have learned that it is not unusual for the same images to appear on cards produced by a number of different publishers. It is often not clear if the photos were simply copied from one card to another or were different images from the same vantage point. Sometimes the images are simply cropped and so appear to be slightly different. For example most of the Warwick Bros. & Rutter cards had an aspect which allowed for a title bar to appear at the card bottom. If those images were printed on a card where the full face of the card was used they would have to be cropped so that the image filled the space.
However sometimes the changes between seemingly identical cards are not so easily explained. A case in point is a card dating from about 1908 showing the northern end of Government Pond in Charlottetown taken just where the brook from Spring Park enters the pond under a bridge under Euston Street as it turns into Brighton Road. I first became aware of the card when searching for images illustrating the architectural works of Charles B. Chappell. The building to the right is a house he designed for Charlottetown photographer (and sometime postcard producer) James A.S. Bayer. The card was printed by the Pugh Manufacturing Company in Toronto
This Pugh card carries the same image as a Rumsey & Co. card shown below and is identical except for the title lettering and the artistic license taken in the colouring ….or is it?
Clearly the image is the same and the cropping is within a hairbreadth. Even the ducks are in the exactly the same position.
Except that on the Rumsey card one of the ducks has completely vanished with barely a ripple left behind!
Another difference between the two cards becomes visible only through close examination and may be spotted in the enlarged detail. Just showing and tantalizingly undecipherable, the image reveals a card title in block white letters which has been almost re-touched out of sight. Although skillfully done a shadow of the original remains.
So, was the duck removed from the Pugh …or was the duck added? In any event this was a very high quality alteration and must have taken a good deal of time and effort. And whatever the case, why bother? My suspicion is that there is a third postcard out there, probably from a different publisher – an ur-card if you will. However even if it is discovered it may not go far in revealing the bizarre secret of the missing Brighton Pond duck.
Note – The Rumsey firm, is now the subject of a brief company history recently published on the Toronto Postcard Club website found here.